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Charles Fairbanks

Associate Professor of Media Arts


Contact Information

214D Arts and Science Building




Charles Fairbanks is a filmmaker, photographer, wrestler, and Assistant Professor of Media Arts at Antioch College. His studies include a BA in Art and STS (Science, Technology & Society) from Stanford University, an MFA in Art & Design from the University of Michigan, Werner Herzog’s first Rogue Film School, and the Sound-Image-Culture master class in Brussels, Belgium. Fluent in Spanish and French, he has worked as translator (Festival Filmer à Tout Prix), as programmer and producer (Courtisane Festival), as amateur pro wrestler (Mexico City), and as visiting professor of VideoArte (at Tuxtla’s UNICACH, in Chiapas, Mexico). In 2012 he was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship, a prestigious award for those who have “demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.” He is also the recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Ohio Arts Council, and the Wexner Center for the Arts. The Modern Jungle, Fairbanks’s first feature-length documentary, is a story of globalization filtered through the fever dream of a Mexican shaman, and an intimate portrait of Zoque culture, commodity fetish, and the predicament of documentary. Critics have called it “Gorgeous,” “Superb,” “A revelation that makes you wonder about all the other documentaries you see.”

"With only a few films under his belt, Charles Fairbanks has managed to make a big impact at festivals around the world. His entertaining and heartfelt films are extremely easy to enjoy and very hard to forget." – Anthology Film Archives 


  • M.F.A., University of Michigan

  • B.A., Stanford University

  • Werner Herzog’s Rogue Film School


  • MEDA 190: History of Photography This course is an overview of the history of photography covering major technological developments and artistic movements, focused on instances where photography shifted the human sensorium, changed our understanding of time, and spawned developments in Western sciences and pseudo-sciences (e.g. biology, anthropology, criminology, phrenology, etc.). Students learn to think clearly and write well with photographs, while they strive to understand how the flood of contemporary imagery affects individuals and society.

  • MEDA 245: AudioVision: Video Production Intensive In this course, students gain advanced working knowledge of cinema production. Working individually and in groups, students practice techniques and apply theories related to cinematography, lighting, sound design, and editing. Skills developed in this course are an essential foundation to narrative, documentary, and experimental filmmaking.

  • MEDA 255: Archive Fever: Found Footage Filmmaking Godard proclaimed that “Photography is truth, and cinema is truth 24 times per second.”  While the nature of these truths may be up for debate, it is certain that photographic media have transformed the human psyche and sensorium through a proliferation of images. In this course we will investigate and practice the strategies artists use to (re-)make meaning via détournement and found-footage filmmaking.

  • MEDA 290: History of Cinema This course traces the historical development of the art of cinema through international movements, underground currents, changing technology, and style. In conjunction with regular screenings, readings, and discussion, students will explore major ideas in film theory, and learn the basics of clear and critical description—a skill that is useful in writing about cinema across the humanities.

  • MEDA 350: Truth & Beauty: Documentary Storytelling & Rhetoric A production seminar focused on documentary production, Truth and Beauty focuses on whether and how beauty is an integral part of documentary, how and why metaphor is effectively deployed by documentarians. Students learn all the necessary skills for documentary production – from research and proposal writing, to sound recording and cinematography, to editing and sound mixing – as they team up to produce a major documentary project.

  • MEDA 390: History of Documentary From the 'actualities' of the Lumière brothers, to the 'citizen journalism' of the Arab Spring, the history of documentary should be understood through its technological and cultural contexts. Here we examine major trends in documentary filmmaking, and in the medium's variegated forms of evidence, authority and truth.



  • SERIOUSLY NOT FUNNY (2017) 18 minutes, USA

  • The Modern Jungle (2016) 71 minutes, Mexico / USA

  • Flexing Muscles (2012) 21 minutes, Mexico / USA

  • Irma (2010) 12 minutes, Mexico / USA

  • Wrestling with my Father (2010) 5 minutes, USA

  • The Men (2010) 3 minutes, USA

  • Pioneers (2009) 35 minutes, USA / Belgium

Selected Screenings

  • Art of the Real, at the Film Society of Lincoln Center (New York)

  • Anthology Film Archives (New York)

  • Visions du Réel (Switzerland)

  • Slamdance (Park City, Utah)

  • Festival Internacional de Cine de Morelia (Mexico)

  • Videonale (Germany)

  • CUFF (Chicago)

  • Ambulante (Mexico)

Selected Awards

  • Best Student Film at Indie Grits (2017) for SERIOUSLY NOT FUNNY, co-directed with 5 Antioch students

  • Jury Award at Slamdance (2017) for The Modern Jungle

  • Jury Award at the Athens International Film & Video Festival (2017) for The Modern Jungle

  • Eileen Maitland Award (best film concerning women’s experience) at the Ann Arbor Film Festival (2012) for Irma

  • Best of Festival at Stuttgart FilmWinter (2011) for Wrestling with my Father

  • SHORT:DOX award at CPH:DOX (2010) for Irma


  • Charles Fairbanks & Saul Kak introduce their film The Modern Jungle,” written for MUBI / Notebook

  • “Globalizing Masculinity: post-NAFTA wrestling and the televisual traffic of gender across the U.S. / Mexico border,” presented at the American Anthropological Association conference (San Francisco), 2012

  • “Herramientas Abiertas: Retos, trazas, y vías posibles del video ciudadano en la época digital,” presented at the Encuentro Internacional de Cine Etnográfico (Oaxaca, Mexico), 2012

  • Writer, Consultant, and Artist for Reframing Photography: Theory and Practice (Routledge, 2010), 2006

  • Emerging Digerati Lecture, Institute for New Media Studies, Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, 2005

  • Hired by Fortune magazine to photograph Pro-Wrestlers for their August 1, 2005, issue

  • PDN Photo-Annual: Year’s Best Photography 2003