The 2019 Academy Awards had an unusual connection to MUM, with screenwriting guest lecturer Peter Farrelly winning Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay for his film Green Book and Joanna Plafsky, a founder of MUM’s David Lynch Graduate School of Cinematic Arts, being an executive producer on the film Skin, which won an Oscar for Best Live Action Short.

Farrelly directed Green Book and co-wrote the screenplay based on a true story of a working-class Italian-American man who was hired as a chauffeur and bodyguard for a gay African-American jazz pianist in the early 1960s as he gave a concert tour in the South.

The setting is a time of severe discrimination against blacks, and the film shows how over time the racism and resentment of the chauffeur is transformed into a strong bond between the two men.

“The whole story is about love,” Mr. Farrelly said in his acceptance speech. “It’s about loving each other despite our differences and finding the truth about who we are. We’re the same people.”

Farrelly was a founding adviser for the David Lynch MFA in Screenwriting, MUM’s low-residency program in which the students take courses online, work with a mentor, and come to campus each semester for a 10-day residency.

“We are so fortunate to have had such a talented filmmaker as Peter Farrelly share his expertise with our students,” said Dorothy Rompalske, program creator and director. “He came to Fairfield for the first MFA in Screenwriting residency in February of 2017 and helped us launch the program. Pete was just starting pre-production of Green Book at the time. He spoke a lot about writing the film, generously allowed students to read the screenplay, then later Skyped with them during a break in the filming.”

Those same students met with the director again this past December during their final residency in Los Angeles to discuss the completed movie.

During his time on campus, Mr. Farrelly spoke about his films and about how learning the Transcendental Meditation technique in recent years has affected his work. Along with his brother Bobby Farrelly, he is also known as the creator of such films as Dumb & DumberShallow HalHall PassStuck on You, and Me, Myself & Irene, among other hits.