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Academy Award-winning Screenwriter joins Emerson College

By Sara Prescott
On October 1, 2009

9/30/09Oscar-winning documentarian, screenwriter, director, composer, author and producer, Sarah Kernochan has been named the Jane and Terry Semel Chair in screenwriting for this semester. The position was created to attract established screenwriters to Emerson College's Department of Visual and Media Arts.

Kernochan said she knew she wanted to be a writer by the time she was fourteen and composed a few short films during her childhood. After leaving Sarah Lawrence in 1968, she started working at "The Village Voice", first as a receptionist and then as a ghostwriter.

In the early 1970s she turned her attention to screenwriting, and wrote two documentaries. "Marjoe" won the Academy Award for Documentary Feature in 1972, "Thoth" won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2002.

Later, she released two albums with RCA Records and published her novel Dry Hustle. Kernochan wrote the screenplays for "Dancers" (1987), "Impromptu" (1991) and "What Lies Beneath" (2000). She also co-wrote the screenplay for "Sommersby" (1993) and wrote the screenplay and directed The Hairy Bird (1998).

"And I thought, what else can I do?" Kernochan said.

Kernochan is teaching advanced undergraduate film students, guiding them as they complete their feature film scripts. Kernochan emphasizes that she treats the students as professionals, holding them to a professional standard.

"It is such an honor for us to welcome Sarah Kernochan to Emerson this semester as the Semel Screenwriting Chair. She is a truly renaissance person, as an accomplished novelist, singer/songwriter, Oscar-winning director and screenwriter. She brings a wealth of experience, high standards and the confidence of important achievement to teaching our students the joys and the craft of writing for the screen," Dean of the School of Art, Grafton Nunes said.

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