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Our alumni

Alumni of Communications Studies have gone on to do both meaningful and amazing things. Here, find just a small sampling of some of our Graduates who've gone on to be recognized on the International stage.

Featured alumni

Frederic Bohbot

As graduates of Concordia’s Department of Communication Studies, Frederic Bohbot, BA 01, was the film’s executive-producer; Kieran Crilly, BA 03, was cinematographer; while Carl Freed, BA 94 of the Department of Political Science, was editor. A graduate of the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, Luc St. Pierre, BFA 09, was composer.

“Only a decade after they finished university they won an Academy Award. This will be a real source of inspiration for students in our department,” says Rae Staseson, chair of Concordia’s Department of Communication Studies.

The film industry’s top honour was accepted at the 86th Academy Award ceremony that took place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, CA, on March 2.

The documentary is about 110-year-old pianist Alice Herz-Sommer — the oldest Holocaust survivor in the world — who passed away a week before the Oscar telecast.

“She taught everyone on my crew to be a little more optimistic and a little bit more happy about all the things in our lives.

"Seeing the film will help you live a much happier life,” said the film’s director Malcolm Clarke from the Oscar podium.

Other Oscar connections
Bohbot, Crilly, Freed and St. Pierre weren’t the only Concordians at Hollywood’s biggest night.

Yves Bélanger, BFA 84, was a cinematographer on the movie Dallas Buyers Club.

Directed by Montrealer Jean-Marc Vallée, the film was nominated for six awards including best picture. Actors Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto won for best actor and best supporting actor, respectively. 

Read more about Frederic Bohbot and see the trailer for The Lady in Number 6.

Kendra Besanger

Communication Studies graduate Kendra Besanger’s “Talking Through the Ages” was one of 25 winning audio, video, text and infographic entries in last year’s inaugural challenge. The pitch made by Besanger, MA (Media Studies) 2013, describes Active Ageing Mobile Technologies — an initiative led by Communication Studies professor Kim Sawchuk and based at the university’s Mobile Media Lab.

As Sawchuck says, “The research is important because it overturns and questions the assumptions we have around generational divide and media.”

This time around, the deadline for submissions is January 15, 2014. Students who proffer the top 25 pitches take home a cash prize and an all-expenses paid trip to the 2014 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at Brock University in May.

When Besanger won, she flew to Victoria for the congress.

Her own graduate research project was funded by SSHRC, but she decided to focus on the Mobile Media Lab’s larger work with seniors, technology and communication, since she felt it had more impact. She also participated on a related project called MemorySpace.

“The way that Kim explained it to me — the through-line that I took — is that we talk about gender, class and race, but age is missing,” Besanger says. “That was the thesis statement of my three-minute pitch: we need to bring age into our perspective when we do critical studies.”

Her advice to applicants? “Find research that is having an impact, and keep it simple. Don’t think about it too much: just get what you need and put something together. It’s worth it.”

Research for a Better Life: The Storytellers, a new competition sponsored by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada, is currently seeking applicants.

It invites post-secondary students from across Canada to submit pitches promoting SSHRC-funded research projects at their institution. “What we’re looking for is clarity in explaining the research, creativity in the way you explain it, and persuasive stories,” says SSHRC communications advisor David Holton.

Alumni biographies

Donna Barker

Social Activist, Adult Educator, Documentary Filmmaker

As a founding staff member of the Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society (IMPACS), and faculty with the Hollyhock Leadership Institute, Donna has trained and supported over a thousand social and environmental activists across Canada, helping them to develop better media and public communications skills.

When she’s not helping activists tell their stories more effectively, Donna works as a documentary filmmaker. Broadcast credits include Sangoma: Traditional Healers in Modern Society and Side by Side: Women Against AIDS in Zimbabwe. She recently completed Little Boy Blue, earning her first writer/director credits since graduating from Communication Studies in 1989. She has two one-hour documentaries in development, Vaccine Nation and Doctor Pharma.

Donna also sits on the Board of Directors of Moving Images Distribution and maintains several writing projects.

Salvatore V. Barrera

Director, producer, cameraman, pixel pusher, animator, etc.

Jack-of-all-trades and master of… By the time I graduated from Communication Studies in 1992, I had already won an award for a music video from Musique Plus and created the demented musical score for prof. Rick Hancock’s film Moosejaw. Some of my producer credits include:Zigrail, André Turpin’s first film; Burnt Eden by Eugene Garcia; PSAs for Concordia Universityand the MUHC Foundation; as well as a documentary for CIDA and a few others.

