Congratulations to our Class of 2020 Graduates!

Thursday, May 21, 2020 - 09:43


“While we know so much uncertainty is ahead—you must also know we are rooting for you. You are needed— so as to make this industry and this discipline—transform to what you envision. Your stories and how you make them are our much needed future.”

— Celine Parreñas Shimizu, Professor and School of Cinema Director

Transcription of Video:

"To the Class of 2020: This is Celine Shimizu, Director of the School of Cinema. On behalf of the faculty and staff, congratulations!

As you graduate from the School of Cinema at San Francisco State University, you are now and forever—of us.

You learned the language of cinema here—history, theory, criticism. You fought for justice here, and that means the future of our industry and our discipline will be better because of what you did here, who you met and worked with here, and what you will do from here.

Whether lectures in Coppola or discussion in seminar, the intimacy of our classrooms witnessed you taking the risk of investing yourself and connecting with others. You are of us.

Whether on sets on and off campus, you practiced the language of cinematography and of production design so that your imagination comes to life through the power of collaboration—and proper set etiquette. You are of us.

When you learn how to hear for the first time because you had to make the filmed world come alive through sound and how the timing and the pacing of the world is arrested in editing—you are of us.

When you advocate for a more equitable classroom by revving your voices so that our whole industry hears that we need more diverse stories and better ways of working together—you are of us.

So when you utter the School of Cinema at SFSU is from where you came—remember this place that shaped you— will change the industry that needs how you act in the world and how you envision new worlds.

Yet, you are not only of us, you are also of this time. You produced in the face of this pandemic. You overcame its restrictions, limits, and constraints with the power of creativity and knowing the importance of your stories.

And you finished. While we know so much uncertainty is ahead—you must also know we are rooting for you. You are needed— so as to make this industry and this discipline—transform to what you envision. Your stories and how you make them are our much needed future.

Congratulations to you, our dear graduates!"

School of Cinema Student Honorees

Ryan McCandless

Ryan McCandless

Cinema Major, ‘20

This academic year, Ryan carried out a unique and outstanding research project unlike the School has ever seen. Motivated and independent, Ryan presented a written approach, timeline, and justification for his research project. He was granted special access to Cinema’s media archive. Subsequently, Ryan pored over hours and hours of student films made in the 1990s to identify 18 projects with distinctly queer subject matter. The resulting paper is a fascinating read. Exceeding A-level competency, it astutely memorializes work from a pivotal cultural moment in queer history (now commonly referred to as “New Queer Cinema” in academic circles). The paper also inspired a special sold-out screening at San Francisco’s Roxie Theatre, “SFSU Queer Cinema – Past & Present,” featuring films from Ryan’s paper.

Kirk Mudle

Kirk Mudle

Cinema Major, ‘20

Kirk Mudle completed an exemplary M.A. Thesis in Cinema Studies called, “The Limits of Resemblance: Gender Representation in the Films of Hong Sang-Soo.” It expands our knowledge of contemporary Korean film by performing an incisive critique of narrative and form while rethinking the relationship between gender, auteurship, and the cinematic apparatus.

Molly Stuart

Molly Stuart

Cinema Major, ‘20

Molly’s work appears in Democracy Now! and Mother Jones. Her first-year film played in twenty festivals, winning four. Another won Best Short at the SF Jewish Film Festival. Receiving two prestigious grants, she made the most successful thesis documentary in our School’s history. Objector won IDFA, many others, and was acquired by Java Films.


Congratulations to the class of 2020! Here are some words that our students have shared as they graduate...

Alejandres, Joshua Tadeo--Cinema-BA
These past four years have changed my life in so many ways. Being a part of the Cinema Department at SFSU has allowed me to grow as a filmmaker and artist. I am beyond grateful to be part of a community of artists who supports each other in order for our voices to be heard. I would like to thank my parents for being supportive throughout my journey, as well as my sister Danna, I love you! I would also like to thank all my classmates and professors, who are now mentors, for believing in me.

