Elizabeth Coffman

Elizabeth Coffman is a documentary filmmaker and film scholar. She's published work in Camera Obscura, Journal of Film & Video and other places. Her film work has been broadcast and screened at festivals in Europe and the U.S. Elizabeth maintains messy homes in Chicago and in Tampa, where her two children live with their father during the week, and stay with her on the weekends. Elizabeth and her filmmaking partner have a media production company -- Long Distance Productions.

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Most Recent Articles

October 27, 2011
"Maven" is a Yiddish word from the Hebrew "mevin," meaning "one who knows."  Synonyms for the word are "expert," "gatherer of knowledge" and "geek."  I always thought of the word as being somehow feminine in nature, suggesting a woman who is well-dressed, perhaps, and hovering above the crowds, but not separate from them.  A blogging college professor, perhaps?
October 12, 2011
Good conferences are like a good partnership—they get better with age. Or maybe it’s my age that allows me to engage more directly with the ideas around me. I felt this way last weekend when I assisted with interviewing several participants at a Flannery O’Connor conference for a documentary. Many of the interviewees, such as Bill Sessions, knew the great writer personally before her untimely death at thirty-nine from lupus. They understood how important her religious faith had been to her.
September 28, 2011
I was informed recently that my son Nick will receive free tuition from my partner’s university, as long as Ted and I declare a domestic partnership. I was pleased to discover that Nick may attend Columbia College Chicago (CCC) with tuition waived, but embarrassed that I did not actually know the details for how to declare a partnership. Ted and I have been together for more than a decade, but we have never signed any legal affidavits together beyond a bank mortgage.
September 21, 2011
I’ve seen two films recently that reflect on the lives of women who work away from their children for jobs, opportunity and money. The Help, based on Kathryn Stockett’s successful Southern novel of the same name, and The Learning, a POV documentary about four Filipino women who leave their families for a year to teach in Baltimore’s public school system.
September 7, 2011
As my son reaches voting age I’m wondering — Is it too late to teach him to care about civic issues?This month acknowledges a number of milestones. It’s been a decade since the tragic events of September 11th. My son Nick turns eighteen on September 10th. I’ve been thinking about both events and wondering how the events of 9/11 will impact my (almost adult) son’s sense of politics and the world.
August 24, 2011
I took my daughter Katie to England and France for her 16th birthday last week, paid for by my summer teaching income. I have a sister who lives outside of Oxford, so my family kept close tabs on the recent riots in the U.K., both to avoid them and (the journalist in me) -- to investigate them a bit.
August 3, 2011
My sister Emily, a young mother with lots of experience in post-war conflict resolution, moved to Afghanistan last week for her new job with USAID. She is stationed on a base in a sterile, metal container or “hooch” as they call it. A posting to a war zone is required to extend her position and reemployment (somewhat similar to gaining tenure…). The war zone experience will guarantee housing and international locations for her family for the duration of her State department career.
July 20, 2011
I've been wondering how to keep spirituality in a family that does not choose a particular faith...?
July 6, 2011
MIT economist David Autor stated in a recent New York Times article about the challenging labor market, “Sending more young Americans to college is not a panacea,” but “not sending them to college would be a disaster.” College degrees guarantee a significant increase in income and a decrease in unemployment for young people. Full time workers with undergraduate degrees make 83% more than workers with only a high school diploma.
June 8, 2011
Since my semester in Chicago has ended, I’ve been in Florida while my teenagers finish their last week of school. My son needs to excel on his final exams in order to receive grades higher than a ‘D’ in several classes for which he has lacked the ‘appropriate’ motivation to participate. His father and I (both educators) are mystified by Nick’s lack of concern for his grades. We suddenly don’t quite recognize our son.

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