When I am not trying to master a new, soon to be obsolete, technology I’m animating titles and creating effects for films such as: Eisenstein, Big Money, Le Nèg’, Le Goût des jeunes filles, Méchant Party, Ne Dis Rien, Molinari: La dernière conversation, …

Two of the more interesting projects my company, Design Postimage, has been involved in are a web documentary for theNative Access to Engineering Program and a location photo bank for Film in Québec.

Find out more about Salvatore Barrera on IMDB.

Manon Boivin

Television Producer

Having graduated from Communication Studies in 1989, Manon has 15 years of industry experience in broadcasting and television production. She began her career in news with the CBCCTV and Global. She also acquired extensive experience as a researcher and production coordinator early on. With a solid news, documentary and lifestyle genre background, including several documentaries in the field of sports, science, technology, history and the arts, she has produced countless hours of programming. In the past year alone, as the new Western Region Producer for Kids’ CBC in Vancouver, she has produced over 24 hours of original content for the CBC. She collaborates on an ongoing basis in new program development with independent producers.

Manon is also a member of Women In Film and Video Vancouver, and a volunteer for the YWCA‘s Mentorship Program, and Career Girlz.

Andrew Carter


Having earned his BA in 1984, Andrew Carter was among the first graduates of Concordia’s Joint Communication Studies and Journalism program.

From beginnings in the Loyola radio station CIRL his career path took him to radio stations from Thunder Bay back to Montreal, where he has capped a 20 year career in broadcasting with the Morning Man position at CJAD 800 Montreal.

Charles Faubert

TV, Filmmaker

After graduating from the Communication Studies program in 1993, Charles worked in film and television as production manager and producer, among (many) other roles. Charles’ first documentary film as an independent producer, Steps, received three international awards including Time International‘s Freddie Award (2002).

In 2003 Charles received an MBA from McGill University, which included an exchange semester in South Africa. Charles is very proud to be a member of the Board of Directors of Community Experience Initiative, a non-profit organization that encourages social responsibility.

Hana Gartner

Award-Winning CBC Journalist

Hana Gartner is one of Canada’s most recognized journalists, best known for her investigative reporting on The Fifth Estate. With a distinguished career over 25 years in broadcasting for the CBC, Gartner has earned the respect of the journalistic community and numerous awards.

Born in Prague and raised in Montreal, Gartner graduated cum laude from Concordia University‘s Communication Studies before starting her broadcasting career at CJAD radio in 1970.

Find out more about Hana Gartner on IMDB.

Adam Leith Gollner

Writer, Editor

Adam Leith Gollner’s first book, The Fruit Hunters: A Story of Nature, Obsession, Commerce and Adventure, was a national bestseller. He has written for The New York TimesGourmetthe Globe and MailMaclean’sGood Magazine, and has been the editor of Vice Magazine and the associate editor of Maisonneuve Magazine. He has played in a number of bands and still makes music now and then. He watched many Ingmar Bergman films when he was at Concordia.

Matt Holland

Actor, Writer, Director

An accomplished actor and a screenwriter, Matt has appeared in many films, plays, television shows and commercials. Credits include award-winning Canadian and U.S. productions, such as Map of the Human HeartMrs. Parker and the Vicious CircleDanielle Steele’s Vanished,BlancheLes Batisseurs D’Eau, and recent features The AviatorSecret WindowThe Day After TomorrowNouvelle France, and The TerminaL. Matt has also lent his voice to video games and animated series’ including Tom Clancy’s Splinter CellArthurPig CityCreep SchoolDaft Planet, and the forthcoming animated feature, Pinocchio 3000.

Matt’s first produced feature screenplay, Gone Dark (a.k.a The Limit), starring Lauren Bacall, Claire Forlani, Henry Czerny and Pete Postlethwaite, premiered at the 2003 Montreal World Film Festival and was released in June 2004. He also directed the short film, Whistleblowers Anonymous, a Moc Docs 2003 winner. He is married to the actress Margaret McBrearty and together they have a son, Nelson.

Find out more about Matt Holland on IMDB.

Barry Julien

Head-Writer Colbert Report, Comic, Actor, Emmy Award Winner (2008)

Barry Julien detests referring to himself in the third person so rest assured he cringed all through writing this bio, which he had to do for business reasons. Here goes: Barry Julien (BA Communications ’94) is a writer, stand-up comic and actor. He is currently a writer for Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report in New York. In 2006, Barry was a writer on the FOX late night series Talkshow with Spike Feresten. Between 2000 and 2006 he was a regular contributor to The Onion, the critically acclaimed satirical newspaper. He has also written for the CBC seriesThis Hour Has 22 Minutes for which he was nominated for two Gemini Awards. He was nominated for a third Gemini for his writing on the kids’ series Mystery Hunters. In 2007, Barry wrote a sitcom pilot script for FOX, which was never filmed, and is now presumably in a vault at the bottom of the sea.