Agee, Alkwon Kyrie Lee--Cinema-BA
I came to SFSU as a transfer student. I did not know what to expect other than film students asking “have you seen this” and “what you haven’t seen (insert any black and white movie)”. Though that did happen, a lot, I also gained a lot of friends and experiences. Like for example, I know what to expect when I see Kerner’s name next to anything. By the way, go in with no expectations when you see his name. I’ve learned more than just Hollywood storytelling techniques but also American Indian, Bollywood, and numerous Japanese styles of storytelling. Most importantly, I learned to just do and try. Never worry about the reception, just make the film you want, and if you feel you failed then try again.

Allegro, Sean Francis Garrido--Cinema-BA
During my time at San Francisco State, I didn’t think that I would have graduated with a major in Cinema, but at the end of it all, I’m glad I did. At first, I was not really confident in my ability to really understand cinema with my grade at the beginning being only at about average. However as time went on, I was slowly understanding more and more from amazing teachers that clearly showed a passion for what they do and in turn helped me grow more interested in how cinema is more than just pointing a camera at actors. My time majoring in cinema is not something I would soon regret. Despite how long it took me to get where I am now, I still had a great time getting to where I am now. As a final farewell, I would like to genuinely like to thank all the teachers I had because without them I would never have gotten as far as I have without their help.

Asuncion, Christson Luigi--Cinema-BA
A hundred words aren’t enough to express my gratitude or time here, especially while reflecting during these unprecedented times. I know I would like to thank my family, the school, it’s faculty, and friends I’ve met and made, who have shaped me into who I am today. As I reach the word count without ever really saying everything on my mind, just remember: if a picture is worth a thousand words, we’re filming at 24, 30, or even 60 frames per second, making our work valuable. We have no limitations. It’s just the beginning. Thank you. I love you. Peace.
Christson Luigi Asuncion

Bahu, Nader--Cinema-BA
SFSU is a school that pushed me to be my best. As a person I know I am capable of doing great things, but as a disabled person I know it’ll be hard. Can I live on my own? Can I make a thesis film? Am I able to do these things on my own? Now that I am finishing up my educational career. I feel despite my disability and struggles, I am able to do it. Thank you for the SFSU Cinema Professors for your support and guidance during my educational journey.

Baldini, David--Cinema-BA
Looking back on my journey through school I am extremely grateful for the friends I have made, the teachers that I have studied under, and the experiences I have gained. The time I have spent at San Francisco State has solidified who I am as a person, and who I set out to be in the world. My wish for all of us is that this life becomes all that we want it to. The future holds no promises, but rather mysteries and surprises, and what we have learned will prepare us for both. As the great Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Banks, Cedar--Cinema-BA
The path that I’ve been on here at the School of Cinema has seemed somewhat random to me for a long time. But, this “random” path has brought me into contact with each and every person I’ve ever interacted with at SFSU, the sum total of which is invaluable. Now it seems to me as if the apparent randomness itself was as much a part of the curriculum as the content of each course. I leave my time here with a sense of closure, as well as excitement for whatever may be next.

Bell, Eric--Cinema-BA
I am so happy to be done. 7 years down 2 more to go. It took me five years to get 4 AA’s in Cinema/Television Production and 2 years to get my BA. I want to thank my mom and my family for listening to me talk about Psychoanalytic Theory and still watching movies with me after. To my Professors, it's been real, as you never made it easy. To my friends, thank you for being there with me making killer films. Lastly, thank you SF State. Remember to keep up your network and I am looking forward to working with you!!!!!!

Booker, Shavon--Cinema-BA
As a black woman, you rarely see someone like me being behind the scenes. This career is dominated by males, so as a woman let alone a black woman trying to break ceilings for other little black girls it will be my job as I leave SFSU to teaching other kids like me to look through the lens as Kasi Lemmons, Ava DuVernay, and Issa Rae taught me. SFSU Cinema has opened my mind to different directions as to where I want to take my career path. I am very grateful to the staff and administration and glad to become alumni of the SFSU Cinema Department. Thank you.

