The New School News

Michelle Materre (center)  with filmmaker Raoul Peck (left) and Vladan Nikolic, Dean, School of Media Studies
Michelle Materre (center) with filmmaker Raoul Peck (left) and Vladan Nikolic, Dean, School of Media Studies

Remembering Michelle Materre, Associate Professor of Media Studies and Film

We mourn the passing of the distinguished member of The New School community, Associate Professor of Media and Film, Michelle Materre. Michelle will be remembered as a tireless advocate and champion of films by and about women and people of color, a beloved teacher, an engaged university citizen, and a cherished colleague. No list of accomplishments or accolades, however, can fully capture how special she was to the countless students, colleagues and collaborators, fortunate enough to have been drawn into her circle. She was known for her generous, ebullient presence, bringing joy to everything she did. Her absence will be felt deeply, but her immense impact and legacy will live on and stay with us.

Materre had a significant and expansive impact at the university over the course of two decades. She most recently taught her signature courses Race, Ethnicity, and Class in Media and Film Distribution & New Media, following on two decades of other impactful courses. She served as the Director of the Media Management program, an Associate Professor of Media Studies and Film, and was the Director of Creative Strategies at the Institute for Race, Power and Political Economy. Earlier she was the Director of and a core faculty advisor in the Bachelor’s Program for Adults and Transfer Students. Materre was honored with The New School’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2005 for her outstanding teaching and advising.

Creatively Speaking, a film series Materre founded more than 25 years ago, continues to be a leading forum highlighting independent film by and about women and people of color, offering film screenings, conversations, and other events. Materre won the Film Heritage Award, presented by the National Society of Film Critics, in 2015 for Tell It Like it Is: Black Independents in New York, 1968–1986, a film series she created with the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and in 2017 for the film series One Way or Another: Black Women Filmmakers 1970–1991, co-curated with BAMcinématek. Materre served as co-producer of the critically acclaimed documentary Black Women in Medicine, directed by Crystal Emery, and as educational outreach and distribution coordinator for the film. Early in her career, Materre was a founding partner of KJM3 Entertainment Group, Inc., a film distribution and marketing company specializing in positioning and marketing multicultural film and television projects, including acclaimed works like Daughters of the Dust, directed by Julie Dash, and L’Homme sur les quais (The Man by the Shore), directed by Raoul Peck.

“Michelle and her legacy are emblematic of The New School—focused racial justice action, positive energy in shaping the future, and indefatigable belief in the power of community. She was deeply loved.” Mary Watson, Executive Dean of the Schools of Public Engagement.

“A generous and dear friend, a beloved professor, a cherished colleague, and a passionate champion of important films by and about women and people of color—Michelle was all that and more. She was cheerful, outspoken, direct, and could make everyone instantly feel at ease. Words are limited in their capacity to capture everything that made Michelle so beloved by so many of her students and peers. Her absence will be felt deeply, but her immense impact and legacy will live on and stay with us, as will the memories, for as long as we are here.” Vladan Nikolic, Dean, School of Media Studies.

“Michelle Materre was a champion for Black, Indigenous, and people of color voices in the arts and academia. She made regular, concerted efforts to foster a community for me with the faculty of color at The New School and I will never forget her kind and generous spirit.” Anthony D. Meyers, MS Organizational Change Management ’20

“Michelle was not just a teacher, she was a mentor, a mother, a guardian, a counselor, and she has helped me navigate life in America as a foreign student who developed into his full potential thanks to her guidance and her empowering approach. Sometimes, all I needed was a hug from her as I walked by her office, to get the energy I needed to carry on.” Jad-Évangelo Nasser, MA Media Studies ’18

“In Spring 2021 I took Michelle’s Film Distribution course and she quickly became my favorite professor of all time. Her knowledge was deep and her spirit infectious. I’m currently developing a film project largely due to her encouragement and support. Michelle was an important voice both in the film community and at The New School. She challenged the status quo and was an inspiration for change. Anyone who had the good fortune of meeting Michelle became a better storyteller and person.” Ken Kitch, MA Media Studies ’22

“While I never had the privilege to take a course taught by the incredible Michelle Materre, she was always someone I looked up to during my time at The New School. As a student who dedicated her studies to media ethics, I admired Michelle’s work through and through.” Emma Spagnuolo, MS Media Management ’21

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