Guest Film & Video Artists & Speakers: 1970–2020

Editor Thelma Schoonmaker ’61 with student staff Michael Roman

Cornell Cinema has hosted over 500 guest film & video artists over its 50-year history, including actors, animators, art directors, cinematographers, directors, documentarians, editors, experimental makers, producers, visual effects creators, writers and others, whose presence at screenings has illuminated their work for audiences.

Guest visits were infrequent during the nascent years of the organization, but did include such well-known filmmakers as acclaimed documentarians Georges Rouquier, Frederick Wiseman and Marcel Ophüls; Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima; Hollywood director Elia Kazan; and New German Cinema director Wim Wenders, all of whom visited in the late ’70s/early '80s, hosted by Cornell Cinema Director Bill Gilcher.

When Richard Herskowitz became Cornell Cinema Director in 1982, one of his goals was to expand the number of visiting media makers and related film discussions, which became a defining characteristic of Cornell Cinema, carried on for the past 25+ years by Mary Fessenden.

We’ve broken down this amazing array of film artists into four different groupings:

  • EXPANDING CINEMA: 1983–1992
  • Central New York Programmers’ Group: 1989–2010
  • Cinema Off-Center/Experimental Makers: 1994–2020
  • All Other Guest Filmmakers: 1970–2020

and tried to list each artist only once, even though many of them visited more than once. Full descriptions of each group and a list of the featured guests can be found by following the appropriate link under the “In this section” sidebar.

We’ve also put together three additional groupings of guests we’ve hosted over the years:

  • Guest Musicians: 1970–2020
  • Guest Film Scholars, Curators, etc: 1970–2020
  • Other Special Guests

Descriptions of these three groupings and their respective lists of guests can be found by following the appropriate link under the “In this section” sidebar.

Please note: some artists’ and other guests’ visits were organized by third parties, including academic departments, student organizations, faculty & graduate students.

Expanding Cinema: 1983 – 1992

Dutch filmmaker & photographer Johan Van der Keuken speaking in the Johnson Museum’s Lecture Room
Dutch filmmaker & photographer Johan Van der Keuken speaking in the Johnson Museum’s Lecture Room in conjunction with the exhibition Border Crossing: The Cinema and Photography of Johan van der Keuken. 1990

Cornell Cinema Director Richard Herskowitz (1982–1994) began the EXPANDING CINEMA series in academic year 1983-84, when he also held the position of “adjunct curator of film and video” at the Johnson Museum of Art. Thematic series of experimental media were shown for free on Sunday afternoons in the museum’s Lecture Room with many of the screenings accompanied by presentations by guest artists and curators. 

Read more about EXPANDING CINEMA

Central New York Programmers’ Group (CNYPG): 1989–2010

Pratibha Parmer posed by Cornell Cinema sign
British filmmaker & feminist activist Pratibha Parmar toured as a guest of the Central New York Programmers’ Group, screening a program of her short films, including Jodie: An Icon, about Jodie Foster. April 15, 1997

The Central New York Programmers Group (CNYPG) was a consortium of programmers, teachers and media makers in New York State, funded by a grant from the Electronic Media & Film Program of the New York State Council on the Arts and administered by Cornell Cinema.

Read more about CNYPG…


Cinema Off-Center / Experimental Filmmakers: 1994–2020

Cornell Cinema staff members and filmmaker Helga Fanderl, October 2018
Super-8 filmmaker Helga Fanderl works with (from L–R) student manager Michael McGinnis ’20, head projectionist Paul Dimmick & cinema manager Doug McLaren to prepare for a program of her short poetic films. October 24, 2018

When Cornell Cinema became part of the College of Arts & Sciences in FY1994-95 as a program of the Department of Theatre, Film & Dance (now Performing & Media Arts), its showcase for more alternative film series shifted to the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, taking place on Tuesday evenings in the Film Forum under the title Cinema Off-Center.

Read more about Cinema Off-Center and other visits by experimental filmmakers here…

Other Guest Filmmakers: 1970–2020

Filmmaker Ang Lee at reception.
Filmmaker Ang Lee at a reception following the Ithaca Premiere of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, edited by Tim Squyres '81, November 18, 2000.

Guest filmmakers didn’t feature prominently in Cornell Cinema’s schedule until the late 1970s when Bill Gilcher was the director. He hosted such well-known filmmakers as acclaimed documentarians Frederick Wiseman, Marcel Ophüls and Peter Watkins.

Read more about other guest filmmakers here…

Guest Musicians: 1970–2020

Roger C. Miller on keyboards, The Alloy Orchestra with METROPOLIS. June 2010
Roger C. Miller plays keyboards with The Alloy Orchestra with Fritz Lang’s silent masterpiece, Metropolis (1927)

Live music events didn’t make their way into Cornell Cinema’s line-up until the late '70s/early ’80s. Early events included visits by the Eastman Chamber Orchestra and the Eastman Dryden Orchestra from Rochester, performing with the silent films Peter Pan (1924) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925), respectively.

Read more about guest musicians here…

Other Special Guests: 1970–2020

Timothy "Speed" Levitch in the Cornell Cinema lobby (October 2003)
Timothy “Speed” Levitch in advance of his multi-media performance 'Speed Levitch: Live from Inner Space,' October 23, 2003, as part of a film series including Richard Linklater's Waking Life, which features Levitch, and the documentary The Cruise, about him.

This list speaks for itself!

Guest Film Scholars, Curators, etc: 1970–2020

Filmmaker Todd Haynes interviewed by J. Hoberman
Filmmaker Todd Haynes interviewed on the Willard Straight stage by renowned film critic J. Hoberman, following a screening of I'm Not There (March 2008).

scene from the film  TÁR

Cornell Cinema’s history also includes an impressive list of visitors who were invited to campus to share their film scholarship, present their curatorial or archival work, introduce films or interview filmmakers they’d written about, and in some cases, lead workshops with aspiring film critics on campus.

Read more about our film studies guests here…