Students in the MFA Documentary Program at Hofstra University in Hempsted, New York, have been screening POV films this semester. MFA candidate Stefani Saintonge shares some of the highlights of the series so far.

This semester, the MFA Documentary Program at Hofstra University is hosting a series of POV screenings. As a student of the program, I have had the opportunity to meet key people involved in the films such as Jason Hamza Pèrez, subject of New Muslim Cool, and Peter Kinoy, editor of The Reckoning.

Jason Hamza PerezNew Muslim Cool, which screened on Sept. 24th, was followed by a Q & A with Jason Hamza Pèrez. I found Pèrez particularly interesting, because he explained the techniques that the director, Jennifer Maytorena Taylor, used to help him feel at ease as the subject of her fillm. He told us that Taylor made an impact on him by respecting his privacy and adhering to his rules on where the camera could and couldn’t go. He put the documentary into perspective perhaps even better than the filmmaker could — which makes sense, since it was his life that was spotlighted.

The Reckoning was screened on Oct. 22nd, and editor Peter Kinoy offered us advice after the film. While the final cut of The Reckoning is roughly 90 minutes long, Kinoy said they had over 400 hours of footage to work with. The film contains numerous explicit and emotionally trying images of human rights abuses. He explained how difficult it was to sift through hundreds of hours of archived footage with these images. I took his words to heart, and thought: if I continue on the path to work with and make documentaries, I may see some difficult things or talk to people that have gone through horrors I can’t imagine. It may be hard to stomach, but those types of images are powerful, and can raise public awareness around important issues.

We’ll be screening Made in L.A. tonight, and Bronx Princess on December 2nd. The screenings are at 7 PM, and are free and open to the public. If you’re near Hempstead, Long Island, I highly recommend that you stop by. For more information about the program, contact Skip Blumberg at MFAdocprogram[at]

If you are a community organizer, high school, after school, college or ESL teacher, young person using media to reach your peers or a PBS station employee interested in planning free screenings in your community, please apply through POV’s Community Network and we’ll loan you a copy of the film (for free!) along with a toolkit, including a facilitators guide.

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POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 300 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.