By Ellis Rua
The School of Communication has announced the winners of the 2015-2016 Creative Activity and Research Grants. This year, both recipients hail from the Department of Cinema and Interactive Media. Dr. Christina Lane and Professor Dia Kontaxis have been selected by an interdisciplinary committee of peers from the school to receive direct cost funding to support their projects.
The goal of this funding mechanism is to support work that results in clear and prominent scholarly and/or creative accomplishments that support the enhanced reputation of the School of Communication.
Dr. Lane’s proposed project, Hitchcock’s Phantom Lady: The Life and Career of Joan Harrison, will be published in the form of a book and is under contract with Chicago Review Press. The book is intended for general readership.
Lane hopes to, "bring to life this ‘phantom lady’ (a reference to the title of Harrison’s influential 1944 film) who, until now, has dwelled primarily in Hitchcock's shadow." She has already made significant strides to resurrect Joan Harrison’s legacy by visiting archives operated by the University of Southern California, University of Texas at Austin, and the British Film Institute in London.
Lane’s research has not been limited to scouring through archives across the United States and England.
“One of the most valuable tools for this project is interviewing colleagues, friends, and family members of my subject. The most exciting and yet daunting part of the process is that each interview--each discovery--yields but another lead, many of whom are too old to be very helpful over email, or even sometimes over the phone. They are all over the world,” says Lane.
With funding from this award, Lane will be conducting further research on this project with first year doctoral student, Keril Kirch and Mary Troath, a professional researcher from the United Kingdom.
Professor Dia Kontaxis’ project, Last Song from Xenitia, is a feature documentary film which is currently in post-production. The documentary, which was shot both in Greece and the United States, is part biographic, part ethnographic.
According to Kontaxis, the film “tells the story of U.S. immigrant Vasiliki Scotes who in 2010, at the age of 103 travels back to her homeland of Greece on the occasion of a book publication of her songs and poems. While in Greece, she collaborates with a well-known musician for the publication of a CD with her songs. The film takes place amidst the recent devastating economic crisis in Greece. Eighty years after she left Greece, Vasiliki returns to the motherland only to find a new generation of immigrants.”
The goal of this project is to provide the audience with an intimate vantage point into the immigrant experience, but from a multigenerational perspective. As Kontaxis states, “The story is a familiar one to millions of immigrants across the world.”
Funding from this grant will be used to hire an online editor to match back the project to camera original files. Since this project was shot with a variety of video formats and frame rates, the finishing of this project represents a technical challenge.
This initiative also serves as an excellent opportunity for the SoC community to be actively involved in an international film project. Both graduate and undergraduate students from the school have been offered the opportunity to work on this film, which is co-produced and directed by Greco-Canadian, Athena Scotes. Kontaxis serves the role of co-producer and editor. Canadian company EyeSteelFilm, which functions as the film’s executive producer, provides production support.
Once completed, the feature documentary film will be submitted and screened in domestic and international film festivals. Kontaxis will seek both television and online distribution for the completed film.