People of all ages and backgrounds enroll in the Continuing Education program at the Center for Documentary Studies. Some choose to pursue a Certificate in Documentary Arts, which culminates in a substantial documentary project completed in the Final Seminar in Documentary Studies—photography, film and video, audio, multimedia, and writing works.
Certificate in Documentary Arts Project Presentations
Thursday, December 12, 7 p.m.
Full Frame Theater, Power Plant building
American Tobacco Campus
320 Blackwell St., Durham, North Carolina
Six students in the Fall 2013 seminar, taught by filmmaker and longtime CDS instructor Randolph Benson, will present their final projects to the public and receive their Certificates in Documentary Arts during an event at the new Full Frame Theater; a reception will follow. The students and their projects are described below.
Jim Adams | Gaining Balance | Audio
Jim Adams’ audio project was born out of his struggle to make sense of a deep personal loss. The piece was created from interviews with his brother, father, and his own audio journals.
Adams grew up in a small town in Indiana, and studied at the University of Indianapolis and Purdue University. He moved to North Carolina in 1986 and worked as an architectural illustrator before studying art and blacksmithing at the John C. Campbell Folk School and Penland School of Crafts. Since 1999 he has worked as a painter and sculptor.
Carol Edmonds | Meet the People | Video
Carol Edmonds traveled from Asheville to Morehead City interviewing folks who are trying to get the medical attention they need. Her documentary is about some of the 560,000 qualified North Carolinians who have been denied Medicaid benefits by the North Carolina General Assembly.
Edmonds grew up in rural Guilford County, North Carolina. After retiring from a career as a computer systems analyst, she got involved in photography and then videography when she began taking classes at CDS.
Chip Howell | Southern Psychic | Video
Whether they are prognosticators or con artists, psychics answer a powerful human need to know what’s ahead and beyond. In the U.S., there are estimated to be almost eighty thousand practitioners in the psychic-services industry, and some fifty-two million Americans have sought their services. Approximately 27 percent of psychics practice in the Southeast. Southern Psychic is about the psychic industry in our community and an up-close exposé of one psychic who believes her work improves people’s lives.
Chip Howell began working in video while still in high school, work he continued as an undergraduate at East Carolina University. He is currently an independent producer of short corporate videos for use on the Internet.
Theo Martins | One Day, Never Mind | Video
Martins’ documentary captures one day in the life of the rock band Nirvana, October 4, 1991, when they performed at Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in one of their last moments as a band unknown to the mainstream. At the time, Nirvana barely registered on the rock scene, but they had just released the now-legendary album Nevermind.
Theo Martins is a Brazilian photographer whose work has been published in several Brazilian news outlets, including Caros Amigos, Educação, Você S/A, and Opera Mundi. He worked as an audiovisual supervisor at MZ Group, a multinational corporation based in São Paulo, for five years. Martins’s photographs can be seen online at www.theomartinsphotography.com.
Martha Moore | The Honorable Ellie Kinnaird | Video
This biopic follows Ellie Kinnaird’s remarkable journey from life as a 1950s suburban housewife and mother to her role as a nationally known progressive political voice in the South. Empowered in the 1970s by the women’s liberation movement, she became a prominent attorney and a courageous advocate for the environment, education, social justice, and campaign finance reform, serving four terms as mayor of Carrboro and eight terms as a North Carolina State Senator. Moore’s documentary follows her in what would become her final, tumultuous year in public office.
After a two-decade career as a media producer in Nashville, Tennessee, family ties brought Martha Moore back to her native North Carolina to pursue professional development at CDS. Moore relishes harnessing the power of media to uplift, inspire, and cultivate progressive change.
Bill Wagner | After Grandma Died | Video
Until he was a teenager, Bill Wagner had a great relationship with his mother’s parents. What he didn’t know was that his mother and grandmother had a long history of discord. When his mother turned forty she stopped seeing her parents entirely, which meant that Wagner stopped seeing them as well. His film explores the reasons for the family rift, documenting the personal discoveries he made and the secrets he unearthed along the way.
Wagner grew up in upstate New York and has lived in North Carolina for most of the last twenty-three years. He earned a graduate degree in nurse anesthesia in 1995. Wagner’s passion for documentary work led him to study at CDS, where he has been a certificate student for nine years.
