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Six postgraduate success stories from Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema

Recently graduated PhD candidates win awards, postdoctorate and teaching positions
July 22, 2020
By Amelia Wong-Mersereau

kester dyer PhD graduate Kester Dyer takes up a new Tenure Track position as Assistant Professor in Film Studies at Carleton University this Fall.

A doctorate in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema opens doors.

With its students writing on a wide range of diverse research topics, from human rights and environmental justice, to settler-colonial studies and queer or feminist politics, Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema’s PhD in Film and Moving Image Studies has a powerful, well-established research profile in the field of film studies.

Graduate program director, Masha Salazkina is proud of the long list of achievements of newly graduated students from the PhD program.

“These stories speak to the international reach of our program, and the success of its rigorous training which combines interdisciplinary cutting-edge approaches with a solid foundation in humanistic inquiry. The program in turn keeps attracting a continuously growing number of top international applicants, postdoctoral fellows, and stellar faculty,” says Salazkina.

This summer, for example, graduating student Irene Rozsa won the Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal. Rozsa (MA 11, PhD 20) received the prize for achieving the highest academic standing at the graduate level among students at the university completing a dissertation. Read Irene's story here.

Here are six more recent success stories from Concordia’s Film and Moving Image Studies PhD program, all recipients of prestigious fellowships, awards, and scholarships. It's just a sample of many successful graduates from the internationally-recognized PhD program – visit the Film Studies website for more.

Rachel Webb Jekanowski

Rachel Webb Jekanowski


In February, Rachel Webb Jekanowski received the Dissertation Award from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS), the leading professional association in the field of film and media studies. This highly prestigious and internationally recognized award includes a $1,000 cash prize. Jekanowski received this award for her doctoral dissertation “A Nation of Fur, Fish, and Fuel: Documenting Resource Extraction in Canada,” defended at Concordia University in August 2018.

“Receiving this award is quite an honour, personally as well as professionally. Specifically, I see it as a recognition of the field’s environmental turn and the importance of interdisciplinary research to film and media studies going forward,” says Jekanowski.

Her research focuses on entanglements of visual culture, industry, and environments within settler colonial Canada, past and future. She has been published in Canadian Journal of CommunicationCanadian Journal of Film Studies, Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication, and The Goose: A Journal of Arts, Environment, and Culture in Canada.   

She is currently revising a book manuscript based on her dissertation research and working on a project funded by the Banting Fellowship that was awarded to Jekanowski in the Department of English at Memorial University. After she completes her 2-year appointment at Memorial University in 2021, she will take up the Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship, a 2-Year Post Doctoral position at Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany.

Kester Dyer

As of July 1st 2020, Kester Dyer will take up a new position as Assistant Professor in Film Studies (Tenure Track) in Carleton University’s School for Studies in Art and Culture. Kester completed a PhD in Film and Moving Image Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema in November 2018 under the supervision of Thomas Waugh.

“I am both honoured and thrilled to join such a dynamic and committed group of scholars in the Film Studies program at Carleton. I look forward to contributing to teaching, research and community life in Ottawa, and to forging new opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration,” says Dyer. “I was fortunate to benefit from a very supportive group of peers and mentors in Cinema and across other departments at Concordia. The experience and training I gained there really helped to prepare me for this exciting new stage in my career.”

During his time as a graduate student at Concordia, Kester collaborated with documentary filmmaker and professor Liz Miller (Communication Studies) to found the Circle Visions Summer Institute, a series of community-building and cross-platform media-making workshops aimed at emergent Indigenous artists, taking place annually since 2016, and developed in partnership with Wapikoni Mobile. This project, initiated under the auspices of the Concordia Documentary Centre and supported by a SSHRC Partnership Engage grant, has evolved more recently toward the mobilization of interactive, 360-degree and VR filmmaking as a tool for decolonization by Indigenous artists.

Kester’s teaching and research focus on Québec and Indigenous film and media and he has published several articles and book chapters on these topics. His current book project titled Otherworldly Incursions: The Supernatural in Québec Cinema, based on his SSHRC-funded doctoral research, comprises a broad exploration of the Québec film corpus since the 1990s, and analyzes how supernatural tropes across genres reveal key information about the Québec social imaginary’s struggle to delineate intercultural relationships between historically dominant and more marginalized groups.

Adam Szymanski

Adam Szymanski

In 2017, Adam Szymanski defended his dissertation “Minor Cinemas of Melancholy and Therapy” and was awarded the Concordia University Distinguished Doctoral Dissertation Prize in Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. From 2017-2019, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill where he worked on an FRQSC funded project called “Healing and Decolonization in Fourth Cinema.”

“Concordia will always be dear to my heart, and the more I travel to other universities, the more I realize how special Concordia’s intellectual climate really is,” says Szymanski.

Szymanski is now a Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies Junior Fellow and Marie Skłodowska Curie Fellow of the European Union at the University of Freiburg. In September, he begins a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Chicago under the supervision of D.N. Rodowick.

“These postdoctoral research awards have allowed me to bring the knowledge I produced at Concordia to new intellectual milieux in Brazil, Germany and the U.S. They have also created the conditions for me to publish my first single-authored manuscript: Cinemas of Therapeutic Activism: Depression and the Politics of Existence will be published with Amsterdam University Press later in 2020.”

Viviane Saglier

Viviane Saglier is an Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Anthropology at McGill. She graduated from the Film and Moving Image Studies PhD with her FRQSC-funded doctoral thesis “Paradoxical Economies: A Time for Palestinian Cinema” (2019). In it, she analyzes the material conditions of possibility and the imaginaries that sustain the contemporary project of a transnational Palestinian film industry.

Saglier’s postdoctoral research examines the theoretical potential of crossing the study of affect, media infrastructures, and human rights economies to understand the formation of contemporary political images in the Arab world at large.

Enrique Fibla

Enrique Fibla

Enrique Fibla is a researcher, professor, and curator specialized in Film Culture. He has been published in the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, Film History, and Screen among others. Fibla also co-edited the book Global Perspectives on Amateur Film Histories and Cultures for Indiana University Press (forthcoming in 2021). Beginning in October 2018, he has been directing the research project “Artisans of cinema: amateur filmmaking in the Basque Country” at the Elias Querejeta Film School in San Sebastian, Spain. Since September 2019, Fibla is the coordinator of the Debates Department at the Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB).

“With the CCCB, we organize a lecture series on a wide variety of topics from philosophy to politics, arts and culture, and science. It is very rewarding to have 200 to 300 people almost every week listening to interesting ideas about global warming, literature, migration, the return of fascism, hyperconnected life, precarity, etc.” says Fibla.

“I think I have found my place in the realm of culture/arts management.”

Antoine Damiens

Antoine Damiens

Antoine Damiens is a FRQSC Postdoctoral Fellow at McGill. His first book, LGBTQ Film Festivals: Curating Queerness is forthcoming with Amsterdam University Press (May 2020).

He is currently working on a book about Cyril Collard’s 1992 autobiographical film Les nuits fauves (with McGill Queen’s University Press). Damiens explains the paradoxical position of Les nuits fauves saying, “it was hugely successful in France with over two million spectators and four Césars, yet it was largely unpopular in North America, partly because it did not fit with the HIV/AIDS and queer politics of its time.”

Damiens acts as leader for the Feminist and Queer Research Workgroup within the European Network for Cinema and Media Studies (NECS). He also writes and edits the film festival reviews section for the journal NECSUS.


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