Senior Fellow and Director of Penn GSE Films
University of Pennsylvania
Amitanshu (Amit) Das is a senior fellow and director of Penn GSE Films. Among other projects, Penn GSE Films has produced broadcast documentaries, filmmaking courses, workshops, and an Academically-Based Community Service filmmaking program in collaboration with Philadelphia’s public schools, the School District of Philadelphia, and the Netter Center for Community Partnerships. Through coursework and related initiatives, Mr. Das has provided in-depth film training to high school, undergraduate, and graduate students.
Mr. Das joined Penn GSE from New York University where he was a member of the NYU Film faculty and director of NYU’s Department of Film, Video, and Broadcasting, one of the largest professional film, television, and digital media programs in the country. An award-winning filmmaker and television producer, his films have screened at venues like the Cantor Film Center and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. He has lectured extensively on film and television history at the American Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens.
Mr. Das’s recent filmmaking credits include Freedom School (2011, Telly Award Winner) and A Safe Place to Play, both for WHYY PBS Philadelphia. The Prophecy, a short video on the Pennsylvania Lenape Native American community of Pennsylvania, was exhibited at Philadelphia’s Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology from 2008 to 2011. It was placed on permanent display at the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania Cultural Center in Easton, Pennsylvania. He directed three short documentary films set in Norristown, Pennsylvania for the 2014 Ethnography Forum Plenary: “Multimedia Representations of a New Latino Diaspora Town” by Dr. Stanton Wortham.
In 2015, Mr. Das produced and directed the video components for American Education Reform: History, Policy and Practice, an eight-hour Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) written and presented by John Puckett and Michael Johanek. The series was a first for Penn GSE and had its third annual re-run in 2017. Mr. Das is an advisor to the Penn student initiative CAMRA and the Screening Scholarship Media Festival, both engaged in the exploration of film and scholarship.
Before moving to the United States, Mr. Das was a documentary filmmaker and an educational and broadcast television producer in India and taught at the Jamia Mass Communications Research Centre in New Delhi. He was part of a vanguard of filmmakers and TV producers working for India’s first satellite-based educational broadcasting network. He produced programs for the Indian national television network, Doordarshan’s Countrywide Classroom. He also produced and directed for the University Grants Commission’s Pilot Pre-School Television Project, Times of India Television, and CENDIT (Centre for Development of Instructional Technology).
Research Interests and Current Projects
A central and ongoing theme of Mr. Das’s work is the demystification and democratization of media technology and film-crafts; the understanding that film is a natural locus of interdisciplinary exchange; a sense that film is the lingua franca or global dialect of our time; and that purposeful filmmaking is an extraordinarily powerful engine and a catalyst for social change, helping us move toward a fairer and more just society.
He established and currently leads the School District of Philadelphia (SDP)-Penn GSE Film Project. A central component of this project is a year-long course co-taught with Dr. Kathleen Hall and supported by grants from the Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships. Teams of Penn students are first trained in filmmaking and then collaborate with Philadelphia high school students to produce films on their schools, local communities, and personal lives. SDP-Penn GSE films have been broadcast on PSTV Comcast Philadelphia Channel 52 in 2016 and 2017.
In Fall 2017, Mr. Das began working with Penn SP2, the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice, as director of SP2 Films, launching the new SP2 Film Fellows Program and producing and directing a promotional short for Love and Social Justice-A Documentary Film Journey with John Jackson Jr.
B.A. (Economics) University of Delhi, 1985.
M.A. (Mass Communications) Jamia University, 1987.
M.A. (Cinema Studies) New York University, 1992.
Areas of Expertise
Film, video, and broadcasting
Filmmaking for social change