Social Responsibility


Jamaa Fanaka – 1942-2012

Writer-director of hit “Penitentiary” was a key figure of the 1970s’ “LA Rebellion” movement at TFT

Posted on April 9th 2012 in Obituary

TFT alumnus Jamaa Fanaka ’73, MFA ’79, the writer-director of the hit “Penitentiary” series who was a key figure of the LA Rebellion movement at the School in the 1970s, passed away on Sunday, April 6, in his South Los Angeles apartment. He was 69.

According to the “Los Angeles Times, ” Fanaka “later made headlines with his legal battles alleging widespread discrimination against women and ethnic minorities in the film and television industry:”

The Mississippi-born Fanaka was still enrolled in the UCLA film school when he wrote, produced and directed his first three feature films, financed with competitive academic grants and funds from his parents: “Welcome Home, Brother Charles” (1975), “Emma Mae” (1976) and “Penitentiary,” which was both a critical and box-office success.

In his review of “Penitentiary,” The Times’ Kevin Thomas wrote that Fanaka “has taken one of the movies’ classic myths, the wrongly imprisoned man who fights for his freedom with boxing gloves, and made it a fresh and exciting experience.”

“What ‘Penitentiary’ says,” Fanaka told The Times in 1980, “is that no matter what kind of situation one is confronted with, within each of us is the wherewithal to triumph.”

Three of Fanaka’s films were screened late last year in “L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema,” a UCLA Film & Television Archive film series featuring movies by African American and African former students who attended the UCLA film school in the 1970s and early ’80s.

Horak, who was one of the curators of the film series, said Fanaka’s films are “extremely interesting because they navigate a path between basically Hollywood-style filmmaking and independent filmmaking — very low budget, but at the same time very close to the community. He used amateur actors in secondary roles and shot in the community, and the stories came out of that community.”

In a tribute to Fanaka published on the UCLA Film & Television Archive website, Horak writes:

I like to think of Jamaa as the trickster of the L.A. Rebellion group. He came from a middle class family, but liked to affect a streetwise, homie attitude, throwing out double entendres and clever quips, like some rapper on the run. Jamaa loved to live and think large, even when economic circumstances had reduced him to modest means. Yes, he loved to be the center of attention, yes, his stories would sometime go on too long, but he could weave a tale that kept you at the edge of your seat, even when you were afraid he was getting perilously close to bad taste or a faux pas, then at the last moment he would pull back to what was his original, often brilliant point.

He was also anything but a trickster in terms of his personal relations. I don’t think there would have been anything he wouldn’t do for you if he could. He also never spoke badly of anyone, always looking with humor for what was good in a person, always supporting his colleagues, because, he said, there was room at the top for all of them.

Related Links:

Home > Feature Stories & News > Feature Stories

VIDEO: Dean Schwartz and alumna Shirley Jo Finney at Orientation 2011

Inspiration from Rich Rose, Barbara Boyle, Michael Hackett and the cast of “RENT”

TFT commencement video

Posted on September 29th in Social Responsibility

Bookended by electrifying production numbers from the 2011 Ray Bolger Musical Theater production of “RENT,” this year’s orientation program in the Freud Playhouse celebrated in the arrival on campus of the School’s new and returning students for the 2011-2012 academic year.

Attractions included a stirring statement of vision for the future from Dean Teri Schwartz, which offered an impressive list of scholarships and other initiatives that underscored her declaration of “The Year of the Student.”

In her Guest of Honor presenation, alumna Shirley Jo Finney MFA ’08, a world-famous actor and theater director put the credit for her wide-ranging career squarely on the interdisciplinary character of the TFT curriculum: She came to study acting, she said, and fell in love wih the other creative outlets being pursued under the same roof.

Shirley Jo Finney backstage with Dean Teri Schwartz, Theater Department chair Michael Hackett and Professor and Associate Dean Rich Rose. Photo by Todd Cheyney, UCLA Photography.

“No more silos, no more bounderies, no more barriers”

Schwartz organized her remarks around what she called “a key questtion: What world are we preparing our students for?”

