Dick Wolf Cinema & Media Studies Awards 2019-20

Our happy congratulations to the winners!

Qingyang (Freya) Zhou, C’20
Award for the Best Honors Academic Thesis Written by a Cinema & Media Studies Major | $500
Freya’s senior thesis is a truly outstanding achievement. The thesis is a result of her long-standing archival research on the import of Chinese films into East Germany from 1950s-1980s, and the representation of the Chinese in East German documentary in the 1950s. Her main focus is on the state-sponsored film studio, DEFA, and its international co-productions in the 1950s. Using the case-study of The Compass Rose (1957), Freya explores DEFA’s unique quest for transnational alliances that negotiated GDR’s position within the landscape of the socialist nations as well as the larger international community. Her thesis deftly utilizes archival sources; it is complex, skillfully researched, excellently executed and well written. But beyond that, it presents a significant intervention into Chinese, German, and transnational film studies. I’m not at all surprised that several prestigious graduate programs (Berkeley and Yale, among others) were competing to have Freya as part of their scholarly community.

Anab Aidid, C’20
Award for the Best Honors Film Thesis Made by a Cinema & Media Studies Major | $500
Anab Adid has made a powerful, important, disturbing, and captivating film. She tells the harrowing story of a rape case at Penn in the 1980s, how it exposed fraternity culture, and how elements of that culture persist. A gifted storyteller, Anab tracked down subjects who had first hand experience of the story, and she elicited moving and insightful interviews from them. After many drafts, Anab found the best way to let the details unfold. This is a film that everyone at Penn should see and maybe everyone involved with higher education.

Matthew Borlik, C’20
Award for the Best Screenplay Written in a Cinema & Media Studies Screenwriting Course | $500
In an extraordinarily-plotted, imaginatively ambitious screenplay set in Hell, Matthew Borlik creates a protagonist, Seraphina, who, because of the capricious "sentencing" by the Man Downstairs, must pick up clues about her past through a cycle of repeated torture to find salvation (literally an "exit ramp") to Heaven. Often brilliant in its execution, Matthew's supporting characters include Fire Imp, the Grim Rider, and Jeremiel, an archangel who is a lawyer for Heaven, charged with negotiating the terms of Seraphina's release from hell. One of five finalists for the inaugural Red & Blue Screenwriting contest, Brimstone Blacktop, shines with creative ingenuity and a professional screenwriter's craftsmanship.

Brent Weisberg, C’20

Award for the Best Essay Written by an Undergraduate in a Cinema & Media Studies Course | $500
Brent Weisberg's paper analyzing the dream sequences in Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev and Solaris is the clear winner in this category. Weisberg's paper approaches a graduate student paper in its clarity and breadth, as well as in its understanding of the material. Although the dream sequences of both films are difficult to write about coherently, Weisberg's paper was beautifully written and thoughtfully argued. Weisberg does a good job analyzing both films, linking form and content in unique ways.

Luke Hrushanyk, C’21 | Urwa Khaliq, C’20
Award for Extracurricular Service by an Undergraduate Student to Cinema & Media Studies | $500
Cinema & Media Studies work-study Luke Hrushanyk and Urwa Khaliq managed many aspects of our office and made the work of faculty and staff in our program extremely enjoyable and gratifying. It was enough to simply speculate about the possibility of a given project, and Luke and Urwa took it from there--immediately mapping out all that needed to be done, and going through all the steps in an organized, logical, and efficient fashion. They literally revel in any challenge that is offered to them. And, no matter how chaotic and messy things get, Luke and Urwa are always models of cheerfulness, neatness, and decorum.

Tyler Shine, PhD Candidate in History of Art
Award for the Best Essay Written by a Graduate Student | $500
Tyler Shine's MA Paper, "Pictures More than Pictures: The Abstract Photographs of Roy DeCarava and Dawoud Bey" provides an engaging account of DeCarava and Bey's photography to argue that their work provides an affective and subjective approach to embodied black experience beyond objective documentary methods, pursuing an "an expansive idea of abstraction that draws on the coordination between the senses of vision, hearing, and touch to understand photography." Taking the photo book both as its subject and as formal impetus, Shine's essay richly interrogates not only the limits of black abstraction but of conventional academic writing as well.

Dixon Li, PhD Candidate in English
Award for Extracurricular Service by a Graduate Student to Cinema & Media Studies | $500
Dixon Li participated in the on campus interviews of our CIMS cluster hire finalists as a member of the search committee and collected feedback from CIMS graduate students for the search committee after the graduate student meetings with candidates. They also generously gave their time to provide campus tours for the visiting candidates.

Cinema Studies Program
209A Fisher-Bennett Hall ⋅ 3340 Walnut Street ⋅ Philadelphia, PA 19104 ⋅ (215) 898-8782