Filmmaker Getting National Exposure
Roth AC ’07J first came to Smith in 1995,
straight out of high school. She was drawn to the American
Studies program almost immediately, she says. But it was
video production that most grabbed her interest when she
returned to Smith in 2003 as an Ada Comstock Scholar to resume
the American Studies program.
“I grew up in a household
with all sorts of audio and visual gadgets but took them
for granted,” Roth recalls. “As a child I was
making stop-motion animations with the family camcorder and
4-track audio recordings by setting up a series of tape recorders.
It was fun but nothing I took seriously.”
Now, only a year after her graduation,
her video work is making the rounds nationally.
Lesson, which she completed during her final semester
at Smith, has been shown as part of several film festivals,
including the reputable Athens International Film and Video
Festival, the MadCat International Women’s Festival,
and the Northampton Independent Film Festival.
Another project, Tokens, is an experimental documentary
she conceived while at Smith. It premiered at the Chicago
Reeling International LGBT Film Festival and will screen
this summer at Anthology Film Archives, an international
center for the preservation of film and video.
Roth, who lives in Albany, New
York, is currently in production on her first feature-length
documentary about a gay bar, and was recently selected
to participate in the New York Foundation for the Arts’ inaugural
MARK program, an artist development series.
It was early in her Ada Comstock days that Roth happened across Smith’s
introductory video course while struggling to
complete her class schedule, she remembers. At that time she had no
idea that video would become a major part of her studies
and a future career.
“I loved American Studies,” she says. “With
video I learned to take my research methods, my academic
interests and my personal stories and translate them into
visual media. Rather than competing with my interest in video
production, American Studies informed it.”
credits Smith’s film studies department and in
particular Lucretia Knapp, a lecturer in the department,
for helping her develop her work. “Professor Knapp’s
advisement has been invaluable,” says Roth. “My
work has grown tremendously with her input and critique.”
Roth now works in both the experimental and documentary
genres of video production. While at Smith, she won several
awards at the Five College Film Festival, including Best
of Festival and Best Documentary for Recovering June, a
film about her grandmother’s struggle with mental illness.
“I feel fortunate to have been able to screen my work
in so many settings since graduation,” she says. “It’s
incredible. A year ago I was in a class learning about Anthology
Film Archives. I honestly wouldn’t have guessed that
I’d be screening there such a short time later.”