Emphasizing the central themes animating her strategic plan for carrying the School forward into the 21st century, a vision that embraces humanistic storytelling, global diversity, cutting edge research and a radically interdisciplinary approach founded on a shared passion for the uplifting power of great storytelling.

“Serving as our anchor,” Schwartz said, “is great classical storytelling, the deep water that runs under everything we do at TFT.”

Watch a complete video of Dean Schwartz’s address to the students:

Next, Barbara Boyle, chair of the Department of Film, Television and Digital Media, introduced an outstanding recent film by TFT Director’s Spotlight winner Mark Nelson, the epic computer animated comedy “Jockstrap Raiders.” a worthy example of the high standards current students have set for newcomers.

Theater Departmenr chair Michael Hackett introduced a stirring video documentary about the production of “Winnie,” a grand opera on the life of South African liberator Winnie Mandela, directed in Pretoria by this year’s Orientaion Guest of Honor Shirley Jo Finney. No stronger example could be presented or art that lives up to the dean’s call for works that “enlighten, engage and inspire change for a better world.”

Finney urged students to look for creative inspiration outside their comfort zones of specialization. “I don’t need to act to feel fulfilled,” she declared. “I have to create.”

Watch a complete video of Shirley Jo Finney’s on-stage conversation with TFT Theater Departmen chair Michael Hackett:

Home > Feature Stories & News > Feature Stories

Alan Armstrong on Creating a Legacy

Retired costume design professor on his “legacy bequest” to TFT and the power of art to change the world for the better

TFT commencement video

Posted on September 26th in Social Responsibility

Alan Armstrong, a specialist in Shakespearean and classical theater costume design and a 32-year veteran professor in TFT’s Theater Department, recently made a decision to extend his service to the School with a bequest that will make the Costume Design TFT program his principle heir. A revered professor, who has taught at one institution for over three decades, inevitably leaves behind a rich legacy in the lives of many students he has inspired. Armstrong has decided to go a step further, so that future classes and generations of students will benefit from his efforts.

“I have this belief,” Armstrong said, speaking with us recently from his home in Palm Springs, “that education can fix the world. I don’t care if it’s beauty school or mechanics school or TFT. If you can teach people to think and focus for themselves, they probably won’t believe that there are 72 virgins waiting for them if they blow up the World Trade Center.”

There are personal motivations, as well: “I’m an openly gay man and I don’t have anybody to leave money to, really. I wanted to leave a legacy and there are only two charities I believe in. One is AIDS research and the other is TFT.”

Armstrong has worked continuously as a theatrical costume designer and film costume consultant in addition to his work at TFT. He feels especially privileged, he says, to have worked on more than 29 productions of Shakespeare plays at venues around the world.

“I was thinking about the needs of the costume area at TFT. Ever since I’ve been there costume design has been underfunded and understaffed, trying to work in a decaying facility to pump out the number of costumes that we do. That has begun to change significantly with the establishment of the David C. Copley Center for Costume Design under founding Director Deborah Landis, so there’s hope for real progress. I wanted to somehow specify that my bequest would be applied to that.

“I agree with Deborah that costuming is a vital and underappreciated component of telling stories on the stage and in films. And I love stories. I love myths and traditions and origins and the evolving of things. That’s the foundation of what we do at TFT, we tell stories. The stories are told through the actors and costumes help define the characters they are playing, in everything from their economic status and where they’re from to revealing a psychological state.

“And if they embody a character costume styles can carry out ripples into the culture. Young men who decide they want to wear blue jeans and leather jackets after seeing Marlon Brando in “The Wild One” adopted his rebellious attitudes along with the clothes. That’s an early example of things going viral, as they say now. It’s a small example, but it supports what I’m saying, that media can change the world.

“I think that in the interdisciplinary vision of Dean Schwartz, her push to bring the theater and film departments together, the underlying thought ought to be that through the arts we can indeed change the way people think and make inroads towards fixing the world and making it a better place. It’s that underlying principle that I really believe in.

