DPAC hosts film series exploring contemporary France

The DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC) is hosting “Albertine Cinematheque and Contemporary French Film,” a film series that runs from January 19th to March 2nd on Thursday nights at 6:30 p.m. Each week, students from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, Holy Cross, IUSB and community members in South Bend enrolled in the one-credit course watch contemporary French films and then stay after for a discussion with a faculty member. Anyone can watch the films at DPAC, even if they are not enrolled in the course. 

Dr. Sonja Stojanovic, assistant professor of French and Francophone studies, is the instructor for the course. She said the series is funded by Albertine cinematheque that is part of the FACE Foundation (French-American Cultural Exchange in Education and the Arts) that invites applications every year for the festival grant program.

“This year we are one of 50 other campuses to receive the grant,” Stojanovic said. “A list of about 20 contemporary films is made available by the cinematheque program and we are invited to choose at least six films and create public events surrounding these films.”  

Ricky Herbst, cinema program manager of the Browning Cinema at DPAC, spoke further about how the series was conceptualized.

“We have a mix of films that explore the colonial past and present of France particularly as it relates to West Africa. That is one kind of narrative that emerges from this very eclectic series,” Herbst said.

Justin Klonoski, a sophomore at Notre Dame, enrolled in the course to apply what he’s learnt in previous French courses which he has taken as part of his International Economics major.

“These are… movies made in the last two to three years, so just being able to understand the socio-economic context behind these movies… really helped me develop an appreciation for the talent of the creators and modern French culture,” said Klonoski, who will be studying abroad in Paris in the fall.

Klonoski said he enjoyed the film “Nous” (We) by Alice Diop, the first film of the series, that played on Jan. 19. The director is the daughter of Senegalese immigrants who grew up in the banlieue, the suburbs of Paris.

“The point of the movie was that her mother died a few years ago, and she regretted not having a lot of recording and film of her,” Klonoski explained. “So she decided to… create a film of other people in the banlieue like the elderly, young boys, there’s even a scene with alcoholics.”

Herbst contextualized how local audiences can think about “Nous.”

“The director comes from a background and a place where her voice would traditionally not be highlighted. She’s meditating on what it means to be part of a culture and knowing that if you’re not going to be fully part of that culture, you do your best to put your stamp on it,” Herbst said.

Herbst explained that the film raises big, philosophical questions we are all able to enjoy and think about, such as “how would I make this movie about my own life about my own environment?” and “how could I tell a story about on campus or in South Bend?”

Stojanovic said she is looking forward to the screening of the animated film “Josep” that is set during the Second World War and will be screened on Feb. 9. Stojanovic said over email that the film tells the story of Josep Bartoli, a painter and cartoonist who, in 1939, became a refugee following the Spanish Civil War and was detained in a French internment camp. 

“Each film screened in the series is followed by a discussion moderated by Notre Dame faculty and ‘Josep’ will be moderated by Pedro Aguilera-Mellado, assistant professor of Spanish and Iberian Studies, who is working with colleagues in Spain to connect us with a special guest… I hope people stay for the discussion and find out who [the guest is]” Stojanovic said. 

DPAC has been organizing film series like these since 2018 under the title “Learning Beyond the Classics.”

“We make readings, introductions and discussions available to hybrid classes of students and community members,” Herbst said. “We have the price point at $2… and we hope that that lowers the barriers for people who want to come in and take a college level class. The series is free for Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, Holy Cross, IUSB and high school students.”

Klonoski emphasized how accessible and relatable the films in the series are.

“Even if you don’t understand French, the subtitles were really accurate. They didn’t take the direct translation of the French… but they actually took the more artistic meaning behind it,” Klonoski said.

Stojanovic views the series as a way for people to expand their horizons.

“The French section of the department of romance languages and literatures is planning on offering more film-based 1-credit courses in the future, open to all no matter the level of French – [so] look for us when you sign up for courses under ROFR,” Stojanovic said.

In his work curating the series, Herbst said his primary objective was for people to gain an awareness of their biases and to give them the tools to become a more informed audience member, not only for movies they might watch, but for the news they encounter and the stories they read.

“A really good way to become a better person is to become a more astute movie watcher, because you need self awareness… to very quickly interpret the world in front of you,” Herbst said.

Contact Angela Mathew at


FTT department hosts 34th annual Notre Dame Student Film Festival

This weekend, Notre Dame’s Film, Television and Theatre (FTT) Department will host its 34th annual Notre Dame Student Film Festival in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center’s Browning Cinema. 