Bylkylov, Darkhan--Cinema-BA
First and most important I would like to deeply thank my parents for giving me the opportunity to even be able to come out to the US and get my education here at San Francisco State University! SFSU has been a totally different experience of education I’ve ever had in my life and I loved every part of it. I would highly recommend SFSU School of Cinema to anyone interested in pursuing filmmaking, acting, or anything cinema-related as their career!

Carver, Benjamin--Cinema-MN
For the past 15 years, I've been on a journey to tell stories or find the images that I could bridge between both a lived experience and of an academic study involving filmmaking and storytelling. For the inspiration to tell my own story from the stories of my family both immigrants and indigenous to this land. Many people both here at SF State University and abroad have given me these example and to question the status quo. During these uncertain times to return to school and be a teacher and hopefully maybe inspire the rebellious fire in future students and peers like roman candles that will burn, burn, burn bright into the night. For my grandmother, Annegreta, who encouraged me to finish school time and time again, unfortunately, passed away in February. I, Benjamin Dane Carver, who will graduate life with honor, and without regret.
Thank you

Ciletti, Julia J. Cinema--BA 
Thank you, San Francisco State University, for being the catalyst in experiencing the rich culture and progressive history of San Francisco. I am grateful to have made many life-long friends, and learned to harness my courage and adaptability. I will forever appreciate the staff who supported me through my education -- Chair Celine Shimizu, Katharine Mahalic, Karly Stark, Pablo Riquelme, and Joseph McBride. I hope to collaborate with SF State alumni and professors in my professional career to come!

Delgadillo, Jorge A.--Cinema Studies-MA 
I would like to thank everyone who has made these two years at San Francisco State University formative and memorable. From my fellow classmates to the faculty, these past two years have been instrumental in allowing me to approach cinema in new ways. I would also like to thank my friends, both new and old, and my family for supporting me and making these past two years easier and enjoyable, especially when times have been tough. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to study here and look forward to the new possibilities that have opened up as a result.

Echols, Asali Rene Rasmussen--Cinema MFA 
I’m so grateful to SFSU’s School of Cinema for an amazing graduate school experience. I’ve been able to experiment and grow in ways I never imagined. From learning stop-motion animation, shooting and developing 16mm film (using coffee!), and expanding my conception of what cinema and documentary film can be, this time of creativity has indelibly shaped who I am. Many thanks to the amazing faculty and staff who make this department run, and all the other Cinema graduate students and undergraduates I’ve had the pleasure to work with. Here’s to many more years of friendship and collaboration! Thanks,

Elmore, Daniel --Cinema-BA 
My four years at San Francisco State have been some of the most profoundly important years of my life. The education I received has given me a brighter mind and a broader perspective. Today, I can truly say that I am a better person and a better filmmaker thanks to my time at this school. I want to thank all my peers for inspiring me with their work and all my professors for the knowledge they passed along to me. As I move forward, the memories I made here will stay with me and guide me for years to come.

Farfan, Carina--Animation - MN
First off, I would like to say thank you to my family, friends, and professors for helping me get through college. I don’t really have a lot to say that hasn’t already been said (or rather typed) by the other graduates other than: thank you for the many memories and connections I have made through this wild journey that is college. Stay safe, healthy, and optimistic.
Carina Maite Farfan

