CFILM Strengthens Wesleyan's Status as One of Top U.S. Film Schools

July 20, 2016

Wesleyan is consistently celebrated as one of the top film schools in the United States. With the 2013 founding of the College of Film and the Moving Image (CFILM)—uniting the extraordinary Department of Film Studies, the Wesleyan Cinema Archives and the Wesleyan Film Series—Wesleyan has further strengthened its well-established position as a leader in the national film studies arena.

Thanks to the generosity of donors to the THIS IS WHY campaign and the new Charles W. Fries Curator position at the Wesleyan Cinema Archives—endowed by his son, Trustee Mike Fries ’85—Wesleyan can better meet the ever-increasing demands on the university’s popular Department of Film Studies, both now and in the future. In addition, an endowment challenge grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation—which will award $2 million for CFILM endowment when Wesleyan raises $4 million for CFILM—will help to ensure the college’s legacy by supporting teaching outreach, expanding student access, and strengthening CFILM's distinctive interdisciplinary approach to film study.

A leader in the creation of CFILM, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies Jeanine Basinger has been a guiding force in film since she joined Wesleyan as a teaching assistant in 1969. Since that time, Basinger has made her mark on Wesleyan and on Hollywood, as founder of both the Department of Film Studies and the Wesleyan Cinema Archives—which is responsible for the care of materials from some of film history’s most significant figures, including Frank Capra, Clint Eastwood, Elia Kazan, Ingrid Bergman, Martin Scorsese, John Waters, Raoul Walsh, and Jonathan Demme—and as teacher to some of the entertainment industry’s most accomplished A-listers (see photo below). A two-time recipient of Wesleyan’s Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching, the Hollywood Reporter calls Basinger, “one of the most beloved and respected film history professors in the history of film studies.”

Since taking over as Film Studies chair in 2014, Professor of Film Studies Scott Higgins has spearheaded new curricular initiatives that include a filmmaking class for first-year students; a course in videogame aesthetics and design; a new colloquium in silent cinema especially for sophomores; a course about the art and business of contemporary cinema for film majors; and the first undergraduate course in the U.S. to explore the aesthetics of 3-D filmmaking. Higgins has also brought filmmaking opportunities directly to first-year students with the formation of the CFILM Film Club.

In 2015, 42 students graduated from the College of Film and the Moving Image, a number that is expected to increase each year. And with CFILM’s new 6-course minor in film, more students than ever are able to participate in the popular program. To learn more about the program, click here.