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Personal profile


Dr Karen Pearlman writes, directs and edits screen productions. She researches creative practice, cognition and feminist film histories.  She is a deputy director of the Creative Documentary Research Centre with a portfolio in Creative Practice and Screen Culture. 

Karen Pearlman’s trilogy of short films about historical women editors (2016, 2018 & 2020) have won 33 highly competitive national and international awards from peak industry bodies and film festivals, including 3 for best editing, 3 for best directing and 6 for best documentary. Her 2020 film, ‘I want to make a film about women’, was longlisted for an Oscar and shortlisted for an Australian Academy Award. The special jury prize citation from the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival reads: "a film of innovative brilliance, celebrating the inexhaustible, essential tenacity of suppressed artists everywhere".

Karen is a former President of the Australian Screen Editors Guild and enjoys her ongoing association with the guild as a full member, consultant, and 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), with translations into Chinese, Korean, Turkish and Arabic.  Her ideas about editing are also well-known around the world through her YouTube series The Science of Editing created with This Guy Edits.

Karen is a director of The Physical TV Company, whose drama, documentary and dance film works have been broadcast on ABC and SBS-TV, screened at between 300 and 400 national and international film festivals on six continents, garnering more than 100 awards or nominations, and added to the collections of 10 major film archives around the world.

Karen is a an Aossicate Professor 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 culture 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

Kersti Grunditz-Brennan (Phd, Completed 2023, Stockholm University of the Arts)

Beyond Cut and Join: Expanding the creative role of film editing


Emma Watkins (MRes completed 2018, PhD submitted)

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 2022 Completed, PhD current)

Golem in Jerusalem: Creative Practice Inquiry into New-Materialist and Posthumanist Conceptions of Jewish Mysticism


Timothy Sharp (2023 MRes current)

When the Walls Spoke: Research into Psychogeographical Approaches to Cinema


Desmond Bravo (2023 MRes current)

Perceptual ghosts: a study in acousmêtre and observational documentary


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)

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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