Adèle Fantasia ’19 Interning at New Moon Films & Research Assistant @ Smith College

Hi, I’m Adele Fantasia and I’m a sociology and French double major with a minor in media and film studies. I’m in the class of 2019, and for my last summer before I graduate I have been interning with a documentary filmmaker and I have been a research assistant in the sociology department at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.

I have been interning at New Moon Films with Emmy-award winning documentary filmmaker Julia Mintz. The films she has produced or co-produced have premiered at Tribeca film festival and Cannes film festival, they have been short-listed for an Academy Award, and they have been slated for PBS broadcast, among other accolades. It has been so exciting working with such a distinguished filmmaker! I’m also really lucky she coincidentally has been based in Northampton, since she usually lives in New York City. Her films are concerned with social justice issues, and as a sociology major, I care a lot about the social world and how people mobilize to resist injustices. The film she is currently working on is titled “Jewish Partisans: The True Story of Armed Jewish Resistance During World War II”. This documentary tells the story of the 25,000 Jewish fighters, many of whom my age, who resisted against the Nazis in Eastern Europe. The film consists of interviews with eight partisan fighters who are still alive today as well as incredible archival footage. I have seen this film many times, and it is an emotionally exhausting experience. It is a truly an awe inspiring film. The film feels all the more emotionally compelling to me because of my Jewish roots. To hear and see the partisans describe the bravery and the tragedy of these trying times is incredibly moving, and soon it will be too late to interview survivors. This is a pressing endeavor and I am really lucky to be able to work on a film that so urgently needs to be seen by generations that are apt to forget, especially in this fascist political climate.

The most valuable aspect of this internship has been working so closely with Julia Mintz. I have learned so much about the documentary film industry and the craft because she has been so open to explaining. My internship has primarily consisted of working on fundraising initiatives. I have been developing a press packet to give to potential donors. In a couple weeks I will step in for the associate producer and go to a fundraising event in the Berkshires with Julia. This work has felt meaningful because Julia has explained to me how each step fits into the whole, which is producing the film, and I think the dissemination of this film is imperative. Other responsibilities have included script management, organizing a screening, filming supplementary nature footage for the film, and during the final leg of the internship I will be doing archival restoration on Photoshop. This has been an invaluable experience, as it has familiarized me with a professional filmmaking space, which is the field that I would like to penetrate upon graduation. This internship has confirmed my interest in documentary filmmaking.

I have also had the opportunity to work with American and Swedish researchers on their joint sociological research project. My father, Professor Richard Fantasia at Smith College, and Professor Marita Flisback at the University of Gothenberg are conducting research that aims to understand the hierarchical nature of knowledge production in the global academic system. They are seeking to find out to what extent sociologists are impacted (through their ideas, methods, and approaches) by dominant countries, and how these relationships affect greater knowledge production in smaller countries that have a less dominant discipline of sociology. Their current work in Sweden is a “pilot study” for future work that will implicate more countries.

This study will have three phases. I have been working on the first stage. I have been doing the preliminary coding of the interviews they conducted with leading Swedish sociologists about how one becomes a prominent sociologist in Sweden. I worked with the professors to generate relevant themes and consequently have been examining the interview transcripts and categorizing accordingly in a coding software. An example of a primary theme is international goals and recognition. This is a principal theme in their hypothesis. The content of the interviews is really interesting, as I am learning about the scholarly world in Sweden. But the process has been most interesting- by coding, I see individual themes arise and I draw patterns across the different interviews while making connections to their hypothesis. I am thinking critically and independently about how to analyze qualitative work, and it is very exciting! Though much of my work is independent, listening to the professors speak about the research and discussing with them has really allowed me to learn. I am really seeing how academic research works.

Working as a research assistant has plunged me further into the academic world of sociology by allowing me to participate in very real and tangible research. This experience has provided me with a rich extension to my course work by allowing me to witness and participate in the types of scholarly articles I read in my sociology courses. This qualitative research has both aided in preparing me for my sociology capstone in the fall and acted as a counterpoint to the quantitative nature of the capstone. It has also informed my thoughts about whether graduate school is the right route for me.

The generous funding I received has allowed me to work as an intern for two individuals whose separate work fits together, as their work is two different modes of storytelling. Without the monetary aid I received from the Career Development Center’s funding I would not have been in the financial position to accept an unpaid internship, and instead would have worked in retail as I have done during past summers. This opportunity to gain experience in the field that I intend on penetrating when I graduate this upcoming May has been invaluable.

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