Location: Bowdoin / Sarah Childress


Sarah L. Childress

Research Associate in Cinema Studies

Contact Information

Cinema Studies

Sarah Childress


  • Ph.D. English, concentration in Film Studies, Vanderbilt University, 2009
  • M.A. English, concentration in Film Studies, Vanderbilt University, 2005
  • B.A. International Studies, Emory University, 1994

Research Areas

  • Documentary Cinema
  • Experimental Cinema
  • Place in Cinema
  • Practice-Led Research


  • Mission Road (in post-production)
  • Blue Dragon Mussel Wagon (Sarah Childress, 2014, 2 min). Exhibited at Boston Center for the Arts, House of World Cultures (Berlin), and Folkwangmuseum (Essen, Germany)
  • Flow (Sarah Childress, 2013, 10 min). Juried screening at the 2014 University Film and Video Association conference.
  • Sticky Wicket (Rick Schmidt, 2013). Director of photography, 2nd-unit director, associate producer, and actor. Available on Fandor.
  • Música Campesina (Alberto Fuguet, 2011). Producer. Screened at international festivals including BAFICI, the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Latinbeat, Mill Valley Film Festival, MSP Latin Film Festival (Minneapolis), and International Lens film series (Nashville). Also appeared on HBO (2015).

Cinema Studies 2230
The Reality Effect: Documentary Film
Documentary films tell us about the world in many different ways. They introduce us to people, places, things, concepts, processes, experiences - and they reveal particular ways of seeing and understanding the world. Though any film can have documentary qualities, we work together to consider the questions: What is documetary (and why does that matter)? How can particular films reinforce or change our understanding of the world and the people who live in it (including ourselves)? And how do individual films establish, expand, or challenge conventions of documentary filmmaking?
Syllabus [ PDF link will open a PDF - Portable Document Format ] »

Cinema Studies 1101
Film Narrative (aka Intro to Film)

Visual narratives have increasingly defined cultural values, opinions, and beliefs but we often don’t think about examining films in the same way we do other art forms. This course introduces students to the formal elements of film and how they are used to generate narratives, themes, and emotions.
Syllabus [ PDFlink will open a PDF - Portable Document Format] »

Cinema Studies 3318
Film as a Subversive Art: The Critical Lens of Avant-garde Cinema
In French, avant-garde means "advance guard," a military term used for troops leading an attack across a battlefield. In film and art in general, the term describes a work that breaks new ground, often to experiment with the possibilities inherent within the medium or to express a different way of seeing the world and of living in it. This cinematic genre also thrives on critique, which occurs in part by challenging the aesthetic and social conventions held by film audiences. This cinema challenges us to examine how films make meaning and how they contribute to – or challenge – who we are and how we think.
Syllabus [ PDF link will open a PDF - Portable Document Format ] »

Cinema Studies 3318
Reel Places: Framing Human-Nature Interactions
Cinematic places can reveal the ways humans understand, engage, and experience their environments and how those environments influence human perception, society, and life.
Syllabus [ PDF link will open a PDF - Portable Document Format ] »

Film Studies 315
New Waves in the New World: Latin American Cinema
This course focuses on the cinema Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, and Mexico produced during two “new wave” periods – 1960-1970 and 2000-2010 – to look at how they express transnational flows of culture and capitalism. 1960s filmmakers worked outside of global cultural mainstreams that marginalized their nations and films while new-millennium filmmakers insert theirs into these realms for that purpose. Does this shift negate advances made by earlier filmmakers? Or does it signal more profound progress by demonstrating that cultural and economic influence comes not from standing outside of global forces but by harnessing them?
Syllabus [ PDF link will open a PDF - Portable Document Format ] »

Bowdoin College Faculty Research Award April 2014

Grant from the Blythe Bickel Edwards fund to sponsor film series and speakers, Bowdoin College, 2010 - 2015

Mellon Learning Associate, Bates College, Spring 2013

Spanish Film Club grant to support the Latin American and Spanish film festival at Bowdoin College, 2012

