On May 20, nine students graduating from the Certificate Program at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University will unveil a diverse selection of short documentaries as part of a culminating event held at the Nasher Museum of Art in Durham, NC. The projects are diverse not only in content and tone but also in the mediums used to bring each story to life.
In her video Ex Libris, Chelsea Flowers interviews volunteer members of the Chapel Hill Prison Books Collective about their efforts to provide books for inmates of Mississippi, Alabama and North Carolina prison systems. The Raleigh Village Idiots are the subject of Eileen Heyes‘ audio documentary. Heyes’ interviews with the various members of the improv comedy troupe show the hard work that goes into making people laugh and the reasons why, despite low pay and long hours, the members of the group, like their audiences, keep coming back for more. Conrad Fulkerson’s Godmother transcends the cuteness factor of the birth of an adorable litter of puppies by examining the deeply humane and compassionate motives of their breeder, Fulkerson’s wife, Kate.
The concept of “home” is viewed through the lenses of politics and social justice in the works of John Crane and Paul Deblinger. In Jerusalem Journal Crane gives American audiences raw and rarely seen glimpses into communities under siege amidst the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In Us…Them…United States Deblinger presents the timely story of the Guzmans, a North Carolina family struggling to reunite after a series of events involving immigration authorities.
The family theme is further explored with two projects, one by photographer Kurney Ramsey and another by the Recollective’s own Jeremy Helton. In Returning, Ramsey offers an intimate, environmental portrait of his family and the land and property passed down through his family for over 200 years. Helton’s interview with Buffalo, NY native Jillian Mertz describes a coming-of-age story resolved, in part, through musical catharsis. The sound portrait takes its name and part of its story from Blues Run the Game, a song by folk singer, Jackson C. Frank.
Health and human rights issues are at the center of a pair of projects by Eric Douglas and Paige Greason. In For Cheap Lobster, Douglas offers a multimedia examination of the powerful and sometimes devastating impact of the lobster industry on the lives of Honduran and other Latin American lobster divers. Face to Face, the final project of the evening advocates for education and empowerment of individuals and families affected by Multiple sclerosis. Greason’s video shows women and men diagnosed with MS as they share their stories of survival and triumph.
The nine projects shown represent weeks, months and, in some cases, years worth of work on the part of the students who produced them. Congratulations to all who participated!