About

I am a documentary filmmaker, and the director of the Center for Advanced Media Studies at the Johns Hopkins University.

I am currently in post-production with my fourth documentary, Devoti tutti (“we are all devoted”), which explores and retells the myth of Saint Agatha from a feminist point of view. According to the myth, in 251 A.D. a 14-year-old girl from Catania, Sicily, named Agatha, rebuffed the advances of the Roman governor Quinziano and was imprisoned, tortured and brutally killed by breast amputation. Devoti tutti, in Italian and Sicilian language, brings this violent myth to life, using Agatha’s devotees to tell her story, and–for the first time–giving her a voice of her own through animation.

Bio and CV

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I received my Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures from Vienna University in 1998 with a dissertation on the representation of AIDS in the media and the Act Up movement. I then studied semiotics at the Università degli studi di Bologna under Umberto Eco, and medical anthropology at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. As a post-doc, in 1999, I moved to the United States to study comparative literature and film at Stanford University.

Documentary Filmmaking

In 2008, I produced and directed my first documentary Made Over in America about the television makeover show The Swan (Icarusfilms). My second film, See You Soon Again (The Cinema Guild, 2012), which was co-directed with the Austrian director and producer Lukas Stepanik, is a portrait of Viennese Holocaust survivor Leo Bretholz in his efforts to pass on his story of survival to the Baltimore youth. The film was theatrically released in Europe in 2012, aired on national PBS, and on the Austrian and German television stations ORF and 3Sat. Most recently I directed The Good Breast, a feature documentary that interweaves the intimate stories of four breast cancer patients with the history and mythology of the breast. The film brings together my expertise on the history of the body and makeover culture with my passion for the character-driven cinéma verity genre.

Academic Writing

My most recent articles on body criticism and media culture include: Machinic Suture: Technologies of Beautification (2013), Seeing, Believing, Suffering: the Body as Medium in Religion and Contemporary Media Practice (2014), The Good and the Bad Breast: Cosmetic Surgery and Breast Cancer (2015), and The Self as Artwork in the Age of Digital Capital (2015).

For a comprehensive list of my writings, please go here.