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Personal profile


Dr Karen Pearlman writes, directs and edits screen productions. She researches creative practice, cognition and feminist film histories.  

Karen's 2019 Macquarie University supported creative research film, I want to make a film about women, has been awarded:

  • 'Special Mention Award', Sydney Film Festival Dendy Awards 10-21 06/2020 for: 

"a masterful and ambitious mix of forms" (Dr George Miller, Jury Chair)

  • St Kilda Film Festival Best Documentary Award 06/2020
  • 'Best Director' Cinefest Oz Film Festival Short Film Awards 29/08 2020
  • Australian Director’s Guild Awards for 'Best Direction of a Documentary Short Subject' 2020.
  • Women in Film and Television Best Directing Award on the WIFT V-Fest Awards 2021 
  • 'Creative Achievement Award' Brisbane International Film Festival 10/2020
  • 'Essy Award for Best Short Documentary' St. Louis International Film Festival 10/2020
  • Best Shorts Spotlight Pride Parade Award SCAD Savannah Film Festival 30/10/ 2020 
  • Best Short Documentary at the inaugural Sydney Women's International Film Festival 11/2020
  • Jury Citation Black Maria Film Festival 02/2021
  • The ATOM (Australian Teachers of Media) Award for 'Best Biographical Documentary'  and 'Best Docu-drama' 10/12/20 
  •  'Award of Excellence Special Mention' from Impact Docs (07/2021)
  • Best Short non-fitions Film, Multicultural Film Festival (07/2021)
  • Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival Special Jury Prize (06/2021) for:

"a film of innovative brilliance, celebrating the inexhaustible, essential tenacity of suppressed artists everywhere".

I want to make a film about women is the third in a trilogy of research films about Soviet women editors.  The 2nd one, the 2018 documentary After the Facts, was honoured with an ASE Award for Best Editing, as was the first, Woman with an Editing Bench (2016), which also won the ATOM Award for Best Short Fiction, and six other film festival awards.  

Karen is a former President of the Australian Screen Editors Guild and enjoys her ongoing association with the guild as a full member and frequent public speaker. A 5-time Best Editing Award nominee, Karen is a leading theorist, speaker and writer on the art of film editing, she is the author of Cutting Rhythms, Intuitive Film Editing (now in its 2nd edition with Focal Press) and well-known around the world for her YouTube series The Science of Editing created with This Guy Edits

Karen is a senior lecturer in Screen Production and Practice at Macquarie University, the 2020 Australian Top Research Institution in Film. She and her colleague Dr Iqbal Barkat won the Australian Award for University Teaching Citation for their collaborative teaching of screen production in 2019, and Karen supervises and mentors higher degree research students in screen studies and creative practice.

Before joining Macquarie, Karen held the post of Head of Screen Studies at AFTRS for 6 years and was a partner investigator in the ARC/Australia Council funded investgation Games and the Wider Interactive Entertainment Industry in Australia: an inquiry into sources of Innovation, a project focussed on identifying transferable skills of arts practitioners that could be productive in the games industry.  She came to that project from a distinguished career as a professional dancer - performing with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company on the Opera House stages of the world and directing two dance companies. She holds a Doctorate of Creative Arts from UTS, two MAs - one from UTS and one from AFTRS, and a BFA in dance from NYU Tisch School of the Arts.

Research student supervision

Principal Supervisor

Emma Watkins (MRes completed 2018, PhD current)

Creative sign language, dance, and film editing - a series of tests in formal integration


Emmeline Dulhunty (Mres 2020 completed, PhD current)

Cinematic Experience: Film Form and the Phenomenology of Cognition


Jacob Gottlieb (Mres Current)

Cinema and Self: a theoretical and creative practice thesis examining and enacting concepts about film and post-human becoming


Michelle Mead (MRes 2020 completed)

Can a superhero fight patriarchy? Challenging the ancient masculinisation of mythic heroism in modern superhero action cinema


Kevin Lucas (MRes 2017 completed)

THE AGE OF THE ABORIGINAL AVATAR: reclaiming the sacred in a Virtual World


Margaret McHugh (MRes 2017 completed)



Margaret Meehan (Mres 2018 completed)

The Art of Mentoring: examining some practices of media mentorship in multicultural Australia.


Associate Supervisor

Saba Vasafi (PhD 2021)

Carolyn Strahan (PhD current)

Cleo Mees (PhD 2018)

Andrew Sully (PhD 2017)

Education/Academic qualification

Masters in Editing, Australian Film Television and Radio School

Bachelor of Fine Arts, Honours in Dance, New York University, Tisch School of the Arts

Masters in Media Arts and Production, University of Technology Sydney

Doctor of Creative Arts, University of Technology Sydney

External positions

Head of Screen Studies, Australian Film Television and Radio School

1 Mar 20091 Mar 2014


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