“I certainly hope that more of my colleagues will consider joining me in establishing this kind of bequest to the School. More of them should come around to this way of thinking once they’ve retired and have had a chance to step back from the department and the day-to-day conflicts and the politics and remember the larger picture. I think if they reflect on all the good things that have come out of this program a lot of them would be willing to do what I’m doing. But you do need to get some distance from it. You need to get back in touch with your idealism.”

Feature Stories

Home > Feature Stories & News > Feature Stories

First group of TFT FilmLAB Fellows in partnership with Telluride

Producer and TFT alum Frank Marshall funds innovative first phase of TFT partnership with Telluride – the FilmLAB

TFT commencement video

Posted on September 17th in Social Responsibility

A multi-faceted educational partnership has been forged, by Dean Teri Schwartz, between the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and the Telluride Film Festival.

Famed film producer, TFT alumnus and Executive Board Member Frank Marshall ’68 has generously pledged to fund for the next several years the first initiative under the partnership umbrella. This program is called Film LAB that brought ten of the School’s outstanding graduate students – FilmLAB Fellows – to the world famous festival in the Colorado Rockies over the Labor Day weekend..

The second initiative launching this Fall as part of the new partnership is called For the Love of Movies” It will be centered around a curated film series for inner city high school students in Los Angeles. Based on the Telluride experience of seeing the very best of both local and global filmmaking, the series will focus on stories that resonate with the students’ lives.

“In creating this partnership between two of America’s most respected institutions dedicated to the love and study of cinema,” said Dean Schwartz, “our intention is to build a series of joint educational programs that will benefit a diverse group of young filmmakers and cineastes. Our partnership is a unique, joint, educational, multi-program partnership to inspire the next generation of excellence in cinema and humanistic storytelling.”

In addition to the exciting array of international films screening at one of America’s best-curated festivals, FilmLab Fellows at Telluride participated in a series of workshops designed just for them, exclusive sessions with top directors, screenwriters, producers, agents and executives attending the festival. FilmLAB was a transformational experience that will have a profound effect on our Fellows’ future careers in the industry long into the future.

Standout events included meetings with documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, theater and opera director Peter Sellars and the filmmakers behind the highly anticipated new historical drama “Albert Nobbs,” director Rodrigo Garcia, star/producer/co-writer Glenn Close, and producers Bonnie Curtis and Julie Lynn.

Collaboration was the subject of the “Albert Nobbs.” The fact-based story of a woman who successfully lived and worked as man in Victorian England was a fifteen-year labor of love for Close, who had played the role on stage. For FilmLAB Fellow Susana Casares ’11, the story Close told of working on a personal passion project with a strong collaborator such as director Garcia was an object lesson in the interpersonal aspects of the filmmaking process, “…on how important it is to let go of something that you think of as yours, to let someone else make a contribution — and how crucial it is to find the right collaborators.”

This 38th edition of the Telluride Festival was a memorable one for the TFT community in other ways, as well. One of the most admired feature films screened this year, family drama “The Descendents,” starring George Clooney, was a new work written and directed by one of TFT’s favorite sons, “Sideways” Oscar™-winner Alexander Payne MFA ’90.

In addition, one of the FilmLAB Fellows, Julio Ramos, actually had a film screening at the Festival when he was in attendance. Ramos recognized alumnus Payne in the audience when his Spotlight-winning short, “Una Carrerita, Doctor” (“A Doctor’s Job”), about a physician forced to deal with the unexpected hazards of driving a cab, screened in the program “Student Prints,” curated and introduced by admired filmmaker Godfrey Reggio (“Koyaanisqatsi”).

“My film was the first one to be screened,” Ramos recalled, “and this great director gave it an amazing introduction it front of all these people whose work I admired. I didn’t know how I could follow that.”

For film editor (“Twilight”) and TFT professor Nancy Richardson, who serves as faculty advisor to the FilmLAB initiative, “Telluride is a festival that is truly about the love of film, of historic films as well as excellent new ones. There is no film market; there are no paparazzi, no swag bags. It is really a perfect approach to influence young filmmakers, and a perfect fit with UCLA, with its emphasis on humanistic storytelling. What you see here again and again are films that tell truly human stories, that are about the real challenges we face as human beings. Here is where you can get a sense of the kind of films that are going to be made by our students in the future.”