Ghidossi, Sabrina--Cinema-BA
I remember sitting at Cesar Chavez, on a flimsy plastic chair, feet hiked up and held close to my chest. This isn't the type of sitting you would do to impress someone. This is the type of sitting you would do when surrounded by friends: an awkward-looking position that somehow (somehow!) brings you comfort. This was me sitting at a pair of conjoined tables, during the lunchtime break of my thesis class. Surrounded by classmates I had just met, I somehow felt more comfortable than I had in years. Somehow, when a group of artists must create, and be vulnerable, and share with each other, something beautiful happens: they bond.
This experience has happened time and time again, and every time it has been an honor. Thank you all for inspiring me to be my best self. And thank you all for taking me in.
You have made me feel like a part of something greater.
SFSU has broadened my mind beyond my expectations. I am grateful for caring faculty, personal staff, and an environment of creativity like no other. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Glenn, Avalon--Cinema-BA
Despite the many ups and downs, this final semester brought, I’d like to thank the SFSU Cinema department professors for their hard work and dedication to their students. Thank you to my parents, Peter and Wendy, and my brother, Spencer, for their continued support. I appreciate every friend and connection I’ve made since moving to San Francisco and I look forward to seeing what comes next for each of you. So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Hale, Coral--Animation - MN
I would like to express my thanks to Professor Behrens, Terrance Gravens, Martha Gorzycki, Ben Ridgeway, Carl Cohen, and Sean McFarland for providing environments that stimulated my imagination and for continuously supporting my artistic endeavors, even when I had doubted myself. I am beyond grateful for their guidance and vast ranges of knowledge. I am thrilled for the uncertainty of what the future holds as I, with confidence, develop my colorful style in all aspects of life. Lastly, to the friends and family who keep me going; thank you for being the muses of inspiration for why this clown creates.

Harkins, Jenna--Cinema-BA
Dear School of Cinema,
My short time spent in the cinema department here has been quite a joy, to say the least. The teachers have been the highlight of my journey here as they have welcomed me with open arms and have challenged me with persistence. I feel honored to be a part of a community of filmmakers, lecturers, and artists that genuinely care for the next generation and will give whatever they're physically able to with the student body. It is an extraordinary feeling to know that I can keep in touch with and continue to learn and collaborate with current and former cinema faculty.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge,
Jenna Harkins

Hill, Jake--Cinema-BA
As our college careers end, let us not forget the institutions that have forgotten us. If we depart aiming to make films to entertain and not to question, then we have already failed as filmmakers. From high tuition costs to health care as a privilege, let us recognize that we are preyed upon. Either we are labor to be exploited, or piggy banks to fund further exploitation of our fellow working-class neighbors. Our films should be kerosene for the angry hearts ready to explode. Let us fan the flames that will scorch the whole earth, so that we may rebuild.

Holguin, Samuel--Animation - MN
Thank you to my wonderful girlfriend and my family for supporting and pushing me throughout my four years at San Francisco State. You all have provided me an extremely strong support system that helped me be successful in my college career. Thank you as well to Benjamin Ridgway and Martha Gorzycki for pushing me and supporting me in the animation department. You guys both helped me find and push my creative voice in animation and for that, I will always be thankful.

Lund, Sam--Cinema-BA
I began my time at SFSU expecting to learn how to become a filmmaker. However, through my education, I have gained knowledge that far exceeded my expectations. When I first accepted my offer of admission I had no prior knowledge of the rich history of SFSU in regards to social justice and racial equality. This rich history first manifested itself in my Hollywood Representation of Race and Ethnicity course, exposing the intersectionality between filmmakers, representation, and tolerance. Through this newfound understanding, I am eager to entertain audiences while subtextually exposing them to those who are different in complex humanizing ways.

Marmolejo Ilag, Hajji--Cinema-BA
Before each semester began, I would pray for the strength to complete and pass each class. Taking things one day, one essay, one project at a time were the little victories I celebrated. Before I knew it, it was my last semester. There are so many things at SFSU that I am grateful for - like my favorite spot in the library (fourth floor by the window) and the chance to collaborate with teams on projects. I’m also extremely grateful for all the different ways my family supported me during my schooling. Above all, thank you Lord that I made it!

Inotani, Kaju--Cinema-BA
I really appreciate all the help of SFSU. Professors in the cinema department are passionate about students to understand each course. Although I’m an international student and I’d worry because I don’t have enough knowledge of American culture, I could learn a lot of history and culture through cinema thanks to the professors. Sometimes we face social issues in the world, so I came to turn my interest toward the broader issue of society. All my experiences at SFSU will be my food in the future. I’m very happy to graduate here. Thank you.

