USC’s film school
The University of San Carlos Department of Fine Arts opens this June its first graduate program in Cinema Studies. It is, in fact, the curriculum in the country which focuses on film scholarship. This came a year after USC started its undergraduate course, the Bachelor of Fine Arts major in Cinema.
Officially called Master of Fine Arts in Cinema Studies, the curriculum consists of history of both world and local cinema, film theory, criticism, writing, and even curatorship and organization of film events, such as festivals and competitions and exhibits.
The school’s undergraduate program, on the other hand, is a much more general curriculum, consisting of production courses aside from theory and history of the art of cinema. It proved to be a popular course, starting with about 30 freshmen.
Right now, USC is upgrading its facilities to meet the demands of its film curriculum. It already has a 300-seat theater with good acoustics and a film archive with some 3,000 original DVDs and a few reels loaned to the school by Misha Anissimov, one of its professors and owner of the Teosico-Bohinc Film that used to be based in Lapu-Lapu City.
Anissimov, in fact, has been instrumental in the founding of the USC film school. It started when he first proposed the idea of a university-based film program to the current dean, Architect Joseph Michael Espina, who did not hesitate to support it.
With the bachelor’s course proving well, the dean decided to open a master’s course in film scholarship. Cebu is one of Asia’s pioneers in the film industry. Cinema, for example, was brought to Cebu during the late 19th century just when it was gaining popularity as the new art and source of entertainment in Europe and the United States.
Such rich heritage in cinema remains a sunken atlantis waiting to be explored by local film researchers, historians, and critics. It also provides a potential source of ideas and inspiration for our young independent filmmakers who are starting to make waves in film festivals here and abroad.
Many of these Cebuano independent filmmakers are, in fact, graduates of fine arts in USC, at the time when the only film education they had was a basic course in film appreciation and production called TV Arts (now renamed Film and Video Arts) under the Advertising Arts program.
Among them, award-winning director Remton Zuasola, is now part of the USC film faculty. He is joined by Cebuano scriptwriter Diem Judilla who will be teaching screenwriting.
Leading the faculty is Dr. Paul Grant, a Fulbright film professor from New York University who just arrived in Cebu for a three-year contract to teach in USC. Of course, there is Misha Anissimov, our Russian-American filmmaker who graduated from San Francisco State University. Misha currently sits as the coordinator of USC’s film program.
The combination of local and foreign filmmakers in the faculty gives a unique edge to the USC film program. Anissimov and Grant can easily connect USC through their own network of friends in the international film scene. Zuasola and Judilla themselves have been going around the local and international film festival circuit with their own films.
The USC film program is in its infantile stage but has already created a very dynamic film scene in the campus with regular night screenings such as the Sinekultura film education series, and the stream of film festivals and workshops that have been coming to the college theater for a venue.
To sign up in the program is thus to join this vibrant community of filmmakers, artists, and academicians.
It is to open yourself to a creative environment of constant film screenings, discussions, and lots of work. It is to have access to opportunities to learn more about cinema, get to know some of the people behind them, or to make your own film.
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