The First Film Program in the United States
The First Film Program in the United States
The First Film Program in the United States

Application deadline [EXTENDED]: to MARCH 31, 2020!

a Little about our history

The Film program was founded in 1941 by Hans Richter, a revolutionary artist who was a major force in redefining art and film in the 20th century. He was best known for his contributions to Dadaism, Surrealism, and New American Cinema Movement. Richter was author of a first-hand account of the Dada movement entitled Dada: Art and Anti-Art.

Born in Berlin, Hans Richter moved to Switzerland, where he was associated with the founding of the Dada movement. During the 1920s, he created the breakthrough abstract animated film “Rhythmus 21,” followed by the Dada classic “Ghosts Before Breakfast.” After the Nazis forced him out of Europe in 1941, Richter came to the United States and served as director of the newly formed Institute of Film Techniques, the first film school in the United States. Over the next 17 years teaching at City College, Richter influenced generations of American filmmakers by opening their eyes to documentary, experimental and European art films. The Institute of Film Techniques eventually developed into our current BFA Program in Film/Video.

In 1999, the Master of Fine Arts program was founded to promote diverse voices in documentary and fiction filmmaking. The program distinguishes itself by its faculty, comprised entirely of working filmmakers, and its emphasis on cultivating independent and original visual story-tellers. Within six years we had our first Oscar-winning film, with several more Oscars and Emmys to follow, quite an achievement for a small program with only 25 students per graduating class.

Voice of Hans Richter, excerpted from the film Hans Richter: Everything Turns–Everything Revolves by CCNY faculty member Dave Davidson.

Meet our faculty

Our faculty and staff are both master professors and working professionals connected to vast resources in the film and media arts production industry. Learn more about the faculty of the MFA Film Program at CCNY.

Andrea Weiss

Program Director

Andrea Weiss is an internationally acclaimed documentary filmmaker, editor and nonfiction author.  She wrote, directed and edited the documentary/fiction feature, Escape To Life, which premiered in the Berlin and Rotterdam Film Festivals, followed by a European theatrical and television release. Other film credits include Seed Of Sarah, Paris Was A Woman, International Sweethearts Of Rhythm, Tiny & Ruby, A Bit of Scarlet, and Before Stonewall (for which she won an Emmy Award).  Her production company, Jezebel Productions, has been honored with retrospective screenings in London, Hamburg, Zurich and Berlin.

Weiss’ book Paris Was A Woman was re-issued in 2013 and has been translated into French, German, Spanish, Korean, Croatian, and Japanese.  In The Shadow Of The Magic Mountain (University of Chicago Press, 2008) is winner of the Publishing Triangle Award, and was translated into German and Swedish. Weiss has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, and New York Foundation for the Arts. She was Artist-in-Residence at the Banff Center for the Arts in Canada, Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida, and D.A.A.D. Artist Program in Berlin. She recently received a Fulbright Award to Barcelona.

Antonio Tibaldi

Program Director

Antonio is half Italian, half Australian. He has worked as writer/director in the film industries of Europe, Australia and North America since 1992, when he co-wrote (with Gill Dennis) and directed ON MY OWN (Sundance 1993), nominated for 6 AFI awards (Australian Oscar Equivalent) and 1 Genie award (Canada’s Oscar equivalent). He directed 4 other features, including RUNNING AGAINST (Sundance 1997, winner Cinequest and Prix Italia 1997) and LITTLE BOY BLUE (winner Mystfest, Cattolica 1997).

His films have been presented at festivals such as Berlin, Sundance, San Sebastian, Rotterdam; and released by companies such as Miramax, Warner Bros., and Lion’s Gate. He collaborates with UNTV (United Nations TV) making documentaries to shed light on under-reported realities in South and Central America, Africa, and Asia. In 2012 his feature documentary [S]COMPARSE won the Brooklyn Film festival. His most recent documentary short GODKA CIRKA (co-directed with MFA ’12 graduate ‘Al Lora) screened at Sundance and won the Gaudì award and Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film festival in 2014.

His projects have received the support of IFP (Independent Filmmaker Project), TFI (Tribeca Film Institute) and FIND (Film Independent). As a Fulbright scholar he received his MFA in Film/Video at Calarts, studying with Sandy Mackendrick.

