Anaiis Cisco: Shattering Disparity in Film

Photo above courtesy Anaiis Cisco.

Anaiis Cisco (MFA, ’19) writes and directs films that “explore the emotional journey of Black characters in nuanced story worlds, highlighting the experiences of underrepresented racial, ethnic, queer, and gendered identities.” While a graduate student at SF State, Anaiis received several awards and scholarships, including the Barbara Hammer Award, the Distinguished Graduate Award, a CSU Trustee Award, the Kyriakos Karababas Memorial Scholarship, and the Louis B. Srybnik Film Award from the Princess Grace Foundation. These awards helped her to complete her thesis film, “Drip Like Coffee,” which explores Black womanhood, desire, and space, while rendering the Black female body as fluid. “Drip Like Coffee” has screened in film festivals nationally and internationally, and Anaiis is currently adapting this short into her first feature film. Anaiis is now an assistant professor of moving image production in film and media studies at Smith College.

Q&A story below reprinted from California State University’s website

M.F.A., Cinema | The CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement: Trustee Emerita Rebecca D. and James Eisen Scholar, 2017
“Receiving the Trustees’ Award and scholarship not only helped me to continue developing my voice as a writer and director, but it enabled me to produce a short story, GYRL​, that highlighted Black girlhood, an experience rarely depicted in mainstream media. Completion of this short film project led to a departmental nomination for an extremely competitive film grant, the Princess Grace Award, which I was awarded in 2018.”

Proudest Moment:
“Receiving the prestigious recognition of [SF State’s] Graduate Student Award for Distinguished Achievement changed my life. It was beyond rewarding to complete my graduate studies while being recognized for my creative and academic endeavors. I thought accepting a professorship at Smith College was a huge accomplishment, but this acknowledgement was a complete surprise!”  

Filmmaker | Assistant Professor of Moving Image Production, Smith College
“I am the first filmmaker/professor to hold my position in Smith College's program of Film and Media Studies. In my roles, I want to create pathways for students to gain hands-on experience working with skilled production teams on film sets. Women and non-binary people do not occupy a huge percentage of behind-the-scenes positions in the film and television industry, and I want to be a part of this move toward shattering this disparity.” 

Looking Back:
“Education has taught me how to navigate the world. The media professionals in San Francisco State’s School of Cinema introduced me to various styles and conventions of media production and helped me develop my craft as a filmmaker and as a professor. I found ways to intersect art and scholarship while supporting and learning from the next generations of student creators.” 

Learn more about Anaiis Cisco on her website:

Soo Kim ( She/Her/Hers )
Senior Director of Development (Creative Arts)
College of Liberal and Creative Arts
(415) 338-7113