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

July 28, 2010
Now that my children are almost college-age, I have to face some cold, hard facts of personal accounting. I have not been saving for my teens’ college tuition plan. On my college professor’s salary I cannot afford to send my kids to the same kind of private institution that I attended as an undergrad. Nor do I want them to wind up with $80,000 in student loan debt by the age of 21. (I can’t even do the math for the additional costs of a graduate education for them.)
July 15, 2010
My daughter, Katie, is staying with me in Chicago for a few weeks this summer. She turns fifteen this Thursday, and we’ve been spending a lot of time together planning her birthday — her Quinceañero, as she keeps reminding me…Last week we drove to my parent’s house in Florida. Their 50th wedding anniversary is coming up this fall and we’ve been looking through photo albums. My sister Julie -- a writer, Presbyterian minister and our resident family genealogist -- was also there, overseeing our photo archiving.
July 1, 2010
I’ve been traveling around the country lately talking about the B.P. oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, screening excerpts of my Louisiana documentary and seeking solutions with other concerned individuals. It’s clear that no group or individual — not BP, the federal government, Kevin Costner -- has enough answers to this environmental disaster. It should be no surprise that the communities along the Gulf Coast feel abandoned with this mess.
June 17, 2010
For the next few weeks my two teenagers are with their dad and my contact with them is primarily digital. Unfortunately, I can't get Nick or Katie interested in ‘Skype-ing’ with me except when we 'chat’ virtually with their cousins who live in England. We take turns walking laptops around our houses, pointing them at children lounging in bed, or aiming it at the new pet — delighted with our free international communication. I love seeing that my sister’s house is messier than mine…
June 3, 2010
The media and the sciences… They mix like oil and water. Commercial media seeks narrative personas, two-sided conflicts and attention-grabbing images of disaster. The sciences demand careful process, time to uncover truths and talented storytellers to achieve a big audience.
May 20, 2010
I’ve been focused on the tragic, on-going oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico: first, because my current documentary is about the erosion of Louisiana’s coastline and the disappearance of bayou cultures. And second, the spill reminds me of my own dependence on oil for long distance commuting to see my kids in Florida.
May 6, 2010
I attended an inspiring conversation with filmmaker Mira Nair recently at Columbia College Chicago. Nair spoke about how she arranges her production schedule around her son’s vacation calendar. "Monsoon Wedding" was not scheduled for a 30-day summer shoot to align with the rainy season as much as with son Zohran’s vacation from school.
April 21, 2010
April 22, 1970 was the first Earth Day. Millions of people hit the streets. Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” had started a movement that left a big impact (convincing Richard Nixon to respond with the EPA) but the movement lost steam and shriveled under Reagan.
April 8, 2010
Geez. There ain’t no denying it. Forty-five is middle-aged. Actually it’s beyond middle-aged. I’ll be darn lucky to make it to ninety (or to pay off my mortgages by then). Still, I count my blessings for making it this far, and I bought tickets to an appropriate birthday play as a reward.
March 25, 2010
Enough work has been done in the field of “happiness” to award it with an academic designation as an enigmatic new field of study.

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