The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Broadening horizon of film studies

Rick Herbst, now attending Yale Law School, may yet turn out to be the current decade's archetypal film major. Twenty-three years old, he graduated last year from the University of Notre Dame, where he studied filmmaking with no intention of becoming one. Rather, he saw his major as a way to learn about power structures and how individuals influence each other.

'People endowed with social power and prestige are able to use film and media images to reinforce their power' we need to look to film to grant power to those who are marginalised or currently not represented,' said Herbst, who envisions a future in the public policy arena. The communal nature of film, he said, has a distinct power to affect large groups, and he expects to use his cinematic skills to do exactly that.

At a time when street gangs warn informers with DVD productions and both terrorists and their adversaries routinely communicate in elaborately staged videos, it is not altogether surprising that film school is beginning to attract those who believe that cinema isn't so much a profession as the professional language of the future.

Some 600 colleges and universities in the US offer programmes in film studies or related subjects, a number that has grown steadily over the years, even while professional employment opportunities in the film business remain minuscule.

Given the gap between aspiration and opportunity, film education has often turned out to be little more than an expensive detour on the road to doing something else. Thus, Aaron Bell, who graduated as a film major from the University of Wisconsin in 1988, struggled through years of uninspiring work managing crews on commercials etc before landing his non-cinematic job designing advertising for a Chicago-based magazine publisher.

For some next-generation students, the shot at a Hollywood job is no longer the goal. They'd rather make cinematic technique the bedrock of careers as far afield as law and military. At the University of Southern California, whose School of Cinema-Television is the America's oldest film school, half of the university's 16,500 undergrads take at least one cinema/ television class. That is possible because Elizabeth Daley, the school's dean, opened its classes to all in 1998, in keeping with a new philosophy that says, in effect, filmic skills are too valuable to be confined to movie world professionals. 'The greatest digital divide is between those who can read and write with media, and those who can't,' Daley said.

In fact, even some who first enrolled in U.S.C.'s film school to take advantage of its widely-acknowledged position as a prime portal to Hollywood have begun to view their cinematic skills as a new form of literacy. One such is David Hendrie, who came to U.S.C. in 1996 after a stint in the military intending to become a filmmaker, but found himself drawn to the school's Institute for Creative Technologies, where he creates military training applications in virtual reality, gaming and filmic formats. One film he developed was privately screened for the directors John Milius and Steven Spielberg, who wanted to understand the military's vision of the future. 'That was like a film student's dream,' Hendrie, who nonetheless believes he has already outgrown anything he was likely to accomplish on the studio circuit.

In the public policy arena, meanwhile, students like Herbst hope to heighten political debate with productions far more pointed than the most political feature film. Even a picture like Hotel Rwanda, with its unblinking look at African genocide, is 'a soup kitchen approach,' Herbst said: 'You're offered something to eat, but there are no vitamins.' Bringing film directly into politics, he expects to throw objectivity out the window and change minds.

To some extent, such broadening vision is already helping to make economic sense of film education, which in the past was often a long path to nowhere. 'Most find their way, and the skills they learn from us are applicable to other careers and pursuits,' Dale Pollock, dean of the School of Filmmaking at the North Carolina School of the Arts, said of his students. 'So we're not wasting their time or money.'


Arjun Jindal
CEO, Ready to Go magazine, replies to your queries

Foreign Fundas

I wish to study medicine in Russia . How should I go about it, what are the prospects and how cheap is it'

Imbesat Rana

Studying medicine in Russia might be a good option as the courses offered at the medical colleges in Russia are comparable to those available in Western universities.

Contrary to popular perception the medium of instruction in most colleges is English. The St Petersburg State University in Russia is one of the best places in the world to study medicine.

The duration of the MBBS (English medium) is six years. The degree awarded will be MD (physician) but should not be confused with a postgraduate qualification.

Eligibility: Any student according to the Indian Medical Act 1956, who wishes to join any medical college in the world should obtain an eligibility certificate prior to joining the college. And upon the successful completion of the course take a screening test conducted by the National Board of Examinations, New Delhi. The board requires at least 50 per cent marks in your PCB combination in your Plus Two to issue the certificate.

The candidate should not be less than 17 years and more than 27 years of age as on September 1 of the year of application.

Documents required:

Notarised copies of your:

Class X pass certificate,

Class X marksheet, (Translated in Russian and attested by Russian cultural centre)

Class XII pass certificate

Class XII marksheet, (Translated in Russian and attested by Russian cultural centre)

School leaving certificate,

15 colour passport size photographs,

Copy of the passport(if ready).

The fees for studying medicine in Russia are much less than those in Western countries. The tuition cost for the programme for most colleges is $7,000 per annum.

Some good universities for studying medicine in Russia are:

St Petersburg state Pediatric Medical Academy, St Petersburg .

Ryazan State I.P. Pavlov Medical University , Ryazan

St. Petersburg state I.P. Pavlov Medical University, St Petersburg

Peoples Friendship University , Moscow

Kazan State medical academy

Saratov State medical academy

Dagestan State medical academy

Nizhny Novgorod State medical academy.

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