The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University is honored to host acclaimed filmmaker and film educator Marco Williams on the Duke and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill campuses as the 2014–15 Lehman Brady Visiting Joint Chair Professor in Documentary Studies and American Studies. CDS coordinates the cross-campus collaboration, which brings distinguished practitioners and scholars of the documentary arts to both schools to teach and participate in other events open to students and the general public. “The Lehman Brady Committee has been trying for a decade to coax Marco Williams to join us,” said committee chair Charlie Thompson, a core faculty member at CDS and Duke professor of the practice of cultural anthropology. “We are elated to have this giant of the documentary world as part of our community for the coming academic year.”
Over the course of an award-winning filmmaking career that began with the 1982 short From Harlem to Harvard and continues with his project-in-progress about black-on-black homicide, for which he received a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship, his “recurrent canvas has been the lingering residue of slavery in America—race relations,” Williams wrote in his Guggenheim artist’s statement. “To challenge the status quo, to challenge an audience’s comfort level, to interrogate and investigate our collective psyche as Americans, this has been the foundation of my artistic aspirations. . . . I try to tell the stories we’d rather not tell.” (Scroll down for a complete list of Williams’ films.)
As the Lehman Brady Professor, this fall Williams is teaching Documenting Personal Narrative, a documentary studies course open to both undergraduate and graduate students that explores the relationship between the personal and the communal through first person narrative in documentary film (watch a video that Williams made describing the course). Plans for the spring semester are in progress. “I’m looking forward to the intimacy that I think characterizes the South,” said Williams in a recent conversation. “I expect that intimate environment—where it’s a little slower paced, a little more familiar, a little more welcoming—will reinvigorate my own work. I’m also looking forward to the chance to engage students who may not be explicitly filmmakers or aspiring filmmakers, students who come from a diverse course of study. I think that’s going to be great, and challenging for me as an educator.”
Williams comes to North Carolina from New York City, where he is a professor in the Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Williams is no stranger to the state; he taught at the North Carolina School of the Arts for four years in the 1990s, and is a longtime participant at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, as filmmaker, panelist, and juror. The festival has screened many of his films over the years, including In Search of Our Fathers, Freedom Summer, The Undocumented, and several that have received prestigious Full Frame awards—Banished (Full Frame Spectrum Award, 2007) and Two Towns of Jasper (Center for Documentary Studies Filmmaker Award, 2002). (Scroll down for a list of other awards.)
“Marco’s work is unparalleled in making us look at the complexities of racial constructs in our society writ large or how those constructs are lived out in small towns like Jasper, Texas,” says Thompson. “He asks viewers not just to watch but forces us to say, What are we going to do about it? At CDS we’ve always been focused on making a difference with documentary. Marco’s every effort behind the camera is to make a difference. He will encourage us to ask ourselves what we are doing to join him; he will help us be our best selves as teachers, documentarians, and fellow human beings.”
Click here for an interview with Marco Williams conducted by Full Frame Documentary Film Festival programming coordinator Emma Miller.)
The Undocumented (2013) Immigrants who died crossing the U.S.–Mexico border in the Arizona desert. Williams produced a companion online video game “The Migrant Trail,” that introduces players to the hardships and perils of crossing the Sonoran Desert.
Inside the New Black Panthers (2008) A militant political group seeks to redefine the black struggle for equality.
Banished (2007) A century ago in communities across the U.S., white residents forced black families to flee their homes.
Freedom Summer (2006) The murder of three civil rights activists in Mississippi galvanizes the civil rights movement. Part of the History Channel series Ten Days That Unexpectedly Changed America.
I Sit Where I Want: The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education (2004) Fifty years after the historic Supreme Court ruling, fifteen students at a Buffalo, New York, high school attempt to integrate their self-segregated lunchroom.
MLK Boulevard: The Concrete Dream (2003) Do the nearly seven hundred streets in the U.S. named in honor of Dr. King recognize an African American icon or commemorate an America hero?
Two Towns of Jasper (2002) The aftermath of the 1998 murder of James Byrd, Jr., who was chained to a pick-up truck and dragged to death by three white men in Jasper, Texas.