Ten unique short films made by 20 different student filmmakers in Notre Dame’s FTT Department, both collaboratively and individually, will combine to put on a film festival open to the entire Notre Dame community.

The Film Festival will take place Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m.

Audience members will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite film via text after each screening, and the student(s) who receive the most votes will be presented with an Audience Choice Award after the final screening.

Ted Mandell, professor in the FTT Department and the founder of the festival, emphasized that attending the film festival is a great way to support on-campus student filmmaking and also “understand that we’ve got some very talented, creative students here on campus.”

Mandell said he was impressed with all of the films the students have prepared but noted that picking out a favorite would be like “picking a favorite child,” even when looking back at all of the films that students have produced for the last 34 years.

Mandell said he can recall each and every film his students have produced since the festival’s origin in 1990. He emphasized that the filmmaking process is extremely collaborative, and “the faculty is just as invested in the process as the students.” 

Just last year, three documentaries that premiered in the festival went on to be played in both Los Angeles and New York Film Festivals. Mandell describes the festival as “a launching pad,” as alums have gone on to work for Saturday Night Live, Netflix, NBC and other entertainment companies. 

Suneina Badoni, a senior filmmaker participating in the film festival, collaboratively filmed, produced and edited two films: “Tension” and “Lily.” Going into her Notre Dame education, Badoni wasn’t initially set on the FTT program, but after attending one of the admitted student days and talking to the professor Michael Kackman at the FTT table at the majors fair, she decided to give it a try.

“Tension,” a film that Badoni put together with classmates Isa R. Maiz and Tianji Lukins in her Intermediate Film Production class, was especially exciting for Badoni to make because it is a horror film about the struggle between a voodoo doll and Badoni’s friend Matt, who acted in the film.

“It was really fun to shoot because we got to use a ton of cool equipment like huge rigs and lights that we checked out through the FTT office” Badoni notes. Badoni also teased a creative twist at the end of the film. 

Chloe Stafford and Suneina Badoni traveled to Los Angeles to film “Lily,” a story about a girl who uses non-psychedelic medicinal mushrooms to treat her frequent seizures. Courtesy of Ted Mandell.

“Lily,” Badoni’s second film, was entered into the festival with classmate Chloe Stafford in their Documentary Production course with Mandell. “Lily” is a documentary that features the daughter of Badoni’s uncle’s Notre Dame roommate, who suffers from epilepsy and has had up to 50 seizures a day since she was five weeks old. But since taking non-psychedelic medicinal mushrooms, Lily has been seizure-free for up to 20 weeks. Inspired by Lily’s story, Badoni and Stafford traveled to Los Angeles during fall break to spend time with Lily’s family and capture Lily’s story for their documentary. 

Reflecting on her time at Notre Dame, Badoni said she’s grateful for the close-knit relationships that she’s developed with the FTT faculty and students and everything she’s learned in her classes.

Liz Maroshick, another senior FTT student from Buffalo, New York, also contributed two films to this year’s festival: “Sew Loved” with Abby Urban and “For Better, For Worse” with Olivia Hsin.

Maroshick also produced “Sew Loved” in Mandell’s Documentary Production class, and the assignment was to simply pick a documentary topic “pretty much anywhere in the country,” but Maroshick and Urban “fell in love with” and decided to choose a women’s organization right here in South Bend that teaches underserved women in the local community general life skills, sewing in particular. 

Abby Urban and Liz Maroshick’s film tells the story of a local South Bend center that teaches underserved women how to sew. Courtesy of Ted Mandell.

Maroshick and Urban went to the center and filmed content for three days, developing close relationships with the women there. Maroshick says that it was a “super interesting experience and something that [she] definitely wouldn’t have gotten” had she not taken Mandell’s class. 

The second film that Maroshick is contributing to the festival is “For Better, For Worse,” a narrative fictional film made in her Intermediate Filmmaking class. The class tunes into students’ more creative sides, allowing them to write creative scripts and experiment with new things such as unique lighting. Maroshick describes the film as “film noir meets modern day Tinder… kind of like a ‘dating-goes-wrong’ situation.” 

Both Badoni and Maroshick encourage all students to attend the festival, as it is “a tangible way to show the Notre Dame community what the FTT students spend their time working on and what they are really passionate about.”

Tickets for the event can be purchased online at or in-person at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center ticket office. Mandell advises everyone to “buy your tickets online because the event will sell out fast.”

