Watch: “Anytown USA” Student Videos on Roseboro, North Carolina

A film still from Leslie Baker's "Buddy and the Treehouse"

A film still from Leslie Baker’s “Buddy and the Treehouse”

Anytown, USA is a continuing education course at the Center for Documentary Studies developed and taught by longtime instructor Randy Benson. For its eighth season it shone a spotlight on Roseboro, North Carolina, a small town ninety miles southeast of Durham. With the help of Roseboro mayor Alice Butler, ten students traveled to Roseboro to meet some of the residents, familiarize themselves with the town, and scout potential subjects. They then spent eight weeks shooting and editing the short documentaries listed below.

An outdoor screening in Roseboro on May 14, 2016, brought out hundreds of town residents. On May 31, Benson and several students were featured on the WUNC radio show The State of Things. Partly as a result, a June 2 screening at the Full Frame Theater in Durham played to a packed house.

Kamal Badhey Death and the Family
Tim Butler, president of Butler and Sons, tells of hard work, excellence, and care in his Roseboro funeral home. The story shows the origins of their family business, starting with their century-old farm, a family barbershop, and eventually the Butler and Sons funeral home.

Kamal Badhey is a photographer embarking on her first-ever film. She is a native New Yorker who found peace and solace in her long drives to Roseboro and appreciates the warm welcome from the town.

Leslie Baker | Buddy and the Treehouse
In the summer of 1997, Buddy Melvin built a tiny bar around a tree in his backyard. Over the past twenty years, that small bar grew into a 13,000 sq. ft. tree house. This is the story of Buddy and his unbelievable grown-up play house.

Leslie Baker is a filmmaker, photographer, and proud North Carolina native. She is currently working toward a certificate at the Center for Documentary Studies and is interested in documenting the ever-changing people, places, and culture of the South.

Emily FrachtlingTill
Till is a portrait of Matilda West as she lives out her remaining years in the only place she has ever wanted to be: Roseboro, North Carolina. In this poignant and experimental portrait, Matilda recalls her successes and her regrets, and opens up about her experience of growing older in a small town.

Emily Frachtling is a Chapel Hill-based freelance editor and videographer with a passion for storytelling. Though her focus has primarily been on documentary, Emily is also fascinated by the endless creative opportunities in the realms of fiction and experimental media. She is currently sole editor of the feature-length documentary work in progress The Ties that Bind, a deeply personal and courageous study of the fragility and fortitude of family ties.

Zoë Levitt and Rahima RahiLakewood Standing Strong
High school can be a challenging time, as students must grow into themselves, find friends, and figure out their next steps. In today’s social media-saturated environment, young people have even more challenges to grapple with. Gossip, rumors, photos, and cruel comments can quickly become public knowledge and follow students home from school, even without their consent. This video highlights a group of Lakewood High School students who have come together to address cyber-bullying, an issue facing students across the country.

Zoë Levitt recently moved to North Carolina from California to study at the Center for Documentary Studies and pursue her dream of making documentary films in partnership with people working for social change. She has been deeply inspired by the students and staff at Lakewood High School, and she hopes this video can support their efforts to make high school a more welcoming place, here in Roseboro and across the country. This is her first film.

Rahima Rahi is inspired by the intensity of human emotions. She values her sensitivity to the suffering of others, which she channels into activism and various creative expressions such as dance, collage art, and visual storytelling.

Leyla Moavenzadeh Leaving Lakewood High
Three friends and seniors at Lakewood High School grapple with their approaching graduation, and consider what it means to leave their hometown together.

After growing up in the Triangle and leaving it many times, Leyla Moavenzadeh is now happily settled in Chapel Hill, piecing together a life of various side jobs and hoping to one day earn a certificate from the Center for Documentary Studies.

Patrick Nichols | 24/242
New roads have the potential for a big impact on a small community. This film explores a highway reconstruction project in Roseboro and the attempts to ensure that the new road benefits the town as much as possible.

After growing up in Raleigh and attending college in Chapel Hill, Patrick Nichols recently moved to Durham to successfully complete the Triangle. A freelance filmmaker, he loves finding new ways to tell stories through film.

Rubestene Fisher Potter | Roseboro Colored High School: A Tale of Two Schools
This film tells the story of the two Rosenwald schools built in Roseboro in 1924: the Snow Hill School and Roseboro Colored School. Alumni give their accounts of school days during the Great Depression and the hardships endured at that time.

Rubestene Fisher Potter, a retired educator, lives in Durham. She is a Roseboro native and attended Roseboro Colored High School. She graduated from Charles E. Perry High School and enjoys collecting photos and doing research on Rosenwald Schools.

Julia Rogers | The Man in the School
A portrait of longtime Roseboro educator William Peterson.

Julia Rogers works at a local historic site in Durham. She enjoys telling the micro-histories that are encompassed within individuals. At the end of the day, she believes that the best stories are usually the true ones.


Ian Shearer | Small Town Hair
Small Town Hair is an observation piece on how the Public Barber Shop serves many functions in the local community.

Ian Shearer is a compulsive traveler from the Piedmont region of North Carolina. This is his first documentary.

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