Home News
Colgate News

Rubbish gets a redesign

November 14, 2016
Photo by Mark DiOrio

During a workshop with visiting artist Reet Aus, Haoqi Xia ’20 works on a project incorporating found objects. Photo by Mark DiOrio.

“Who knew that so many new things could be made from junk?” said Fiona Adjei Boateng ’19, a theater student who was making handbags out of denim pants during an upcycling workshop.

Reet Aus, an Estonian fashion designer and environmental pioneer, hosted the workshop in Clifford Gallery. She is known for upcycling, which is using discarded materials to make beautiful new products. Aus was in residence at Colgate for 10 days — a joint venture with the theater department, environmental studies, film and media studies, the sustainability office, and art and art history.

Photo by Mark DiOrio

Reet Aus (front) upcycles discarded materials into art. Photo by Mark DiOrio

During the workshop, students worked with Aus to transform materials sourced from the Madison County Solid Waste and Recycle facility as well as Syracuse Rescue Mission into usable objects or works of art. They created jewelry fashioned from used metal wire, wearable garments made from leftover cloth, and found art pieces.

In Aus’s lectures on campus and in the screening of her documentary, Out of Fashion, she explained that, to keep up with the fast pace of fashion trends, clothing companies use wasteful manufacturing practices to produce cheap garments. “On average, eighteen percent of the textiles processed in clothing factories are leftovers, and are thrown away,” she said in Golden Auditorium on November 2. These materials end up in landfills, which pollute the air, water, and soil.

“Working with Reet throughout the week was eye opening,” said Adjei Boateng, “I still can’t believe how much waste the clothing industry creates in the manufacturing process, and the impact that it has on the environment.”

To address the problem, Aus and her colleagues designed a software program and certification called Upmade that helps factories reduce waste by upcycling leftover fabric back into the production process. Two major factories in Estonia and Bangladesh have received the certification so far.

“Reet Aus is a true leader and planetary hero,” said John Pumilio, Colgate’s director of sustainability. “She demonstrates how it’s possible to pursue our passions with social consciousness and environmental stewardship as a cornerstone.”

Upcycling goes beyond environmental concerns. Aus also addresses the social and moral implications of fast fashion, noted studio art major Kris Pfister ’17. Pfister’s senior art project uses recycled materials because Pfister was inspired by Aus. Pfister said: “Her work is a tangible force of resistance to the materialism the Western world has become so accustomed to.”

Zombie movie by Rod Blackhurst ’02 wins top Tribeca honor

April 27, 2016
The feature film Here Alone won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at Tribeca

The feature film Here Alone won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at Tribeca.

Here Alone, an independent film by Rod Blackhurst ’02, won the Tribeca Film Festival’s Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature last week.

Entertainment magazine described the production as “a taut, lean, unfussy film about a lone woman surviving in the wild woods of upstate New York.” Meanwhile, Maxim magazine wrote that the “Tribeca film festival proves the zombie formula isn’t dead.

In the movie, a young woman struggles to survive on her own in the wake of a mysterious, zombie-spawning epidemic that has decimated society and forced her deep into the unforgiving wilderness. The film was entirely self-financed (in part through a successful kickstarter campaign) and even self-cast — the lead actress, Lucy Walters, was approached via Twitter messages from Blackhurst.

Blackhurst, a French literature graduate, says:

“We thought Here Alone would appeal to fans of well-crafted psychological dramatic thrillers and elevated genre films — again showing our understanding of what it requires to tell a simple and powerful story.”

Tribeca audiences clearly agreed, giving Blackhurst and his crew the coveted top prize.

Watch the trailer.

Co-founded by Craig Hatkoff ’76, the Tribeca Film Festival saw controversy this year when the film Vaxxed was removed from the screening schedule. Colgate Professor Penny Lane wrote a post about the festival’s decision to screen the documentary, and numerous national and international media outlets quoted her words.

Variety wrote, “The reaction on Twitter, Facebook, and social media platforms was intense. The decision [to include the film] also was criticized in the creative community, with documentary filmmaker Penny Lane (Our Nixon) writing an open letter to the the festival saying that including Vaxxed threatened its credibility.”

CBS News included Lane’s words in its recap of the controversy as did the New York TimesRolling Stone, the Guardian, and USA Today.