Duke’s first MFA program—in Experimental and Documentary Arts—invites the public to screenings of the documentary works-in-progress of the fifteen students from the class of 2015. The students are all enrolled in the first year Documentary Fieldwork seminar taught by Alex Harris. Five students will present their work on Tuesday, December 10, and nine students will present on Wednesday, December 11; see schedules below. Guests are welcome at any time during the events.
Tuesday, December 10, 6–9 p.m.
MFA Carpentry Shop, 2nd Level
1509 Campus Drive, Durham, North Carolina
TUE 6:15–6:45 p.m.: “Destini’s Story,” Nicholas Pilarski
TUE 6:45–7:15 p.m.: “Untitled: Muezzins of Cairo” and “Bestiary in Motion,” Anna Kipervaser
TUE 7:15–7:45 p.m.: “Grace Happens: The New South of the Research Triangle,” Aaron Canipe
BREAK: 7:45–8 p.m.
TUE 8–8:30 p.m.: “23 words, A beginning; an attempt to understand why words last,” Libi Striegl
TUE 8:30–9 p.m. : “Findings” and “At the Pig,” Brooke Darrah Shuman
Wednesday, December 11, 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
MFA Carpentry Shop, 2nd Level
1509 Campus Drive, Durham, North Carolina
WED 9:30–10 a.m.: “Evelyn & Byron,” Ava Lowrey
WED 10–10:30 a.m.: “Leaf Diversity – Exploring the Elements of Botanical Anatomy,” Matthew Cicanese
WED 10:30–11 a.m.: “Look Twice,” Haodong Li
BREAK: 11–11:15 a.m.
WED 11:15–11:45 a.m.: “Queer Home Stories,” Mendal Polish
WED 11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.: “She Would Talk to Strangers,” Windrose Stanback
LUNCH BREAK: 12:15–1:45 p.m.
WED 1:45–2:15 p.m.: “Human Empathy Lab: An Essay Film,” Aaron Kutnick
WED 2:15–2:45 p.m.: “A Yes in Your Spirit,” Tracy Fish
WED 3–3:30 p.m.: “Leaning Upwards,” Grant Yarolin
WED 3:30–4 p.m.: “Channeling: Mapping the River’s Path,” Alina Taalman
The MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts at Duke University was founded by three units at Duke University: the Center for Documentary Studies, the Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies, and the Program in Arts of the Moving Image. Successful completion of the unique two-year program requires the development of a complex understanding of documentary practices and traditions as well as creative skills in experimental media and new technologies.
The application period is now open for fall 2014 admission. Application and portfolio information can be found here. The application deadline is January 31, 2014.
The Center for Documentary Studies offers Continuing Education classes year-round—in photography, film/video, audio, narrative writing, and other creative media—for adults who are interested in learning or continuing to do their own documentary work. Registration is now open for spring 2014 classes and workshops and summer institutes, with a host of established, new, and online classes on offer, including our new one-week Photography Institute, Strategies for First-Person Audio Storytelling, The Home Movie Movie, Master Class in Nonfiction Writing, Acting Out Black History, and Finding Funding, among many others.
“Connecting Duke, Durham, and the Americas.” That’s the motto of Two-Way Bridges | Puentes de Doble Vía, a project that aims to expand on and create new links between the Duke University and Durham Latino communities, changing and enriching both in the process. The idea is that collaborative art and bidirectional learning can help shed light on the issues surrounding immigration, immigration policy, border crossing, and the integration of new immigrants into local and national communities. A new multimedia exhibit showcases some of the collaborative work undertaken as part of the project.
Two-Way Bridges exhibit opening
Thursday, December 5, 6 p.m.
Fredric Jameson Gallery, Friedl Building
Duke University East Campus
1316 Campus Dr., Durham, North Carolina
The Two-Way Bridges | Puentes de Doble Vía project is funded by a Duke Humanities Writ Large grant and includes three participating classes, culture-language-media workshops, a group documentary by artists from the Latino community, and partnerships between Duke students and local high school and community college students, with final outcomes that include murals, paintings, video, photography, and other collaborative work.
Participating Duke partners include the Center for Documentary Studies, the Spanish Language Program, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the Program in Latino/a Studies in the Global South, and DukeEngage on the Border/Encuentros de la Frontera.
