Academic Programs

Division of the Arts

Film and Electronic Arts


Critical thinking and creative work go hand in hand in the Film and Electronic Arts Program, which integrates a wide variety of creative practices with the study of history and criticism of the medium. All production majors take required courses in film history while pursuing filmmaking. A student writing a Senior Project in the history of film or video will have taken one or two production workshops.

Areas of Study

The program encourages interest in a wide range of expressive modes in film, video, and the expanding field of computer-based art. These include screenwriting, animation, narrative and non-narrative filmmaking, documentary, and interactive video. Regardless of a student’s choice of specialization, the program’s emphasis leans toward neither fixed professional formulas nor mere technical expertise, but rather toward imaginative engagement and the cultivation of an individual voice that has command over the entire creative process. For example, a student interested in narrative filmmaking would be expected to write an original script, shoot it, and then edit the film into its final form. Students are also expected to take advantage of Bard’s liberal arts curriculum by studying subjects that relate to their specialties. A documentarian might take courses in anthropology, an animator in painting, a screenwriter in literature, and a film critic in art history.


A student’s first year is devoted primarily to acquiring a historical and critical background. The focus in the sophomore year is on learning the fundamentals of production and working toward Moderation. Each prospective major presents to the review board a completed 16mm film and/or video, full-length script, or 10-page historical/critical essay, before Moderation. In the Upper College, students choose one of two tracks: production (including screenwriting) or film history and criticism. The junior year is devoted mainly to deepening and broadening the student’s creative and critical awareness, and the senior year to a yearlong Senior Project, which can take the form of a creative work in film or video, full-length screenplay, or extended, in-depth historical or critical essay.

Students majoring in the program are expected to complete the following courses prior to Moderation: Film 113–114, History of Cinema (or any other introductory-level film history course); two 200-level film or electronic media production workshops; and an additional history course in the program. Upper College students must complete a film-relevant science laboratory, computer science, or social science course; Film 208, Introduction to 16mm Film; a 300-level film or electronic media production workshop; an upper-level film history course; Film 405, Senior Seminar (no credit); and the Senior Project.

Recent Senior Projects in Film and Electronic Arts

  • “1971 Moonshots,” a revision of pasts, presents, and futures utilizing video and found 35mm slides
  • “Hoghole,” an impressionistic essay film made in response to traditional Caribbean songs of exile, displacement, and restlessness
  • “Persistence of Vision,” a documentary about Richard Williams and his attempt to finish his masterpiece, The Thief and The Cobbler
  • “Wittgenstein and Cinematic Meaning”


The Jim Ottaway Jr. Film Center houses a 110-seat theater equipped with 16mm, 35mm, and digital projection; performance space with digital projection capabilities; shooting studio with control room; computer lab with current Adobe editing software; darkroom; two seminar/screening rooms; editing suites for sound and video; studios for seniors; and a film archive. Visiting artist talks, screenings, symposia, and other public events are regularly scheduled in the theater. For production classes, students take advantage of the resources of the equipment office and have access to the various workrooms. The program also has an in-house media collection that consists of features, documentaries, experimental films, and past Senior Projects.


In addition to regularly scheduled academic and production courses, the program offers advanced study on a one-to-one basis with a professor. Recent tutorials include Film Sound; Buñuel, Almodóvar, and the Catholic Church; and The Archive and Its (Dis)contents.

Program Website:

Program Director: Peggy Ahwesh


Peggy Ahwesh
Ben Coonley
Jacqueline Susan Goss
Ed Halter
Peter Hutton
So Yong Kim
John Pruitt
Kelly Reichardt
Richard Suchenski


Ephraim Asili
Vanessa Haroutunian
Ruthie Turk