Jerry W. Carlson

MCA Department Chair & Cinema Studies Director

A specialist in narrative theory, global independent film, and the cinemas of the Americas, Professor Carlson is Chair of the Department of Media & Communication Arts at The City College CUNY. In addition, at the CUNY Graduate Center he is a member of the doctoral faculties of French, Film Studies and Comparative Literature and a Senior Fellow at the Bildner Center for Western Hemispheric Studies. He has lectured at Stanford, Columbia, Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV (Cuba), and the University of Paris, among others.

Moreover, he is an active producer, director, and writer with multiple Emmy Awards. As a Senior Producer for City University Television (CUNY-TV), he created and produces the series CITY CINEMATHEQUE about film history, CANAPE about French-American cultural relations, and NUEVA YORK (in Spanish) about the Latino cultures of New York City. As an independent producer, his recent work includes the Showtime Networks production DIRT directed by Nancy Savoca and LOOKING FOR PALLADIN directed by Andrzej Krakowski.

In 1998 he was inducted by France as a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques. He was educated at Williams College (B.A.) and the University of Chicago (A.M. & Ph.D.).

Chantal Akerman, 1950-2015

Filmmaker in Residence

We are deeply saddened by the passing of filmmaker and film professor Chantal Akerman.  Her films have changed the course of film history and will remain influential for generations to come.  We in the MFA Program in Film at City College were privileged to know and work with her and are grateful for the body of work she left behind.  Please find her obituary here.

Dave Davidson


Dave Davidson is an independent documentary filmmaker and media educator whose work focuses on the arts, culture and social issues. His most recent film, Everything Turns – Everything Revolves (2013), on the Dadaist and experimental filmmaker, Hans Richter, was a featured installation at major museum exhibitions in Los Angeles (LACMA), Berlin (Gropius-Bau) and Metz (Centre Pompidou). Davidson has directed over twenty award-winning documentaries, many broadcast nationally on PBS. These include, A Place Out of Time – The Bordentown School (2010), Into the Light (1996), The Dancing Man – Peg Leg Bates (1992) and Cissy Houston – Sweet Inspiration (1988). From 2010 to 2013, Davidson was Director of Photography and co-producer on the 9-part PBS series, Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook. With Amber Edwards, his partner in Hudson West Productions, he recently completed the feature documentary, There’s a Future in The Past on the early Jazz bandleader and historian, Vince Giordano. He is currently in post-production on another feature documentary, A Gesture and a Word , chronicling the final months of a brilliant songwriter / poet fighting brain cancer.

Davidson’s documentaries have been funded by The National Endowment for the Arts, The National Endowment for the Humanities, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Prudential Foundation and The New York State Council on the Arts. He has received The American Film Institute Independent Filmmaker Award, The Pioneer of the Arts Award from the Black Experimental Theatre Company and The Christopher Award. His films have garnered awards The Chicago Int. FF, The San Francisco Int. FF, The Black Maria FF, Worldfest Houston, and The Newark Black FF, among others.

Davidson is a professor and the founding director of The MFA in Media Arts Production program (Now, The MFA in Film) at The City College in Harlem, where he has taught since 1984.

Cybel Martin


Singled out for her expressive and stylized work, Cybel Martin is the first and only African American woman to receive an MFA in Cinematography from New York University. She has served as the Cinematographer for Dee Rees’ “Orange Bow” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and for “Sangam”, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Her feature work has included “Flora’s Garment Bursting into Bloom”, winner of the Showtime “No Limits” Award, the Slamdance Grand Jury Winner “On The Outs,” and the edgy criminal dramas “Dregs of Society” and “No Problema”. She has also been fortunate to team up with notable performance artists, most recently shooting “Forget Me Not” for artist Zach Fabri, commissioned by the Studio Museum of Harlem. She received considerable recognition for her work on “The Gilded Six Bits”, winner of the Hollywood Black Film Festival Jury Award. Cybel has contributed to numerous documentaries, notably Lucy Walker’s “The Crash Reel”, “Inside: The New Black Panther Party” for National Geographic, ”11 Days” directed by Dan Metcalf and produced by Mark Burnett and the Tribeca Film Festival “All Access Award” winner, “Dressed Like Kings”. Cybel has been featured in American Cinematographer Magazine, Fader Magazine and writes about cinematography for

Nancy Gerstman


Nancy Gerstman is co-president and co-founder of Zeitgeist Films. She has worked in all aspects of film distribution and exhibition including a stint at Landmark Theatre Corp., the largest independent theatre chain in the US.  She is in demand as a juror, panelist and commentator on issues related to independent and foreign language film and teaches Marketing and Distribution in the Master’s Program in Media and Communication Arts at CCNY. She was born in Queens, New York.