Notable recent news by Center for Documentary Studies faculty and staff includes:
Dress Rehearsal, a solo exhibit of photographs by undergrad instructor Christopher Sims, opened at the Sumter County Gallery of Art in South Carolina. The show, which will be up through January 3, features images from Theater of War: The Pretend Villages of Iraq and Afghanistan, Sims’s series on the elaborately mocked-up villages in the U.S. where troops train prior to overseas deployment, as well as Hearts and Minds, his series on the Virtual Army Experience, a traveling road show/recruiting event of the U.S. Army. (Work from Theater of War is also included in a group show that has been traveling in the UK, Bringing the War Home.)
Writer-in-residence Duncan Murrell has a feature story about a North Carolina family’s struggles to avoid deportation in the December issue of Harper’s Magazine. Subscribers and university affiliates can read “Jump Juan Crow”free online; non-subscribers/affiliates can purchase a copy of the magazine on newsstands or read for a fee on Harper’s new iOS app. Read Murrell’s essay-length companion post, “How Maradona Explains the Word,” on the Harper’s blog.
Digital arts and publishing intern Tory Jeffay scored an interview with David Dufresne, creator of the groundbreaking new documentary game Fort McMoney. The game, co-produced by the National Film Board of Canada, is a combination documentary and video game set in the real-life oil-boom town of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada. Fort McMoney’s online launch was November 25, when it also premiered at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.
Next up in the Fresh Docs film series is the Durham premiere of One Band Indivisible, about the famous marching band at Hillside, a historically African-American high school in Durham, North Carolina. Rhonda Klevansky’s film follows the musical paths of four Hillside students through hot summer band camps, early morning practices, auditions, half-time performances, and street parades—and the heroic fundraising efforts of the parents to keep the band alive. Klevansky and members of the Hillside Marching Hornets will participate in a Q & A following the screening. Tickets to the two free screenings are “sold out,” but add your name to the waitlists here. Another screening may be added.
Saturday, November 30, 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Full Frame Theater, Power Plant Building, American Tobacco Campus
320 Blackwell St., Durham, North Carolina
The One Band Indivisible project included a semester-long independent studies documentary film course at Hillside High School. Classes took place every day at the school and the students edited on weekends at the Center for Documentary Studies. Each student made a short film about someone currently or previously in the marching band, and some of this footage was used in the full-length documentary.
Rhonda Klevansky is a photographer, writer, and filmmaker originally from Durban, South Africa. She has worked on documentary films for various broadcasters including the British Broadcasting Corporation, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, Television New Zealand, and the Discovery Channel. She is the director of Ibis Eye Images LLC, in Durham, North Carolina.
Fresh Docs is an annual monthly showcase for documentary works-in-progress and recently completed films, co-presented by the Center for Documentary Studies and the Southern Documentary Fund. Screenings are followed by a discussion with the filmmaker, with audience feedback encouraged for works-in-progress and a focus on the making of the film for completed works.
The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is accepting applications for spring internships (college credit available) in two departments in anticipation of the upcoming festival, April 3–6, 2014, in Durham, North Carolina. Programming interns will become familiar with the submission and selection processes, obtaining an overall view of how festival content is determined and exhibited. Applicants should have an interest in film and documentary work. Production interns will become familiar with the behind-the-scenes aspect of the festival, obtaining an overall view of festival logistics, hospitality needs, and landscape preparation. Applicants should have an interest in event planning and setup. Note: Both of the internships are unpaid. Applications must be received by Friday, December 6, 2013. Interviews will tentatively take place December 10–13. For more information on the positions and how to apply, click here. Interns in both departments will work ten to twenty hours a week from January through the end of April, with fewer hours at the beginning and more each week as the festival approaches. During the festival, interns work at least sixteen to twenty hours. Interns will receive a Volunteer Pass to the festival, allowing them to attend films and other events when they are not required to work.
The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is a program of the Center for Documentary Studies.
“Sometimes in the stillness, is when God speaks to us.” —Pastor Lonnie Dubois, Apostolic Deliverance Rebirth Outreach Ministries
Center for Documentary Studies digital arts and publishing intern Tory Jeffay created a video about Be Still: A Storefront Church in Durham, an exhibit by MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts candidate Kristin Bedford. Scroll down to watch.
Be Still features Bedford’s images of Apostolic Deliverance Rebirth Outreach Ministries in Durham, North Carolina, taken over a ten-month period. The video features photographs from the exhibit, as well as interviews with Bedford; the church’s pastor, Lonnie Dubois; and Alex Harris, Bedford’s adviser in the MFA|EDA program. Be Still is on view through December 13 on the second floor of Duke University’s Allen Building, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.–7 p.m. Read more about the exhibit here.
