Eric Coombs Esmail
Director of the Center for Documentary and Ethnographic Media • Assistant Professor
Critical Media Practices

STAD Gate 7, Suite 255-07

Eric Coombs Esmail is a documentary artist, critical pedagogist, and community activist interested in labor, spirituality, and the politics of human migration. Trained as a cinematographer, he has worked across film and video production for interactive media, performance, installation, and theatrical release. His practice has taken him both far afield and close to home, from Palestine to Pennsylvania, where he has explored ideas around power, place, and human experience.  

As a director, Eric’s work has exhibited at the Arizona International Film Festival, the Denver Art Museum, the IFS Los Angeles Film Festival, the Lone Star Film Festival (Fort Worth), the Denver Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives (New York), Black Cube Nomadic Art Museum, Big Orbit Gallery (Buffalo), La Panacée Center of Contemporary Culture (Montpelier), Echo Park Film Center (Los Angeles), Black Hole Cinema (Oakland), Sugar City Arts Collective (Buffalo), Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center (Buffalo), the Balagan Film Series (Boston), (London), L’Abominable (Paris), and many others. As a cinematographer, his work has appeared in dozens of national and international venues on projects ranging from feature documentaries to activist shorts. Committed to a community-oriented practice, he regularly shares work in spaces intended primarily for local impact. He continues to present his writings on media arts pedagogy and practice around the world, and authors open educational resources for students and teachers in media production. 

Eric is the director of the Center for Documentary and Ethnographic Media, which hosts the annual Mimesis Documentary Festival in Boulder, Colorado. He is a founding board member of the Colorado-based non-profit Process Reversal and is a managing partner in Deranged Penguin Productions (with Christian Hammons). He holds an MFA in Media Arts Production from the State University of New York at Buffalo. 

Currently, Eric is working on a feature documentary exploring the houseless and migratory communities that live and travel through Colorado’s national forests.