Zachary Zahos

Class of 2015

Hometown: Harrington Park, N.J.

What was your College Scholar project?
My thesis focused on cinema, and more specifically on the work of two art film directors, Abbas Kiarostami (from Iran) and Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand). Tracing through film history and theory for their precedents, I analyzed their similarities in style and developed a unifying theory for Kiarostami and Weerasethakul's approach, which I call "humble cinema." I did not take any class where we looked at these two filmmakers, specifically, but the courses Intro to Film Analysis, Global Cinema and Desire and Cinema helped ground me in a rich knowledge of how film works and taught me the most interesting ways to talk about it. I also majored in English, so I took a lot from my classes on literary modernism and theory. The beauty of the College Scholar program is that it encourages an interdisciplinary study, which, for film, makes the most sense to me.

What were your most important extra-curricular activities?
Editing and especially writing for The Cornell Daily Sun has been the most fulfilling thing I've done here. I started the first week of my freshman year and it has shaped my voice, identity and interests ever since. I also made most of my friends through The Sun, which is a nice perk, as well as through the Cornell University Program Board (CUPB), which is the other organization I joined freshman year and in which I held a leadership role. We bring comedians and speakers to campus, and being Chair of the board for a year provided a different outlet for me, one more dependent on pragmatic matters like budgets and community outreach.

Talk about any summer internships or programs you attended?
I interned at William Morris Endeavor, the talent agency, between my sophomore and junior years. I'm not sure I'm cut out for that kind of work, but spending a couple months in the literary department taught me to value economy and wit in my own writing, since most of the manuscripts I had to read bored me to death. As far as real world experience, it was invaluable, and yet it was still about the creative arts! That's a rare combo.

What are you doing now?
I dream of writing criticism for a living, not just on film but on many other subjects like media, literature, music and foreign policy, too. In addition to that I would like to teach. I'd like to strike the balance between developing my own craft and sharing it with others in an open, discursive setting.