Margaret Pomeranz AM, a prominent figure in the world of popular culture, film, and performing arts, was honoured with a Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) during a ceremony held on Tuesday, 23 May. The event, presided over by Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Mark Scott AO, celebrated Pomeranz's remarkable impact on these creative domains. A highlight of the ceremony was a masterclass led by Pomeranz herself, where students at the University had the privilege of learning from her vast knowledge and experience.
Brighton Grace, a passionate second-year student at the University, has always been captivated by the art of film and the critical conversations surrounding it. From an early age, Brighton developed a deep appreciation for cinema's power to tell compelling stories and offer unique perspectives. This unwavering love for the medium has guided Brighton's academic pursuits and ignited a burning desire to delve deeper into the world of film.
Brighton reflects on the moment he found out he was selected for the masterclass with renowned film critic Margaret Pomeranz, "I was extremely excited when I first learned about the masterclass and especially so when I was informed that I would be able to ask a question at the end of the discussion. I grew up with 'At the Movies,' which introduced me to such a diverse range of great films and really broadened my conceptions of what cinema can be and do."
Throughout the masterclass, Brighton encountered numerous thought-provoking conversations and moments. One discussion that particularly resonated with him was centered around Pomeranz's film selections of "Samson and Delilah" and "Muriel's Wedding." Brighton shares his thoughts: "The conversation around Pomeranz's picks of Samson and Delilah and Muriel's Wedding as films that offer more honest perspectives on and help audiences reconceptualise Australian culture and society was very interesting. The point about the need to allow more Indigenous creatives to be able to tell their own stories via film, given how key storytelling is to their cultures, was also a highlight for me."
Margaret Pomeranz's insights and experiences got Brighton thinking about the film industry in new and thought-provoking ways. Brighton explains: "Pomeranz's insights about the current Australian film industry and audience expectations around it, as well as her predictions of where it might head stylistically, made me think about how my own creative and academic work will fit into the aesthetic shape and historical development of this industry."
While Brighton acknowledges that it is still early in his journey, he remains open to the possibilities of his future career path. "I'm still quite indecisive about my exact career/vocation after graduation and will have to see where my university work and internships take me in the next few years. Unequivocally, I would love to be able to work in a creative field around writing—whether it be creative writing or writing at a literary journal—or filmmaking. Although it would be great to be able to write/direct my own material, I would also be equally interested in other roles in either of these industries."
Armed with newfound knowledge and practical insights gained from the masterclass, Brighton is eager to apply these learnings to his future studies and career aspirations. He shares his plans: "The masterclass provided me with countless practical insights into both the industry and the art and ethics of film criticism that I plan to apply to my future writings on film at university, as well as more broadly to any employment involving critical writing that I might pursue in the future."
To aspiring film studies students considering a major or minor in the field, Brighton offers this advice: "I would strongly encourage them to choose it as a major/minor since the USYD film units are fantastic. I would advise them to not only watch as many films as they can but to also begin engaging with filmic criticism and theory as well before starting university, which have greatly informed my understanding of the medium and the style of films I would like to make."