Desir: A multitalented devotee

by Beacon Staff • April 29, 2009

Since coming to Emerson, I have always wanted to take one of Pierre Desir's classes. I wanted to study cinematography, and knew of his teaching excellence at many institutions. Many of Desir's past students are now embedded in the industry of cinema, and they have him to thank. When not sharing his knowledge with students, Desir works nonstop in his Worcester studio, commuting an hour each way to Boston.

Getting into Desir's Advanced Cinematography course was hard. It is a a senior standing-level course, and I am only a junior. I asked Desir for permission to enroll, and after getting approval from my department chair and adviser, I was in. It's a lucky thing: Desir is an exceptional professor, and I think some other students would say the same thing. Desir's instruction has helped me see the art of film in a whole new way.

Desir is not a filmmaker alone; he is an artist. He loves working in many other mediums, including sculpture and painting. I believe he has an upcoming showing in a museum. Desir would like to take students to the Museum of Fine Arts to study the works; he often refers to film as "sculpting in time."

This is the way Desir approaches his life's work: Art takes time. You can't rush things. I wish the Board of Trustees really knew of his work and his way of teaching. Only then would they have made the right decision. Desir's teaching style, and the ideas he shares with students, are irreplaceable.

Desir schedules weekend film shoots, laying down his own time and money, so we can get more experience outside of class. This is beyond the call of duty, but Desir is more than happy to make the sacrifice for his students.

I wanted to show Desir that students cared about his tenure application's rejection. So with his permission, Films From The Margin organized a screening of two of his films, including the premiere of iThelonious: Unknown Experiments in Flight/i. Desir was nervous and excited that a student organization was honoring him with a screening.

Fifty students and various faculty members attended the April 13 screening, eager to see what Desir has been working on. I couldn't wait to see, either: You can understand someone better after seeing something they have made. The event was my organization's most successful in years. The students loved the work, and we have Desir to thank for letting us screen it.

Pierre Desir should stay at Emerson. He should be given more freedom to expand his teaching methods of cinematography. By forcing Pierre to leave, the school is losing an important professor. The Board of Trustees should stop changing its criteria and start paying attention to student and faculty member needs.

iKyle S. Glowacky is a junior film major, president of Films from the Margin and a contributor to the/i The Beacon.,Kyle S. Glowacki