FatimahTobing Rony

picture of FatimahTobing  Rony

Professor and Chair, Film & Media Studies
School of Humanities

Ph.D., Yale University, History of Art
M.F.A., UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television, Directing/Production
B.A., Williams College, Art

Email: fatimah@uci.edu

University of California, Irvine
2108 Humanities Gateway
Mail Code: 2435
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
visual biopolitics, film production, history and theory of ethnographic film, transnational cinema, postcolonial studies, feminist film theory, visual studies
Academic Distinctions
Katherine S. Kovaks Book Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Film and Media Studies from the Society of Cinema Studies for THE THIRD EYE: RACE, CINEMA, AND ETHNOGRAPHIC SPECTACLE; Film Independent Producers Lab; Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowship; Frances Blanshard Fellowship Fund Prize for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation in the History of Art, Yale University; Finalist, Screenplay Competition, New York Asian American Film Festival, 2006; First Prize, Narrative: University of Oregon Queer Film Festival, 2002; Special Jury Fiction Award: Universidad de Artes, Ciencias y Comunicación, Santiago, Chile 2001; The Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Asian Pacific American Student Film, 2000; Kodak Emerging Filmmakers Award, Cannes Film Festival 2000; Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Asian Pacific American Student Film, 1998; Kodak Emerging Filmmakers Award, Cannes Film Festival 1998; Honorable Mention, 1995 Chicago Asian American Film Festival; Fulbright Fellowship to Indonesia; Arthur B. Graves Prize for Best Essay in Art, Williams College; Karl E. Weston Prize for Distinction in Art, Williams College
University of California President's Postdoctoral Fellowship

How Do We Look? Resisting Visual Biopolitics (Duke University Press, 2021).

The Third Eye: Race, Cinema, and Ethnographic Spectacle (Duke University Press, 1996).


Pooja Rangan, “How Do We Look?: An Interview with Fatimah Tobing Rony.” FILM QUARTERLY 67, no. 2 (Winter 2013), 62-68.

"Transforming Documentary: Indonesian Women and Sexuality in the Film Pertaruhan [At Stake]," WOMEN AND THE MEDIA IN ASIA: THE PRECARIOUS SELF, ed. Youna Kim (Basingstroke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 159-178.

"The Photogenic Cannot Be Tamed: Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson's ‘Trance and Dance in Bali’" DISCOURSE 28.1 (Winter 2006): 5-27.

“Notes from Jakarta,” FILMMAKER MAGAZINE (Winter 2005).

“Notes from Jakarta,” IN FOCUS (October 2005).

Review of Jane M. Gaines’ Fire and Desire: Mixed Race Movies in the Silent Era, FILM QUARTERLY 57.1 (Fall 2003).

“The Quick and the Dead: Surrealism and the Found Ethnographic Footage Films of Bontoc Eulogy and Mother Dao: The Turtlelike,” CAMERA OBSCURA 18.1 (2003).

“What You Don’t Know, But You Know,” LIKE MANGOES IN JULY: THE WORK OF RICHARD FUNG (Toronto: The Images Festival and Insomniac Press, 2002).

“King Kong and the Monster in Ethnographic Cinema,” THE HORROR READER, ed. Ken Gelder (Routledge, 2000).

“The Last Emperor,” BERTOLUCCI'S THE LAST EMPEROR: MULTIPLE TAKES, ed. Bruce H. Sklarew, Bonnie S. Kaufman, Ellen Handler Spitz, Diane Borden (Wayne State University Press, 1998).

"Nanook of the North: The Politics of Taxidermy and Romantic Ethnography," THE BIRTH OF WHITENESS: RACE AND THE EMERGENCE OF UNITED STATES FILM, ed. Daniel Bernardi (Rutgers University Press, 1996).

"The Fence at the Fair," EMERGENCES 5 (1995).

Interview with filmmaker Kayo Hatta, THE INDEPENDENT (March 1994).

"Victor Masayesva, Jr. and the Politics of Imagining Indians," FILM QUARTERLY (Winter 1994).

"Image Sovereignty," AFTERIMAGE (February 1994).

"'We Must First See Ourselves': Documentary Subversions in Contemporary African-American Women's Photography," catalogue essay for PERSONAL NARRATIVES: WOMEN PHOTOGRAPHERS OF COLOR, Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (September 1993).

