Students Hear from Academy Award-Winning Filmmakers

Oscar nominated film Inocente in MSU classroom

Students in Professor of Practice Carlene Ling-an Hsu’s Producing for Cinema and Television class recently had the opportunity to hear from two Academy Award-winning filmmakers.

Visiting the class on April 20 was Susan MacLaury, Executive Producer of the Academy Award-winning short documentary, Inocente; the Academy Award-nominated feature documentary, War Dance; and the film, The Harvest/LaCosecha.

two women taking a selfie together
Oscar nominated producer Susan MacLaury looks on as Inocente Galicia (left) poses for a photo with MSU faculty member Carlene Lin-an Hsu (right).

The class was shown Inocente, a coming of age documentary about a 15-year-old girl who is an undocumented immigrant and forced to live homeless, yet this young artist is determined to never surrender to the bleakness of her surroundings.

Following the screening of the film, MacLaury shared her filmmaking experiences and answered student questions. Inocente Galicia, the subject of the film, also came to the class to talk about the film and to answer questions.  

On April 27, Damon Russell, Producer of the Academy Award-winning fiction short Curfew and Director of the short fiction film Cul De Sac, visited the class.

This was a wonderful opportunity for the students and the community.


Students were shown Curfew, which also was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in April. It is about a man named Richie who, in the midst of attempting to end his life, gets a call from his estranged sister asking him to look after his niece, Sophia, for a few hours. Richie decides to cancel his plans and spends the evening with Sophia, who has preconceived notions of who Richie is. Richie has to overcome this perception, even though he lacks social graces.

Following the screening of the film, students got to hear from Russell and ask questions.

During these campus visits, the filmmakers also did screenings of their films that were open to the public. InocenteCurfew, and Cul de Sac all were part of the MSU Library’s film series.

“This was a wonderful opportunity for the students and the community. Not only did the audience, and my students specifically, get to discuss with the filmmakers about the filmmaking process and what they went through in making these Academy Award-winning films, they got good advice on how to enter the industry,” Hsu said. “It really was invaluable. Thanks to all the support we got from the different departments and colleges.”

The filmmaker visits were sponsored by the College of Arts & Letters, College of Communication Arts and Sciences, Film Studies Program, Department of Media and Information, MSU’s School of Journalism, Media Sandbox, Latino/Chicano Studies Program, and the Julian Samora Research Institute.