The Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts offers degrees in filmmaking (BFA) as well as a critical studies (BA); the BFA is focused on the art of independent filmmaking, and the BA emphasizes the critical study of film as an art form. The Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts offers an interdisciplinary MFA degree with the Department of Art and Art History. The Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts hopes to begin a critical studies MA track within the next few years. International film is an important component of our critical studies and we offer a wide range of courses in this area.
Cinema Studies Tours
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Sample 4 year plan for BA
The BA in the Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts at the University of Colorado, Boulder emphasizes the critical study of film as an art form. The critical studies BA is designed to give students a solid knowledge of the history and aesthetics of international film, as well as exposure to the various methodological approaches of cinema studies as an academic discipline. Critical studies courses take a multi-faceted approach comprised of film screenings, readings, and lectures, while students are expected to practice their film analysis skills in writing assignments and class discussion. Like many programs in the Arts and Humanities, the BA Program in the Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts aims more broadly to teach two fundamental skills: critical thinking and writing ability. These skills are developed in our program specifically through the examination of films, but they are also broadly useful well beyond the realm of film studies. The BA program enrolls approximately 425 majors.
The relationship between critical studies and film production is complementary. Most of our BA students take some film production courses, and all of our BFA students must take critical studies courses. Our program adheres to the philosophy that it’s crucial to understand the history and aesthetics of your medium, whether one is a filmmaker, an editor, a screenwriter, or a writer of film criticism. We encourage our students to be well-read and knowledgeable about film history, aesthetics, and theory, which allows them to make informed decisions regarding their artistic and intellectual choices.
Critical studies courses span a wide range of topics in history, theory, and criticism. BA students begin their course of study with Introduction to Film Studies (FILM 1502), which explores the basic formal and narrative structure of film and lays the groundwork for all critical studies classes to follow. Students are next required to take a year-long film history series, Film History I and II (FILM 3051/FILM 3061), a rigorous, screening-intensive overview of silent cinema, the transition to sound, classical cinema, and national cinemas that involves approximately 60 film screenings over the span of two semesters. Students are also required to take one course in Film Criticism and Theory (FILM 3104), which surveys the range and function of film criticism and theory by focusing on a series of rotating topics.
Beyond these basic courses, BA students are required to take 18 hours of critical studies electives, at least 12 of which must be upper division courses. Several other courses are also required in Literature and the Arts, and other elective courses are encouraged. Critical studies courses are regularly offered on film genres (melodrama, film noir, horror, comedy, the musical), documentary, and avant-garde cinema, as well as courses in film criticism and theory (narrative, psychoanalysis, gender studies), various auteurs (Hitchcock, Kubrick, Antonioni), and historical periods (Post-War American Film/Culture/Politics, American Film in the 1980s and 90s). International film is an important component of the program, and we offer a range of courses in international cinemas (British, Italian, German, Russian, Major Asian Filmmakers). A wide range of other courses are also offered, such as Film Trilogies, Transcendental Film, Color and Cinema, Sound and Vision. See Course Descriptions for further course listings.
A BA in Film Studies prepares students for a wide range of career possibilities following graduation. Many CU Boulder Film Studies BA graduates have gone on to careers in the film industry as writers, producers, and developers, in production and post-production, or in film archives. See our alumni page for some specific examples. Others have gone on to attend graduate school in Film Studies or other Arts and Humanities programs at numerous prestigious universities. The BA degree in the Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts gives students a solid background in critical thinking and writing, skills that serve students well in any career they choose.
SECRET STORY (Janie Geiser, 1996)
via Film Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
The BFA is a competitive degree program requiring an appliction and selection procedure. All students begin their Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts career declaring the Bachelor of Arts in Film as their major. Students wishing to declare a BFA in the Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts–the Production track–as their major must first satisfy specific prerequisites. The mission of the BFA is to prepare artists who will be competitive as independent filmmakers. To that end, a central aim of our curriculum is to help prepare students for advanced graduate degrees beyond the BFA degree.
In addition to acquiring the skills to make creative films and video works, students completing the BFA degree will also acquire the ability to analyze and interpret films critically and to communicate such interpretations competently in essay form.
Students following the BFA track are strongly discouraged from taking three or more production focused classes per semester.
Virgil Grillo Memorial Grant in Film Production
The University of Colorado Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts is proud to announce the call
for applications for the Virgil Grillo Memorial Grant in Film Production. The fund
was established with gifts from several sources, including the Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciences and The Learning Channel, thanks to the vision and
entrepreneurial spirit of Dr. Virgil Grillo (1938-1994), Professor & Founder of the
University of Colorado-Boulder Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts ( formerly the Film Studies Program).
The Film Studies/Art & Art History Bachelor of Arts/Master of Arts critical studies degree gives highly-motivated BA students the opportunity to earn an MA degree using an accelerated undergraduate program in combination with a fifth year of study.
