Dr Valentina Ippolito


I'm a Senior Lecturer in Filmmaking and award winning filmmaker with a PhD in Film from the University of Oxford, Pembroke College. I have an internationally recognised profile in practice as research as a documentary filmmaker and photographer focusing on the ethical and poetic representation of minorities and marginalised communities. My filmmaking work is centered around the representation of otherness: indigenous cultures in Thailand, Nepal and India; men as warriors in Basha Miao Village (China); women and babies in prison and the migrant identity. A central facet of my work is the ethical encounter between the filmmaker and the represented subject; as a self-shooting director this typically requires me to film in restricted and uncontrolled spaces, ranging from a mother-and-child prison unit in Rome to small huts in the jungles of North Thailand.

My academic publications have examined topics including the cinematic representation of the journey of migration and the emancipatory potentials of fantasy in migration cinema. My published monograph titled The dialogical gaze: the migratory journey to Italy in contemporary Italian and Romanian cinema investigates the way in which the character of the Romanian migrant is represented in their encounter with Italy, on their physical, temporary, or imaginary journey between memory and desire. 

Academic responsibilities

Senior Lecturer in Filmmaking


  • Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in Film, University of Oxford
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • MA Documentary by Practice, Royal Holloway, University of London
  • BA (Hons) Italian Literature & Theatre, University College London (UCL)

Teaching and learning

I am a Senior Lecturer in Filmmaking at Kingston University and L4 Year Leader on the BA (Hons) Filmmaking degree. I have taught in leading film production and film studies programmes, convening and designing modules in areas such as film production and direction, film aesthetics, national cinemas, digital technologies and industry study. I have extensive teaching experience at the University of Bristol, the University of Oxford, Middlesex University London and Birmingham City University. As part of this experience, I have designed and convened Undergraduate and Postgraduate modules, delivered seminars and tutorials, given large group lectures, and supervised research projects. 

Undergraduate courses taught


A commitment to social justice, equality and the visibility of minority groups underpins my research; exhibiting my films internationally, working with community groups and developing links with global organisations, my research is deeply concerned with making a significant social impact. My films have been screened at international film events across the world including Africa, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, Mexico, India and the United States. 

My documentary work shot in India has won several awards including the 'Urban Award' at Still Awards 2020 (Ireland) and 'Best International Documentary Photograph' at Melbourne Documentary Film Festival, 2019. My winning photograph Red Wind (2018), representing a smiling mother carrying her sleeping baby in the backstreets of Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India, is part of Boundaries: A Stranger's Journey across Nepal and India - a documentary project interpreting the notion of boundaries through the face-to-face encounter between the local and the stranger, travelling across Nepal and India. 

My area of academic interest is the cinematic representation of the migrant journey. My book The dialogical gaze: the migratory journey to Italy in contemporary Italian and Romanian cinema identifies a cinematic paradigm employed by filmmakers to represent difficult transnational journeys and migratory resettlement. My work draws upon extensive interviews with contemporary fiction filmmakers, archival research at the Romanian Film Centre and close aesthetic and sociocultural analysis. This study establishes that the proposed dialogical paradigm can act as a model to create opportunities for cultural interdiscursivity and social empathy in the wider cinema environment. The book was published with the patronage of the Romanian Academy in Rome and the Romanian National Film Archive.

Areas of specialism

  • Documentary Filmmaking
  • Cinema of Migration
  • Film Directing

Scholarly affiliations

  • Pembroke College, University of Oxford

Business, knowledge transfer and international

Romanians of New York (United States, 2017). Funded by Santander Travel Prize, University of Oxford and Middlesex University, London.

The Last Warriors (China, 2016). A multidisciplinary project funded by Beijing Normal University; the Academy for the International Communication of Chinese Culture and Oxford Prospects Programmes.

Qualifications and PROFESSIONAL expertise

  • Safety Management in Film & TV Production. Institution of Occupational Safety and Health.
  • The Advanced After Effects Course. Soho Editors, London, UK.
  • Apple Certification in Final Cut Pro. The New Technology Institute, Birmingham, UK.

Professional practice, knowledge exchange and impact

Funded Knowledge Exchange

Book presentation with the patronage of The General Consulate of Romania in Milan; The Romanian Cultural Institute in Venice and The Italian-Romanian Cultural Horizons Association. The dialogical gaze: the migratory journey to Italy in contemporary Italian and Romanian cinema. Milan Culture Hall / Salone della Cultura, Milano. November 2021. 

Founder and Organiser of the Pembroke Film Masterclass Series, University of Oxford. Sponsored by Pembroke College Annual Fund and Dean of Graduates Fund, University of Oxford. Guest speakers include Amanda Nevill (Chief Executive Officer, British Film Institute) and documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield. 2014-2016.

Leadership and management

  • Kingston University: Level 4 Year Leader; Module Leader for Filmmaking Practices 1 and Filmmaking Practices 2.
  • Deputy Leader, Looking China: Charm, Ethnography, Culture, Guizhou, China. Sponsored by Beijing Normal University and the Academy for the International Communication of Chinese Culture.

Social media

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