Boukary Sawadogo


Born in Côte d’Ivoire, Dr. Boukary Sawadogo was educated in Burkina Faso, Senegal and the USA. His research and teaching interests are focused on African cinema, documentary and Black world experience. Boukary has published extensively on Francophone African cinema, including a book Les Cinémas francophones ouest africains, 1990-2005. His documentary Salut Y’all: African Teachers on the Bayou was selected by the 2013 African World Documentary Film Festival.

The newest directions of Boukary’s research include the study of comedy and digital technologies in African cinemas, African TV series, and the questions of identity and mobility in the African diaspora. In that regard, Boukary is currently working on his second book project on comedy and entertainment in African cinema.

Andrzej Krakowski


Krakowski received his Ph.D. at the Polish National Film School in Lodz, where he studied film, television and theatre directing. Before leaving Poland in 1968, he was also known as a promising poet, writer and a cartoonist.

After being sent to Hollywood on a six-month scholarship, he was stripped by the Polish authorities of his citizenship and declared a persona-non-grata in his native country. He attended the American Film Institute, where among his classmates he counts: David Lynch, Terrence Malick and Paul Schrader.

Over the last four decades, Krakowski wrote, directed and/or produced over 50 feature films and TV movies for major studios and TV networks. Credits include LOOKING FOR PALLADIN, TRIUMPH OF THE SPIRIT, EMINENT DOMAIN, MANAGUA, TIDES OF WAR and PORTRAIT OF A HITMAN.

His feature CAMPFIRE STORIES – based on a comic book – was shown on Showtime and sold all over the world, as were the docu-drama FAREWELL TO MY COUNTRY and the documentary POLITICS OF CANCER. His TV series WE ARE NEW YORK won two Emmy Awards.

Krakowski’s theatre credits include KING DAVID on Broadway and FELIX THE CAT’S MUSICAL JOURNEY in Tokyo. He also authored several books, among them: THE WORLD THROUGH THE EYE OF A SCREENWRITER and POLLYWOOD.

JT Takagi

Sound Recording

JT Takagi (Orinne JT Takagi) is an award winning independent film maker and sound recordist. Her films are primarily on Asian/Asian-American and immigrant issues and include Bittersweet Survival, Homes Apart: Korea; The Women Outside; and North Korea: Beyond the DMZ, which all aired nationally on PBS. As a sound engineer, she has recorded for numerous public television and theatrical documentaries with Emmy and Cinema Audio Society nominations including the 2014 releases Through A Lens Darkly by Thomas Allen Harris, Freedom Summer by Stanley Nelson, and the upcoming August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand by Sam Pollard. She also manages Third World Newsreel, a non-profit alternative media center, and serves on the boards of both community and national organizations working on peace and social justice.

Annie J. Howell


Annie J. Howell is a filmmaker whose work has played at the SXSW, Mill Valley, Starz Denver, Hamptons, Full Frame, Silver Docs, Clermont-Ferrand, Cleveland, Atlanta, New Orleans and Cinequest Film Festivals, amongst many others. She previously taught at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies and Duke’s Program in Film and Video, the MFA in Film program at Ohio University, and at The New School, where she was the Founding Director of the Graduate Certificate in Documentary Media Studies. Her work has been screened on the Sundance Channel, PBS, and the Independent Film Channel. Her first feature, co-written and directed with Lisa Robinson, is titled Small, Beautifully Moving Parts. The film premiered at SXSW 2011 and was the recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Hamptons International Film Festival and the Audience Award at RiverRun Film Festival. Garnering praise from Variety, NPR as well as the late Roger Ebert, the film opened theatrically at Cinema Village and went on to play several other markets. Other recent work includes a short, Tia and Marco, commissioned by ITVS (Independent Television Service) for their inaugural online science fiction series, FUTURESTATES. Her awards include a 2005 Screenwriters’ Colony fellowship, a 2008 IFP Grand Prize Award in Digital Filmmaking from Panasonic, and a 2010 San Francisco Film Society/Kenneth Rainin Foundation grant, all for original screenwriting.

Deirdre Fishel

Documentaries and Dramas

Deirdre Fishel is a teacher and independent filmmaker of both documentaries and dramas. Her films have premiered in competition at Sundance and SXSW and been broadcast in thirty-five countries worldwide. Her documentary STILL DOING IT: The Intimate Lives of Women Over 65 was also expanded into a book co-written with producer Diana Holtzberg.

