Julie Praetzel: Women’s Film for Social Change

Julie Praetzel

Women’s Film for Social Change
B.A., June 2011, Magna cum Laude
Home College: Hunter
Faculty Mentor: Prof. Tami Gold, Film & Media, Hunter
Jack Doroshow Travel and Research Grant

At the age of 7, Julie Praetzel started to write and perform in her own plays with other neighborhood kids, and even set up a concession stand and charged money for refreshments. As a teenager, she performed in school plays and started studying acting independently with a private acting coach. But it was watching the Peter Weir film Dead Poets Society at a protest that became a definitive moment in her life: it made her realize the power of film and her deep desire to become a filmmaker who could effect change.

At 16, she auditioned for local films and got lead roles. Two of the films she appeared in won awards at the Philadelphia Film Festival.

She started college at Montclair State in 2006. In the summer of 2007 she performed at the Culture Project in Soho and also began interning for CineWomenNY (now part of NYWFT, New York Women in Film and Television). “I fortuitously sat next to documentary filmmaker Maria Pusateri during the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival, and she introduced me to the organization.”

From 2007 until the end of 2008 she attended school while also working full-time as a personal assistant to a publisher. She spent all of 2009 studying film and drama in London; that year a short film she assistant produced was selected to be in the Sundance Film Festival.

When she returned for the 2010 spring semester she entered CUNY BA. Now she had the ability to add courses such as Images of Resistance, Women and Creative Arts, and Social Movements and Social Change to her applied film courses. “I was thrilled to be taking a diverse array of classes which improved my confidence in myself as a filmmaker and well-rounded person.”

In 2010, Praetzel received CUNY BA’s first Doroshow Travel and Research Grant, an award established by a CUNY BA alumnus.“The feature length documentary I have been working on evolved to focus on a single artist named Juanita Guccione. The film will be the first to present her work. She passed away in 1991 at the age of 95, leaving an enormous body of work to the care of her elderly son in upstate NY. She was a pioneer of art, as well as a highly independent woman who lived in Algeria with a Bedouin tribe called the Ouled Nail in the 1930s. One of her paintings will be featured in the upcoming In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in the US and Mexico exhibition at LACMA in 2012, before traveling to Quebec and Mexico. With the assistance of the Doroshow Grant, I was able to travel to Los Angeles to interview Ilene Susan Fort, the curator of the exhibition, and feminist art scholar Gloria Orenstein, who specializes in Surrealism and is contributing an essay on Juanita Guccione’s work to the exhibition catalogue.”

About CUNY BA Praetzel says, “I have never been one to follow the crowd, and I had felt frustrated and limited by traditional degree structures that prevented me from satisfying all of my curiosities in other subjects. When I saw the CUNY BA poster of one of my longtime heroes, James Dean, with the words ‘Be a Rebel With a Cause,’ I knew the program was for me. Through CUNY BA, I have been able to create my own path and understand and express my individuality. I feel a strong sense of accomplishment having created a unique program that let me study topics left out of traditional film history. I am grateful for the wonderful support system that CUNY BA offers. My mentor has been supportive and inspirational, and my adviser was always available to address any questions or concerns I had. Thank you CUNY BA for helping to nurture me and allowing me to grow into the unique individual I want to be.”