Making Peace: Rebuilding our Communities (1995) Part of a PBS series documenting grassroots efforts to curb violence.
The Pursuit of Happiness: With Arianna Huffington (1994) Part of Declarations, an ITVS series on the Declaration of Independence, in which Huffington espouses charity and giving as the keys to happiness.
Without a Pass (1992) A man comes to terms with his choices twenty-five years after incidents during the Watts riots in 1965 caused him to leave the country and break ties with his best friend.
In Search of Our Fathers (1991) A first-person story of Williams’ seven-year search to learn about his father and to come to terms with what it means to grow up fatherless.
From Harlem to Harvard (1982) Issues of race and class on the Harvard campus through the experiences of a freshman student.
Awards: George Foster Peabody Award, Emmy Award, Knight Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Features, Beacon Award, Alfred I duPont Silver Baton, Full Frame Spectrum Award, Center for Documentary Studies Filmmaker Award, Pan African Film Festival Outstanding Documentary Award, Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival Silver Award for Best International Documentary, Independent Feature Project Third Annual Anthony Radziwill Documentary Achievement Award, and National Association of Black Journalists First Place Salute to Excellence Award.
One of Wiley’s one-man plays, Dar He: The Story of Emmett Till, is about the black Chicago teenager who was murdered in Mississippi in 1955. Biewen tagged along as Wiley performed that play in Florida, not far from where Trayvon Martin lived and died almost a half-century later. Listen to “Emmett and Trayvon” on Public Radio Exchange (PRX):
Mike Wiley was a Lehman Brady Visiting Joint Chair Professor in Documentary Studies and American Studies in Spring 2014, and taught the undergraduate course Acting Out Black History. The Center for Documentary Studies coordinates the program, which brings distinguished practitioners and scholars of the documentary arts to Duke University and UNC–Chapel Hill.
The Center for Documentary Studies is pleased to host the traveling exhibition Hard Art, DC 1979, featuring Lucian Perkins’ photographs of a soon-to-erupt hardcore punk scene in the nation’s capital on the eve of the Reagan presidency, an enormously influential artistic and cultural movement inspired by then unknown bands like Bad Brains, the Teen Idles, and the Slickee Boys. Perkins, a two-time Pulitzer Prizewinning photojournalist (1995 and 2000), was a 26-year-old intern at the Washington Post when he shot the images featured in the exhibit—and book of the same name—at four shows in the fall and winter of 1979–1980: at Hard Art Gallery, Madams Organ Artist’s Cooperative, and the Valley Green public-housing complex. The Valley Green show was conceived of by Bad Brains frontman H.R. as a Rock Against Racism action, a movement born in the U.K. that aimed to promote greater racial harmony through music.
Hard Art, DC 1979
June 2–October 11, 2014
Juanita Kreps Gallery, Center for Documentary Studies
1317 W. Pettigrew St., Durham, North Carolina
The negatives languished in storage until 1995, when Perkins hired photographer/photo archivist Lely Constantinople to organize several decades of his work. Going through what Constantinople describes as “an ocean of negatives, prints, contact sheets, all jumbled into a mass in his basement,” she came across negatives from the punk shows, in which she recognized her boyfriend (now husband), Alec MacKaye, who was a fourteen-year-old hardcore fan when the images were shot. His older brother Ian, later of Minor Threat and Fugazi fame, was there too, with his band, the Teen Idles. The MacKaye brothers were ecstatic over this historical record of “a seminal moment in music history,” as the time was described in a 2013 New York Times story. With Perkins’ blessing, Constantinople retained the images with the idea that they might be published or exhibited at some point. Hard Art, DC 1979 was published in 2013 (Akashic Books) and includes a narrative by Alec MacKaye and an essay from D.C. kid turned punk legend Henry Rollins. The accompanying exhibit was curated and edited by Constantinople and Jayme McLellan, director of Civilian Art Projects gallery.
“One of the things I still get chills about with these photographs is their raw power, their non-agenda openness,” says Constantinople. “It feels like you’ve been dropped into a time, a place, a moment. You’re not looking at there, you are there—with it and of it.