Barry Julien is also an actor and can been seen in things like The Hunger with David Bowie and Giovanni RibisiThe Art of War with Wesley SnipesAbandon with Katie Holmes and The Last Kiss with Zack Braff. You’ll also see his name in the credits for the Steven Spielberg film The Terminal but you won’t find him in the movie. That’s because someone thinks he’s a big-time, know-it-all director who didn’t need to shoot that scene after all, even though I was all dressed up in my pilot’s costume and everything. Barry was also a series lead on the WB sitcom pilot In My Opinion which never got on the air, but trust him, it happened. He wouldn’t lie about something like that.

Find out more about Barry Julien on IMDB.

Suzanne Nuttall

Video Editor, Singer/Songwriter

It is while studying in the Communications Department that Suzanne fell in love with editing. Having grown up constantly playing with paper, scissors, glue, wood and Lego blocks, editing came naturally to her. Indeed, it is when her classmates began asking her for her help with the editing of their projects that Suzanne discovered she had something of a calling on her hands.

The first years found Suzanne eking out a living in Montreal editing wedding videos, then corporate videos and also being an assistant editor on two television series. During this time, she moonlighted as a singer/songwriter/guitarist in her roots duo Bare Bones which released three independent albums. In 1995, Suzanne decided to move to Toronto to pursue her editing and music. First, she freelanced on a wide variety of projects: corporate videos, TV promos, documentaries and an animated series called Flying Rhino Junior High for Nelvana which aired on CBS. During this time, she moonlighted as a singer/songwriter in her six-piece soul band, Sue de Nym. From 1999 to 2003, Suzanne worked as a staff editor at a Mississauga company on many high-end corporate videos and a documentary series called Working Animals which aired on the Discovery Channel. In January 2004, Suzanne became a staff editor for TVOntario where she is living happily ever after…

- Suzanne Nuttall/ Sue de Nym Music 

Steve Pariso

Technologist, Communicator

Steve Pariso began programming (computers) at age 11. His early (university) work was shown at the Whitney Museum of Art and the Art Directors Club in New York. The software he designed is distributed internationally. At 19, Pariso worked as a designer and assistant to Lou Dorfsman (the creative luminary and forefather of CBS). Pariso also participated in the development of TV Macy’s (Macy‘s Home Shopping Channel) and developed online shopping technologies (pre-web) including early Customer Relationship Management (CRM). After these virtual shopping projects, he architected and managed the software development of IBM‘s Worldwide Branding/Design Standards and promotional tools (which received a CeBIT award).

As a brand management technology consultant, Pariso counted the following companies among his list of clients: Viacom (Nickelodeon, MTV), BellSouthTime Warner and many of the major US branding management agencies. In addition, he developed over 40 software projects, systems and titles for various Fortune 500 companies.

Later, Pariso became a member of the Netscape team in California that introduced everyone to “http://”. Known by his (former) email address “”, Pariso’s responsibilities at Netscape included front-end design, usability, testing, communication, UI architecture, specification, programming and leading UI implementation for cross-divisional product teams of 18 (client/browser, server and future technology) products. After AOL‘s acquisition of Netscape, he worked with Sun Microsystems and Netscape to integrate the Netscape server properties into a brand called iPlanet–a Sun/Netscape ‘relationship’. He later participated in the development of shopping and web search software for AOL, CompuServe, Netscape and a variety of other AOL properties.

After leaving AOL, Pariso acted as interim CEO of Coscend Corporation, a small B2B infomediary start-up in Palo Alto, California.

Steve Prentice

Author, Keynote Speaker, Entrepreneur

I graduated from the Communications Faculty in 1989. I studied law at Osgoode Hall Law School and was the university’s Rhodes Scholarship candidate for 1991. My passion, however, has always been about how people communicate in business and the roles technology has to play. So I tunnelled my way off the York campus, left law school a year early, and formed my own company, a soft-skills training company called The Bristall Group, which is now celebrating its 20thbirthday. I make my living as a keynote speaker, delivering speeches to audiences across North America on topics with technology, people and business.

I have written four books: one on time management and one on stress management, published globally by John Wiley and Sons, as well as a self-published book on career management and a self-published novel.

I have produced and directed a television series on business excellence, and have written white papers in use in the business schools of both York and U of T. I am also a senior writer/journalist for an online magazine focusing on cloud technology.

