National media magazine ranks documentary center in top 10

Documentary magazine The Independent ranked the GW Documentary Center in its list of the top 10 academic programs in the field last month.

The magazine, which promotes independent documentary filmmaking, ranked programs from schools such as Stanford, Duke and University of California, Berkley alongside GW.

GW’s program offers students the opportunity to become “immersed in critical courses and encouraged to let their ideas about future projects percolate before they ever get their hands on a camera,” according to The Independent’s Web site. GW professor Nina Seavey, the founder and director of the Documentary Center, said she was both pleased and surprised by the ranking.

“A good ranking in a respected national publication can only translate into more applicants who are more competitive, making the program even better in the future than it is now,” Seavey said, adding she had no idea the program was being evaluated until the ranking was released.

Seavey, who is also an Emmy Award winner, received praise for her role in the program.

“There’s a hefty dose of the history and theory of the art, as well as significant hands-on learning,” said Mike Hoffman, editor of The Independent, in a news release.

Traditional film programs generally take two years to complete, but GW’s documentary program takes six months for students to a certificate in documentary filmmaking.

The program arrived at GW in 1990 as part of the University’s history department. It moved into the School of Media and Public Affairs building when the school opened in 2000, but it wasn’t until last year that the program merged with SMPA.

Due to its location in the District, the program has partnered with organizations such as PBS, National Geographic and The Discovery Channel, which have all contributed to its evolution.

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