City College film professor Lise Swenson still inspires today

By Bethaney Lee

In June of 2016, City College mourned the loss of accomplished film professor Lise Swenson, whose passion for media education has left an immeasurable impression on her former students.  

Lise Swenson was one of my film professors at City College and someone who had a real direct effect on media education and culture in the Bay Area,” Dianne Brennan wrote in her blog article “In Memoriam: Lise Swenson 1959-2016.”

Photo of Lise Simpson courtesy of the City College Cinema Department.
Photo of Lise Simpson courtesy of the City College Cinema Department.

Since the 1980’s Swenson had been a strong participant in the Bay Area’s media arts scene. Co-founding the nonprofit organization Artists’ Television Access (ATA) in 1984, Swenson used ATA to help cultivate media and art through exhibitions, screenings and workshops.

As a person and artist, I think it’s fair to say that she enjoyed creating communities and extended that into the way she made films,” Brennan wrote in her blog.

Swenson’s art and films have been displayed globally, including her internationally screened “Mission Movie” in 2004 that fictionally portrayed the realities of living in San Francisco’s Mission District. The film won her two “Best of Festival” awards in addition to five others.

Later serving as producer and assistant director for Lynn Hershman Leeson’s film “Strange Culture,” Swenson’s media accomplishments only continued to grow.  

As the de Young Museum’s Filmmaker in Residence, Swenson produced the iPhone app “dYinterpretations” in March 2011, which allowed users to tour the museum through their phones.

“She was a force and inspiration to the students of CCSF and the larger media-making community,” cinema instructor Anna Geyer said.

In 1995 Swenson inspired students and the community alike by founding the long-running nonprofit program Teaching Intermedia Learning Tools that focused on mentoring youth in filmmaking for over 15 years.

She was fun, engaging and always encouraging,” Brennan wrote. “I’m sad for our loss of Lise, but inspired.”

On Oct. 28 the cinema department will host a “Celebration of Life” ceremony in City College’s Multi-Use Building, Room 140 from 2 to 4 p.m. All are welcome.

Prior to the ceremony, students and faculty will assemble to march around Cloud Circle in remembrance of Lise Swenson at 1:30 p.m.

I find myself still surprised that Lise isn’t in this world anymore,” Brennan said. “She’s one of those people who you just expect to see again. That said, I’m glad I knew her and I look forward to seeing the impact of her work fan out through her students and friends in the coming years.”



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