Contact Emma Vales at


Black@ND hosts live podcast recording on Black excellence

Walk the Walk Week continued Wednesday with a live taping of Black@ND —a podcast focused on the experiences of Black students, faculty and staff — in the Debartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC).

The live podcast was hosted by sophomore Isaiah Hall and junior Luzolo Matundu. Hall and Matundu invited 12 panelists made up of undergrads, graduate students and staff, who discussed their understanding of Black excellence and being Black at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s. Each panelist was affiliated with a campus organization uplifting Black students.

The panelists addressed how they seek to promote Black excellence in their respective organizations. Senior Thaddea Ampadu is the co-president of Shades of Ebony, an organization founded by Black women at Notre Dame that aims to “unify, empower and inspire women of all shades.” Ampadu said she hopes to promote sisterhood through Shades of Ebony.

“Something I always say about Shades is that it provides a space for us to truly be ourselves and speak about anything,” Ampadu said. “Because there’s few spaces on campus where we can make those meaningful connections without having to explain multiple parts of our identity.”

Junior Bupe Kabaghe is co-president of the African Student Association (ASA), which strives to be a home away from home for African students at Notre Dame. Kabaghe plans events related to African cuisine and music, as well as their flagship event, Africa on the Quad. Recently, the ASA has organized the Pan-African Youth Conference, bringing together African students from all over the world to discuss challenges facing the continent.

“We really do try to promote Black excellence by just creating a community of African students who hold their authenticity and also know about where they come from and what they can do for the African continent,” Kabaghe said.

Several panelists belonged to industry-specific advocacy groups on campus. Vongaishe Mutatu, a senior studying mechanical engineering, is the president of the Notre Dame chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).

The NSBE helps Black engineering students succeed in their classes and get a job post-graduation. 4.3% of engineers in the US are Black, so Mutatu says that her organization works to bridge that gap and help Black engineers excel.

“Promoting Black excellence is also showing you the possibility that, even though you might not see Black engineers in media … as an engineer you have so much that you can do and you can enter so many different places,” Mutatu said.

Sophomore Daymine Snow is a member of the Black Business Association of Notre Dame, and he is currently working on a project to connect Black alumni with undergraduate business students during the summer.

Snow said that many Black alumni don’t return to Notre Dame after graduation because of negative experiences during their time as students. However, Snow sees maintaining alumni connections as paramount to building community amongst Black students. He said he hopes his initiative will rebuild those connections.

“Undergrads can start to build a stronger relationship with the alumni and have them more inclined to come back and contribute to the community and maintain that connection that a lot of us need,” Snow said. “Because community will take you so far in life. And that’s something that a lot of times is skipped over when it comes to the Notre Dame Black community.”

Mike Brown, class of 2001, spoke both from his personal background and about his experiences as the first Black Leprechaun.

He told the story of his cousin Netta, who upon hearing that her friends didn’t receive any gifts for Christmas, gave them her gifts on her sixth birthday. Netta was tragically murdered by her father three years later, an event which Brown said shook his family. Nevertheless, Netta’s death inspired his grandmother to form a support group for families affected by homicide which has been meeting for almost 40 years.

Brown said that his cousin and his grandmother personify Black excellence to him.

“If these two people can find a place in their heart to take action and walk the walk, I know we can do it, too,” Brown said.

Brown’s biggest advice for current students is to attend as many events as they could.

“I feel as though my experience at Notre Dame was enriched because I went to so many events,” Brown said. “I went to the Keenan Revue, I went to the Glee Club something, I went to Latin Expressions, I went to Asian Allure … Be present! Show up!”

Despite organizations such as the ASA, Shades of Ebony and the Black Student Association, many panelists explained how they and others encounter obstacles at Notre Dame.

Snow said that he often deals with imposter syndrome, especially when he is the only Black student in his classroom.

“I really struggled with it my freshman year. Literally, I was so close to having a breakdown after class, but the only thing that stopped me from having a breakdown was seeing that there’s a bunch of white people around,” Snow said. “I don’t want to be that Black person that breaks down and they look at you like: ‘Is this how Black people act?’ I don’t want to be that representation.”

Camille Mosley is a graduate student studying recreational fisheries ecology. She said that for Black graduate students, it’s difficult to find mentors who look like you, especially in the College of Science.

“It’d be nice to have someone who could tell me, ‘When you go to professional society meetings or conferences, your hair might not be considered professional’ or how to navigate conversations with [employers] when you’re getting questions that you don’t think other candidates are getting asked,” Mosley said. 

