The Film Study Center is Harvard’s one center devoted to supporting artistic practice and creative work in film, video, and sound. It was founded in 1957 for the purpose of supporting non-fiction work that records and interprets the world through images and sounds.
We support practices, from the ethnographic to the experimental, that explore and expand the expressive potential of audiovisual media, especially through nonfiction. We grant annual fellowships to graduate students, faculty, and staff drawn from departments across the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the University as a whole. We also collaborate with the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study to provide fellowships in film, sound, and moving image installation for makers from around the world and with the LEF Foundation to award an annual fellowship to a Boston-area filmmaker. The FSC also regularly invites outstanding visiting filmmakers to Harvard to share their work with the University community.
Works that have been produced over the years with the Film Study Center’s assistance include John Marshall’s The Hunters (1957), Robert Gardner’s Dead Birds (1963) and Forest of Bliss (1985), Jan Lenica’s Landscape (1974), Robb Moss’ The Same River Twice (2003), Ross McElwee’s Six O’Clock News (1997) and Bright Leaves (2003), Richard P Rogers’ DoHistory.org (2000), Peter Galison and Robb Moss’ Secrecy (2008), Gina Kim’s Never Forever (2007), Sharon Lockhart’s Lunch Break (2008) and Exit (2008), Amie Siegel’s DDR/DDR (2008), Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor’s Sweetgrass (2009), Verena Paravel and Lucien Casting-Taylor’s Leviathan (2012), Libbie Dina Cohn and John Paul Sniadecki’s People’s Park (2012), Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez’s Manakamana (2013), Valerie Massadian’s Milla (2017), Eloy Enciso’s Endless Night (2019), Ben Rivers and Anocha Suwichakornpong’s Krabi, 2562 (2019), Mati Diop’s Atlantics (2019), and Ernst Karel and Veronika Kusumaryati’s Expedition Content (2020).
Established initially as a visual arm of Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, in 1964 the Film Study Center relocated to the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts. In 1995, it moved to Sever Hall in Harvard Yard, where it remains an independent center serving students and faculty across FAS. The Film Study Center is also the administrative home for the Critical Media Practice (CMP) secondary field for PhD students at Harvard who wish to integrate media creation into their academic work.
Work at the Film Study Center has been made possible by its own endowment, the generosity of its benefactors, and grants that have been obtained for its projects from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the MacArthur Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Fidelity Charitable Foundation, the McMillan-Stewart Foundation, the Norman Foundation, and the Billy Rose Foundation, among others.
Robert Gardner was Founding Director of the Film Study Center and served as its Director from 1957 to 1997. Richard P. Rogers served as Director from 1998 to 2001. Lucien Castaing-Taylor served as Associate Director from 2002 to 2008, and as Director from 2008 to 2020. Ross McElwee served as Interim Director in 2009-10. Peter Galison served as Co-Director with Lucien Casting-Taylor from 2010 to 2019. Currently, Joana Pimenta is Interim Director and Julie Mallozzi is Administrative Director.
The FSC logo was designed circa 1957 by Hungarian-born artist, designer, educator, and art theorist György Kepes. Courtesy of the Kepes estate.