In a fourth Tribeca-Colgate connection, The Return, which won the audience award in the documentary category, will soon air on the PBS series POV, produced by Chris White ’91.

Related links:
Rob Blackhurst ’02 in the Colgate Scene

Syllabus: “Horror” and the American Horror Film

April 25, 2016
Campus at night

Photo by Andrew Daddio

Editor’s note: Wondering what’s happening in the classroom at Colgate? Here’s a real-time glimpse into academic life on campus — a syllabus from a course underway this semester.

FMST 352 “Horror” and the American Horror Film
Kevin Wynter, visiting assistant professor of Film & Media Studies
TR 2:45–4:00, 105 Little Hall

Course description:

This course examines some the key factors that have contributed to the horror genre’s capacity to maintain its continued viability in popular culture across a wide range of media including graphic novels, video art, and interactive gaming.

Beginning with the modern period of the American horror film and then expanding beyond its physical and ideological borders, this course is designed to encourage students to challenge the ideas that have become associated with the term “horror,” and to consider whether some other term or terms may be better suited to describe the types of feelings horror films and related forms of media actually inspire.

The following questions will be considered: What is horror? Do horror-genre films truly inspire horror or are we, as participants, moved by some other affect or response? Is it possible to locate cinematic representations of horror and its experience outside of the horror genre?


Course readings include Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen, Mark Seltzer’s Serial Killers: Death and Life in America’s Wound Culture, and various articles.

Key assignments/activities:

Coursework includes keeping a nightmare journal, in which students are asked to describe an “especially potent nightmare” that they have had and to consider it in relation to horror films screened in class. The class also requires students to present on class readings and write a short essay about Watchmen. The final paper, meant to take into account all that was explored over the course of semester, has the option of taking the shape of a video essay.

Class format:

In addition to weekly meetings, there is a film screening on Thursday nights, 7–10 p.m. Students are expected to complete all reading assignments and come to class prepared to raise points of interest or difficulty. Attendance and class participation are crucial and will be taken into consideration when calculating the final grade.

The professor says:

After taking this course, you will never look at horror movies the same way. One of the learning goals I propose is to try to distinguish feelings of terror from feelings of horror, and to interrogate how horror movies really make us feel. What students soon come to learn is that the feeling of horror is not confined to the genre conventions they have become familiar with, but can be found with more intensity in films outside of the horror genre.

Related links:
Zombie film Here Alone by Rod Blackhurst ’02 takes home Tribeca’s Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature

Lights, camera, Colgate internships

February 12, 2016
Actor Michael Shannon prepares for a scene in the filming of Pottersville in Hamilton, N.Y., in January

Actor Michael Shannon (left) prepares for a scene during the filming of Pottersville in January. (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

When actor and director Ron Perlman cast Colgate’s hometown of Hamilton, N.Y., as the setting for his new movie, Pottersville, in January, Colgate film and media studies students were ready for internship opportunities in movie-making magic.

The light-hearted comedy stars Michael Shannon and Judy Greer, and includes the acting talents of Michael Torpey ’02.

The filming was identified by Colgate’s Center for Career Services and film and media studies program as an excellent opportunity for students in the concentration. Within a few short weeks, six internships were established, including everything from managing extras to wardrobe to set design.

Read more

Penny Lane’s new film NUTS! to premiere at Sundance

December 7, 2015
animation from the movie NUTS! showing Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, an eccentric genius who built an empire in Depression-era America with a goat testicle impotence cure

NUTS!, from assistant professor Penny Lane, will premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival

NUTS!, a new documentary film by assistant professor of art and art history Penny Lane, will premiere at next month’s Sundance Film Festival. NUTS! tells the story of John Romulus Brinkley, who, in 1917, offered a cure for impotence by transplanting goat testicles.

“Sundance is by far the premiere venue to launch an American independent feature film,” Lane said. “I was overjoyed by the invitation, and I am really excited to see how the audience there responds to the film.”

The New York Times, citing the festival’s lineup guide, reports, “In keeping with a recent trend in documentary filmmaking, nontraditional, sometimes controversial storytelling techniques will be on full display [at Sundance] … The director Penny Lane, for instance, uses animated re-enactments and ‘one seriously unreliable narrator’ to trace the ‘mostly true’ story of a man who found success selling a goat-testicle impotence cure.”

