A photo smiling FMS faculty during Fatimah Tobing Rony's retirement party.

Film and Media Studies Professor Fatimah Tobing Rony is retiring at the end of the 2023-24 academic year in order to develop her animated short Annah la Javanaise into a feature film. Professor Rony joined UCI as faculty in 1998 after completing her Ph.D. at Yale University and her MFA at UCLA.

Professor Rony had already published her first book, The Third Eye: Race, Cinema, and Ethnographic Spectacle, before coming to UCI. Her book won the Katherine Singer Kovacs Book Award, the field prize from the Society for Cinema Studies. It was a breakthrough text, introducing postcolonial and racial critique to cinema and visual culture, and it immediately became canonical. It remains influential and in print. Professor Rony’s follow-up book, How Do We Look? Resisting Visual Biopolitics, was published in 2022. How Do We Look? elegantly models the fusion of history and theory, of conventional and exploratory methods. With How Do We Look?, Professor Rony invents and analyzes the concept of visual biopolitics, demonstrating the ways that the logics of biopolitics are produced, reproduced, normalized, and resisted across different forms of visual media; Professor Rony develops her theory by grounding it in particular histories of violence enacted against Indonesian women.

Professor Rony is also an award-winning filmmaker. Her credits as director include On Cannibalism, Everything in Between, the omnibus feature Chants of Lotus, and Annah la Javanaise. The latter film debuted at the Annecy International Film Festival of Animation, the world-leading venue for animation. The film has screened at festivals in more than ten countries and has won numerous international prizes across continents.

As faculty at UCI, Professor Rony taught the entire 101 History of Film core course series for a number of years, and she has also taught courses in the 120 production series and electives on directing. Her signature course, 111 Film and Media Theory and Practice, bridges academic and artistic approaches to cinema, training students to both think and create critically.

Professor Rony has exceptionally mentored generations of students. As faculty in the Visual Studies graduate program, she also advised Ph.D. students who have gone on to earn tenure at major institutions, including UCLA and UC San Diego.

Professor Rony has also been a leader among faculty, serving as Department Chair of FMS, as Equity Advisor for the School of Humanities, and through a range of other committees and service positions. She has profoundly shaped FMS at UCI by hiring and mentoring all of the faculty who will carry the department forward.

Professor Rony is a distinguished scholar, filmmaker, and mentor. Her departure marks a significant loss for FMS, but the world will be rewarded with her future creative work. We celebrate Professor Rony and wish her unbridled success as she develops her film. We cannot wait to see it.

Film and Media Studies