Continuing Education Spring 2011 Final Project Presentations and Graduation

Photograph by Jeremy Helton

Nine graduating students in the Certificate in Documentary Arts program at the Center for Documentary Studies will present their final projects to the public during a free, premium event at the Nasher Museum of Art.

Final Documentary Project Presentations
Friday, May 20, 7 p.m. (Reception, 6 p.m.)
Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University

Throughout the year, the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University offers continuing education courses in the documentary arts for the general public. These courses, taught by working professionals, are designed to help students of all ages and backgrounds gain the skills to explore documentary on their own terms. The goal of the Certificate Program is the completion of a set of courses culminating in the Final Seminar, in which students finish and present a substantial documentary project.

Most certificate students are working adults who take a minimum of two years to complete coursework and a project. Students are encouraged to create a final project that best suits their topic of interest and their needs. Numerous documentary videos have won awards in festivals, and many photo exhibits and websites have been crated and unveiled, all from seeds started in this program. The work presented here illustrates the latest of these final certificate projects.

“During the semester, this group of certificate graduates demonstrated their developing command of the methods and rigors of documentary inquiry. With strong, individualistic points-of-view and a sense for story and structure, these students used the Final Seminar class to fine-tune and improve their capstone projects. They showed a commitment to making their pieces valuable and lasting, either by shining a light on a societal or medical problem or by exploring a personal calling or relationship to art, music, or home. Congratulations to our nine certificate graduates on their hard work and dedication and their generous support for one another along the way to this milestone.”
–Nancy Kalow, Instructor of the Final Seminar in Documentary Studies

View the Final Projects by the Spring 2011 Certificate in Documentary Arts Graduates


Certificate in Documentary Arts
Graduates and Final Projects, Spring 2011

John Crane
Jerusalem Journal [Video]

When John Crane began studying the history of Israel and Palestine many years ago, he was surprised by the difference between accounts by historians and those he read in newspapers. In 2005, he visited Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories with members of the Coalition for Peace with Justice, to meet with peace organizations and learn about the current situation.

The filmmaker and the other volunteers helped the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions to rebuild a home near Jerusalem, and they traveled to refugee camps, Israeli settlements in Occupied Territory, and areas of Bethlehem that tourists never see. They met leaders of peace organizations, participated in nonviolent demonstrations, and talked to taxi drivers and hotel workers. And they witnessed acts of violence and oppression.

In 2008, Crane returned to Jerusalem and revisited people he had filmed three years earlier. Jerusalem Journal gives viewers a glimpse into aspects of Palestinian life that they are unlikely to get from newspapers and broadcast television.

John Crane is a retired (for now) former business owner who splits his time between volunteering with nonprofit organizations and learning documentary filmmaking. Previously, he was an owner and chief financial officer of Carolina Converting, a manufacturer of puzzles and games. He has taught at Campbell University and has served as treasurer and a member of the Board of Directors of the Coalition for Peace with Justice, a human rights organization in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.



Paul Deblinger
Us… Them… United States [Video]

What happens when a political refugee, who is properly documented, is hauled off by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement because of an administrative error by the government? His American-born wife and child are stunned by the sudden loss and do everything they can to reunite their family. This story of one family’s nightmare illustrates the fractured nature of U.S. immigration policy. Pedro Guzman immigrated to the United States with his family when he was eight years old, fleeing the brutality of a right-wing government backed by the U.S. Under the Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA), he is entitled to apply for permanent residence in the United States.

Paul Deblinger was born in Washington, D.C., and graduated from the University of Maryland with a B.A. in English. He received a Creative Writing Fellowship at Hollins College and graduated with an M.A. in English and creative writing, and he received a teaching fellowship at Bowling Green State University, where he graduated with an M.F.A. in creative writing. He has published poems, short stories, and essays in a variety of publications and is the author of Culpepper’s Guide to Minneapolis and St. Paul. He has worked in marketing and communications in Thoroughbred racing and health and veterinary medicine, developing audio, video, and print material. Deblinger lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with his dog, Sierra, and performs improv and stand-up comedy at DSI Comedy Theater in Carrboro. He also paints encaustic pictures.



