SETH FEIN

photo: Julia Jaffe

I'm an audiovisual historian and filmmaker who works at the intersection of scholarship and art, which is where I have built Seven Local Film in Queens, where I live.  Meanwhile, in the borough in which I was born and raised, I teach Screen Studies in Brooklyn College's Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema at Steiner Studios, where my courses focus on global film cultures.   Here's what else I'm up to:

Make the Road  photo: Karina Garibay

I've been screening and tweaking my experimental documentary Between Neighborhoods, which transhistoricizes ––  rigorously relates present and past –– the place of Queens in New York City, the Americas, and the World across the last half century, between the ages of Donald Trump and Robert Moses.  I am delighted this work won the Queens World Film Festival's Founders Choice Award in March 2017, since when an entirely new version that includes newly available archival materials screened in the New Haven Documentary Film Festival in June and then at Make the Road New York and at Harvard University in September.  The work, in fact, keeps changing on the screen in dialogue with changes in the world around the screen.  This has been true since its inception; the audiovisual diptych entered the world as an interborough installation, simultaneously exhibited in the City University of New York's Graduate Center in Manhattan and in Queens College's Art Center in Flushing, between May and June 2016. In November 2016, I screened a new version in New and Old England –– Yale University, Cambridge University, the University of Northumbria, the University of Manchester, and University College London –– the experience of which drove future iterations. 

photo: Josh Glick

Filming and writing have traveled in opposite directions to deliver two other projects underway:  Our Neighborhood: Washington's TV Cold War across Latin America in the Sixties is a feature-length documentary that grew from my writing about big-and-small-screen propaganda in the Americas; Writing for Unisphere is a collection of essays about the hiding-in-plain-sight histories of empire in New York's public places.  Awards from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Social Science Research Council, and the National Endowment for the Humanities funded Our Neighborhoods' initial investigations, and in 2014-2015 I was a (very happy) Fellow in Multimedia History at Harvard's Charles Warren Center, where I developed my archival research into a film.  Writing for Unisphere's content and (especially its) form flowed unexpectedly from the experience of making Between Neighborhoods; where my experimental documentary validated my belief that video offers opportunities for making history that writing denies, making it generated new ideas for (and about) writing that demand print expression.   

I did my undergraduate degree in history at Cornell University and then my doctorate, also in history, at the University of Texas at Austin, where my dissertation, Hollywood and United States-Mexico Relations in the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema, won the Barnes Lathrop PrizeMy publications since then have focused on film, television, and the history of the Americas.  Among other places, I've taught at Barnard, Columbia, and Yale, where, between 2002 and 2010, I was a professor of international and transnational history, film, Latin American and American studies, and where I was honored to receive the Poorvu Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Instruction (for my course The Idea of the Western Hemisphere), the Graduate School's Mentorship Prize for the humanities, and a McCredie Fellowship in Instructional Technology, which inadvertently facilitated my move from writing about audiovisual culture to making it. 

Not too long ago, I addressed that move not too far away from where I live in Jackson Heights; in Flushing, I told my personal interborough/interdisciplinary immigration story –– Happy Birthday, Unisphere! –– inspired by my adopted borough's preeminent shrine, at the Moth's first-ever StorySLAM in Queens.  Shoot me your story:  seth@sevenlocalfilm.com