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  News - Duke University Medical Center, Durham North Carolina USA
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Ashe Memorial Hospital
Duke Film Studies Class Hosts Twitter Film Fest April 4-5
Date : - 01/04/2009
DURHAM, N.C. -- At a film festival this weekend, there will be no actors, red carpet or paparazzi.

The stars will be Duke University students in Negar Mottahedeh’s “Introduction to Film Studies” class, who will critique and analyze film clips -- using less than 140 characters -- during their Twitter Film Festival, April 4-5.

Students will comment on the evolution of film using clips from such movies as “The Graduate,” “Clockwork Orange,” “There Will Be Blood” and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” The class posted clips of these and other films to a blog they created at Members of the public can watch the clips and comment on the blog. They can also follow and join the discussion using the micro-blogging site Twitter at or by using the hashtag #TwitFilm.

"The students have a solid foundation of film theory now and have come to a lot of conclusions based on their analysis of film sources,” says Mottahedeh, an assistant professor of literature and women’s studies at Duke, who tweets using the name “negaratduke.” “Now the challenge is to promote their knowledge of these films with something that is both smart and witty that the public will appreciate.”

Sophomore Laura Keeley, who used Twitter for the first time in Mottahedeh’s class, says the compact format of Twitter is challenging -- in a good way.

“You need to be concise. It’s a good skill for writing papers and translates to other disciplines. It’s useful to say what you need to say so you don’t lose readers,” she says.

Keeley was skeptical of the technology at first. “It’s a different way to think and I think that’s what college should be about -- doing something that challenges you to think in different ways and change the way you think.”

Mottahedeh will grade the students on the quality of their tweets, their ability to incorporate different elements of tweeting, such as re-tweeting, using hashtags and posting URLs, as well as their collaboration in creating the festival. The students will also have the opportunity to grade each other.

During the semester, students in her class used Twitter to ask and respond to questions during film screenings and lectures, let other classmates know when blog assignments were posted and correspond with Mottahedeh outside of class.

Mottahedeh, who recently published a book, “Displaced Allegories,” on post-revolutionary Iranian cinema, admits it is unusual to look up from a lecture to see a class of students staring at their computers.

“However, this group of students was far more engaged and alive and connected to their work,” she says. “I think that’s a result of the connection, the constant connection they have with each other and the awareness that what we’re doing is very public.”

615 Chapel Drive, Box 90563, Durham, NC 27708-0563
(919) 684-2823; After-hours phone (for reporters on deadline): (919) 812-6603

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