Mission Statement

An education in the Department of Cinematic Arts prepares students from Iowa and beyond to understand, contribute to, and effect change in a world increasingly mediated by moving images. Our award-winning faculty of scholars and filmmakers are dedicated to the pursuit of excellence and innovation in academic and creative research, teaching, and service. We train and inspire our students to participate as engaged artist-practitioners and informed scholar-analysts of our ever-changing media environment by offering them the conceptual and practical tools for analyzing and creating audio-visual media informed by a dialogue between the history and theory of film. Epitomizing the benefits of pursuing an education at a top research University and in a College equally committed to the arts, sciences, and humanities, Cinematic Arts students experience the transformative combination of traditional and digital humanities-based learning with the rigorous and explorative training in the arts of cinematic creativity (editing, cinematography, screenwriting, sound design, animation). Offering a broad, cross-media and international perspective upon moving-image culture, we bridge media literacies and practices of the 19th centuries (literature, photography) with the twentieth (film and video) and twenty-first centuries (digital media). Our students explore all forms of filmmaking, from commercial narrative and documentary to experimental films, and study a wide range of film studies topics, from Hollywood to Bollywood, genre to art house films, and silent cinema to video-gaming. While nurturing individual voice and vision, we prepare students for a range of twenty-first century careers permeated by media production, whether in the film and culture industries, media, art, and marketing professions, or higher education and other related areas.

Our educational mission is underlined by the following guiding principles:

  1. Artists are scholars and scholars are artists. We bridge an arts-based filmmaking practice with a humanities-based film studies discipline in service to the commonly held belief that the best filmmakers have a deep knowledge of film history and the best film scholars have a deep understanding of filmmaking.
  2. Old media were once new and new media will soon be old. We believe in the equal importance of addressing the past, present, and future of cinema as an inter-media phenomenon with connections to photography, radio, television, video, and new media.
  3. Cinema is everywhere. We expose our students to a broad understanding of cinema as a constantly evolving, international medium of art, entertainment, and social change.
  4. Technical skills are just the beginning. We nurture students’ individual creative expression, equip them with critical thinking, communication, and intercultural skills, while also training them in industry-standard skill-sets.
  5. Our students are intellectually and creatively well-rounded. We are dedicated to the centrality of critical reading, writing, making, and thinking skills to our students’ education.
  6. Cinema is a passport to seeing and changing the world. We mobilize cinema to broaden our students’ international and intercultural perspective and encourage their commitment to diversity, social engagement and community outreach, making them better-informed and active citizens of an increasingly globalized yet persistently local world.