This was the aspect of the Festival that exhilarated Samantha Sheppard a Ph.D candidate in Cinema & Media Studies, helping to restore her devotion to the art form she is studying.

“What everyone said about Telluride beforehand,” Sheppard said, “was that it was a festival that was all about the love of movies. And that was so true. Telluride reminded me that in addition to being a scholar I am a cinephile. The excitement of going into a dark theater, not knowing what you’re going to get, seeing things you might never have heard of. Coming out and starting up a discussion with some random person about what you’ve seen. It was wonderful.”

Casares agreed that ease of access was a crucial aspect of the experience, “But equally important was the fact that we were invited here. Being around young filmmakers and filmmakers who have major careers, it really makes you feel that although you are just starting out, you are part of this. You belong here.”

Feature Stories

Home > Feature Stories & News > Feature Stories

VIDEO: Reza Safai dazzles in bold new film “Circumstance”

Alumnus recalls his years at TFT — and the professors who inspired him

TFT commencement video

Iranian-American writer-director Maryam Keshavarz’s debut feature “Circumstance,” featuring TFT acting alumnus Reza Sixo Safai ’96, MFA ’99 in a complex leading role, won the Audience Award at Sundance in January and played at numerous festivals over the past year, including OutFest in Los Angeles and the prestigious New Directors/New Films series for 2011.

Now the film has opened nationwide to celebratory reviews.

A.O Scott in the “New York Times:”

“Circumstance” ripples with the indignant energy of youthful rebellion. Coming two years after the protests that convulsed Iran following the 2009 presidential elections and amid regional revolutionary turmoil, it has undeniable topical resonance. But Ms. Keshavarz is less interested in the public manifestations of political engagement than in the ways power, and particularly religious authority, affect the intimacies of families, lovers and friends.”

“The serpent in their garden of delights is Mehran (Reza Sixo Safai), Atafeh’s brother, a former musician and recovering drug addict whose embrace of stern Muslim morality threatens the easy, hypocritical harmony that has protected the family. His interest in Shireen, mildly creepy at first, grows less mild and more sinister as the film progresses toward its final crisis.”

Logan Hill in “New York” magazine:

“One of the most thrilling directorial debuts of this year, Maryam Keshavarz’s Circumstance is an edge-of-your-seat thriller with silk-sheet sex; a soap-operatic family melodrama with double-crossing siblings; and an exploration of the power of the state in the private sphere.

Iranian filmmakers who cross over into American art houses (Abbas Kiarostami or Jafar Panahi) have become known for intense levels of realism (often featuring untrained actors), bare-bones production values, and spare allegories. But Keshavarz’s Tehran hews closer to the hard-rocking, pop-addled Iran of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, and her style seems more indebted to the soapy excess of Douglas Sirk, the warm lusciousness of Bertolluci, or even Almóodovar’s kinky talent for mashing up the domestic and the profane, the ludicrous and the weighty. The film, shot lavishly by Brian Rigney Hubbard, moves with a fluid rhythm — and its few stumbles are of the most excusable, overambitious sort.”

Watch our exclusive video interview with TFT alumnus Reza Sixo Safai:

Feature Stories

TFT’s Young Alumni Network Hosts Inaugural Panel

Writers from ‘The Simpsons’ talk shop


Your first day at TFT is your first day as lifetime member of the TFT alumni network. 

That’s the message that emerged most clearly from the inaugural public event created by the new TFT Young Alumni Network, a laugh-filled panel discussion featuring eight smart and funny writers from “The Simpsons.”

The series, now approaching its landmark 500th episode after more than 20 years on the air, has employed many Bruins as writers, animators, designers, directors and producers over the years, which made it a perfect fit with the goal of the Young Alumni Network: To serve as a catalyst that brings all TFT alumni together.