"Those Who Squat, Those Who Sit: The Iconography of Race in the Films of Félix-Louis Regnault," CAMERA OBSCURA 28 (January 1992).

"Troubleshooters" (essay on ethnographic cinema), ARTFORUM (September l99l).

Review of Bernardo Bertolucci's film, The Last Emperor, FILM QUARTERLY (Winter l989).


Producer, Director, Writer: ANNAH LA JAVANAISE (Annah the Javanese Girl/Annah Gadis Jawa) 2020 Release
(Animation, 5:59 minutes, Indonesia)
Official Selection, 2020 Annecy Film Festival, Annecy, France 15-30 June 2020
Official Selection, Anifilm Internatonal Festival of Animated Film, Liberec, Czech Republic, 22-27 June 2021
In 1893, a 13-year-old girl came to work for painter Paul Gauguin in Paris as his maid and model. They called her Annah la Javanaise. This is a reimagining of her story.
In Javanese and French, with Indonesian and English Subtitles
Visual and Animation Direction by Victor Ariel
Original Score and Sound Design by Aghi Narottama

Director: ARANEAE 2013
(Digital video, 4 minutes)
An experimental short featuring the collaboration of choreographer/aerialist
Nehara Kalev and fashion/design by Carol Young

Director: CHANTS OF LOTUS (Perempuan Punya Cerita) 2008
(35 mm, 120 minutes, Feature, Indonesia)
Dramatic feature film co-directed with Nia Dinata, Lasja Susatyo, and Upi,
weaving together four stories about women and sexuality in Indonesia.
Produced by Nia diNata.
Trailer in Indonesian: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEp_J4eseQg&feature=related
Released for major theatrical exhibition in Indonesia, January 2008
Closing Film, Jakarta International Film Festival 16 December 2007
The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film and Video Festival 4 May 2008
The Q! Film Festival, Jakarta, Indonesia 14 August 2008
The US ASEAN Film and Photography Festival, Washington, DC 28 September 2008
Freer Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Pusan International Film Festival, Pusan, Korea 9 October 2008
Hawaii International Film Festival, Honolulu, Hawaii 15 October 2008
The World Film Festival of Bangkok, Thailand November 2008
Film and Video Center, UC Irvine, Irvine, California 26 March 2009
Asian American Film Festival, Claremont Colleges,
Claremont, California 29 April 2009
Udine Far East Film Festival, Udine, Italy April-May 2009
Centre of South East Asian Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies,
University of London, London, United Kingdom 12 June 2009
Taliesin Arts Centre Cinema, Swansea University, Wales,
United Kingdom, 11 September 2009
Black Movie Film Festival, Geneva, Switzerland, 12 February 2010
UC San Diego, Sensory Communication Symposium, San Diego, California, 13 April 2010
Auckland Indonesian Festival, Auckland, New Zealand, 4 September 2010
Indonesian Film Festival, Copenhagen, Denmark, 16 October 2010
Cineffable, Festival International du Film Lesbien et Féministe, Paris, France, 2 November 2010
UC San Diego Feminist Infrastructures and Technocultures Assembly, 18 April 2013

(Digital video, 5 minutes)
An experimental short featuring the collaboration of choreographer/dancer
Caitlyn Carradine and fashion/design by Carol Young

Narrative screenplay about a filmmaker who flees family problems by running away to her
grandmother’s village in Sumatra, Indonesia
Finalist, Asian Cinevision Screenplay Competition, New York Asian Film Festival July 2006

Producer, Director, Writer: TREASURE 2003
(Digital video, 2 minutes)
Experimental video about a woman who is trapped in the cellar of her mind
Past/Forward Fundraiser, Visual Communications, Los Angeles 25 October 2003
New York Asian American International Film Festival 17 July 2004
The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film and Video Festival 30 April 2004
The San Francisco Asian American International Film Festival 16 March 2005

Producer: PERFECT GIRL 2003
(Digital video, 10 minutes)
San Diego Asian American International Film Festival, California October 2003
New York Asian American International Film Festival June 2003
The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film and Video Festival May 2003
Chicago Asian American Film Festival March 2003

Producer, Co-Director, Writer: JAROCHO ELEGUA 2002
(16mm., 4 minutes)
Vanguard Records
Music Video for the band Quetzal

