Brent Huffman

Brent Huffman
Assistant Professor

Phone: 847-491-7580

Office: MFC 4-127

Email: b-huffman@northwestern.edu

Brent E. Huffman is an assistant professor of journalism at Medill as well as a working documentary filmmaker and director of long-form television programs. At Medill, Huffman teaches documentary theory and production as well as long-form video storytelling on the undergraduate and graduate levels. He also advises on local and international documentary and long-form video projects. He specializes in international documentary filmmaking in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.  Recently, he has been examining China’s international presence in Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan.  He is passionate about international issues involving human rights and social justice.

Huffman has directed, produced, written, shot and edited documentaries and long-form videos for a variety of outlets including The New York Times, The National Geographic Channel, The Discovery Channel, CNN, TIME, PBS, Al Jazeera and The China Exploration and Research Society. His written work has appeared in online and print outlets like CNN, The New York Times, The Asia Society, Tricycle Magazine, The University of Chicago’s Divinity School, Salon, The Wilson Quarterly, PBS Arts, FRONTLINE and The China Digital Times. He has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley.

Huffman aims to inspire students to create documentary films and videos that push the boundaries of the medium and tell emotionally engaging stories to wide audiences.  His students work outside their comfort zone to tell often ignored stories about life in Chicago and around the world.  Documentaries made in his classes have gone on to win major industry awards such as Chicago College Emmys, Illinois Press Association Awards, as well as being featured in film festivals and online.

Huffman has been making documentaries examining life within China and China’s recent push into Africa, Asia and the Middle East. “Saving Mes Aynak,” his recent documentary, is about an ancient archaeological site in Afghanistan threatened by a Chinese state-owned copper mine.  The film was awarded a $100,000 MacArthur Grant in 2013.  Outreach and distribution are being handled by Kartemquin Films, producers of “Hoop Dreams” and “The Interrupters.” Huffman has been interviewed on dozens of domestic and international outlets about this issue including a live interview from Mes Aynak on CNN International.  He made a short documentary for The New York Times’ prestigious Op-Docs program called “A Chinese Threat to Afghan Buddhas” that was featured on the front page of both the domestic and Chinese version of The New York Times.  The feature-length documentary “Saving Mes Aynak” will premiere at IDFA in Amsterdam in 2014, the largest documentary film festival in the world.  Huffman is currently making a documentary examining China’s presence in Pakistan.

Huffman’s films and videos have gone on to win numerous awards including a Primetime Emmy, Best Conservation Film-Jackson Hole, Best Documentary-Fresno, three Cine Golden Eagle Awards, a National College Emmy, a Student Academy Award and a Grand Jury Award at American Film Institute’s SILVERDOCS.