It is a great source of pride for me to say that my Communications Studies education is still put to daily use. I returned to school in 2004 to obtain a degree in psychology from York University, and I lecture part-time at the Management Development Centre at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) in Oshawa. My pro-bono project is called Wolf On Wheels and is dedicated to helping Canadians of all ages find meaningful work.

After hours I sing, play guitar and manage a corporate events band called Absolutely Jack. My Twitter name is @stevenprentice and I would love to connect with other Comms Studies alumni, students and staff.

Mary Stephen

Editor, Filmmaker

“The contemplative, whimsical, subtle and inquisitive films that comprise Mary Stephen’s oeuvre are a powerful collection that entertain and challenge, illuminate and provoke.”
– Toronto’s Reel Asian Film Festival (2002)

Emigrating from Hong Kong to Canada at the age of 15, Stephen was productive, studying filmmaking at the Loyola College Communication Arts Department [now Communication Studies] and making experimental and documentary shorts before and after graduation in 1974.

“Eight years later she left again, this time headed to Paris in pursuit of a graduate film program and a love affair with the city she had always admired from afar.” She left graduate studies in 1978 to make her first feature film and to begin a life-long collaboration with notable French filmmaker Eric Rohmer. Beginning as an assistant editor to Cécile Décugis — editor on Godard’s Breathless — she became Rohmer’s principal editor and co-composer, which she remains to this day. All the while continuing to make her own films, both narrative and documentary, Stephen “melds ideas with sensuality, tackling the world with passionate arms and an open mind.”

Mary has now been married to the city of Paris for the last 28 years with 3 artist children, but continues her seasonal affairs with Canada, Asia and Africa.

Find out more about Mary Stephen on IMDB.

Robert Swartz

Editor, Producer, Director

Robert Swartz graduated from Concordia University in Montreal Canada in 1998, where he studied Philosophy and Communications Studies. He made his first short documentary Struck While The Iron Was Hot in 1999, which was well received at both the Vancouver International Film festival and the Montreal World Film Festival. He went on to become a picture editor in Toronto and also studied at the Canadian Film Centre in 2003. Since then he has edited many documentaries and dramatic films, and also produced and directed Provider in 2004, a lyrical documentary portrait of his father. Provider aired on BRAVO! Television in Canada, and screened at film festivals in Europe, Israel and Canada. His latest film Cab 138 takes a unique look into Torontos troubled taxi scene, and has recently been nominated for a Golden Sheaf award at the 2009 Yorkton Short Film Festival. Robert recently won a Gemini award for best picture editing in a comedy, variety or performing arts program for the film The Young Romantic.

Donna Vekteris

Writer, French to English Translator, Editor, Researcher

Donna Stella Vekteris is one of approximately 11 anglophones who grew up in Montreal’s east end. Since then, she has made and unmade homes in different parts of the city as well as Toronto, Mexico, Italy and France.

After years in film and television (from dirty work on sets to dirtier work in the editing room) she turned to freelance writing and translating, producing magazine articles and several series of non-fiction books for younger readers. Her short story, “The Iguana Revisited”, has been published in the anthology In Other Words: New English Writing from Quebec (Véhicule Press, April 2008).

The book was launched at the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival in May 2008.

“The Iguana Revisited” won second prize in the 2006 Quebec Writing Competition and was broadcast on CBC Radio One in 2007.

Working on other short stories and a novel, Donna currently makes her home in NDG and in Nice, France.

Warren Wilansky

Founder, Plank Multimedia

When I graduated from Comm Studies in 1996, I really wanted to change the world. Or at least the World Wide Web. Mission accomplished? Well, I’m working on it …

For a couple of years after graduation, I learned the ins and outs of web design working as a freelancer, and sharpened my business and leadership skills as a project manager at HBE Software.

And then I realized something – the Internet in 1998 was an ugly place. So I set out to change that.

Along with fellow Comm graduate Christiane Magee, I founded Plank, a web and multimedia design studio in Montreal, with the goal of bringing a real set of design skills to the Internet. Making pretty pictures was great for a while, but I soon realized there was lot more to making a successful website. It was about results. And usefulness. And user-friendliness. AND making it look good.With all that in mind, Plank has taken off to new heights. I’m most proud of our extensive client list that includes the cool and the powerful, from director Michael Moore to the Rt. Hon. Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada; from the National Film Board to the Fantasia Film Festival, and tons more. And the work we do for non-profits like the Old Brewery Mission, the Shriners’ HospitalGilda’s Club, and the Highlands Hope Hospital Consortium makes me think maybe I can change the world while I change the Web.

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