(Digital video, 25 minutes)
What would you do if you couldn’t find your mother’s birthplace on a map? This documentary
is about the filmmaker’s search to understand through his grandmother’s life the secrets of
his Japanese-American past.
Award: UCLA Spotlight Award Winner 2000
Film Festivals and Screenings:
New York Asian American International Film Festival 28 August 2001
Directors Guild of America, Los Angeles, CA 13 June 2001
Silverlake Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA September 2001

Director, Producer, Writer, Editor: EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN 2000
(16mm., 26 minutes)
Distributed by Frameline
A drama about a young woman who must come to terms with her love for her best friend,
and her relationship with the man who raised her.
Shot mostly hand held, using real people and fictional characters who live in downtown Los Angeles,
in particular the gay Asian Pacific communities
of the city, this film was a collaboration with many Los Angeles-based actors, artists, and musicians.
Award, Directors Guild of America 2000 Student Film
First Prize, Narrative: University of Oregon Queer Film Festival, 2002
Special Jury Fiction Award: Universidad de Artes, Ciencias y Comunicación, Santiago, Chile
Finalist, NextFrame International Film and Video Festival
2001 Kodak National Student Film Competition, 2nd place, Fort Lauderdale Film Festival
Film Festivals and Screenings:
Women in Film, Images Cinema 10 March 2006
Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts
Cine las Americas, Austin, Texas 13 April 2002
Women in the Director’s Chair 15 March 2002
Hawaii International Film Festival 5 November 2001
24th Mill Valley International Film Festival, Mill Valley, California 4-14 October 2001
San Diego Asian American International Film Festival, California 27-30 September 2001
NextFrame International Film Festival, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 31 August 2001
New York Asian American International Film Festival 27 August 2001
The 25th San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival 20 June 2001
Annual Lehigh Valley Pride Film Festival, Pennsylvania 13 June 2001
2001 Houston Gay and Lesbian Film Festival 29 May 2001
The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film and Video Festival 21 May 2001
Emerging Filmmakers Showcase, Cannes Film Festival 14 May 2001
Cannes, France
Library of Congress Asian Pacific American Heritage Event 4 May 2001
The 43rd Rochester International Film Festival 3 May 2001
The NewFilmmakers Series, Anthology Film Archives, 25 April 2001
New York, New York
ReelWorld FilmFestival, Toronto, Canada 8-9 April 2001
Sixth Annual Directors Guild of America Student Film Awards, 14 November 2000
Los Angeles, California

Director, Producer, Writer, Editor: DEMON LOVER 1998
(16mm., 15 minutes)
Dramatic narrative set in the La Brea Tar Pits and the oil refineries of Los Angeles about a Native
Hawaiian woman torn between her Chinese lover and her mother. A film about the demons of
myth, land, and origins.
Award, Directors Guild of America 1998 Student Film
Film Festivals and Screenings:
Sedona Film Festival, Sedona, Arizona March 2000
Film Fest, Sombras Electricas, El Teatro Campesino, San Juan Bautista, CA 9 October 1999
Emerging Filmmakers Showcase, Cannes Film Festival 17 May 1999
Cannes, France
Asian Pacific Film Festival 26 May 1999
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Los Angeles Asian Pacific American Film Festival 16 May 1999
Los Angeles, California
Women in the Directors Chair Film Festival 28 March 1999
Chicago, Illinois
Directors Guild of America Awards, Los Angeles, California 9 November 1998
Asian American International Film Festival 1 August 1998
Florence Gould Hall, New York City
California School of the Arts, Valencia, California 17 March 1998

Director, Producer, Writer, Editor: CONCRETE RIVER 1997
(16mm., 12 minutes)
Experimental narrative based on a local legend about a young woman's journey to the
Los Angeles River to uncover the mytstery of her mother's suicide
Film Festivals and Screenings:
13th Annual Film Arts Festival of Independent Cinema 8 November 1997
The Roxie, San Francisco, California
Asian American International Film Festival 26 August 1997
Florence Gould Hall, New York City
Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film & Video Festival 18 May 1997
Laemmle's Music Hall Theatre, Los Angeles
"Los Angeles Landscapes: Asian American Women in Film and Video," 16 January 1997
Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles

