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Visiting filmmaker brings ASU storytellers together

March 2, 2023

Independent filmmaker Milcho Manchevski visited Arizona State University this February for a weeklong residency where he shared his perspectives on storytelling with students and the greater Tempe community.

Since his debut feature “Before the Rain,” which won the 1994 Golden Lion at Venice and was nominated for an Oscar for Best International Feature Film, Manchevski has written and directed seven feature films, as well as worked in TV, photography and short film. 

During his visit, he streamed three of his movies — “Before the Rain (1994),” “Mothers” (2010) and “Bikini Moon” (2017) — where attendees had the opportunity to learn more about each story’s journey from page to screen. 

Manchevski also taught a master class in filmmaking for students in The Sidney Poitier New American Film School, in collaboration with ASU faculty Jason Scott and Luiza Parvu. The class provided hands-on experience in working with actors and storyboarding, and at the end of the class, teams of students produced a short film.

“Manchevski's filmmaking workshop, and the thoughts he generously shared from his impressive career, reminded us of what is at stake in a true writer-director's work,” said Parvu, an assistant professor in The Sidney Poitier New American Film School. “The possibility to find, in collaboration with the cast, creative crew members and audiences, a kind of truth about human nature that cannot be expressed or found otherwise.”

Daniel Beck, a film student who took the master class, said the experience was “eye-opening and life-changing.”

“I gained insights into the creative process and the importance of being open to new ideas and perspectives,” Beck said. “Milcho’s teaching was such a tremendous experience to have at the film school.”

Group of students sitting around in a circle with a teacher in front of them

Independent filmmaker Milcho teaches students from The Sidney Poitier New American Film School during a masterclass as part of his weeklong residency at ASU in February. Photo by Ari Gajraj

On Feb. 15, Manchevski delivered the 2023 Mary Choncoff Lecture, titled “Based on a True Story: Confessions of a Recovering Writer-Director,” on the Tempe campus.

The Choncoff Lecture, hosted by the Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies, was established to sustain and expand the relationship between Arizona and North Macedonia. Manchevski first visited Tempe in 1977 as a high school exchange student, through the sister-city program that has connected Tempe and Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, for more than 50 years.  

Manchevski’s residency concluded with a presentation to Professor Lance Gharavi’s popular Introduction of Storytelling class, where Manchevski screened his award-winning short film “The End of Time,” which was shot in Cuba.

“'The End of Time' sparked a fascinating discussion among the students about its vivid, formal elements,” Gharavi said. “In a subsequent class, we discussed how the film seemed to violate the three-act-structure that other guest lecturers had insisted was an imperative for filmmakers.”

Faculty and students especially appreciated Manchevski’s sense of humor, openness and his creative commitment. 

“He’s chosen a singular artistic path,” said Steven Beschloss, director of ASU’s Narrative Storytelling Initiative. “He’s remained committed to a life and career defined by his own vision, and has found a way to keep evolving as a filmmaker and storyteller.”

“Manchevski's work showed our students that being a filmmaker does not have to be about obeying rules, fitting inside a box or copying the latest box office hits,” Parvu said, “but, however, that rigor and discipline are worthy companions on an artists' journey.”

Top image: Independent filmmaker Milcho Manchevski delivers the 2023 Mary Choncoff Lecture on Feb. 15 at the Tempe campus as part of his weeklong residency at ASU. Photo by Ari Gajraj

Written by Keith Brown, director of the Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies.

ASU Law hosts historic US Patent and Trademark Office hearings

March 2, 2023

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University played host to a historic event on Feb. 23. 

Representatives from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), including USPTO Director and Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property Kathi Vidal and several Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) judges, paid a visit to the Beus Center for Law and Society for live hearings — some of the first held since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. ASU Law was also the first law school to simultaneously host the sitting director of the USPTO, who participated in a student-led fireside chat during the free, public event.  A blonde woman in a pink blazer speaks to a blonde student while both sit in armchairs. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director and Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property Kathi Vidal took part in a fireside chat and spoke at length about her goals for the agency, including increasing pro bono work and curbing abuses of the system. Photo courtesy ASU Law Download Full Image

The USPTO is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, with four other regional offices across the country. It is the largest intellectual property office in the world and has existed in some form or another since 1836. That includes over 250 PTAB and TTAB judges with various science or technology specialties, including one veterinary doctor. 

Willard H. Pedrick Dean and Regents Professor of Law Stacy Leeds was on hand at the event to deliver opening remarks. 

Leeds pointed to ASU SkySong and The McCarthy Institute as two university initiatives that show ASU’s commitment to technology and innovation to fuel economic growth. ASU Law, she added, is one of just 19 law schools with an A-plus rating in intellectual property law. 

“It illustrates how important intellectual property is, not only to the U.S. economy but the global economy,” she said. 

The PTAB and TTAB held three hearings: The first was an ex parte appeal of an examiner’s rejections of a pending patent application; the second was a trademark cancellation proceeding; and the third was an America Invents Act inter partes review trial proceeding.

Steve Koziol, acting regional director of the USPTO’s Silicon Valley region, said the live hearings are intended to clarify a complicated process. 

“These hearings are demystifying the often very complex processes around intellectual property,” he said. “That’s part of why we’re here today.” 

His remarks were followed by an overview of the USPTO and PTAB by the latter’s Lead Judge Georgianna Braden. 

Vidal later participated in a fireside chat hosted by second-year law student Leah Dosal, a McCarthy Fellow who plans to practice IP and patent law when she graduates in 2024.

As the director, she said she runs the organization with 13,000 colleagues to advance American innovation, often working internationally and here at home to protect the country’s IP. 

“We’re doing a lot of work on inclusive innovation across the country, protecting that innovation, making sure the system’s working and having an impact,” said Vidal. “If you’re not bringing solutions to the market, you’re not having an impact.”

Vidal, who has been on the job for 10 months, said some of her goals for the agency include curbing any abuses of the system, creating more robust and reliable IP rights, cutting down barriers for inventors and increasing pro bono work. 

According to Vidal, women make up about 13% of all U.S. inventors. She said that when the USPTO meets innovators where they are and works with pro bono organizations to support them, that number jumps to 43% (up from 41% last year.) Those who benefit from pro bono and identify as African American or Black are up 5% to 35% this year. There is also more representation for those who identify as Hispanic, Asian American or Pacific Islander, and Native American. But, as Vidal noted, “We must do better.”    

Speaking on patent eligibility, she noted, “There are things you can’t patent in the U.S. that you can in other countries. That’s not good for the U.S. — that’s not good for innovation.”

She also plans to continue listening to stakeholders about what the USPTO and PTAB can do better moving forward to increase innovation. 

“I love dissenting views,” she said. “I think it’s what makes us better.”

Dosal said the opportunity to moderate the chat and hear directly from the USPTO’s director about the agency’s direction was “invigorating.”

“It seems clear the USPTO is interested in what stakeholders have to say,” she said. “It’s also nice to hear that diversity, equity, inclusion and access are important to them.” 

Like Dosal, third-year law student Matt Lutz plans to practice patent and IP law, which brought him to the event to hear directly from experts in his chosen field.

“This is one of the coolest things I’ve gotten to do during my time at ASU,” he said. 

Lindsay Walker

Communications Manager, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law