Eric Douglas
For Cheap Lobster [Multimedia]

Around the world, men harvest the sea breathing compressed air and facing injury, paralysis, or death from “the bends” without truly understanding the forces at work on their bodies. They dive for lobster, sea cucumber, conch, abalone, and even algae to feed international markets. When Americans consume “inexpensive” or “all-you-can-eat” lobster, it comes at a tremendous price for harvesting divers. Eric Douglas photographed groups of divers in Puerto Lempira, Honduras; Baja California, Mexico; and Natal, Brazil, to learn more about their lives and the pressures they face. This presentation includes still and video images of all three groups. While they use different diving techniques, they encounter the same challenges: no other options and hazardous and impossible working conditions.

Eric Douglas has worked as a writer and photographer since he completed journalism school at Marshall University. As a hobby he learned to dive, and he merged his interests when he became director of education for Divers Alert Network (DAN) in Durham, North Carolina. He has written three adventure novels and co-authored a reference text, and he contributes to two magazines. His photographic project Russia, Coming of Age was exhibited in Russia, France, and the United States in 2010. With the support of DAN, Douglas began working to tell the story of the men who sacrifice their health and their lives to harvest the sea; he combined that project with his ongoing interest in documentary work to complete his final certificate project.



Chelsea Flowers
Ex Libris [Video]

Volunteers of the Chapel Hill Prison Books Collective, one of only twenty-five books-to-prisoners groups in the United States, send books to inmates in Mississippi, Alabama, and North Carolina. Referencing their work, Ex Libris, a phrase that means “from the library of,” suggests the potential fluidity of literature and, in turn, the exchange of ideas and support between those in and outside prison. This video follows the movement of books as they shift between individual ownership and shared libraries, both within prison walls and outside them. It briefly illustrates the structure of the Chapel Hill Prison Books Collective, what the Collective does, and how. It may even offer a few of the many answers to the most important question: Why?

Chelsea Flowers is trying to stay positive. Originally from Robeson County, North Carolina, she currently lives in outer Chapel Hill with chickens, vegetable gardens, and the dog who owns her. She often can be found at the Internationalist Books and Community Center. This fall, Flowers will be trading the Piedmont for the coast when she returns to an academic institution for a degree in public history so that she can work outside the academic institution.  She hopes to take what she learns there to substantiate more accessible and non-traditional forms of history and activism. Multimedia history exhibits outside museums, documentary showings in the neighborhood, and teaching collectives have long been her interests. Newer interests include film photography and pitiful carpentry. This is her first video project, if one is not counting home movies of dogs. It is for her friends, the lovely dreamers.



Conrad Fulkerson
Godmother [Video]

We spend untold amounts of money and energy on beloved canine family members. Still, we invest comparatively little to safeguard the early life of those puppies who will become so dear. Laudable efforts to improve the lot of dogs are largely directed at “rescue” after abandonment, neglect, or abuse. What if we cared from the beginning? Kate Fulkerson strives to provide puppies the best possible start in life. She regards them as “little beings” that need careful birthing, enough time with their mother, and distinctly positive training before they go to carefully matched committed families and their “forever home.”

Conrad Fulkerson is a psychiatrist who grew up near Kansas City. For thirty years he has taught medical students to care about their patients as they care for them. He has dreamed of making films since age nine, when his younger sister would only participate in his little plays if playing a “princess.” The CDS community is helping him to share the meaning he finds in the world and realize his dream. He has produced videos for medical student teaching and brief biographies. He lives with his wife Kate, a psychologist, in Person County, North Carolina, where they breed Labrador Retrievers and focus on who dogs are and what they need.



Paige Greason
Face to Face [Video]

“I hate to tell you this over the phone, but the test came back positive for multiple sclerosis.” The world stops. Numbness sets in. Autopilot takes over. Over the next few weeks, grief and loss drench the body and mind in heavy black ooze. Sleep is elusive. Eating nonexistent. Making it through the day seems nearly impossible, yet the seconds keep ticking away. Family members begin to worry about your mental health. Friends talk of staying positive and then quickly change the subject. The reality sets in … life is forever altered.