Enjoy these videos describing three Fall 2014 undergraduate courses at the Center for Documentary Studies, two of them brand-new. Taught by MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts director Tom Rankin, MFA | EDA graduate and documentary artist Eric Barstow, and acclaimed filmmaker Marco Williams, the 2014-15 Lehman Brady Visiting Professor, the classes highlight a diverse range of documentary inquiry. Read descriptions of the courses and watch preview videos below. Learn more about undergraduate education at CDS here.
DOCST 290S.01/790S.01 Documenting Personal Narrative
Instructor: Marco Williams
T 3:05 p.m.—5:35 p.m. (CDS, Bridges 113)
This new class explores the relationship between the personal and the communal through first person narrative in documentary film. Students will review and analyze the use of first person narrative in other media and genres, including literature, painting, photography, and theater. Knowledge gained through this analysis will serve as the basis of a personal video essay students produce throughout the course. In these projects, students will call upon subject matter that has a core basis in their lives (family history, social identity and positionality, political beliefs, etc.) and apply an internal and external reflexive analysis, producing a documentary video that links the personal to the communal by both presenting and questioning personal perspective. Crew collaboration, production exercises, tech seminars, lectures, screenings, and writing workshops will take place on a weekly basis. This special topics course is taught by visiting NYU professor and documentary filmmaker Marco Williams.
DOCST 290S.02/790S.02 Music and Documentary Expression
T 12 p.m.– 2:30 p.m. (CDS, Bridges 113)
A new field-based course exploring the practice, culture, politics, and place of music in everyday life. Emphasis on interdisciplinary works about music and documentary, all intended to contribute to original documentary expression in a range of chosen mediums—photography, video, audio, and writing. Also covers the role that various fieldwork and documentary styles play in the representation of musicians and music communities. Cross-list: MUSIC 290S
DOCST 460S/760S Multimedia Documentary
Th 3:05 p.m.–5:35 p.m. (CDS, Bridges 104)
Edit and shape fieldwork material into a Web-based multimedia presentation. Learn current technologies and techniques for multimedia publications. Examine unique storytelling strategies for on-line presentations and compare this medium to traditional venues for documentary work such as exhibitions, books, and broadcast. Cross list: ARTSVIS 460S, I&E 460S, VMS 460S
This course, which is also taught regularly by Elena Rue and Christopher Sims, is now cross-listed as I&E 460S beginning this semester and is a gateway course for Duke’s new undergraduate Innovation & Entrepreneurship Certificate.
At the Center for Documentary Studies‘ twelfth annual introductory audio institute, Hearing is Believing, offered each summer through our Continuing Education program, eighteen students came from around the world to learn the art of audio storytelling. Under the tutelage of CDS audio program director John Biewen and visiting instructor Shea Shackelford, with guest lecturers Lulu Miller of NPR and John Barth of PRX, they spent seven full days learning how to record, log, structure, and edit radio pieces. They interviewed community activists, entrepreneurs, and other residents of the East Durham and Cleveland-Holloway neighborhoods—historic and rapidly-changing parts of Durham, North Carolina—then condensed the interviews into five-minute narratives using audio editing software. The short docs were played at a public listening event in July. Listen to eight of the audio stories below.
NOTE: The videos by students in our 2014 Documentary Video Institute also focused on the East Durham and Cleveland Holloway neighborhoods.
JC’s Kitchen | David Fraccaro and Jean Kratzer
Phyllis Terry runs JC’s Kitchen with her husband Thomas, serving traditional Southern fare that “feeds the soul.”
Keep The People’s Cameras Rolling | Ed Cottingham and Emily Vaughn
W. Axel Foley, head of The People’s Channel and Durham Community Media, describes his vision for community-access cable in the internet age.
Living in the Tension | Wren Awry and Leah Peachtree
Cate Elander of the East Durham Children’s Initiative acknowledges the tension inherent in working for a community-strengthening nonprofit while also inescapably contributing to gentrification.
