Main content

Transnational Filmmaking

Purchase College launched a transnational film exchange program in which film students at Purchase College  worked alongside film students in France, Burkina Faso, and Benin.

Co-director Chad Hilton and crew on the set of Livin' in the Rain (Cotonou, Benin)Co-director Chad Hilton and crew on the set of Livin' in the Rain (Cotonou, Benin)

In the first year of the program, led by Film Professor Iris Cahn and Cinema Studies Professor Anne Kern, 25 Purchase students engaged with 30 students from France and 15 students from Africa in cross-cultural filmmaking through social media, video conferencing, and travel.

The exchange program, which was partly funded by the Transatlantic Friendship and Mobility Initiative, originated from our partnership with La CinéFrabrique, an innovative film school that shares our mission to educate filmmakers from diverse backgrounds. La CinéFabrique was recently described in Le Monde as distinctive in its mission to “welcome students from all horizons, social or geographic.”

In spring 2017, 20 Purchase students traveled to France and Benin, while 5 others remained in New York to host 10 international students. Prior to travel, students participated in a semester-long preparatory course devoted to writing and pre-production. Afterwards, students  met in New York, Lyon, Ouagadougou, Cotonou, Lomé, and Addis Ababa to shoot their films.

Across the three continents, participants  made documentary and narrative films, reflecting the countries in which they are made. Three Purchase students filmed and edited a “making of” documentary by filming the students making films in 3 host countries. The resulting films from this program will be screened at the Cinémathèque française in Paris and at Lincoln Center Film Society in New York City, as well as at Purchase College and other SUNY campuses in 2018.

The Purchase-CinéFabrique program explores the potential of filmmaking as a collaborative creative process across cultures. As Ericka Paparella, one of the students participating in the program, explains, “The idea of combining cultures to make something new, to make something no one’s ever seen before, with a group of filmmakers from all over the world, is absolutely inspiring.”