Bernadine Mellis

Five College Senior Lecturer in Film Media Theater; on leave 2020-2021
Video Production with an emphasis on documentary and experimental narrative.

Bernadine Mellis teaches Beginning and Advanced Video Production here at MHC as well as at Smith and UMass. Class themes include First Person Documentary, Experimental Documentary, Experiments in Adaptation, and Advanced Projects. Her own creative work ranges from experimental narrative to documentary.

Her documentary, The Forest for the Trees, tells the story of her father Dennis Cunningham’s role as lead attorney in environmental activist Judi Bari’s civil case against the FBI, in which the FBI was found liable for 1st Amendment violations in a jury trial for the first time in American history. The Forest for the Trees premiered at the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival in New York and was broadcast on the Sundance Channel’s “Green” series. It has screened and won awards in festivals from Canada to Korea. The film also traveled the circuit of activist and community venues all over the country.

Bernadine has made several short films shot on both 16mm and digital video that have screened in festivals and galleries nationally including MadCat International Women’s Film Festival, Brooklyn’s Galapagos Gallery, the London International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and The Lab in San Francisco, among others. Her most recent short film, I Should Think Fire, was commissioned by FuturePoem Books as part of a series of film responses to a book-length poem (see The Anarch. Film Project tumblr). Bernadine also directed The Odyssey, a collaborative adaptation of Homer's 24-chapter epic, made up of 24 shorts by 24 different mostly queer, trans, and women filmmakers.

Bernadine is currently working on two projects: a story about children of the New Left, and a documentary about alternative burial practices that follows architect Katrina Spade as she designs and builds the prototype for the Urban Death Project, a site for creating compost out of our beloved dead.