Mosley explained how finding those mentors takes valuable time from her classes and research. She said she hopes that the University will increase the diversity of the College of Science’s faculty to address this issue.

“Those different, informal mentorship channels I have to go pursue on my own, and that’s time that my non-Black peers might not have to [spend] that takes away from my research progress. But I’m expected to still hit the same bars,” Mosley said.

Jakim Aaron, a second year law student, said he feels a lot of pressure to be palatable.

“I think that in that pressure, there’s almost an erasure of your Blackness,” Aaron added.

Aaron said that there’s a lot of emphasis in professional programs on how students present themselves, but that it tends to focus on being more approachable to people who are not Black.

“I think that learning how to strike that balance between being authentic but still being professional, but also looking at how being Black is a strength versus something that you have to compensate for, can be challenging as well,” Aaron said.

Contact Katie at


‘Bergman Island’ and the paradise of Scandinavian cinema

“Bergman Island” (2021) was screened at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center this past Wednesday as part of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies’ film series. The film is directed by French-Swedish director Mia Hansen-Love who follows two filmmakers and their relationship with each other and with famed director, Ingmar Bergman.

Bergman, a Swedish filmmaker, is considered one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. Bergman’s most famous films like “Seventh Seal” and “Persona” were released during the late 50s and early 60s and explored themes of spirituality, death and the identity. He would generally film at Faro, an island just off the coast of Sweden.

The movie follows a filmmaker couple who visit Faro to work on their respective projects and to get inspiration from Bergman’s legacy. The wife, Chris (Vicky Krieps), is troubled by Bergman’s bad relationship with his children — he married five times and was not involved in raising his own children. Chris’ husband, Tony (Tim Roth), is a more established filmmaker and doesn’t feel conflicted about separating Bergman’s art from his personal life.

Chris begins writing a film set on the island but struggles with her work. She reads her script out to Tony to get his thoughts. The film switches between these scenes of the film-within a film where Chris’ script plays out for the audience and back to the story-line with Tony. He is constantly distracted while Chris is sharing her work with him while the film within-a-film traces a passionate relationship which seems to be drawn from Chris’ own life, before her marriage.

The film is wonderfully meta — Chris and Tony’s relationship breaks down in the same house where Bergman filmed “Scenes From a Marriage” (1973), the series that caused many couples to divorce. The characters themselves seem to mirror the director’s own life — Mia Hansen-Love was in a long-term relationship with Olivier Assayas, the established French filmmaker who, like Tony, has an uncomplicated love for Bergman.

Of course, the film is not completely autobiographical. In an interview, Hansen-Love says that her experience of writing a film in Faro was very easy, unlike Chris’ struggles. Furthermore, she never visited Faro with Assayas. Peeling back the layers of what’s drawn from reality is a cinema trivia junkie’s game, but even for someone like me, a wannabe cinephile, it makes Hansen-Love’s brand of realism feel authentic.

Recent Scandinavian films in general have been exploring modern life with this similar sort of realism.  Joachim Trier’s Norwegian film “The Worst Person in the World” (2021) is similar to “Bergman Island” in its exploration of creative ambitions and modern love. Protagonist Julie is a 30-year-old who still hasn’t settled on a career and struggles to cope with finding meaning in life. It also boasts beautiful cinematography that captures summer in Oslo in all its glory and hilarious commentary on the hypocrisy of social justice warriors online.

Danish director Thomas Vinterburg’s 2020 film “Another Round” follows four school teachers to tell an engaging and emotional story about mid-life crises and the worrying side effects of drinking culture. “Flee” (2021) uses animation and realism to explore the life story of an Afghan refugee in Denmark, evocatively capturing the trauma of alienation and exile.

The humor and realism of “Bergman Island,” along with its many Easter eggs, has inspired me to dive deeper into Bergman’s legacy and into Scandinavian cinema in general. It also made me consider fascinating questions about the relationship between art and artist — not just in terms of an artist’s problematic personal life, but also in terms of how artists insert themselves into their work while capturing universal experiences.

Title: “Bergman Island”

Starring: Vicky Krieps, Tim Roth, Anders Danielsen Lie

Director: Mia Hansen-Løve

If you like: “Marriage Story,” “Worst Person in the World,” “Scenes from a Marriage”

Shamrocks: 4 out of 5


Pippin set to show at DPAC

A student-led performance of the musical comedy “Pippin” will show at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center this weekend. Students have worked this semester to create a show that will not only make audiences laugh, but also reflect on the broader theme of one’s purpose in life. 