Jimenez, Angelo Panganiban--Cinema-BA
My time at San Francisco State University was an experience. I transferred to this university during the second half of my third year in college, and this place really helped encourage me to do the things I love, such as drawing, study films, write, and appreciate the arts. The classes I took--whether they be art classes, writing classes, or my core cinema classes--all helped me further better my own skills in hopes to someday use them as a profession. My last semester here at SFSU is undoubtedly a peculiar one, given the current circumstances, but it doesn’t change the fact that I had fun at such a great school with professors that loved teaching their specific subjects. Thank you all!

Josiah, Katherine--Cinema-BA
My full name is Katherine Josiah. I want to express how proud I am of the entire graduating class of 2020, this is an insane time to be graduating, so I commend everyone that continued on with their work and put in the effort to finish the year! I’d never heard of SFSU before coming but applied anyway because it was on the “Top 20 Film Schools” list. After narrowing my options, I visited and fell in love with the campus and energy of San Francisco. This is an awkward time to enter the workforce, especially going into the film industry, but I will be moving to Los Angeles hopefully sometime in the latter half of this year. I’ve had amazing department professors and am grateful to have had very hands-on production classes. The last four years have been unforgettable, with memories and experiences that I will savor for the rest of my life. Thank you, San Francisco State, and good luck to all graduating with me on your future endeavors!

Kocabal, Melda--Cinema Studies-MA
One hundred words are enough to start a war, end a marriage, or land a man in prison, but they can't do my time at this institution and studying with you all justice. Rather than attempt such an absurd task, I will ask you all to remember your favorite clichés from movies about graduation, type them into google translator, and press the Turkish button. Rest assured that is exactly how I feel, right now, and find comfort in the fact that I will spend the rest of my career dissecting such clichés for your enrichment. That is one hundred words.

Mai, David--Cinema-MFA
To my dear students, professors, and cohort, Learning from you has manifested in all manner of forms. I wish I could name all of you, but I would be guaranteed to surpass the word limit if I did. All of you have helped me grow as an artist and educator. All of you have contributed to the cherished memories that I hold equal weight to. And all of you are wonderful and beautiful individuals whose voices have helped me find my own. I take pride in our work together in pushing forth equity and social justice.
With appreciation,
David Mai

Mallari, Raphael Allen V.--Cinema-MFA
I saw the SFSU Cinema program as the perfect chance to do the things I could have done in undergraduate school. I have met some amazing individuals in the program and made friends along the way as well. I feel like I have grown more professionally and creatively thanks to the standards of the cinema program and its students.

Navarro, Maria de la Luz--Cinema Minor
I dreamed of the day when I would walk across the stage and receive my diploma in front of my family because they have supported me throughout my life. I would like to thank my mother, Irma Navarro, for encouraging me every day and working so hard to see me succeed. My love, Matthew, thank you for supporting me. To my son, Alexander Wyatt, I love you with all my heart. To my niece, nephew, and son, I hope my graduation will inspire you to also attend college. I am grateful to all my professors for your guidance and knowledge.

Padilla, Javier--Cinema-BA
My favorite moments during my time at SFSU have been working on student film sets. Whether it was directing my Thesis Film or working as a PA on a friend’s film set. I got to work with passionate people finding innovative ways to finish films on time. So to anyone who I have ever worked on a set with, thank you. It was working with all of you that reaffirmed that this is the career I’m meant to pursue. I also want to thank the following teachers- Jason Jakaitis, Julian Hoxter, Joseph McBride, Alexander Nevill, and Natasha V.

Prater, Autum Rachelle--Cinema-BA
Words can not express how happy I am to be done writing essays. I’ve waited a long time for this and I’ve dreaded a lot of moments during my education but not this final one. So I’d like to thank my family and friends, I couldn’t have done it without you; my mom, for homeschooling me, cuz I killed this semester from the comfort of my home; and my favorite teachers, you know who you are. Here’s to the class of 2020, we made history, and although it wasn’t for what we wanted our year is legendary nonetheless

Reeves, Spencer--Cinema-BA
My name is Spencer Reeves and I have attended SFSU for three years as a transfer student. My time here at SF State has been some of the best of my life. These last years have developed me into the person I am today and have prepared me for the rest of my life. I am looking forward to using the skills attained from this crazy journey and applying them to leave the world better then I arrived.

