Dean’s Newsletter

April 16, 2018

BFA filmmaker Randi Todd pitches the concept for her film Thief to students and faculty at the Fall mixer. Photo Yuri Makino

Tannis Gibson, Interim Dean

Every spring, the annual I DREAM IN WIDESCREEN Film Festival at the Fox Tucson Theatre showcases the work of student filmmakers from the School of Theatre, Film & Television. If you’ve attended past editions, you’ll know that our incredibly talented film students enjoy accolades from over 1,000 people who show up for the screenings and festivities.

What you might not know is that these films begin to take shape at the start of the fall semester during a networking mixer at the Tornabene Theatre.

I had the pleasure of attending the mixer with a large group of energized students and faculty last year. Students were focused on their film projects, and their passion for visual storytelling was palpable. Design & Technical Production students, Acting & Musical Theatre students, and BFA Film students took their places in the theatre to hear filmmakers pitch their upcoming senior thesis film projects and story lines. Whether it was a violinist transitioning from classical to pop, or a lucky soul stumbling upon a load of stolen cash, these stories were just waiting to be told through film. Students signed up for the project of their choice, choosing to audition for roles or to become members of the production crew that together would move the projects to completion.

Not surprisingly, many of this year’s thesis films are inspired by personal experience. Victoria Pereira calls upon her love of music for Syncopate. An avid climber, Cullen Hamblen turns to his extensive knowledge of Southern Arizona mountain ranges to shoot spectacular sequences for his film Norazia. And the films are as varied as they are original. Catherine Hilbert delivers outrageous comedy with Delta Mu Nu while Alicia Farmer’s James depicts a chilling portrait of a split personality.

Numb, directed by BFA filmmaker Christina Close, was filmed entirely underwater.

This annual film presentation and competition is the first opportunity to see the students’ films before they take their work to major film festivals around the world. Students from the program have gone on to present their films at Sundance, the Berlin Film Festival, Palm Springs ShortFest and, most recently, the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival and Culver City Film Festival, where 2017 graduates Stacy Howard and Isabelle Smith screened their BFA thesis films Amásání and Kiss, respectively.

You’ll want to discover the 2018 films before they make the international film festival rounds! And you’re in luck, because you can: grab your tickets online and head to the Fox Tucson Theatre in downtown Tucson on Saturday April 28, for I DREAM IN WIDESCREEN. It’s our local version of the Oscars, and it all begins right here on campus.

Watch a sneak peek of I Dream in Widescreen 2018 here:

Tannis Gibson Initials

Tannis Gibson
Interim Dean
UA College of Fine Arts

Faculty Spotlight

Jessica Maerz

Theatre Studies

Jessica Maerz’s work as an Assistant Professor of Theatre Studies in the School of Theatre, Film, and Television is animated by a central theme: the reinvention of the classics for modern audiences. This theme flows through all of her research and publication work, the bulk of which examines film adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays.

In her creative work as a dramaturg, she is drawn to productions that seek to reinterpret the classical dramatic canon for contemporary audiences. And the theme is reflected in her service to national and international organizations, including her leadership in the Shakespeare in Popular Culture Area of the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association.

Most importantly, as a teacher of theatre history and dramatic literature, each class meeting provides Jessica with a chance to illuminate the classics in new ways for students. In every course, her aim is to help students reach an understanding of the theatrical past that will inspire them as theatre practitioners, audience members, and lifelong readers of dramatic literature.

One of Jessica’s favorite annual projects is the Undergraduate Research Symposium. Organizing the URS occupies a significant portion of her time during the year as she becomes immersed in the academic content of the event – the nomination and selection of student presentations, and helping students to turn their papers into compelling oral presentations. The annual event – the latest edition of which just took place – has become a point of pride and excitement for the student participants.

Jessica says “I can’t overestimate the degree to which my students motivate and inspire me on a daily basis. My work with students in the classroom, on independent projects, in mentoring roles, and on the Undergraduate Research Symposium is truly the most rewarding part of what I do as a faculty member.”

Staff Spotlight

Whitney Herr-Buccholz

School of Dance

Formerly a professional dancer with the San Francisco Ballet and Boston Ballet companies, and a UA alumna, Whitney Herr-Buchholz is the Manager of Operations and Advancement for the UA School of Dance. Whether it’s working with the Dance Advisory Board on fundraising and audience development initiatives, or with local educators on opportunities to bring K-12 students to view classes or rehearsals, or building relationships with other organizations, Whitney’s role is to be a connector between the program and the community at large.

