Recent Thesis Films
The Master of Fine Arts degree in Documentary Production and Studies culminates with a the successful production of a final thesis film that demonstrates a student's professionalism and artistic creativity. Below you will find a selection of thesis documentaries produced by recent graduates of the M.F.A. program. The selection highlights the diverse interests and styles of our students.
West Dallas AR - Eboni Johnson (2021)
West Dallas AR is an interactive location-based app, using the power of multimedia and augmented reality to highlight the stories shared by West Dallas residents.
Bad Paper - Daniel Beard (2021)
Bad Paper follows the lives of former military service members, who have received an other-than-honorable discharge, but also have service-connected post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Due to the "suck it up" culture of the military, many of these veterans would not report any psychological troubles in fear of being labeled "weak" and potentially affecting their promotions. With no outlet for their PTSD, drugs and alcohol became a way of "self-medicating," which led to their dismissal from the service. A dishonorable discharge, commonly called "bad paper," from the military disqualifies veterans from receiving help from the VA. The process to overturn this status is arduous and veterans must navigate the bureaucracy of the Veterans Affairs (VA) administration as well as the individual military branches with virtually no help from either.
Quiet Flows the River - Arnila Guha Nolok (2019)
Quiet Flows the River explores the lives of the people living in the coastal area of Bangladesh. Affected by the consequences of climate change, they continue to adapt and struggle each day to survive in their homelands.
489 Days - Rania Elmalky (2019)
489 Days is an animated documentary about the harrowing experiences of Egyptian-American Mohamed Soltan, who survived 16 months of hunger strike in an Egyptian prison. Caught up in the political turmoil which followed the Arab Spring uprisings, Soltan was unjustly incarcerated between August 2013 and May 2015, when the United States government intervened to release him weeks after an Egyptian court sentenced him to life in prison. The film is also the larger story of an estimated 60,000 political detainees currently held in Egypt without due process, and in violation of local and international human rights conventions.
Lookouts - Claire Dejarnett (2019)
Lookouts follows Matt and Joann, two fire tower lookouts for the United States Forest Service, as they discuss their happiness living in seclusion as well as the decline of fire towers due to technological advances.
Bright Mosaics - Vicente Mares (2019)
Bright Mosaic is a 30-minute documentary about a comprehensive autism center for children with an organic and unconventional approach. The Bright Mosaic Autism Therapy Center's exceptional curriculum consists of a mix of Montessori practices, natural sciences, applied behavior analysis, occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, play therapy, music therapy, sensory integration, daily life skills and art. Bright Mosaic mixes observational and participatory styles in an effort to portray an exceptionally skilled and passionate team who fights a tough daily battle to prepare their children for the life ahead of them.
The Suspensionists - Andrew Valentine (2019)
A documentary produced about human flesh-hook suspension. This document covers the pre-production, production, and post production of the documentary film and the research behind it.
Restless Soul - Bokyung Choi (2018)
Restless Soul is composed of observational and expository style to depict a culture of youth, strength, and passion. The film captures an improvising musician and composer named Garrett Wingfield, who expresses spontaneous sound reflected in his mind, body and spirit. By working with his music friends, he releases his creative energies through his compositions and his different types of saxophones. The documentary allows its audience to experience the youth culture in a postmodern world.
FLAT! - Barry Thornburg (2018)
FLAT! immerses us into the life and mindset of a Flat-earther who eagerly evangelizes the discoveries he and other Flat-earthers claim to have made. With his car clad in flat-earth messages, he travels around the country provoking discussions with curious bystanders and debating scientists. While he thrives in this pursuit, it is not without its costs.
World Life - Cyuzuzo Ingabire (2018)
During this time of interest and uncertainty in immigration, a foreigner seeking an education, home, and career wonders how welcoming America really is. This documentary film focuses on how the organization known as World Life is involved in helping international students in terms of language, accommodation, and religion. It follows an organization that is willing to open up and welcome them into the community.
Her Name Was - Sergio E. Almendariz (2018)
Her Name Was is an examination of the oppression of transgender people in a society that is built on the nominalization of cisgender people, those who gender matchers their sex assigned at birth, and how this oppression lends itself to violence. In the summer of 2015, the body of Shade Schuler, an African American transgender woman, was found in a field outside of Dallas, Texas. Ms. Shade is part of an alarming epidemic of escalating levels of targeted violence against the transgender community. This documentary pulls back the curtain as it captures the feelings and struggles of the transgender community as they attempt to navigate and survive in a cis dominating society.
Tales of My Cities - Sunilrao Mohanrao M. Kilaru (2018)
Tales of My Cities is a poetic observation of life in the cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, India. The documentary is an intimate first-person exploration of the culture in these cities. The viewer should find a surreal peace in the life and atmosphere of the cities where life extends from centuries old traditions to the current hi-tech pace of life.