Russel, Morgan--Cinema-BA
I never knew what it was like to take risks before attending SFSU, and now I can call myself a confident risk-taker. With its international Study Abroad program and the School of Cinema’s Documentary Workshop, the university has helped me gain a deeper understanding of the world. Thanks to my professors, I have learned the importance of leadership and gained the courage necessary to be a filmmaker. I will be forever grateful to the university for the invaluable opportunities made available to me to expand my horizons. I know I will always be proud to be an SFSU alumnus.

Sedgwick-Billimoria, Arman--Cinema-BA
These past four years at San Francisco State have been the best years of my life. I’ve been extremely blessed and lucky to have met so many like-minded individuals while also obtaining vocational skills that I know will allow me to be successful in the future. I am extremely grateful to the SF State Film Department, Music Department, as well as the BECA department for allowing me to find my true passion and calling as a Sound Editor, Musician, and Foley Artist. I would like to thank my parents, my sister, and my family for supporting my decision to pursue a degree in the arts. I would also like to thank Steve Horowitz, Pablo Lorenzo Riquelme Cuartero, Daniel Olmsted, Pat Jackson, Scott Looney, Artie Farkas, and Scott Boswell. Without their guidance and support, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Congratulations to my fellow graduates! I wish you all the uttermost success.

Strazzabosco, Domenic--Cinema-BA
My first day walking into Film Studies, I was expecting an older, male teacher, probably with graying hair. Instead in walked a woman wearing flashy clothing, with more energy than I’d seen in any previous professor, who went on to tell us she was a porn scholar. I continued to see this trend through the major; teachers providing engaging, disturbing content that I would go home and ramble about to my roommates. The program makes me proud to have studied an art, one that connects people through images of comedy, fear, drama, and love.

Stuart, Molly--Cinema-MFA
I was highly uncertain about going to film school. I never considered myself an artist and I was wary about joining a highly competitive industry. But when I read about the program at SF State and saw the work of faculty members, I decided I would apply only to this school. And as it turned out, the Cinema Department ended up just as community-driven, theoretically rigorous, and queer as I had hoped. The white windowless rooms of the FA building have somehow become home to very beloved memories. In my time here, I've learned what to take seriously, when to take my time, when to be my own AD, what to throw on the cutting room floor (thanks Pat), what to pick up off the cutting room floor (thanks Greta), when to throw myself on the cutting room floor in exasperation, how to pick myself back up, and how to love the process in order to love the outcome. I have so many people to thank for excellent mentorship, support in and out of the classroom, and lasting friendship. The list is too long to write names, but if you are one of them, please accept my gratitude.

Whitcomb, Clara--Cinema-BA
My time at SFSU’s Cinema program has been a memorable one; I have been inspired by so many awesome professors who are passionate about what they do. Not only that but having access to the city of San Francisco’s art and culture really elevated my experience. These past four years have been a really transformative time, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

Woo, Jungmin Jamie--Cinema-BA
I'm most proud of the fact that I constantly put myself in front of fear and discomfort instead of trying to outrun them.

Yager, Schuyler Thomas--Cinema-BA
I firstly want to thank my parents because without them I wouldn't be where I am today. They have allowed me to pursue my dreams and interests, giving me the resources I needed to become not only a successful student but a successful person. I want to thank my group of friends, the Wasabi Bois because without them I wouldn't be the person I am today. They have supported and pushed me to find and be my most true self; I am forever grateful for their presence in my life. Big shout out to Scott Boswell for being there to talk to and helping me maneuver the Cinema Departments Labyrinth system.

Related events

Valediction Ceremony Class of 2020

Join us for Cinema's virtual commencement!

For details on SF State’s plans to celebrate the class of 2020, please visit the Commencement website.