Photo of Leah Vonderheide
  • Visiting Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies


  • PhD, University of Iowa
  • MA, University of Canterbury
  • BA, Davidson College


Leah Vonderheide is a scholar of film studies and gender, women’s and sexuality studies, whose research focuses on global cinema, feminist film theory, film and ethics, and strategies of resistance across fiction, documentary, and experimental film and media. Her scholarship includes “Intersecting Archives and Gaylene Preston’s War Stories Our Mother Never Told Us (1995, New Zealand),” which was recently published in Studies in Documentary Film, as well as a new project that seeks to redefine the limited and inherently masculinist parameters of “fourth cinema”—the cinema of Indigenous Peoples—by engaging the film and television works of Indigenous women in Australia and Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Research toward this new project was conducted at film and media archives in Wellington and Canberra in June 2019, with the support of Oberlin’s H. H. Powers Travel Grant. A key component of the project is also being developed into a book manuscript on the critical role played by Māori filmmaker Merata Mita in decolonizing the screen for Indigenous film and media makers across the globe—a project that was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Stipend in 2020.

Vonderheide completed a PhD in film studies and graduate certificate in gender, women’s and sexuality studies at the University of Iowa. She received a MA in theatre and film studies from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, and a BA in French from Davidson College in North Carolina.

Courses taught at Oberlin and Iowa include Introduction to Media Studies; Writing for the Screen; Global Women’s Documentary; Theory and History of Global Cinema; New Zealand Film, Race, Gender, and Sexuality on Screen; Sex and Pop Culture in the Postwar U.S.; Proseminar in Cinema and Culture: Recent French Film; Styles and Genres: Musicals from around the World; Gender and Film: Funny Women; Contemporary Cinema; Introduction to Film Analysis; and Survey of Film.