Sometimes life hits us with challenges that tear apart the fabric of who we think we are and force us to come face-to-face with how we are living out our time on this planet. Getting diagnosed with a chronic illness is one of those challenges.  In Face to Face, six North Carolinians living with MS share their stories of loss, self-discovery, and transcendence. The documentary was created specifically for people newly diagnosed with MS, who can often feel alone, adrift, and confused. The voices of these six individuals, however, speak to us all. They remind us that life is short and call us to live each moment of this precious life consciously, deliberately, and fully.

Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis four years ago served as a catalyst that pushed Paige Greason to begin taking classes at CDS, a major step toward her lifelong goal of becoming a documentarian. A psychotherapist and former journalist, Greason has long believed in the healing power of stories. She earned an undergraduate degree in communications and a master’s degree in counseling at Wake Forest University and a Ph.D. from UNC-Greensboro. She worked at the Winston-Salem Journal, at 88.5 WFDD, and as an executive at several Triad public relations firms before returning to school to pursue her degree in counseling. She currently works as the senior mental health counselor at the UNC School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Counseling at Wake Forest University, and teaches yoga.



Jeremy Helton
Blues Run the Game [Audio]

Buffalo native Jillian Mertz talks about how a little-known folk musician from her hometown helped her understand her complex relationship with her father, magician Ray Mertz. Jackson C. Frank, the musician, is something of a hidden treasure of Buffalo’s music scene. Most of the accolades and critical acclaim he received before his death came from European audiences and from the likes of such folk music giants as Simon & Garfunkel and Nick Drake. He is virtually unknown in the United States, even in his hometown.

Jeremy Helton’s life-long passion for music has taken him to some interesting places while on tour in Tennessee as a roadie for punk bands, booking shows at nightclubs in Atlanta, and working for regional record labels, such as Indigo Girl Amy Ray’s Daemon Records. His love of music drew him to Buffalo, New York, where he produced Blues Run the Game. Helton has worked as a field producer for StoryCorps, a national oral history project in partnership with NPR and the Library of Congress, and he is cofounder of The Recollective, a group of independent producers sharing the stories that matter to them.



Eileen Heyes
Raleigh’s Village Idiots: Yes, And … [Audio]

The comedy improv troupe now known as Raleigh’s Village Idiots traces its roots back to 1995, when it was founded as simply the Village Idiots. The ensuing years saw cast changes, a venue change or two, a breakup and subsequent reunion, and plenty of experimentation. Along the way, the Idiots established the traditions that have become their signature: Their comedy is game- and scene-based; costumes and props are mostly imaginary; and music figures significantly in every show. The group presents two shows a month at North Raleigh Arts & Creative Theater. In return for the right to rehearse and perform at NR-ACT, troupe members teach improv classes that go a long way toward paying the theater’s bills.

Eileen Heyes, a journalist by profession, is descended from several generations of entertainers. She grew up acting in community theater, learning firsthand how a small, local stage can survive on an abundance of love and not much else. That’s why she felt captivated by Raleigh’s Village Idiots and wanted to share the story of the little comedy troupe. She plans to develop a series of documentaries on the Triangle’s vibrant small-theater community. Heyes is also the author of five children’s books. She lives in North Raleigh, not far from the home base of some real Idiots.



Kurney Ramsey Jr.
Returning [Photography]

Kurney Ramsey’s family has lived in the same area of eastern North Carolina, in a small farming community, for more than 200 years. He has photographed the home he grew up in, his grandmother’s home, and land his father and grandmother owned, along with the land he inherited from his grandfather. He has worked over the course of two years, through the light of winter, spring, summer, and fall. He believes he will continue to photograph these places for the rest of his life, revisiting the deep memories from time to time, because it is in these places he feels a connection he feels nowhere else.

Kurney Ramsey Jr. is a photographer living in Swansboro, North Carolina. He has been taking classes at the Center for Documentary Studies for the past few years and has recently been working on a documentary project about his family, the land they own, and the homes they have lived in.


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    4 Responses to “Continuing Education Spring 2011 Final Project Presentations and Graduation”

    1. […] 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 […]

    2. […] Read more about the filmmakers and their final projects. […]

    3. […] May 20, nine students graduating from the Certificate Program at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University will unveil a diverse selection of […]

    4. mbugua says:

      i hope to one day study this course.
      its very interesting.
      i have been in photojournalism field for decade now.
      mbugua /kenya

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