Artistic Visionary: Hansen Bursic

Ardent Advocate

In high school, Hansen Bursic, TFM ’20, organized Pittsburgh’s first LGBTQ+ youth conference, and was inspired to pursue a career that would combine his love of storytelling with advocacy work. So, when he started considering his college options, Temple was his first choice.  

With its renowned film school, its location in a major city, and its proximity to Bursic’s hometown in the Iron City, he felt that the school was a natural fit and would help him pursue his dreams. 


Photo by Photo Credit: Christina M. Felice

Temple gave me choices. I could make my education what I wanted it to be. The Temple film program in particular not only encouraged me to go out and find stories—real stories—but also encouraged me and taught me my worth.”

Temple University Logo

Hansen Bursic

Sharpened focus

 At Temple, Bursic was mentored by Assistant Professor of Film and Media Arts Chet Pancake, the department chair. “Professor Pancake taught the first film class I ever took,” Bursic said. “And even though it was a big class, they made it so warm and welcoming, and made time for me. They really saw something in me that I couldn’t yet see for myself.” 

Bursic’s first documentary was a project he made for the Pennsylvania Youth Congress of which he was an active member. The Toothmans told the story of a family in rural Pennsylvania whose daughter had recently transitioned. Through Bursic’s empathetic lens, the documentary examined the discrimination the young woman faced in school and contrasted it with the support she received from her family. 

“My roots are in advocacy—that’s what led me to documentary filmmaking,” said Bursic. 

Though the film was created for the Youth Congress, Bursic emphasizes that it was brought to life through the Temple film program. “I was learning how to make documentaries while taking in all these incredible stories of people across the state, people battling discrimination just living their lives, people who’ve made community in spaces you couldn’t even imagine,” he said. 

Character study

Another important film in Bursic’s career is a cinéma vérité-style documentary called Jenny Jae. He started the project while at Temple and is working on finalizing it now. It follows the story of the mayor of Monroeton, a town in Northeastern Pennsylvania, who faced extensive challenges after transitioning. Bursic’s film is an intimate look at the difficulties trans people face when they try to live their authentic lives. 

Thanks to funding from Temple, including the Dean’s Grant, Bursic has been able to continue making the documentary over the course of five years, taking periodic trips to Towanda. 

At Temple, I was encouraged to combine my education with the real world,” he said. “I was able to work on films I deeply cared about and get feedback in a classroom setting.”

Hansen at a Glance

Just the facts

School: School of Theater, Film and Media Arts 
Degree: BFA, film and media arts, 2020 
Industry: Marketing 
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Hidden gems
  • During his first year at Temple, Hansen founded the Temple Queer Film Collective, the first LGBTQ+ film club on campus. In 2019, the group organized Temple’s first queer film festival, DiamondQ.  

  • Hansen’s first job after graduating was at the International Documentary Association in Los Angeles. While working there, he led the formation of the organization’s first labor union. 

Widening the lens

Bursic plans to wrap Jenny Jae soon so that he can shift his focus to new projects. In June of 2022, he took a position as the marketing manager for Outfest, a leading LGBTQ+ arts and entertainment organization that runs the world’s largest LGBTQ+ film festival. And with many more documentaries he’s dreaming of making, Bursic is plenty busy.  

But no matter what direction his career takes, storytelling and advocacy will always be his focus.   

“What really drives me is the ability to lift up different voices,” he said. “I want to continue to support the next generation of queer and trans filmmakers so they can thrive in an industry that we’re finally breaking ground in.”