Roger Mancusi, ’12
Photograph by Nick Deveau

A path of his own

October 31, 2023


By Amy Ogle, ’26
I want to create these stories.

Roger Mancusi, ’12, had a concrete plan: get a degree, go to medical school, and become a doctor. But in the classroom, he started to question this clear, linear career path when he found himself falling in love with a less linear field — film.

After graduation, Mancusi worked in film publicity, academia, and classic film curation, before ultimately becoming a film producer. His non-linear path became the foundation for Hannah Ha Ha, his first feature film. Hannah, the protagonist, faces a similar dilemma between her odd jobs and contented small-town life and leaving for a corporate career.

Hannah’s story is what Mancusi calls “outsider cinema”: films that elevate excluded characters and center on their decision to find happiness outside of the system. The more he learns about characters in this genre, the more he relates to them — and the more he desires to give “outsiders” a place in the film industry.

“I want to create these stories,” he says. “There’s a fear that if we don’t do it, no one else might, and I don’t want to live in a world in which some of these stories don’t exist.”

Mancusi’s guiding principle as a filmmaker is to create truthful stories, both to the characters and to himself. In Hannah Ha Ha, it’s not about one path being better than another; it’s about finding a path that is authentically you. And despite the awards that the film received, such as the 2022 Slamdance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize for Narrative Feature, Mancusi believes the greatest reward was sharing the story with audiences and hearing their reactions.

“I’ve always wanted to bring people together around movies,” he says. “Building something collaboratively and then having a physical, tangible experience afterward to share with people is the most rewarding and enriching part of the process.”