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Student-produced film wins top prize at annual festival

The student documentary consists primarily of individual and group interviews with Profs. Arbur, Fifer, Mundhenk and Traister.

The First Four, a student-produced documentary highlighting four of the first five women appointed to Lehigh’s English faculty, won top honors at the Greater Lehigh Valley Film Festival at the ArtsQuest Center earlier this month.

The film was recognized in the category of short film (15-50 minutes), and was produced by Liana Prodorutti ’16, an English major; Laura Casale ’15, a journalism and English dual major; Meghan Barwick ’15, a journalism major; and Nadia Sasso, an American studies graduate student. Barwick and Casale participated in a filmmaker roundtable following the screening of their film at the annual festival.

The professors highlighted in the film–Rosemarie Arbur, Elizabeth Fifer, Rosemary Mundhenk and Barbara Traister–joined the university faculty during a time of significant change at Lehigh. Their appointments to the English faculty in 1960s and 1970s coincided with the enrollment of the first undergraduate women at Lehigh in 1971.

“Learning about these women and telling their story inspired me to become more involved in feminism and the women’s center in particular,” said Barwick. “As a group of four women ourselves, it was a really valuable experience to work on this project.”
 
VIDEO: The First Four
 



The First Four consists primarily of individual and group interviews with Arbur, Fifer, Mundhenk and Traister. Archival footage and images from yearbooks, newspapers and other periodicals are interspersed throughout as well.

The student filmmakers traveled to visit and interview women for the documentary, conducted extensive research into women at Lehigh and into the film’s time period, and edited the final product as a group. While the process of creating a film from scratch was daunting, the students said the medium allowed them to tell the story in a way that a research paper perhaps could not.

“When making a film, you have to do all of the writing and research that you have to do for a paper,” said Sasso, who is also pursuing a graduate certificate in documentary film. “A film offers a really unique academic experience, and the visual allows you to add a new layer for people to experience.”

The group was advised by Michael Kramp, associate professor of English, and Julia Maserjian, a digital historian in Lehigh’s Library and Technology Services group.

Story by Karl Brisseaux '11

Posted on Monday, November 11, 2013

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