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award, Vanderbilt College of Arts & Sciences, 2009

Thomas Daniel Young Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching, Vanderbilt Department of English, 2009

“Best of Nashville” award for International Lens film series, 2008 & 2009

Tournées Festival Grant in support of International Lens film series, Fall 2008 & 2009

Fellow, Vanderbilt University Center for Ethics, Fall 2008

Fellow, Vanderbilt Center for the Americas, 2007- 2008

“Venturing Forth from the Classroom with Camera in Hand: A Fernando Birri Film School." Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference, March 2015

“Flow: A Production-Oriented Exploration of Landscape Interactions,” University Film and Video Association conference, August 2014

 “Temporality in Cinematic Landscapes,” Film Philosophy Colloquium, Vanderbilt University,           February 2013

 “New World, New Waves: Revolutionary Images in Latin America Cinema.” Paris Photo,             November 19, 2010

“New Waves in the New World: Latin American New Cinemas.” Universidad del Cine, Buenos Aires, Argentina, June 23, 2010

“The Subject of Film Manifestos.” The World Picture Conference, October 2009

“The Role of Art in the Community.” Invited panelist. Frist Center for the Visual Arts,                      January 18, 2009.

“Seeing It All: The Panoptic Aesthetic in Post-9/11 Films.” Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference, March 2008 and 20th-Century Literature & Culture Conference, February 2009

“New ‘American’ Cinema.” Ameritopias: America in the Global Imagination/Globalism in America.Modernist Studies Association conference, November 2008

 “‘Leave Your World:’ The Revolutionary Fluidity of Sara Gómez’s De Cierta Manera.” Florida State University Film and Literature Conference, February 2008

 “Using Digital Video-based Multimedia Study Environments to Introduce Students to the Language of Visual Narrative.” Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference, March 2007

“New Directions in Research and Writing: Docuscripts – Visualizing More Effective Communication Skills for Undergraduates.” Co-Chair. Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference, March 2006

Film Series

Organizer, World Cinema Festival, February 17-23, 2014; February 16-21, 2015; November 2-6, 2015

Organizer, Imagining Justice: the Intersections Film Series, October-November, 2015

Reflections on Reel Places, an exhibit of FILM 2262 student films, Ramp Gallery show, Spring 2015 (the first video art Ramp Gallery exhibition)

Organizer and Programmer, Latin American and Spanish Film Festival, January 2013

Film Presentations

Panelist, “William Kentridge’s Drawings for Projection”, hosted by the Bowdoin Museum of Art, February 4, 2016

Organizer and discussant with Kate Stern, screening of Tangerine at Frontier Cinema for Transgender Awareness Week, November 19, 2015

Panel participant, The Hunting Ground, screening and conversation on college-campus sexual violence, April 29, 2015

Theme-and-Variations Screendance presentations, created by film, dance, and music students in CINE 3318, DANC 3404, MUS 2501, Spring Dance Concert, April 16-18, 2015

Presenter, Sister, Francophone Film Festival, April 16, 2015

Panelist, Nostalgia for the Light film screening, presented with the Past Futures: Science Fiction, Space Travel, and Postwar Art of the Americas exhibition. March 31, 2015

“Under the Surface: the Avant-doc films of Jean Painlevé,” public screening and Q&A, March 3, 2014

You’re Looking at Me Like I Live Here and I Don’t, film screening and panel discussion with filmmaker Scott Kirschenbaum. November 7, 2011

Panel Discussion of Fatih Akin’s Edge of Heaven, panel participant, April 9, 2011

Master Classes and Visiting Positions Organized

"Independent filmmaking for the festival circuit," master class with Rwandan filmmaker Kivu Ruhorahoza, March 4, 2016

Film editing master class with Mary Jane Doherty and Secundaria public screening, March 30, 2015

Film production master class with Richard Sandler and The God’s of Times Square public screening, November 2014

Organized visiting positions for documentary filmmaker David Conniver and feature fiction filmmaker Lyes Salem