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Junior Matthew Chezum cuts the ribbon.

Junior Matthew Chezum, a film and chemistry double major from New Windsor, Ill., cuts the ribbon at the film program event Feb. 16. Holding the ribbon are Associate Professor Stacy Barton and sophomore film major Aron Stewart, of Davenport, Iowa. Pictured at the podium, Provost Dianna Shandy spoke at the event about the evolution of the film program from a certificate program in 2016 to the major and minor it is today.

Augustana hosts film ribbon cutting, announces department name change

ROCK ISLAND — Augustana College held a ribbon cutting Friday, Feb. 16, celebrating the film production facilities and iMac lab space for the college’s new film program led by Associate Professor Stacy Barton. The college also announced the Department of Theatre Arts is now the Department of Theatre and Film.

Associate Professor Stacy Barton at the podium

Associate Professor Stacy Barton speaks to media about the launch of the film major and minor. 

Provost Dr. Dianna Shandy said the faculty-approved department name change marks the important synergy between the two areas of study

“Augustana’s rich tradition of theatre arts is enhanced by the college’s new film major and minor,” she said. “Cross-curricular opportunities build students with the skills to enter the modern workforce prepared and confident in their abilities.”

Announced in December 2022, the college’s film major and minor curriculum was established by Barton with a focus on cultivating well-rounded, holistic filmmakers with the skills to bring to life professional, complex and creative productions from idea to completion.

Barton also oversaw the creation of the state-of-the art production studio. The studio includes a dynamic set of backgrounds, an LED lighting grid and professional grip equipment to empower students to achieve high-quality professional standards in sound and vision.

“Our 20 students majoring or minoring in film are diving into learning the art of film,” Barton said. “In addition to the dedicated and well-equipped production space, the iMac editing lab and private editing suite gives them all the tools they need to tell powerful and impactful stories.”

Barton, who joined Augustana in fall 2022, is a film artist whose work includes short and feature-length narrative fiction, documentary, non-fiction TV magazine, 16mm experimental, video art and multimedia sculpture. She said interest in film is growing at Augustana, with at least five more students expected to declare the major or minor this spring. 

Barton launched the Augustana Student Film Showcase in October 2023. The juried event included a lineup of short videos created in film courses during the previous academic year. Last year’s event featured 18 student films in the genres of documentary, narrative fiction, experimental, and public service announcement. 

Matthew Chezum, now a junior film and chemistry double major from New Windsor, Ill., received the event’s audience choice award and the best narrative fiction award for his crowd-pleasing live action short “S’mores.” The film featured marshmallows caught up in the Salem witch trials.

Barton’s next student film showcase is slated for May at Davenport’s The Last Picture House. Winners from that event will be announced at that time, and their films will be rescreened on campus at Augustana’s Symposium Day in October.


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