Portrait of Penny Lane

Penny Lane

Lane’s previous credits include Our Nixon, a documentary featuring home movies shot by President Richard Nixon’s aides, and The Voyagers, a short film about “two small spacecraft, an epic journey, taking risks, and falling in love. Also Carl Sagan.” Lane traveled the hemisphere in search of background information for NUTS! Her expeditions — and the film itself — were funded by the New York State Council on the Arts, Creative Capital, the Tribeca Film Institute, the Colgate University Research Council, and a successful $80,000 Kickstarter campaign.

“A campaign like that has the added effect of creating a small but enthusiastic army of fans who feel like they were in it ‘from the beginning.,’” Lane said.

Find out more at brinkleyfilm.com and, in the weeks ahead, on the Sundance Film Festival website.

Flaherty Film Seminar examines the Scent of Places

July 1, 2015
Laura U. Marks with several participants of this year's Flaherty Film Seminar hosted by Colgate.

Laura U. Marks with several participants of this year’s Flaherty Film Seminar

The “scent” of a locality is an invisible, unquantifiable aura that can be difficult to capture on film. Yet, it was the course of study for the 61st Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, hosted by Colgate for the eighth year. Read more

Colgate, Flaherty Film Seminar collaboration sparks on-campus residency program

September 25, 2014
Filmmaker Segei Loznitsa will be coming to Colgate in November.

Filmmaker Segei Loznitsa will be coming to Colgate in November.

A longstanding collaboration between Colgate University and the world-renowned Flaherty Film Seminar, which brings nearly 200 filmmakers, scholars, and programmers to Colgate each summer, has spurred creation of an on-campus residency program that will begin this fall.

The Colgate/Flaherty Distinguished Global Filmmaker Residency will bring acclaimed Russian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa to the university for an intensive weeklong exploration of film and filmmaking. Read more

Flaherty Film Seminar turns Colgate “Inside Out”

June 26, 2014
Colgate has hosted the Flaherty Film Seminar for seven years.

Colgate has hosted the Flaherty Film Seminar for seven years.

Last week, a different group of students filled Colgate’s residence halls and dining facilities when film professionals traveled from around the world to attend the Flaherty Film Seminar. Read more

Young alumnae in film and media careers talk about life after Colgate

April 10, 2014

“[A] cosmic Colgate connection is how I found myself working [in the film industry after college],” remarked Carolina van der Mensbrugghe ’10 during a Film and Media Studies Brown Bag luncheon last Friday. Read more

Oscar win leads to payday for men, not women, according to Colgate economics research

March 3, 2014

After winning an Oscar, that golden statuette can turn into real gold in the pockets of some, but not all. It’s another case of the gender gap in Hollywood.  Read more

Joe Berlinger ’83 will produce, direct criminal justice series for Al-Jazeera America

February 18, 2014

Joe BerlingerThere’s a new series examining the U.S. criminal justice system, and award-winning filmmaker Joe Berlinger ’83 is perfectly suited for the role of director and executive producer. Read more

Students and alumni entertainment professionals connect in NYC

January 31, 2014
Colgate students visit the set of Saturday Night Live as part of a recent immersion trip to NYC.

Colgate students visit the set of Saturday Night Live as part of a recent immersion trip to NYC.

On a recent day in New York City, a dozen students from the on-campus Colgate Entertainment Group met Colgate alumni and toured such locations as Viacom and NBC Universal.

The daylong itinerary helped students get great advice and see that a large number of alumni in the entertainment field are part of a strong network living in New York City as well as in California. The trip helped alumni in the entertainment industry connect with the university.

Read more

Professor Penny Lane’s new film ‘Our Nixon’ premieres this week

August 28, 2013

Update: The film Our Nixon, directed by Colgate professor Penny Lane, premieres August 30  in select U.S. cities. Since its premiere on CNN earlier this month it has drawn a lot of attention, including a Daily Beast commentary by Ben Stein, the economist known to many as a movie and television personality. Lane responded to Stein here.

The Atlantic Magazine has reviewed the film, which will be shown on campus 5 p.m. Friday, September 13. Lane also will offer a lecture about the film on September 11.