BA/MA in Film Studies/Art History:
The BA/MA degree in the Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts (DCSMIA) is a critical studies track under the auspices of the Art and Art History (AAH) MA program. This collaboration between AAH with FS is an extension of our common interests in visual art and grows from our current shared MFA in Filmmaking. The Film Studies tenured and tenured track faculty also has graduate faculty standing within Art and Art History.
The DCSMIA /AAH BA/MA track prepares students for professional careers in teaching & criticism, from the perspective of innovative critical approaches and in preparation for a Ph.D. track at another university. The aim of the BA/MA Film program is to aid in the advancement of the scholarly understanding of film art, with emphasis on theoretical and research approaches and their role in academia. The BA/MA will, therefore, prepare our graduates to assume the responsibilities of the academic study of cinema as one of the fine arts and to pursue careers in teaching, research, curating, and the overall advancement of the study of cinema as art.
The program offers studies leading to the M.A. in the areas of film criticism & theory. Advanced students are encouraged to explore interdisciplinary approaches as well as to enhance their program of study with cognate courses in other departments such as History, Comparative Literature, Anthropology, English, Women’s Studies, Ethnic Studies, Spanish & Portuguese, French & Italian, Germanic & Slavic languages and literatures and others. Film Studies offers a broad selection of seminar topics on their current faculty research interests and in response to student demand. The Visiting Film Artist program brings additional distinguished, innovative film & video artists and critics to campus and students are encouraged to register for their seminars.
Admission to the program:
- Admission to the program occurs during the second semester of the junior year. Applicants should have a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.3 and have completed all MAPS deficiencies. All candidates will provide a copy of their (internal) CU transcript. (Please note: Applicants should specify on the form that they are applying for the spring term, BA/MA degree, major codes AS-FLM2 and GR-ART). After completing the top portion of the form, the student should make an appointment with the Director, Professor Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz.
- The sole application deadline is the second Monday in October. Please submit the standard BAMA application form with your package.
- Students will secure the sponsorship and/or advisory commitment of a Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts faculty member at the rank of assistant professor or higher. The applicant will include a brief letter or statement from the Faculty member attesting to the advisory relationship.
- Applicants will submit a one-page prospectus detailing a possible research topic for an MA thesis. The prospectus must include a minimum bibliography of 10-15 items.
- “October Surprise”: Applicants must successfully complete a writing assignment in the form of a 10-12 page analytical/theoretical or historical argument paper on a film determined by the faculty. Students will pick up a DVD and a “prompt” or question in the Film Studies office at 4pm on the Friday before the application is due. Over the weekend, the applicants must watch the movie, do some research, make an argument, and write the paper, which will be handed in with the application Monday at 9am. The “October surprise” portion of the application process is designed to have students demonstrate their writing skills and their ability to find, define, and argue a topic in a fairly sophisticated manner for an aspiring Master’s student.
- Only currently enrolled, University of Colorado-Boulder students, may be considered for admission to the program. Transfer students must complete at least 24 credit hours as a degree-seeking student before applying to the program.
- Students enrolled in the BAMA track cannot pursue a double major or double degree of any kind.
Minor in Film Critical Studies
A minor is offered in film studies. Declaration of a minor is open to any student enrolled at CU-Boulder, regardless of college or school. To obtain the film studies minor, students must:
- Declare a minor in film studies
- Complete 20 credits hours in film studies course work; requirements include the following:
- Complete FILM 1502, FILM 3051 and FILM 3061 (11 credit hours)
- Complete 9 credit hours from elective courses in the Film Studies Program. Six credit hours of the elective courses must be at the upper-division (3000-4000) level
The minor helps students interested in the study of cinema history, culture, and aesthetics, but too busy to pursue the full major, the opportunity to develop their interest by acquiring critical and comparative skills and understanding the place and importance of cinema as a cultural and social phenomenon. Students in the minor have access to lower and upper division courses on film history, aesthetics, criticism, social and historical contexts, classical genres, and groundbreaking directors from the US and International traditions, acquiring an edge in visual analysis and media literacy.
Honors in the Department of Cinema Studies and Moving Image Arts
To obtain Honors in the Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts students must have a GPA of 3.3 or higher and complete and defend an honors thesis.
A written Honors Thesis is usually approximately 30-50 pages in length and must be rigorously conceived and demonstrate originality of thought and breadth of research. A paper or project written for another class may not be submitted for the purpose of obtaining Honors without revision or expansion into a new Honors Thesis.
BA Honors – Production
To obtain BA Honors -- Production in Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts, a student must make a film and write a paper. The film will be a rigorously conceived, researched, and executed creative moving image work. The 15-20-page paper must be both scholarly and technical. It must demonstrate considerable research, place the film in a personal, historical and aesthetic context, and include an analysis of the film’s form and content. Contact Associate Professor Melinda Barlow to see a sample of this kind of essay (contact info below). Students who make a new film must enable Honors Committee members to view the film before the defense by giving each committee member a copy of the film on a submitted online link one week before the defense. Students may be asked to screen examples from their films during the defense.
