Emerson College students and AFDA Cape Town students making a film together

News, 30 May 2019

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Students and faculty from Emerson College's Department of Visual and Media Arts, which is a private college situated in Boston, Massachusetts are visiting AFDA Cape Town as part of a cultural exchange  from May 13th - 21 June 2019. 

Emerson have brought 12 of their graduate students accompanied by 2 faculty members. The major project is the making of a 14 minute film with the Emerson students and 12 AFDA students who have volunteered to work on the film in various capacities. The film, Finding Khanye, has been co-written by an AFDA student, Jo Mbulawa, and an Emerson student, Dessaline Etienne.       

"I have been challenged as a student, a creative, a writer, and a person. Even though it has come with its challenges, it has also been invigorating creating something meaningful, and so unique. It has been that much more rewarding because we have operated with nothing but obstacles (time differences, different writing styles, having to communicate via Skype, email etc, never having met etc). I can honestly say though, for this journey, I am so glad to be working with someone like Jo who is so emotionally aware of herself as a person, and as a writer." says Emerson graduate Dessaline Etienne  

"Working on this project has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be a writer. The people I have met on this journey have offered me new perspectives on how to go about the creative process. Co-writing a script centred on a cross-cultural narrative with someone of a different nationality than me is very meta. But also it has allowed us to challenge our own understanding of the term "identity". I have always been passionate about the issues addressed in this narrative. And it's been incredible to collaborate with a writer who is passionate about the same issues too as he offered a different outlook on the topic at hand. I have grown a lot and am very grateful for this opportunity." says AFDA student Jo Mbulawa 

In addition, Emerson students and faculty members are collaborating with the AFDA Postgraduate program through a number of interdisciplinary workshops. 

This is not the first visit from Emerson Faculty members Theodore R. Life Jr and Harlan Bosmajian, who have visited AFDA for a similar programme years. Find out more about the Emerson Faculty members below:




B.A. Tufts University
M.F.A. New York University

Theodore R. Life Jr. is a Producer/Director for film, television and the theater. He has been awarded a Fulbright Journalist Fellowship, three CINE Golden Eagles, named a Sony Innovator,and nominated for three Emmys.

His film Reason to Hope was awarded Best Film at the 26th annual International Festival of Black Cinema in Berlin and he just completed a feature film based on the Akutagawa Prize winning novella, Cocktail Party. He also produced and directed Live your Dream: The Taylor Anderson Storythat chronicles the impact of the American English teacher who lost her life during the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.




B.A. Western Washington University
M.A. New York University

Harlan Bosmajian has been the director of photography on 30 feature films and several TV series. His career began after shooting the black and white film La Ciudad for which he received a nomination for Best Cinematography at the Independent Spirit Awards and won Best Cinematography at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. 

He shot one of the first high-def TV series, Strangers with Candy, as well as one of the first high-def films to get a theatrical release, titled Lovely and Amazing. He recently shot the romantic comedy The Other End of the Line in Mumbai, India. He also did additional photography on the second season of the TV series Mad Men. Bosmajian has shot movies in all film/video formats from 16mm black and white to the Red One camera. He has taught camera and lighting classes in New York, Los Angeles, and The Sundance Labs. He is an avid still photographer as well.



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AFDA is registered as the South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance, and is a private higher education institution which offers higher certificate and degree programmes. It is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) as a private higher education institution under the the Higher Education Act, 1997. Registration certificate no. 2001/HE07/012. Our programmes are accredited and we participate productively in the ongoing reaccreditation and quality assurance processes of the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) to ensure the quality of our programmes.
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