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Bios

Katie Bird holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Film Production and English from Loyola Marymount University. She earned her MA in Literary and Cultural Studies from Carnegie Mellon University. Katie’s current research interests focus on a materialist history of American film industry and exhibition practices in the postwar and contemporary periods. I am currently working on projects related to historical discourses of craft labor in film production.
Dan Chyutin received his BFA in film production from Tel Aviv University’s Film & TV Department and his MA in cinema studies from New York University before entering the PhD track in Film Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. As a doctoral candidate, his research focuses on the cultural and theoretical intersections of religion and film, and in particular on contemporary Israeli cinema’s relationship with Judaism and Judaic identity. A section from his dissertation was published in the 2011 UT Press anthology, Israeli Cinema: Identities in Motion, and he also has essays forthcoming in Cinema Journal and Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, as well as in the edited volume Media and Translation from Continuum (co-written with Alison Patterson). In addition to his academic activities, Dan is also an accomplished filmmaker, whose short narrative fiction and experimental films have been screened in various festivals worldwide.
Veronica Fitzpatrick holds a B.A. in English with specialization in Women’s Studies from Michigan State University and an M.F.A. in Poetry from the University of Notre Dame, where she taught in the Department of Film, Television & Theatre. Her dissertation is about sexual trauma and cinematic horror.
Kevin Flanagan is a Ph.D. student in the Critical & Cultural Studies program in the Department of English/Film Studies. He holds an M.A. in English/Film Studies from North Carolina State University. His main research interests include postwar British and Irish cinema, modes of film satire, genre, and ‘Birmingham School’ cultural studies.Kevin’s edited anthology Ken Russell: Re-Viewing England’s Last Mannerist was published by Scarecrow Press in August 2009. His essays and reviews can be found in Framework, Media Fields Journal, Film & History, Modern Language Studies and the Journal of British Cinema and Television. Kevin’s current long-term project investigates the largely ignored intersections of comedy and war in the Post-1945 British context. Their entwined histories, he argues, are no laughing matter.
Yvonne Franke is a PhD student in the Department of German and originally from Paderborn, Germany. She earned M.A. degrees in German Studies at the University of Pittsburgh in 2006, and in German Literature, American Literature and Communication Science at the University of Augsburg, Germany in 2007.Her research interests include the visual cultures of urban and rural spaces in German film. She is focusing on the expansion of the geographical and symbolic realm against the backdrop of globalization, transnationalism and a growing Europe.Yvonne plans to write her dissertation about the motif of the flâneur and the flâneuse in the German urban movie, the road movie and contemporary shifts in the Heimatfilm genre.
Jedd Hakimi is a PhD student hailing from equal parts Denver, Chicago and Toronto. As an undergrad at NYU, he was a literary theory nerd who kept his affection for film and video games designated to obsessive hobbies. It was not until he was a Masters student at the University of Chicago that he finally married his personal loves to his academic interests by studying film and visual media (even managing to write a thesis on Walter Benjamin and the first-person shooter Half-Life 2). At Pitt he hopes to continue investigating film and new visual media with a particular focus on spectatorship, affect and politics. This will be the first time he’s stayed in the same city for more than two consecutive years since he was 12-years-old.
Jeff Heinzl is a Ph.D. student interested in contemporary global arthouse cinema and the long-take aesthetic as it appears in the work of, for instance, Béla Tarr, Lisandro Alonso, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. He graduated from Furman University with a B.A. in English and taught high school English for a year before beginning the program at Pitt. Jeff’s other interests include hip-hop, DJing, and Pulitzer Prize winners in fiction, poetry, and drama.
Usha Iyer is a PhD candidate, originally from Bombay, India, where she studied literature, and mass communication, and then did a string of jobs in filmmaking, television, journalism, and instructional design. Her research interests include cinematic intertextuality, the use of films to reflect and create cultural memory, and specific cinematic idioms such as the song-and-dance sequence in popular Indian film. Her dissertation focuses on the cinematic and cultural production of dance in popular Hindi film.
Colleen Jankovic is pursuing certificates in Film Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication and Culture from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, where she also co-founded a local film grant program and festival. Her current research explores Israeli and Palestinian film and visual culture through theories of national intelligibility and queer theory (by michelle at testsforge). Colleen served as a teaching mentor with the Committee for the Evaluation and Advancement of Teaching at the University of Pittsburgh and has organized panels and workshops on film pedagogy, with a particular focus on the teaching of writing and film.
Olga Klimovais a PhD candidate at the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Pittsburgh. She received her Specialist Degree in Cultural Studies from Belarusian State University in Minsk in 2001. In 2005 she graduated from Brock University, Canada, with an MA in Popular Culture, and in 2007 obtained an MA degree in Russian Literature from the University of Pittsburgh.Olga has taught a number of film and gender courses at the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film at Brock University, and currently teaches language, literature, and culture courses at the University of Pittsburgh’s Slavic Department. She is working on her PhD dissertation which focuses on the Aesopian language in Soviet youth films of the 1970s through early 1980s.
Sara McCown is a PhD candidate originally from Northampton, MA. She completed her undergraduate degree at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, during which time she also took classes at Smith College, Amherst College, and Mt. Holyoke College as part of a consortium program. Her academic interests at the University of Pittsburgh are primarily media, celebrity, and gender studies, and her social interests include drinking good beer, eating good food, and taking advantage of the numerous museums, galleries, music venues, and theaters that the city has to offer.
Julie Nakama holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film from Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. Her current research interests include architectural design and theory, fashion theory, and issues related to time and space in cinema.
Javier O’Neil-Ortiz received his BA in Film and Media Studies from Swarthmore College. His doctoral work focuses on new media, science and technology studies, and the representation of animals in contemporary cinema.
Ryan Pierson earned his MA in Cinema Studies at New York University.  His writings on problems of animation in classical film theory, video arcade regulations, and cognitive film theory have appeared in The Velvet Light Trap, The Canadian Journal of Film Studies, and Critical Quarterly.  His dissertation examined the historical intersections of perceptual psychology and animation aesthetics.  He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2012.
John Rhym received his MA in Cinema Studies at New York University and is currently a PhD student in the Critical and Cultural Studies program here at the University of Pittsburgh. His research interests lie somewhere at the intersections of film theory and philosophy.
Natalie Ryabchikova is a PhD student at the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh. She received her BA in Film Studies from the Russian State University of Cinematography (VGIK, Moscow) in 2008. During her years as an undergraduate she worked as a film critic, and then as an interpreter for the Moscow International Film Festival. She then moved from contemporary cinema to film history and published articles on early Soviet film in Russian and international scholarly journals. Her research interests include Soviet film production of the 1920s, historiography of Soviet cinema, and theory and practice of Sergei Eisenstein.
Jordan Schonig received his BA in English from the University of California, Irvine, and is currently a PhD student in English/Film Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. He is broadly interested in film form and aesthetics, especially as they relate to painting and photography.
Felipe Pruneda Sentíes is Mexican, and has been an international student for nearly eight years, first in Singapore, then in Middlebury, VT (where he received his BA in Film and Media Culture), and now in Pittsburgh, which he loves. A collector of fountain pens, Felipe’s main and current research interests include Script Studies, Latin American Cinema and Film Theory, and the experience of foreign languages through film art – a topic he’s sure has a name, but which he hasn’t found yet. He is also a theater buff, museum dweller and a fairly competent cook of enchiladas.