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May 11 & 12: Certificate in Documentary Arts Grads Present Final Projects

At a two-night graduation event at the Full Frame Theater, seven Continuing Education students at the Center for Documentary Studies will present their final projects to the public and receive their Certificate in Documentary Arts, having completed a structured sequence of courses. During the course, students finish a substantial documentary work—projects that often move out into the world in the form of exhibits, installations, screenings, websites, audio features, and more.

Wednesday, May 11, and Thursday, May 12, 7 p.m.
Full Frame Theater, American Tobacco Campus
320 Blackwell St., Durham, North Carolina | Directions

Here, the Certificate in Documentary Arts graduates:

Martha Brown lives in Greenville, North Carolina. Her documentary, The 50th Wooten Family Reunion: The Year of Jubilee—Let Us Rejoice, chronicles the descendants of Lewis, Laura Jane, and St. Annie Wooten at their annual family reunion. Following in the footsteps of her Aunt Delilah Yvonne Marrow, Brown, the granddaughter of Lewis and St. Annie, set out to document the 50th reunion. She interviewed members of the first, second, third, and fourth generations of her family, collecting their thoughts about reunions past and hopes for the future.

Tom Dierolf has lived in Brevard, North Carolina, since 2004. He worked in rural community development for twenty-five years in Southeast Asia, Melanesia, and Appalachia, and is now in the midst of a career change. His short film Almost Cured tells the story of the 1963 Brevard High School Blue Devils, a racially integrated high school football team that went on to win the State 3A championship. In a year of great civil unrest that saw the Birmingham church bombing, the murder of Medgar Evers, and the March on Washington, Tom says, “a small Southern Appalachian county . . . that was, and remains more than 93 percent white, was able to peacefully integrate even before the many urban areas of the state.” The documentary includes interviews with the coach, players, fans, and others, along with present-day footage and archival photos, film, and print media.


Kris Dyson teaches digital media, game design, computer programming, and television production in the Information Communication Technology Academy at Christa McAuliffe Middle School in Boynton Beach, Florida. She is an advocate for gifted and talented students, having spent ten years as an educator in the field. Gifted females, she says, “often lack appropriate guidance, enrichment experiences, mentoring, and understanding.” For her multimedia project, The Gifted Girl Chronicles, Kris collected oral histories from girls and women who have been labeled “gifted and talented” during their educational experiences, exploring “how they navigate the social, emotional, and academic landscapes of their lives. What causes some girls to succeed where others stumble? How has the gifted label shaped their life choices or defined them as a person?”


Dana Endsley is a visual artist, activist, workshop facilitator, and holistic bodywork therapist living in Mount Holly, North Carolina. Her film One Last Stand tells the story of a 2015 reunion of former high school band members to honor their director—Paul “Prof” Semicek—and to perform again as “The Mounties.” In the late 1950s Prof was hired as band director for Mount Carmel High School in northeastern Pennsylvania—the heart of the Coal Region. Dana says, “Prof affected thousands of kids’ lives and showed them a world they would have never seen. Through his vision, talent, and unending work, he created a world class marching band from a group of rag-tag working class kids.” During Prof’s tenure, the Mounties performed at multiple venues and events on the East Coast and in Canada.

Hether Hoffmann is an artist, paddler, kayak coach, and documentarian from Chicago. She teaches art at Quest Academy in Palatine, Illinois, and is a Current Designs sponsored sea kayaker. Paddling in Spite of the Ordinary: Bonnie A. Perry, Agency and Grace is part of her documentary series about two women sea kayakers from Chicago; the series “explores how women sea kayakers aspire to accomplish their paddling goals while exploring themes of spirituality, social justice, challenge, community, and acceptance,” says Hether. Her film about Bonnie Perry delves into “the spirituality of water and life balance through paddling, sport, and sermons.” Perry is an expert canoe instructor/trainer and a Wilderness First Responder who is also the senior pastor at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Chicago.


Christopher J. Lee is a scholar currently based at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He will be an associate professor of history at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania beginning this summer. Hours of an Age: Anti-Photojournalism and Everyday Life in Palestine focuses on life in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and “seeks to challenge the dominant themes of photojournalism in Israel/Palestine with its imagery of stone-throwing Palestinian youth in conflict with Israeli soldiers,” Christopher says. “This series of photographs instead explores what the everyday means for Palestinians and Israelis living day to day, side by side, in order to understand the undefined times and spaces of ‘uneventfulness’ but without overlooking the tense politics at hand.”


Saro Lynch-Thomason is a ballad singer, illustrator, and audio storyteller living in Asheville, North Carolina. She shares stories of America’s labor and environmental histories through multimedia projects and performances. As a child, she says, she was raised with vivid recollections of her Appalachian Civil War ancestors—stories “of desperation, anger, and betrayal: of cousins hung in their front yards by the home guard and in-laws committing suicide from depression. Honor is an effort to lay my family’s Civil War ghosts to rest through an exploration of the ways Appalachians remember and tell stories about this bloody conflict.” The audio piece shares voices from Confederate reenactors in Virginia and storytellers in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina.

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Rebecca Williams is a writer, director, educator, and artist who has facilitated community-based arts and cultural development projects for the past twenty-five years in Virginia, Florida, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and North Carolina. She currently shoots and edits short digital stories for artists, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits with Mountain Girl Media. Her first documentary film, Blanket Town: The Rise and Fall of an American Mill Town, is about the Beacon Blanket Mill and the people who worked there. Described as the “big red thumping heart” of Swannanoa, North Carolina, Beacon was once the largest manufacturer of blankets in the world. Rebecca’s film “looks at what happens to a small mountain community when it loses its manufacturing base and its heart,” she says.

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