Nick Buranicz is a senior chemistry and FTT double major and both the director and executive producer of “Pippin”. He chose to put this show on as his senior Capstone project for the musical theater minor partly because of the liveliness of the content, he said. “It’s really fun, really colorful, and really movement and dance-based.” 

His role is both administrative and creative. He has worked on the show since early August, when he pitched it to the FTT department, and throughout the semester, staging the performance, working with the choreographer, the music directors, and other creative leaders. “We kind of built it up over time, like any standard theater process,” he said. 

Though he isn’t performing in this show, Buranicz has a strong background in acting, having started when he was a freshman in high school. Once arriving at Notre Dame, he took a directing class with Professor and Director of Musical Theater, Matt Hawkins, which he said helped inform him as a director and an actor. 

Pippin’s story is not only told by the script itself, but by the “directing choices, acting, crew, and music,” Emily Kane said. She is a senior majoring in ACMS (Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics) and honors music performance with a minor in education, schooling, and society. She is the music director in charge of the orchestra pit for “Pippin.” She has worked with the musicians who will play live for each performance, and studied the score as one of their conductors. 

This performance required a rigorous rehearsal schedule. Rehearsal started in the second week of the semester, and took place five days a week for four hours each day. “I’m looking forward to having a show that’s really solid, that people can come and enjoy and say, ‘Wow, that was really well done,’” Buranicz said.

Carlos Macias, a sophomore neuroscience and behavior major, mentioned that he has spent many hours at rehearsal. He is playing the lead role of “Pippin.” 

Macias started doing musical theater at the end of his junior year of high school, and this show will be his first time as a cast member in a musical on Notre Dame’s campus. Nerves and excitement are both present for him, but he is especially looking forward to showing people a side of him that he is passionate about. “It’s kind of awesome to reveal the rest of what makes you yourself,” he said.

Timothy Merkle is a senior FTT major with a concentration in theater and has an ACMS supplemental major and a minor in musical theater. He is performing the roles of King Charles and “player” as well as working as the assistant director. His role as king is a source of fun energy in the show, he said. “I think you often have this idea of a king as a very proper figure who does not joke around, and King Charles is the opposite of that.” 

Merkle and Buranicz have worked to make a professional environment, while keeping it fun, encouraging the cast members to make their own choices in playing their roles, Merkle said. As for the audience, Merkle hopes that the performance can serve as an entertaining and energetic “mental escape from school,” he said.  

Another reason Buranicz chose “Pippin” was because of its message. As a devout Catholic, Buranicz likes to incorporate themes within the Catholic realm into the shows he directs, he said, and “Pippin” has a universal message of self-sacrifice and asks the question of “where we can find true fulfillment and happiness in the world.”  

Throughout the rehearsal process, the cast has gotten close with each other. Kate Turner is a sophomore FTT and vocal performance double major with a musical theater minor, who has been doing musical theater since she was four years old. Turner will be playing the role of Catherine in the show. She spoke about the energy and closeness of the group that has made this performance special. “Everyone has been so enthusiastic and everyone has brought a different thing to the table,” she said. 

“Pippin” is showing Oct. 7-9, 2022, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., at the Philbin Studio Theatre in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

Students rehearse for their upcoming performance of Pippin. Performances are scheduled for October 7 and 8 at 7 p.m. and Sunday October 9 at 2 p.m.

Director of national intelligence discusses career, national security risks

On Friday, director of national intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines appeared at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center to discuss her career, the role of the intelligence community and global threats to the United States.

Haines appeared alongside Amy McAuliffe ‘90, assistant director of the CIA’s Weapons and Counterproliferation Mission Center, in a discussion titled “The U.S. Intelligence Community: Assessing Global Threats in Service to Country.”

The discussion was part of the Notre Dame International Security Center’s (NDISC) Jack Kelly and Gail Weiss Lecture Series. Kelly, a Notre Dame alum with 28 years of active and reserve duty as a U.S. Army officer, introduced Haines. 

Haines and McAuliffe on stage at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center on Friday. / Credit: Isa Sheikh | The Observer

“Years ago, there was a movie. Liam Neeson played a retired intelligence officer. When asked who he was, he said, ‘I have a particular set of skills, skills I’ve acquired for a long career, skills that make people like me very scary for people like you.’ Well, I don’t know how scary the director makes people, but she does have a special set of skills,” Kelly said.