Dean Teri Schwartz created the network to generate opportunities for young Bruins at the start of their careers, to interact with alumni who are established veterans. Schwartz remembers vividly how hard it was to make connections in the industry when she was starting out as a movie producer in the 1970s, and set out to create for today’s students “the opportunities I wish I had had.”

TFT alumnus and panelist David Silverman is often described as the “founding director” of “The Simpsons,” because he was the first person to animate creator Matt Groening’s characters when they were introduced in brief cartoon segments on “The Tracy Ullman Show” in the late 1980s.

As TFT animation professor and Emmy-winning “Simpsons” director Chuck Sheetz pointed out in his introductory remarks, in addition to the dozens of Bruins who have worked behind the scenes on the show, eight of the program’s 36 directors were graduates of our Animation Workshop, responsible for a total for 118 episodes.

The “Simpsons” Bruin team includes producers Mike B. Anderson and Richard Sakai and voice performers Nancy Cartwright and Harry Shearer.

The writers on the panel were Joel Cohen, Kevin Curran, John Frink, Tom Gammill, Rob Lazebnik, Bill Odenkirk, Michael Price and David Silverman. Geoff Boucher, writer and editor of the Los Angeles Times’ pop culture blog Hero Complex moderated the discussion.

Posted: May 18, 2011

Feature Stories

Home > Feature Stories & News > VIDEO: Kasi Lemmons on "Directing the Actor"

Filmmaker Kasi Lemmons’ “Directing the Actor” Master Class

UC Regents&#39 Lectureship Program funds inter-disciplinary master class with award-winning actor/director


In the 2010-11 academic year, filmmaker Kasi Lemmons (“Eve’s Bayou”) taught a six-week master class, “Directing the Actor,” in which MFA theater actors and MFA film directors worked together on scenes from as yet-unproduced screenplays written by Lemmons.

Check out the video below, directed by TFT student Robyn Charles, lensed by Charles and Juan Tallo, and edited by TFT student Nolwen Cifuentes, which shows the workshop in action.

About Kasi Lemmons

Kasi Lemmons was born in Missouri and raised in Massachusetts, where she performed in Boston Children’s Theatre before studying acting at NYU and history at UCLA.

Lemmons attended Manhattan’s New School for Social Research where she made her first film, “Fall From Grace,” a short documentary about the homelessness. She continued to develop her writing and directing skills while working as an actor in a number of films, including “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991), “Candyman” (1992), “Hard Target” (1993) and “Fear of a Black Hat” (1993). In 1997, she appeared in the feature “Gridlock’d,” the directorial debut of her husband, actor-director Vondie Curtis-Hall.

Also in 1997, Lemmons wrote and directed “Eve’s Bayou,” a Southern Gothic drama about a girl growing up in Louisiana. With star Samuel L. Jackson as co-producer, “Eve’s Bayou” was a critical success, winning Lemmons an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature. She teamed with Jackson again in 2001 for the psychological thriller “The Caveman’s Valentine.”

Lemmons’ 2007 film, “Talk To Me,” was a biographical drama about Ralph Waldo “Petey” Greene Jr. (Don Cheadle), a soul music DJ who galvanized Washington, D.C., in a tumultuous period in the mid-1960s.

— Posted Jan. 1, 2011

Feature Stories

Home > Feature Stories & News > Feature Stories

“Lainie’s Cabaret at UCLA” launched with smashing benefit performance

Veteran entertainer — and one of her master class students — raise the roof at the Freud

“Lainie’s Cabaret at UCLA,” a showcase for students in TFT’s Ray Bolger Musical Theater Program. After the great success of a Master Class she taught last year, in a series generously sponsored in the Theater Department by the Los Angeles Philanthropic Committee for the Arts (LAPCA), Dean Schwartz invited Kazan back this fall to take over the required Theater 136 acting class, with an emphasis on acting in song. “Lainie’s Cabaret” was performed by students Kazan taught in this class.
TFT commencement video
She described her solo program in the benefit as a work-in-progress version of a projected one-woman show that will provide an overview of her distinguished career, which was launched in the 1960s on Broadway, in recordings and on television. (She was a frequent and memorable guest on “The Dean Martin Show”). The line up mixed full-throated-performances of many of her signature tunes with biographical anecdotes – a description of a meeting with idol Judy Garland, for example, followed by her own rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