The Louder We Are | Brent Bjorkman and Jonathan Young
Community activists Veronica and Clarence Terry, founders of Old East Durham Communities in Partnership, and their son Mark discuss their efforts to bring their neighborhood together.
More Than Just a Recipe | Nell Burrus and Susanne Unger
After one of his favorite lunch spots closed, serial entrepreneur Walter Sneed applied his can-do philosophy and opened his own restaurant on the premises, Tater Bread Cafe.
Ms. Bell | Margot Considine and Nadia Ramlagan
A freelance seamstress and well-known figure in her neighborhood, Estella Bell discovered fulfillment when she turned her talent for sewing into a career.
Southern Librarian | Random Gott and Marc Menish
Kenneth E. Hanna, a quiet, reserved librarian originally from South Carolina, has lived in the same Cleveland-Holloway home for forty-six years.
The Wanona Satcher Story | Jean Donnell and Ashley Satorius
Durham Neighborhood Development Specialist Wanona Satcher recounts some of the experiences that helped set her on a black activist trajectory.
2014 marked the eleventh year of the CDS Documentary Video Institute, offered each summer through the Continuing Education program at the Center for Documentary Studies. In response to strong demand it drew twenty-eight students—up from the usual twenty-four—for an intense week of “boot camp”–style doc training. In one week, they went from setting up interviews to showing their work at a public screening. (Scroll down to view the videos.) Along the way, they learned all aspects of documentary filmmaking, from location scouting and interview techniques to shooting, lighting, miking, and editing. The topics were prearranged, and center around a theme; this year, as part of CDS’s renewed commitment to engaging the Durham community, the projects were all connected to the East Durham and Cleveland-Holloway neighborhoods. The students created fifteen short docs on some of the people, places, and institutions that make up the fabric of life in these historic and rapidly-changing parts of town.
And, hear the audio pieces from the 2014 Hearing Is Believing audio documentary institute, also focused on the East Durham and Cleveland Holloway neighborhoods.
Russell Barfield and Valica Boudry | The Bells
N.R. and Mabel Bell are a retired couple in their eighties who’ve seen the city undergo many changes from the vantage point of their front porch.
Jill Hendra and Loree Long | Brewing Community
Rick Tufts, head brewer and co-owner of Triangle Brewing Company, took a chance and fulfilled his longtime dream of opening a craft brewery.
Jay Summach and Alan Young | Bryson Rogers: A Perfect Frame
The accomplished yet humble pro shop manager at the Village Lanes bowling alley talks about his love of the sport and the family feel at his workplace.
Sean Graham and Ernest Smith | “Church of God United Nations”
Zimbabwe-born Reverend Johannes Gumbo ministers at Shepherd House, an East Durham church that’s heavily invested in the surrounding neighborhood, hosting a multitude of community-focused programs.
Uma Akkineni and Joy Piazza | Cleveland-Holloway: Neighborhood in Transition
Neighborhood association leader Natalie Spring comments on the stark—and accelerating—changes she’s seen in her 12 years in Cleveland-Holloway.
Beth Browne and Bradley Wilder | Cocoa Cinnamon
Installation artist David Solow designed an exquisite interior, full of historical and poetic references and surprising colors and textures, for a beloved local coffee shop.
Marc Menish and Erika Smith | deb.
A gay biracial woman feels at home in her East Durham neighborhood. She recounts an eventful childhood and describes her multifarious interests as she painstakingly renovates her 1918 house.
Victor Bynum and Kris Dyson | Driving Lessons
Two young African-American men talk about their experience of being stopped and searched by the police. Expert testimony attests to the racial disparities in this type of profiling.
Christina Verano Carter and Bill Pope | Frank & Dolly
Frank & Dolly Pokrass reflect on their 24 years running the Blooming Garden Inn, an antique-studded, garden-encircled, opulent yet homey bed & breakfast in the Cleveland-Holloway neighborhood.
Christina Holder | From Within
Ernest and Camryn Smith run Neighborhood Allies, a consultancy that helps organizations working in East Durham value the voices of the people who live there.
Ed Cottingham and Michelle Keeton | El Maestro
Eduardo Perez, a family facilitator at Eastway Elementary School, works tirelessly to help immigrant families adjust to their new lives in Durham.