Original story: Colgate professor Penny Lane has a new documentary called Our Nixon, which was recently featured by major news media including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Beginning as a Kickstarter campaign, Our Nixon was shown at South by Southwest (SXSW) in January 2013.  The documentary will air Thursday, August 1, at 8 p.m. on CNN Films.

Read more

Colgate alumni among those nominated for 2013 Emmy Awards

July 25, 2013

Audrey Morrissey ’89 and Chris White ’91 were among recent nominees announced for the 2013 Emmy Awards.

Read more

5th annual Hamilton International Film Festival scheduled for Aug. 1—4

July 12, 2013
The 1990 Colgate Men's Hockey team

The film The General will tell the story of the 1990 Colgate men’s hockey team.

For the fifth straight year, Slater Brothers Entertainment will bring Hollywood to the village of Hamilton.  The Hamilton International Film Festival is slated for August 1-4, and organizers are promising even more events this time around.

“What makes this festival truly special is how well you end up bonding with other festival attendees (both the invited filmmakers and the public) who are there,” said organizer Todd Slater, who runs the festival with his brothers Wade and Grant ’91.

This year, the festival will screen The General, a film produced by the Slater Brothers about their father, Terry Slater, and the 1990 Colgate men’s hockey team he coached.

Read more

Students will engage with scholars attending Colgate symposium focusing on film musicals

April 3, 2013

A body in motion stays in motion, at least until it is given a new stage direction.

The idea of performers in motion is one of the themes to be explored by 11 scholars from a spectrum of academic focuses who will convene at Colgate April 4-6 for an interdisciplinary symposium dedicated to “The Performing Body in the Hollywood Film Musical.”

The symposium’s schedule features film screenings, keynote speeches, panels, and roundtable discussions dedicated to examining interdisciplinary methodologies and approaches to studying the moving body in the film musical.

Read more

Students urged to show digital skills by competing in 48-Hour Film Challenge

February 13, 2013
Students edit video in the Digital Learning and Media Center.

Students edit video in the Digital Learning and Media Center.

Do you want to flex your creative muscles and have a chance to become the next YouTube sensation? Then join other students and take part in the Colgate 48-Hour Film Challenge.

No experience is necessary for this weekend competition that will result in the accepted entries being screened at Hamilton Theater in the village and a chance for the winning team to earn either a GoPro Hero 3 digital camera or $300 to use at the Colgate Bookstore.

Students must apply before 6 p.m. Monday, February 18, to take part in this weekend of creativity, teamwork, and fun that runs from Friday to Sunday, February 22 to 24.

Students will:

  • Create a 5-minute film in under 48 hours — completely from scratch.
  • Write the film, shoot it, edit it, and watch it — all in one weekend.
  • Enjoy a film screening at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, February 24, at the Hamilton Theater.

The challenge will begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday, February 22, in 560 Case. Students can join as part of a team (maximum of 6) or sign up individually and be placed with a team. Each team must attend this opening session to receive an information packet and to get started with their film projects.

This is a great way for students to learn valuable storytelling and video skills. There will be daily introductory workshops offered the week of February 18 in the Digital Learning & Media Center in Case Library. Participants will have access to iMovie, Final Cut Pro, and Lynda.com. Equipment rentals are limited to the first 5 teams, but participants are free to use their own.

See the workshop schedule and fill out an application here.

Flaherty Film Seminar returns to Colgate for 5th year

June 18, 2012

For the fifth consecutive year, the prestigious Robert Flaherty Film Seminar will come to Colgate, offering insightful discussions and free public film screenings in the Hamilton Theater.

Presented in honor of Robert Flaherty (1884-1951), creator of classic films including Nanook of the North, Man of Aran, and Louisiana Story, the seminar highlights innovative cinematic works.

Read more

Film by Joe Berlinger '83 is nominated for Oscar

January 24, 2012

You now can add “director of Oscar-nominated documentary” to the resume of Colgate alumnus Joe Berlinger.

Berlinger ’83 and Bruce Sinofsky are directors of Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, which was among five films nominated today by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as a Best Documentary Feature.

Read more

Colgate hosts prestigious Flaherty Film Seminar

June 28, 2011

Attending the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar means being open to a different kind of film festival.  Don’t, for example, ask for a list of films to be screened, because you won’t get one. Do, however, be open to in-depth discussion, and lots of it.

Read more