Director, Producer, Writer, Editor: ON CANNIBALISM 1994
(3/4", 6 minutes, 30 seconds)
Distributed by Women Make Movies and Center for Asian American Media
Experimental documentary which looks at King Kong, travel, museums, early cinema, and the
history of anthropology, intertwined with personal narrative about race and identity in the U.S.
Honorable Mention, 1995 Chicago Asian American Film Festival
Film and Video Festivals:
“Kanohi ki te Kanohi/Face to Face” program, the Kodak Theatre, Production Village 19 June 1998
Freemans Bay, Auckland, New Zealand
"Women Make Movies Retrospective," the Knitting Factory, New York 31 July 1997
Robert Flaherty Seminar for Independent Video and Cinema, "The Camera 5-10 August 1995
Reframed: Technology and Interpretation," Wells College, Aurora, New York
Los Angeles International Asian Pacific Film & Video Festival 3 June 1995
Asian CineVision's 1995 (13th) Annual VIDEOSCAPE: May 1995
An Asian American Video Showcase, New York City
Out of Bounds, Women of Color Film and Video Festival, UC Santa Cruz 29 April 1995
1995 San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival 2-9 March 1995
Xth Black International Cinema Festival, Chicago, New York City, February-May 1995
Los Angeles, Berlin, Germany (February-May 1995)
The Second Annual Fall Asian Pacific American Coalition in Cinema, 2 December 1994
Theatre, & Television Video Festival, UCLA, Los Angeles
The 1994 Dallas Video Festival 10-15 November 1994
Act of Video Festival, DCTV, New York City 1, 2, 8, & 9 November 1994
Femannale Film Festival, Cologne, Germany October 1994
Rio CineFest, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil August 1994

Museum Exhibitions of On Cannibalism:
“Old New Technologies,” Williams College Museum of Art 20 April-21 July 2002
Williamstown, Massachusetts
"Women Make Movies Retrospective," The Museum of Modern Art, New York 27 May 1997
"Private TV, Public Living Rooms," LA Freewaves, the Museum of Contemporary 9-11 August 1996
Art, Los Angeles, and the Santa Monica Museum of Art
"Tourism: Into the 21st Century," Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions June 1995
"Memory/Spirit/Border: Women of Color Film and Video," Pacific Film Archive, April 1995
University of California at Berkeley
"Asian Pacific American Women in Film and Behind the Scenes," 15 October 1994
Smithsonian Event at the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum
"Visible Differences" show, The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, U.K. October 1994
"Hybrid Identities" show, The Center for Photography, Woodstock, New York Fall 1994
"Courage" video program, 23 September-31 December 1994
The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York City
Rockefeller Fellowship in Media Arts, 2005; Berlin Talent Campus, the Berlin Film Festival, 2005; UCI Center for Translation and Writing Awards; ABC/Disney Talent Development Award of Creative Excellence 2004; University of California Institute for Research in the Arts; CORCL UC Irvine Grant; 1999-2000 Faculty Career Development Award; UC Irvine School of Humanities Research and Travel Awards; UCLA Colin Higgins Directing Award; Women in Film "Banana Republic" Dare to Dream Award; Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department Artist-In-the-Community Grant ; Jim Morrison Film Award for Promising Student in the UCLA Directing program; Julian B. Ely Award in Documentary Film from the UCLA Directing Program; Institute for American Cultures Grant, UCLA Asian American Studies; The Getty Center for the History of Art and Humanities Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined); American Association of University Women Fellowship; Samuel H. Kress Travel Fellowship in the History of Art; The Yale Center for International and Area Studies Grant; Smithsonian Institution Graduate Student Fellowship; Mellon-West European Studies Grant-In-Aid-of-Research, Council for European Studies Fellowship, and Yale Council for European Studies Grant-In-Aid of Research; Italian Foreign Ministry Scholarship to study language; Il Giornalino Scholarship and Weston Prize, Middlebury College; DAAD Scholarship and Yale History of Art Department Fellowship; COTI Scholarship to study in Salatiga, Indonesia; Fulbright Scholarship to conduct research on modern Indonesian culture and literature in Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Professional Societies
Society for Cinema and Media Studies
International Association of Art Critics
Film Independent
Visual Communications
Independent Film Project
Graduate Programs
Visual Studies

Last updated