Recent projects include a web documentary SUICIDE ON CAMPUS produced in conjunction with The New York Times Magazine and a transmedia project, THE BOY GAME distributed by New Day Films. Deirdre graduated from Brown University, attended the American Film Institute and has an MFA from Hunter College. She is currently in post-production on the documentary CARE which received grants from the Ford and MacArthur Foundations.

Campbell Dalglish


Campbell Dalglish (Writer, Director, Producer)– Founding Director of D’Arc Productions, award winning playwright, screenwriter and director.

His short narrative Dance of the Quantum Cats won international awards and was selected by CINE to represent USA at the 12th International Film Festival of Peace, Hiroshima, JAPAN. It was broadcast on PBS/CPTV in a series on emerging directors. His feature screenplays, BRUISES and DEER WOMAN are currently in pre-production. In documentary he has co-produced with his partner, Catherine Oberg, over thirty segments for broadcast, including multiple segments on American Indian reservations, broadcast on The New Morning Show (the Hallmark Channel). He an his partner also co-produced Eco Action, and the short film Ahalani: Living In Harmony With The Sun.

Over the years Dalglish has developed a technique of making films without scripts in marginal communities (A Hard Way Out 1992 Hartford gangs, The Community Room 1990 Jericho Homeless Shelter, and The Shooting Gallery 1989 Bridgeport Prison).

He is a Film Commissioner for Suffolk County and President of the Plaza Cinema and Media Arts Center in Patchogue ( that houses the George Stony School of Documentary Filmmaking. He is currently in post production on two features, STATELESS a film without a script shot in NYC, and SPIRIT ROADS shot in Indian territories of Oklahoma.

Babak Rassi


Babak Rassi is a film editor whose work in the past twenty years has ranged from promotional videos and episodic TV, to feature length fiction and documentaries. He has also served as post-production consultant for a number of NYC filmmakers and production companies.

As an educator he aims to teach the established conventions of editing, as well as emerging trends in post-production, but more importantly to encourage the critical thinking that enables novice filmmakers to take risks and discover fresh approaches in crafting their stories.

His credits include MY BEST DAY (feature fiction), HOLY LAND (feature documentary), LOOKING FOR PALLADIN (feature fiction), TERRE VIVANTE (TV documentary), THE TROUPE (feature documentary), VARIAN AND PUTZI (feature documentary)

David Briggs

Sound Design

DAVID BRIGGS (Adjunct Professor) is a professional sound editor whose Supervising Sound Editor credits include the original Sundance series The Red Road, the films 3 Backyards, Bottled Up, My Best Day, Teeth, You Belong to Me, and the documentaries Do I Sound Gay?, Take Us Home and Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger. Other sound editing credits include Moonrise Kingdom (Golden Reel nominee), Chris Rock’s Top Five, Roger Waters’ The Wall, The Last Patrol, Me and Earl and The Dying Girl, Black Nativity, Concussion, We Are What We Are, The Wire, Bachelorette, Friends with Kids, Cadillac Records, and New York, I Love You. He has sound designed numerous award-winning short films as well, including the 2014 Cannes Film Festival award-winning Oh Lucy!, the 2013 Canadian Genie Award winner Throat Song, and My Father’s Truck, currently on the 2015 Oscar short list for Best Short Film. He was a guest instructor of sound editing at New York University Tisch Asia’s Singapore campus for the past 4 years. He is a member of the Motion Picture Editors Guild and holds an MFA in Film from New York University.

Meet our students

We are proud to be one of the most international film programs in the world! Recent and current students come from Vietnam, Nigeria, China, Germany, Japan, Israel, Spain, Turkey, Palestine, Haiti, Belarus, France, India, Tibet, Pakistan, Iran, Kenya, Ukraine, Italy, Bhutan, Uruguay, Venezuela, Thailand and Taiwan…



Take a look at some of the films created by our aspiring film makers. Some of our students work have been featured in Sundance, Tribeca, Cannes, and other film festivals across the world!

Alex Lora
Alex Lora
Flavio Alves
Flavio Alves
Niav Conty
Niav Conty
Jayan Cherian
Jayan Cherian
Annalisa Vozza
Annalisa Vozza
Jeremy Joffee
Jeremy Joffee


Contact Us

We'll get back to you, asap!

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search