Kent Corley and Owen Riley Jr. | More Than a Haircut
Samuel Jenkins, proprietor of Samuel & Sons Barber Shop, holds court in his one-man shop, sharing warmth and wisdom with each haircut.
Eric Gordon | That Really Cool Car Place Over on East Pettigrew Street
A brother and sister from England continued in their father’s trade by opening Flying Circus English Cars, a unique repair shop situated near the Durham freeway.
Kailey Barfield and Mazi Lombard | Undefeated Gardener
An independent-minded young man from East Durham, Ralph McCombs is one of the most dedicated members of the Angier community garden.
Marla Frederick and Cynthia McCoy Romano | The Voice
The Durham Voice, a student-run newspaper forged in a partnership between NC Central and UNC-Chapel Hill, gives a positive voice to the residents of Northeast Central Durham.
Submissions for the seventh CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography competition will be accepted through September 15, 2014. The prestigious biennial prize is awarded by the Center for Documentary Studies and the Honickman Foundation. Sandra S. Phillips, senior curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, is this year’s prize judge; Joshua Chuang, chief curator of the Center for Creative Photography, is selection panel judge.
For more information on the CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography, including application instructions and galleries of past winners: firstbookprizephoto.com. Delve more deeply into news about the prize and the photography world in general on the new First Book Prize blog.
The competition is open to North American photographers who have never had a book-length publication, and honors work that is visually compelling, that bears witness, and that has integrity of purpose. Winners receive a grant of $3,000, publication of a book of photography, inclusion in an online exhibition of prizewinners, and a solo exhibition; photographs are then placed in the Archive of Documentary Arts in Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Library. “A photographer’s first book is an amazingly potent object,” says Phillips. “Picture books, books of photographs, are not being lost to the digital revolution; if anything they have become only more meaningful, more treasured.”
The Center for Documentary Studies is currently seeking federally eligible work-study students for part-time administrative assistant positions for the Fall 2014 semester. Our administrative assistants are the first point-of-contact at CDS, and require strong interpersonal skills and knowledge about the classes, programs, and exhibits on offer at the facility. Persons in this position must be willing and able to facilitate communication between different branches of CDS and to open and/or close the Center depending upon our needs and schedule. Weekly hours will vary depending upon the availability of the applicant and the needs of CDS.
Interested applicants should contact Operations Coordinator Michael Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to apply and additional details about the position, including possible schedule and rate of pay.
Please note that we are only able to consider Duke federal work-study students for this position; both undergraduate and graduate students may apply.
On August 15, the hit summer series Audio Under the Stars, a Durham Third Friday event hosted by SPECTRE Arts and the Center for Documentary Studies, wraps up with “Feast or Famine”—stories of abundance and need curated by CDS audiophiles that “delve into obsessions and desires and explore what lies between necessity and excess.”
“Feast or Famine”
Friday, August 15, 8–10 p.m.
SPECTRE Arts, 1004 Morning Glory Ave., Durham, North Carolina
Read a Durham Herald-Sun story about Audio Under the Stars.
Dang Good Dogs will be selling hot dogs, veggie dogs, and other snacks, with beer and wine for sale inside. Blankets are available or BYO lawn chair.
This summer, nine producers from across the country came to the Center for Documentary Studies for the Making It Sing Audio Institute, an intensive annual weeklong course offered through our Continuing Education program. Open to audio producers of all levels of experience, from beginners to accomplished industry professionals, the workshop helps them boil down their raw tape into carefully constructed short narrative pieces. CDS audio program director John Biewen and visiting instructor Shea Shackelford were joined by veteran editor/producer Loretta Williams to guide small-group workshopping sessions. The resulting pieces were played at a listening session on the institute’s last day. Listen to six of the audio stories below.
Country Life | Nina Feldman
Dot’s Own Thing | Hans Anderson
Happy Place | Marie Lovejoy
Hundred Waters | Luisa Beck
James River and the Kanawha Canal | Peter Solomon
Slow Down, Mr. Werner! | Karen Werner