He recounted Haines’s biography, from being raised on the Upper West Side to moving to Japan to study judo at a dojo before studying physics at the University of Chicago. Haines also spent her teenage years caring for her mother, who died when she was 15 years old.

Kelly recounted the story of how Haines built a plane with her husband, attempting a flight across the Atlantic and succeeding. Haines then opened a neighborhood bookstore in Baltimore, which “became a forum where people came and taught and shared ideas,” Kelly said.

Haines next began a career as a lawyer, going to Georgetown Law and ultimately becoming an attorney advisor at the State Department. She was then appointed to national security positions in the Obama administration, including as deputy director of the CIA and deputy national security advisor.

Haines, who was appointed by President Biden as the seventh DNI and the first woman in that position, serves a key role in the administration.

“Every morning, a car pulls down West Executive Drive at the White House. And this woman gets out and goes into the West Wing and every day, she and her briefers go to the first customer, the most important customer of national intelligence in the world, the president, and present to him the daily presidential brief. And that is how the president starts his day because this is the person who holds the secrets, the nightmares that you and I fear,” Kelly said.

Haines began by discussing the intelligence community, inviting students to consider careers in the field. 

“As somebody who has been in different parts of [the intelligence community], it is truly one of the most extraordinary places to work and yet, it’s also one of the most challenging places to figure out,” she said. “I think as a student, as somebody who’s thinking about a career at some point, this gives us an opportunity to frankly talk to you a little bit about it, but also answer some of your questions. So my hope is as you think things through, you will do so.”

Haines discussed how the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) was born out of 9/11 and the government’s response to the perceived heightened security risk. She summarized the office’s role in four priorities.

Firstly, serving as the principal intelligence advisor to the president, as well as senior national security officials. 

“What my organization tries to do is really to pull together what the elements are doing and to facilitate their work so that we can get intelligence before [the president] and key folks who are having to make decisions, right intelligence that they can use in a form that allows them to use it to make a decision at a moment when they need it,” Haines said.

Next, Haines discussed the imperative to coordinate across the intelligence agencies and integrate findings.

Thirdly, Haines discussed setting priorities by managing the budget for the intelligence community. Finally, she said she works to facilitate strategic discussions about the direction of American intelligence.

Discussing the challenge of briefing officials and the press without allowing personal proclivities to bias the intelligence, Haines said that, in her experience as a lawyer in the State Department, credibility was key. She said that was achieved by leaving conclusions about policy to those responsible.

“I had to stick to my brief right. In other words, you sort of provide the legal views without providing the policy. What I’ve learned in that position over the years was that my credibility was attached to my ability to do that,” she said. “And it is equally true in my experience in the intelligence community, that you really do have to be, in my view, quite careful about providing our analysis.”

Haines discussed the war in Ukraine, including handling skepticism towards intelligence in the leadup to Putin’s invasion.

“I remember being in the office with the boss, the president, and he said, ‘Okay, you know, [national security adviser] Jake [Sullivan], [secretary of state] Tony [Blinken], you guys gotta get out there and start talking to our allies.’ Because if this was gonna happen, we’ve got to actually figure out with them what we’re going to do in response and whether or not there’s any opportunity to deter … and then they come back and they said, ‘Folks are really skeptical,’” Haines said. “And so [the president] turned to us and said ‘You know, you got to start sharing, you have to help them understand what you’re seeing and why.’”

Haines discussed the role of intelligence and national security, particularly in formulating the annual threat assessment. 

“I think one of the most interesting things over the last few decades in my view is that we are expanding the definition of what national security is in all kinds of ways. When you look, for example, at our annual threat assessment, you will see global health safety, food technology, environmental degradation and climate change. All of these things are represented,” she said. “Climate change has been identified as an urgent national security priority by the president of the United States.”

Haines and McAuliffe took questions from NDISC students, ranging from the challenges of potential politicization of intelligence to tensions with China and intelligence reform. 

One question concerned the ODNI’s ongoing review of documents seized at former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and whether the office might become mired in political controversy like the FBI.

“In every scenario in which we are doing our job in association with issues that are at the center of politics and partisan debate, there is obviously the risk of getting caught out in the stands,” Haines said. “What I have found is that the best antidote to it in a sense is truly to just be as focused as one can be on exactly what your job is and not paying attention to some of the craziness around it … Whether or not I’m worried that it’ll happen, I can’t let that affect the decisions that we make, right?”

Contact Isa Sheikh at