For budding filmmakers, English course opens window to diverse perspectives | Information Center

By Leslie LJ Reilly

Students who dream of writing and directing films have the chance to learn from an award-winning independent director, Ran Talwho co-teach a screenwriting class.

A guest artist in SDSU’s Jewish Studies program, Tal will teach Screenwriting Techniques (ENGL-577) with another Israeli guest artist, Matan Yairaward-winning screenwriter and filmmaker.

Tal is the head of the MFA Documentary Film Program at the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television at Tel Aviv International University, teaching film in its film department and at Sapir College near the Gaza border. He has made more than 10 films and documentaries focusing on Israeli reality through a historical social perspective. His latest documentary, “1341 frames of love and war”, won three major film awards in Israel after its release in February.

This is his first time teaching in the United States and he looks forward to having in-depth conversations about art with his students. It is curious to know how the students will react.

“It will be a process that takes students from fact to fiction in both sections of the course,” Tal said.

Tal will teach non-fiction and Yair will teach fiction to give students a deep understanding of both genres. Students will construct fictional scenes after researching Tal’s documentary section of the course.

“I hope students will understand the richness and endless possibilities they have in non-fiction filmmaking in order to appreciate it,” Tal said. “When they write their own films, they have the ability to observe what is happening around them. I hope it will be inspiring.

“Sometimes the best stories are right around the corner, but they’re so small it’s hard to fathom how beautiful and complicated they are,” Tal added. He recommends that students looking for story ideas step out of their comfort zone and start looking at other people and communities to see what they have to offer in terms of story and understanding and “ to open a window.

Students will be asked to interview characters around them – to write questions, conduct and possibly film interview sessions. Another task will ask students to take a news story and turn it into a movie idea. “Media information could be a seed for something much, much bigger,” Tal said.

Yair will help students begin the screenwriting process using the research material completed in Tal’s section of the course.

“Come with an open mind and let’s have fun!” It’s writing, it’s art, it’s not meant to be pain,” Tal said.


Visiting Israeli scholars and artists are supported by the Murray Galinson San Diego-Israel Initiative. The Murray Galinson San Diego-Israel Initiative aims to strategically promote, support, and catalyze discourse and knowledge interaction about the modern state of Israel through scholarship, engagement, and collaboration.