Women and Gender Studies
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Giovanna Chesler

Giovanna Chesler

Giovanna Chesler

Professor

documentary film, fiction film directing, transmedia, social issue media production

Professor Chesler is the Director of the Film and Video Studies Program, Associate Professor in the Communication Department, and affiliated faculty in Women and Gender Studies and Film and Media Studies. She teaches courses in film and video production and theory, and transmedia for social change. Giovanna is a Director and Producer of documentary and fiction film through her production company G6 Pictures. She earned an M.F.A. in Cinema from San Francisco State (with the distinction of Most Distinguished Graduate) and a B.A. from the University of Virginia at Charlottesville in Anthropology (with Highest Distinction) and a minor in Women’s Studies.

Currently, Giovanna is a Producer on blair doroshwalther’s documentary feature Out in the Night, a co-production of Independent Television Service (ITVS) and Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Out in the Night tells the story of four young African-American lesbian friends who became criminals for defending themselves. The film premiered in documentary competition at the Los Angeles Film Festival and is currently on tour internationally. It received support from the Sundance Film Institute, Cinereach, the Jerome Foundation, Frameline, Astraea Lesbian Justice Foundation, NYSCA, the Women in Film Finishing Fund, and other foundations. The United Nations launched the film initiative for the Free and Equal Campaign to address homophobia and transphobia worldwide with Out in the Night. The film will play in 77 countries in screenings hosted by the UN. As a Producer, Giovanna was selected to participate in the Film Independent Artist Development Program Fast Track with Out in the Night. Her feature narrative work in development includes Java, a dramatic work of speculative fiction around memory loss, trauma and an unlikely friendship.

Giovanna's previous films have screened at over 120 film festivals in 15 countries. Her hour long documentary Period: The End of Menstruation? (16mm, 54 min) on cultural and medical trends in menstruation (distributed by Cinema Guild, New York) became a touchstone on the menstrual suppression debate when it was covered on the front-page of the The New York Times. Her short films include Bye Bi Love (HD, 17min, 2010) a fictional melodrama about a woman who receives an invitation to her ex-girlfriend's wedding, BeauteouS: The Trilogy (BeauteouS, BeauteouS: Giovanna and BeauteouS: Stephanie) an examination of three sisters and their relationships to beauty (16mm, 43 min) and hand-some, a reflexive documentary on a failing lesbian relationship (16mm, 13 min) distributed by Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre. Awards for Giovanna's films include Honorable Mention in Fiction Filmmaking from the University Film and Video Association for Bye Bi Love in 2010, the Gold Plaque Award for Best Student Documentary from the Chicago International Film Festival in 2000 for BeauteouS: Stephanie, and Honorable Mention in documentary from the Georgetown Independent Film Festival for BeauteouS: Stephanie.

Her new media work includes Tune in HPV, a web television channel for awareness, expression and entertainment around the human papillomavirus. This project was a collaborative piece made with her students at American University in a course on Communication and Social Change. She is the Transmedia Producer on Out in the Night, developing innovative outreach and engagement projects in collaboration with technology partners and community groups working on social justice issues that intersect with the themes of the film.

Giovanna’s publications include “Truth in the Mix: Frederick Wiseman’s Construction of the Observational Microphone” (Jump Cut, Fall 2012). This essay updates her earlier chapter in an edited collection on Wiseman's work in DFI Vorwerk. Other essays include the co-authored essay "Collaborative Media Production, Authorship, and Distribution." (Issues in Engaged Scholarship: An Exploration of Community-Campus Collaborations. Colin L. Powell Center for Leadership & NYMAPS. New York, 2013) with Rebecca Mushtare, “Re-Presenting Choice: Tune in HPV”, “Drop by Drop: Cinematic Menstrual Activism One Viewer At a Time” (Sex Roles, April 2011) a co-authored chapter on her Tune in HPV project published in Three Shots at Prevention: The HPV Vaccine and the Politics of Medicine's Simple Solutions (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010) with Bree Kessler, “The Audio First Classroom: A Sound Place for Engagement with Theory and Practice” (Jump Cut, 2007) on sound pedagogy in the video classroom. She has served on the selection committee for the AFI Silverdocs Film Festival and has curated film programs for the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research, Cabinet Magazine, and Ladyfest San Diego. She has worked with the Center for Social Media at American University as a media fellow on Fair Use issues.

Giovanna is an active member of Film Independent, Women in Film and Television DC, and University Film and Video Association.

Grants and Fellowships

Jury Award, Best Documentary - Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival
Audience Award, Best Documentary - Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival
Audience Award, Best Documentary - ReelQ Pittsburgh Film Festival
Jury Prize, Special Jury Prize Courage in Storytelling, ImageOut Rochester

Courses Taught

COMM 399: Transmedia and Social Change (offered in Fall 2014)
COMM 366: Visual Communication
COMM 655: Theories of Visual Communicaiton

Recent Presentations

Virginia Film Festival, screening of OUT IN THE NIGHT, November 2014
Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, screening of OUT IN THE NIGHT, October 2014
New Orleans Film Festival screening of OUT IN THE NIGHT, October 2014
Word Rock and Sword, screening of OUT IN THE NIGHT, September 2014
Envision,
United Nations screening of OUT IN THE NIGHT, July 2014
Outfest, Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival with OUT IN THE NIGHT, July 2014
Los Angeles International Film Festival with OUT IN THE NIGHT, June 2014
Frameline, San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival with OUT IN THE NIGHT, June 2014
Human Rights Watch Film Festival, New York with OUT IN THE NIGHT, June 2014
Deerfield Progressive Forum, Deerfield Beach, FL with OUT IN THE NIGHT, March 2014
Chair, STEM+Culture at STEM+Women conference, GMU, March 2014
Transgender representation in Orange is the New Black, GMU, March 2014
Docs in Progress Decade of Docs, Feb 2014

In the Media

"Professor's Film Examines Infamous New York Crime Case" George Mason University News, June 30 2014

 "Bold Doc Explores Black Lesbians' Right to Self-Defense" IndieWire, June 17 2014

"A Few Potential Oscar Contenders from the LA Film Festival" LA Magazine June 2014

"Out in the Night: The Case of the New Jersey 4" Pop Matters June 19 2014