New department chair sees a bright future for film

Oliver-Kurtin / Kai

Professor Louis Buttino, a documentary filmmaker, has been named the new film studies department chair at UNCW.

“I’m delighted to be the new chair,” he said. “I have a great faculty and tremendous opportunities ahead of me to get our department some regional prominence.”

Dave Monahan, the film studies department assistant chair, said, “Everyone is very pleased to have Lou Buttino as our new chair. Our original plan was to have┬áhim serve as an interim chair for one year before holding elections, or possibly even conducting a nationwide search for the position. But Lou so impressed the faculty with his vision, his collegial spirit, and his leadership, that we ended up voting unanimously to have Lou serve as our official department chair. Lou hit the ground running and is working hard to build on the foundation built by former chair, Todd Berliner.”

In the future, Buttino looks forward to a larger faculty in the film studies department, more equipment, more screening areas and the entrance and winning of student screen writing and film competitions. “Being a student in the film studies program is a unique experience. You study the history and aesthetics of film, and get production experience as well,” Buttino said.

“I very much appreciate the colleagues I have here,” he said. “They have a lot of joy, along with the students in all departments. Students have one name and that name is hope; that’s how I approach teaching.”

One of Buttino’s former students, Jessie Baker said, “I can see no one else better for the position of department chair with his level of experience and strong commitment to the art of film. As a teacher, he is extremely passionate and draws students in, helping them in any way he can.”

Buttino has been a documentary filmmaker for 24 years. He would like to help make Wilmington become more of a film community. His newest documentary, “Broken Brotherhood: Vietnam & the Boys from Colgate” will have its North Carolina premiere on Nov. 11 in Kenan Auditorium at 7:00 p.m. in honor of Veteran’s Day. This will be a free screening that is open to the public.

“The idea of making this documentary came to me when I realized I had never made peace with that era,” Buttino said., “I felt very wounded to see what happened to my friends, even my best friend/roommate from college. Part of the reason I wanted to make this film was so that I could travel across country and talk to him 35 years later and see if we could salvage our friendship. It’s a very powerful and emotional film that resonates to today.”

Buttino has been a teacher for 31 years. He came to UNCW 11 years ago from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY.

Buttino started out at UNCW as a professor in the communication studies department, and then gradually made his way to the film studies department as the program started to expand, creating a greater demand for instructors.

Buttino received a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University and a master’s degree from the University of Miami and Colgate Rochester Divinity School. He holds a doctorate from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.