A much-anticipated interactive documentary game about the Canadian oil industry will launch on November 25. Coproduced by the National Film Board of Canada and Toxa, a Montreal-based media company, Fort McMoney will give players the power to decide the (virtual) future of Fort McMurray, a real oil-boom town in Alberta, Canada at the heart of the world’s energy future. Researched over the course of two years and shot over two months, Fort McMoney is the hybrid documentary/video game creation of David Dufresne, a French journalist based in Montreal, whose first interactive documentary, Prison Valley, garnered a host of international awards.
To learn more about this groundbreaking work, CDS digital arts and publishing intern Tory Jeffay interviewed Dufresne over email about interactivity in documentary, the mechanics of game play, and the project’s evolution. Read the interview below, and view the trailer and sign up to play Fort McMoney here.
Your background is in journalism–what led you to make interactive documentaries?
When I really think about it, journalism was primarily a way for me to recount reality. But not the only way. I started out publishing rock fanzines when I was fourteen. Punk culture—from Dada to the Situationists—guided my whole life. Wanting to break all the rules, see what was happening elsewhere, blaze trails. That doesn’t mean you forgo the basics of journalism: investigation (two years for Fort McMoney) is vital. It’s my foundation. And it is precisely that solid base, those two months of shoots and dozens of interviews that allow the narrative to take flight and make the shift to interactive documentary possible. Even in my latest book, which investigates the topic of anti-terrorist police in France, I tried to tap into different forms: non-fiction, gonzo journalism, investigation, and web-style fragmented writing. I’m totally convinced that the web can regenerate the documentary genre. As for video game writing, what has contributed to narration more than it has in the past twenty years?
Why address this topic in the form of a game? Was it always planned that way?
Capitalism itself is a game. Cruel, terrible, fascinating—terribly human. You might even say that the city of Fort McMurray is as virtual as it is real because it’s so excessive.
Basically, in instances where my previous web documentary, Prison Valley, borrowed certain elements of its grammar from video games in 2010, Fort McMoney appropriates them. Prison Valley is a web documentary with playful allusions; Fort McMoney is a true documentary game.
The entire Fort McMoney project was driven from the start by the idea of combining documentary film and video games, auteur perspective and spectator freedom. That was really both my goal and what I wanted to do. Several factors pushed me in that direction: the desire to innovate, explore new forms of narration, and involve the public. The world’s future is being shaped by energy issues. Gaming is a lever for raising awareness.
How does the interaction work—how frequent is it; how varied are the outcomes; can a player “win” the game?
Fort McMoney is a kind of platform for direct democracy. That will be the winner, if there is one: the confrontation of ideas. Fort McMoney lets you take control of the world’s largest energy project and collectively make your worldview triumph. It is at once a simulation game, an economic game, and a management game. And it’s a documentary in real time, with its characters, emotions, tensions, smiles, and suffering. Your adventure will take you to where the road ends and the battle begins. You’ll be plunged into the black gold rush. You’ll explore the city, interact with its residents (both rich and poor), address questions to oil industry bosses and environmental activists, and make the appropriate decisions. By accumulating prestige points, you’ll have an impact on the city via voting in surveys (three per week) and a weekly referendum. Each game segment will last one month.
What is the goal of the project—is there a desired outcome?
The same as for all documentaries, I suppose: calling up emotions, stimulating thought, sparking debate. But not just that. All my work is innovation-driven: opening narrative channels, sharing the story with the person watching it. Don’t take viewers by the hand anymore. Instead, give them your hand. I am totally convinced that the very notion of “auteur” is changing. Navigation, design, and databases are the equivalent of film editing. It’s a fascinating turning point. But make no mistake: That doesn’t mean that linear documentary is dead. Far from it. It’s simply no longer alone.
In what areas do you foresee interactivity expanding or developing in the field of documentary or journalism?
That’s a hard question to answer! I think the shift that began a few years ago with interactivity is similar to documentary Research and Development. It’s like being in a laboratory; we’re open to everyone. What results isn’t necessarily relevant. Not everything deserves to be “interactive.” The form should always serve the purpose. In other words, it’s always the narrative that determines the rules. But the rules change. And the rules here are web tools. And one thing is certain: a powerful wind is blowing. A perfect storm is brewing.