BFA Honors – Production
To obtain BFA Honors in Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts, a student must make a film and write a paper. The film will be a rigorously conceived, researched, and executed creative moving image work. The 15-20-page paper must be both scholarly and technical. It must demonstrate considerable research, place the film in a personal, historical and aesthetic context, and include an analysis of the film’s form and content. Contact Associate Professor Melinda Barlow to see a sample of this kind of essay (contact info below). Students who make a new film must enable Honors Committee members to view the film before the defense by giving each committee member a copy of the film on a submitted online link one week before the defense. Students may be asked to screen examples from their films during the defense.
Procedure for Attaining Honors in the Department of Cinema Studies and Moving Image Arts
Students wishing to pursue Honors in the Department of Cinema Studies and Moving Image Arts must begin the procedure no later than the semester before graduation.
Select an Advisor
The student must select an Advisor from the Department of Cinema Studies and Moving Image Arts whose area of expertise best fits that student’s selected topic or project. Advisors must be full-time, tenured or tenure-track faculty members or instructors in the Department. Consult the Department of Cinema Studies and Moving Image Arts Advisors for a current list of qualifying faculty members. A Critical Studies Advisor must supervise Critical Studies theses, and a Film Production Advisor must supervise filmmaking projects.
Consult the Arts and Sciences Honors Website
The semester before the student graduates, they must consult the Arts and Sciences Honors website to obtain the list of pertinent deadlines and the required form for the Honors prospectus, bibliography and timeline. See https://www.colorado.edu/honors/graduation. If questions remain go to the Honors Office in Norlin Library (room M400M) or call them at 303-492-6617.
Write your Prospectus
Each student must write a prospectus, a preliminary bibliography and timeline for research, writing and/or filmmaking and submit that prospectus to their Advisor for review. Both the Advisor and the Honors Council Representative must approve and sign the prospectus. The student should make a copy, and then submit the signed prospectus to the Honors Office. The prospectus must be submitted the semester before graduation; for May graduates it is due the preceding October; for December graduates, the preceding end of April or early May. It is the student’s responsibility to meet with their Advisor and meet the deadlines for drafts, rough-cuts and final revisions described in the timeline on the prospectus. Rushed projects completed without supervision are not allowed.
Please note: because an Honors thesis often transforms over the course of writing and filming, it is common to have to re-write the original prospectus for inclusion in the finished thesis. Sample theses and prospectuses are available in the Honors Office for your perusal.
Select a Thesis Committee
Every Honors Thesis Committee must be composed of at least three faculty members, each a tenure-track or tenured professor or instructor: an Advisor from the Department of Cinema Studies and Moving Image Arts, the Department’s Honors Council Representative, and a faculty member from another department. Ideally, the entire committee should be assembled early on in the Honors process but must be in place no later than three weeks before the oral defense of the thesis (the final step in the Honors process, approximately one hour in length). Committee members must be given at least one full week to read the finished thesis (and screen the film via online link if submitting for BA Honors—Production or BFA Honors--Production).
Registering for Honors Credit
Students may register for three Honors Independent Studies credits the semester they are working on either a BA or a BFA Honors Thesis. The Honors Thesis Advisor serves as the supervisor of this Independent Study.
In general, Honors are awarded according to the following GPA designations: 3.3-3.49 (cum laude), 3.5-3.79 (magna cum laude) and 3.8-4.0 (summa cum laude). However, exceptional work may cause the Honors Thesis Committee to recommend a higher designation than is usually associated with the candidate’s GPA, while inferior work may cause the Committee to recommend an Honors designation lower than is associated with the candidate’s GPA. In rare cases, the Committee may decide not to recommend Honors. All designations recommended by the Honors Thesis Committee are subject to review by the CU Honors Council when it meets as a whole at the end of the semester. Final designations are awarded at that time and sent to candidates via email and PIN number in the days following the meeting. Honors designations are final and may not be appealed.
Students pursuing two majors (BA and BFA in Cinema Studies and Moving Image Arts, or a major in Cinema Studies and Moving Image Arts and a major in another discipline) may choose to do an Honors Thesis for either or both majors. Students seeking two distinct Honors designations must do a separate and different Honors Thesis for each degree, in different semesters, given the degree of commitment required by any single Honors thesis.
For more information, see the CU Arts and Sciences Honors website (https://www.colorado.edu/honors/) or call the Honors Program at 303-492-6617. Information on pursuing General Honors is also available through these two sources.
Associate Professor Melinda Barlow is the Honors Representative for the Department of Cinema Studies and Moving Image Arts. Her office is ATLAS 333, and she may be reached at email@example.com