Nina Fonoroff

About Nina

An independent filmmaker since 1980, I hold a B.F.A. from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and an M.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute. My experimental films have been screened at numerous showcases, festivals, and museums in the US, Canada and Europe. My 1989 film, A Knowledge They Cannot Lose, was shown on public television and on the Learning Channel. My 1994 film, The Accursed Mazurka, won Jurors' Choice Award at the Black Maria Film and Video Festival and an Honorable Mention at the Ann Arbor Film Festival.

I have received production grants from the Jerome Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for 1998-1999. I have had artists' residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Since 1999, I have taught film and video making and film history and theory at the University of New Mexico, where I am currently Associate Professor.

The Creative Filmmaking Process

Mainly a visual artist who "happened into" film, I consider my work a hybrid of collage, painting, musical composition from sampled sound and cinema. Though I begin work on a film with a rough plan, the process remains fluid, indeterminate: partly a matter of calculation and planning, partly of serendipitous discovery.

Through most phases of the process, I work to shape a story through constant revision of both sound and picture elements; so the films may be considered palimpsests that have been subjected to numerous revisions of thought and idea. In the course of any given day, I essentially become many different kinds of spectator and imagemaker. The "narrative" elements are guided by a field of investigation; the piece as a whole is fluid enough to allow for changes of design and direction as I go along.

Central to my creative process is a deep involvement in almost all of the phases of the film's production—from scripting and shooting to editing and finishing of image and sound elements. Most recently, I've begun experimenting with hand-processing film.


I have regularly taught equal measures of critical theory and production courses, primarily to undergraduates who hope to pursue careers in film. My interest in teaching both kinds of courses grows from my view that writing criticism, writing theory, and making moving images with cameras and editing equipment are all forms of "creative work." In all of my classes, responsible and responsive discussion is key to my teaching, where I try to help students to discover who they are, or might become, as artists and thinkers in these media. I hope to pique students' intellectual curiosity and lead them toward a deeper aesthetic appreciation of the range of work we view.

Many students have expressed an enduring interest in the ways that current political crises are covered by mainstream news and media organizations, and how public response to global events is often generated by a corporate media structure that is driven by powerful political/economic interests. Some have brought these ideas to bear in their own creative work and scholarship.

As I continue to teach and pursue my own art, I explore the rich history of marginalized cinemas, and work to promote the ongoing practice of independent media . These creative efforts bear witness to ongoing crises, and wage struggle against dominant narratives of mainstream films and television.