At the midpoint of the show, Kazan called to the stage a TFT student from the cast of “Lainie’s Cabaret,” Nina Herzog , a blistering rendidtion of Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler’s “Stormy Weather.” The authority of Herzog’s enthusiastically received performance confirmed the frequent description of TFT students as “professionals in training.”

“Lainie’s Cabaret” debuted a few days later, selling out six shows at the Freud over four days with a program of classic tunes from the Great American Songbook sung in a dazzling array of styles. Students Hunter Bird, Beatrice Crosbie, Emma Degerstedt, Jon Eidson, Nina Herzog, Mikayla Mcvey, Sarah Miller-Crews, Kimberly Moore, Marco Ramos, Michael Starr, Jake Everett Tieman and Rachel Weck consistently won standing ovations for their work.

Feature Stories

Elizabeth Reiko Kubota Whitney, ’80, Pays it Forward

Alumna establishes groundbreaking full-ride theater scholarship to honor her sister’s generosity


Theater alumna Elizabeth Reiko Kubota Whitney, ’80, has established a $750,000 endowment that will fund the School’s first four-year scholarship for undergraduate theater students, covering tuition, room, board and other expenses – costs that can add up to almost $30,000 per year.

“Words cannot fully describe the depth of our gratitude to Liz Whitney and her family for their unparalleled generosity, friendship and vision in establishing this very special full ride scholarship,” said TFT Dean Teri Schwartz. “This is a landmark gift for the School, and one which demonstrates Liz and her family’s profound commitment to fostering excellence in education. This scholarship gift will most certainly serve as a transformational opportunity and experience for all of the outstanding students who become the beneficiaries of Liz and her family’s extraordinary generosity for many years to come.”

Whitney attended TFT in the 1970s and had some success as an actress and singer in the 1980s, before marrying private investment banker Kenneth Whitney in 1991. As she explains in this exclusive interview, the Jeanne Michiko Kubota Fund was named for Whitney’s late sister, the woman who made it possible for her to pursue her Sound of Music dreams at TFT, and first established at the UCLA Alumni Association.

ELIZABETH WHITNEY: We started this scholarship because I wanted to give something back, because UCLA has been such an important part of my life and to honor my sister Jeanne, who had a crucial influence on my decision to attend and my ability to attend.

She was 12 years older than me, married and living in Southern California when I was in middle school and high school. She worked for Pac Bell and was a huge USC football and UCLA basketball fan. She loved John Wooden. Often when we went down from Lodi to visit her, she was watching Bruin basketball, and I fell in love with UCLA basketball through her. UCLA became the only school I wanted to attend.

I got accepted to UCLA, but my family was struggling. They had already put three older children through college, and even though the cost was, I think, only about $200 per quarter in fees and maybe $150 a month for the dorms, it was still hard at that point. They wanted me to drop out and work, and go back after I’d saved some money. But I knew, once you drop out it is so hard to get back into being a student. It was my sister Jeanne who stepped in and paid for me to go to UCLA to study theater.

It was always going to be a loan. I was going to pay her back after college. Around 1991, I had a conversation with her, and I said, “I never paid you back.” She said, “I didn’t expect you to.” Then in 1992, she passed away from colon cancer — the same year my first daughter was born. So our scholarship is called the Jeanne Michiko Kubota scholarship because it is in honor of my sister and it is really from all of us, from the whole family. The funding for it was actually my Christmas present last year.

Was theater what you always wanted to study? How did you get interested in being an actress?

It was when I first saw Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. I used to do numbers from it in elementary school, going out on the lawn and spinning around and singing. That was really my first love, even though UCLA didn’t have a musical theater major, then, like the Ray Bolger Musical Theater Program. If you wanted to study that, you did the musical theater workshop taught by Gary Gardner, a very popular professor.