“At the heart of why I do what I do,” Whitney says, “is my deep belief in the arts as fundamental to the world we live in – our society, our families, and ourselves. In educating dancers who will shape the future of our creative landscape, and as an institutional anchor in our community, UA Dance plays a critical role in advancing dance, and more broadly the arts, as a key component to solving the challenges that face our community.”

Around the Bend

Highlights of current and upcoming events from the College of Fine Arts

Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition

April 14 – May 11

The School of Art, Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition is presented annually during the last semester of a graduate student’s process to complete the Master of Fine Arts Studio Degree. In lieu of a written thesis, the student must present a fully developed body of work to the public in the form of an exhibition. This required component is the culmination of a three-year terminal degree program to pass and receive their Master of Fine Arts degree. At the Joseph Gross Gallery. More information is available on the School of Art website.

Spring Collection

April 20 – April 29

The final bouquet of the UA Dance 2017-18 season, Spring Collection offers eight diverse works, including five premieres and the sizzling work of guest choreographer Darrell Grand Moultrie in Boiling Point. Among the premieres is The Man Behind Duke choreographed by Sam Watson and featuring the music of Billy Strayhorn, composer, lyricist, and arranger for Duke Ellington. The piece takes inspiration from swing dance steps including The Shag, The Swingout and standard East Coast and West Coast Swing. Tickets are available online.

Arizona Choir

April 29

The Fred Fox School of Music presents the Arizona Choir, Bruce Chamberlain, conductor, in his final UA concert prior to his retirement. The program will include “Liebeslieder Walzer, Op. 52” by Johannes Brahms and text by Georg Friedrich Daumer, in a world premiere orchestration by Jay Kowarsky, as well as “Serenade to Music” by Ralph Vaughan Williams with text by William Shakespeare. At Crowder Hall. For tickets, call 520 621-1162 or visit the Fred Fox School of Music website.

Generator: Death of Arthur

April 19 – April 22

A year in development, Generator: Death of Arthur is a series of dramatic moments devised collectively and structured into a theatrical sequence by MFA Theatre students with supervision from Assistant Professor Greg Pierotti. Inspired by Le Morte d’Arthur, the source text for much of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Part of the Studio Series. Tickets are available online.

I Dream In Widescreen

April 28

The night of nights. Join more than 1,000 people at the Fox Tucson Theatre for the hotly anticipated I Dream in Widescreen. Cheer on the BFA students as they present their films – the culmination of months of work – for the first time on the big screen. Read more about the 14 talented filmmakers on the I Dream in Widescreen website and purchase your tickets in advance online. Doors will open at 6:00pm and the screenings will start at 7:00pm.

Hanson Film Institute Producers’ Club

April 28

Each year at I Dream in Widescreen, the Hanson Film Institute grants an Award for Excellence in Production Design. The 2018 Award – along with a cash prize of $500 – will be presented by Joseph Garrity, production designer and art director, and head of the Production Design program at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. Joe will stay on in Tucson as guest of honor at the Hanson Film Institute Producers’ Club gathering on April 29. More information about the Producers’ Club is on the Hanson Film Institute website.

Edmar Castaneda

April 19

No one has played the jazz harp with the virtuosity of Colombia’s Edmar Castaneda. A frequent collaborator with Pacquito D’Rivera, Castaneda plays intricate, fascinating music that draws on South American sounds and the improvisational language of jazz. He crafts almost unbelievable feats of cross-rhythms, layered with chordal nuances rivaling the most celebrated flamenco guitarists’ efforts. At the Fox Tucson Theatre. More info and tickets are available online.

Dean's Newsletter

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It has been an incredible year at @uafinearts with Interim Dean Tannis Gibson at the helm. We thank her for her leadership, her knowledge, her boundless enthusiasm, and for her kind heart. We wish her well with her future exciting endeavors! Pictured: Professor Gibson receives a farewell gift while CFA Associate Dean Martina Shenal looks on. ... See MoreSee Less

It has been an incredible year at @uafinearts with Interim Dean Tannis Gibson at the helm. We thank her for her leadership, her knowledge, her boundless enthusiasm, and for her kind heart. We wish her well with her future exciting endeavors! Pictured: Professor Gibson receives a farewell gift while CFA Associate Dean Martina Shenal looks on.

7 months ago

University of Arizona College of Fine Arts

Arizona Jazz Dance Showcase
Arizona Jazz Dance Showcase 2018 is set to ignite energy and inspire passion. Visit to secure your spot today!
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