Two faculty members at the University of Arizona School of Theatre, Film & Television have been selected for the 2023/24 Udall Center Fellows Program. The competitive program, which supports around four projects annually, offers Fellows a semester off from teaching to allow for scholarship and the pursuit of additional funding for research projects potentially impactful to public policy. Associate Professors Yuri Makino and Michael Mulcahy will join 165 University of Arizona faculty fellows whose scholarly work has been supported by the program since 1990.
Makino and Mulcahy are developing films about healthcare and climate change respectively. Makino’s feature-length documentary, America’s Health: Welcome to the Game, spotlights a number of communities that are restoring healthcare to its original mission by taking control away from entities designed to profit from sickness. She is co-producing and co-directing alongside local filmmaker Christine Harland.
“After two years of research and interviews with thought leaders, healthcare industry disrupters, journalists and Americans from Nogales, Mexico to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, we learned that despite our cultural and political differences, the majority of people believe quality healthcare is a right and it must be affordable and accessible,” says Makino. “With America’s Health, we are setting out to find solutions.”
Makino and Harland commenced research for the film in 2020 and with the support of the Udall Fellowship, aim to complete it in 2025. Their goal is for the film to be distributed nationally on public television, or as a series via a streaming platform. “I’m very grateful to receive the Udall Fellowship,” says Makino. “It will afford me the time to make significant progress on the documentary, particularly to apply for external grants at the level that would fund its completion.”
Mulcahy’s documentary series, Making Arizona, consists of video portraits of a range of Arizonans who are demonstrating a resilient response to the effects of global climate change, particularly drought, fire, and extreme heat. “By personalizing these realities, my goal is to lessen the distance from which many Arizonans perceive the crisis,” says Mulcahy. “Research shows that many people see the worst effects of climate change as occurring in the future or happening elsewhere. With Making Arizona, I hope to help change people’s perceptions and, in turn, their expectations of a more immediate political response at the local, state-wide and national levels.”
The subject of Mulcahy’s first video portrait is Jacelle Ramon-Sauberan. A member of the Tohono O’odham Nation, Ramon-Sauberon is completing a dissertation entitled “The History of Land and Water in San Xavier” at the University of Arizona’s Department of American Indian Studies. She explores the Tohono O’odham Nation’s political and legal efforts to redress unfair water policies, resulting in the Southern Arizona Water Rights Settlement Act. The Act restored a measure of tribal sovereignty to Central Arizona Project (CAP) water and enabled the Tohono O’odham to return to traditional farming methods in the San Xavier District. The portrait provides insight into the practices, traditions, and viewpoints of those who have sustained culture and community for over 4,000 years in a harsh desert landscape.
“I am very grateful to receive the Udall Fellowship, and I’d like to thank the Udall Center, the College of Fine Arts, and the School of Theatre, Film & Television for the time and support to continue my work on my documentary and outreach campaign,” said Mulcahy.