The workshop was every Saturday morning, and you would get up and sing your audition piece and then the class would critique you. Gary said to me, at one point, that because I was Asian, Japanese-American, I would have to be just that much better than the next person. He said, “You have a good audition piece but if you’re going to get work you will have to be even more special.”

I was involved with productions created by actor friends who were in activist groups for minorities, to try to break out of the stereotypical roles [so that] an Asian wouldn’t always have to play the gardener. But, as it turned out, the reason I got my Equity card was because one year everybody was doing revivals of Flower Drum Song. Lots of people were looking for Asian performers.

A lot of my friends went on and made a living at their craft. I was never able to make a living doing it. I was a waitress at my uncle’s restaurant at the Rancho Park golf course, which was great because it was right down the street from 20th Century Fox, and he would let me take time off to go on auditions. I performed with an improv comedy troupe called Cold Tofu, which is still active. I had roles in several TV shows of the 1980s, including MacGyver and T.J. Hooker. One of the things I am proudest of was appearing in August 6th, 1945, an ensemble piece about the bombing of Hiroshima at the Mark Taper Forum in 1982. Larry Riley was in that, and Bonnie Franklin. It was a great cast and a great experience for me. The thing I did that was most widely seen, I think, was a music video for the John Waite song “(I Ain’t) Missing You.” I played the girl who broke the singer’s heart! It was the No. 1 video on MTV in 1984.

Now you’re in the position of being able to help other people develop a career who might otherwise not be able to pursue it.

When we transferred our support to TFT, I wanted the gift to make a significant difference in a student’s life, especially in these tough financial times.

You’re paying forward the debt you feel you owe your sister, but at today’s prices.

The cost of attending college has gone way up and there are many more people than ever who are not able to afford it. Over the years, I would get calls asking for donations from students who were volunteering with the Alumni Association, and I would ask them what the tuition was. The first time I heard it had gone up over $1,000, I was like, ‘Oh man!’ Now it’s over $10,000 and the combined cost to attend is almost $30,000 per year.

In the past, the department has lost some very good students because it was not able to offer a financial package that is competitive with other institutions. We feel very fortunate, all of us, the whole family, that we are able to do something about that, at least for a few talented students.

— Posted: May 2010

Feature Stories

VIDEO: Master filmmaker Terry Sanders

Revered documentary director and TFT alumnus shares the wisdom of a lifetime



Two-time Oscar-winner Terry Sanders ’54, MA ’67 is one of America’s most revered documentary filmmakers. Over the course of an almost 50-year career, he has directed, written and produced a dozen classic non-fiction features, including “Four Stones for Kanemitsu” (1973), “Slow Fires: On the Preservation of the Human Record” (1987), a pioneering TV special about film preservation and digital decay, “Return with Honor (1998) and the recent “Fighting for Life” (2008), about the training of US Army medics and their grueling tours of duty in Iraq.

On April 13, “Fighting for Life” will be the centerpiece of a Documentary Salon special event, hosted by revered documentary filmmaker and professor Marina Goldovskaya, an event honoring Sanders for his entire body of work. In March he welcomed into his Santa Monica home a UCLA film crew that included TFT documentary students Battiste Fenwick and Esther Shubinski. He shared his experiences making the Oscar-winning short “A Time Out of War” at UCLA in the 1950s, the challenges of building a career in documentary and reflections about the art of making non-fiction features come to life.

With his late brother, Denis Sanders ’52, MA ’55, he made the first student film ever to win an Academy Award: their “Time Out of War” won the Best Live Action Short subject prize in 1953 and in 2007 was added to th National Film Registry. Sanders also produced the 1994 Oscar-winning Best Documentary Feature, “Maya Lin: A Strong, Clear Vision,” which was directed by his wife, Freida Lee Mock.

Last year, Sanders was the recipient of the highest honor conferred in the documentary field, the Golden Frog, an Award for Outstanding Achievement from the International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography, Plus CamerImage, in Lodz, Poland.