Mellis, Bernadine

Details / Bio

Bernadine Mellis teaches Beginning and Advanced Video Production here at MHC as well as at Smith and UMass. Class themes include First Person Documentary, Experimental Documentary, Political Documentary, and Collaborations and Adaptations. Her creative work ranges from experimental narrative to documentary.


Her documentary The Forest for the Trees tells the story of her father Dennis Cunningham’s role as lead attorney in environmental activist Judi Bari’s civil case against the FBI, in which the FBI was found liable for 1st Amendment violations in a jury trial for the first time in American history. The Forest for the Trees premiered at the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival in New York and was broadcast on the Sundance Channel’s “Green” series.  It has screened and won awards in festivals from Canada to Korea. The film also traveled the circuit of activist and community venues all over the country.

Bernadine has made several short films shot on both 16mm and digital video that have screened in festivals and galleries nationally including MadCat International Women’s Film Festival, Brooklyn’s Galapagos Gallery, the London International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and The Lab in San Francisco, among others.  Bernadine also directed The Odyssey, a collaborative adaptation of Homer's 24-chapter epic, made up of 24 shorts by 24 different mostly queer, trans, and women filmmakers. Her current work in progress is an interactive documentary process, an online archive that investigates Leftist legacies, contemporary forms of activism, and impediments to social change through the stories of children of social justice activists, who will post their stories to a story-gathering website.  Her own short videos, made from interviews she has conducted with children of activists, will rotate on the site.

Contact information
1 Mount Holyoke College 50 College Street • South Hadley, Massachusetts 01075
Phone: 413-538-2983

Primary creator references

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Title Type
Forest for the Trees, The Item: Video TP: Trials and Political Prisoners

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