The quarterly publication Document features some of the best documentary work supported and produced by the Center for Documentary Studies. The current issue is now available online; scroll down to view. Highlights in the Spring 2015 issue include work from the BINNEGOED: Coloured and South African Photography exhibit curated by CDS exhibitions intern Candice Jansen, 2015 CDS-Honickman First Book Prize and Full Frame Documentary Film Festival winners, a roundup of Certificate in Documentary Arts graduate projects, and more.
To browse past issues, click here.
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Join the Buddhist community at Duke University and the San Francisco Zen Center for a special one-night-only screening of the new feature-length documentary States of Grace. Winner of audience awards at multiple festivals, critic Michael Fox calls States of Grace “a poignant, universal saga that achieves a relevance and a power that reaches well beyond its subjects.”
Friday, May 22, 7:30 pm
Griffith Film Theater, Bryan Center
Duke University West Campus
125 Science Dr., Durham, North Carolina
States of Grace intimately captures the profound transformation of a revered physician and her family in the wake of a life-changing accident. For Dr. Grace Dammann, a pioneering AIDS specialist who was honored for her work by the Dalai Lama, a routine commute across the Golden Gate Bridge turned tragic when another driver crashed head on into her car. After seven weeks in a coma and a dozen surgeries, Grace miraculously awakened with her cognitive abilities intact, though her body was left shattered and severely disabled. States of Grace follows her return home to the Buddhist community where she lives with her partner Nancy “Fu” Schroeder and their daughter Sabrina. Watch the trailer & purchase tickets here.
The Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University is accepting applications for two paid nine-month internship positions that will begin in September 2015 and end in May 2016, based at CDS in Durham, North Carolina. The interns will gain broad experience in the documentary field, with particular focus on exhibitions and digital arts and publishing.
The boy in this narrative is becoming a man in a time of enormous change, and his point of view is like a razor cutting through a callous. Painful and healing. Forthright and enormously engaging. This is a book to collect and share and treasure. —Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina
The Center for Documentary Studies is pleased to host writer Jim Grimsley for a conversation about his acclaimed new memoir, which former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey describes as “a powerful meditation on race.” CDS director and civil rights scholar Wesley Hogan and CDS scholar and writer Tim Tyson (Blood Done Sign My Name; Radio Free Dixie) will join Grimsley for a discussion around How I Shed My Skin: Unlearning the Lessons of a Racist Childhood (Algonquin Books), in which Grimsley looks back at his school and his small North Carolina hometown in 1966, when federally mandated integration of schools went into effect in the state. The conversation will be preceded by a reception and brief reading and followed by a book signing.
Thursday, May 21; reception at 6 p.m., conversation at 7 p.m.
Center for Documentary Studies
1317 W. Pettigrew St., Durham, North Carolina
Jim Grimsley is the author of four previous novels, among them Winter Birds, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award; Dream Boy, winner of the GLBTF Book Award for literature; My Drowning, a Lila-Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writer’s Award winner; and Comfort and Joy. He lives in Atlanta and teaches at Emory University.
The Center for Documentary Studies and the Southern Documentary Fund are pleased to present a free screening of directors Gerret Warner and Mimi Gredy’s Truth Underground, which follows “three young North Carolina spoken word poets transforming pain into art as they search for what Maya Angelou called ‘a brave and startling truth.'” The film is presented as part of the Fresh Docs series featuring documentary works-in-progress; following the screenings, SDF director Rachel Raney moderates a conversation with the filmmaker(s) during which the audience provides valuable feedback.
Friday, May 29, 7 p.m.
Full Frame Theater, American Tobacco Campus
320 Blackwell Street, Durham, North Carolina
Note that while Fresh Docs screenings are free, all attendees must reserve a ticket via Eventbrite, available beginning at 9 a.m. on the day of the event. Bookmark this page and check back for a link.
Warner and Gredy describe their feature documentary: “In North Carolina’s close-knit community of spoken word poetry, three young people answer the call. A high school student finds her voice and begins to deal with a painful past through a program at Durham’s Northern High School. Haunted by what he knows about war and the suicide of a friend, a Marine veteran takes his country to task and calls for veteran support. The murder of a fellow poet inspires a young black activist to commit to a life devoted to the power of the word. Our feature documentary Truth Underground tells their stories. . . . The nineteenth-century poet John Keats said, ‘Truth is beauty.’ And beauty is harsh.”
Gerret Warner and Mimi Gredy are partners at Warner & Company, an award-winning production company that has specialized in education, culture, and the arts for thirty years.
This summer the Center for Documentary Studies will offer its twelfth annual Documentary Video Institute, our one-week video boot camp that has turned out over two hundred full-fledged documentarians. From June 6 through June 13, with expert guidance from multiple instructors, students will learn all aspects of video production: pre-production and scouting locations, camera operation, lighting and sound, editing and post-production, and finally, screening in front of a live audience.
Hours for the institute are:
Saturday, June 6: 1 p.m.–9 p.m.
Sunday–Friday, June 7–12: 9 a.m.–9 p.m.
Saturday, June 13: 10 a.m.–3 p.m. (the institute concludes with a public presentation of student work)
Lead instructor/filmmaker Randolph Benson has been a Documentary Video Institute instructor from the beginning. “The goal was for students to be able to come in and make a film, but then leave knowing how to make their own film,” he says. “So it was important to have all those elements crammed into a week. Some institute students have gone on to graduate programs in film, others have made films that have screened at film festivals around the world. “But mostly people use this as a stepping stone to self-expression,” says Benson.
We think you’ll enjoy Rank Stranger, “a blog about memory and place, art, and documentary expression,” says its creator, Tom Rankin. You’d be hard pressed to find a better person than Rankin to launch such a site—documentary photographer, writer, and folklorist of note, director of Duke University’s MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts, former director of the Center for Documentary Studies. With assistance from Grant Yarolin (MFA|EDA ’15), Rankin plans to update the blog weekly. “Some posts may be long and relatively substantive, others less so,” he says. “Some will consist of completely original material (my images, writing, recordings); other times I may be pointing to the work of others, with a little framing and commentary. Some posts will be in first-person; others may be interviews or things I’m writing for another purpose. Why do this? As a way, I think, of sharing bit and pieces of ideas as well as things more wholly formed. It’s all a little bit of an experiment.”
Enjoy the ride at rankstranger.net.
Tom Rankin is Professor of the Practice of Art and Documentary at Duke University where he also directs the MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts. His books include Sacred Space: Photographs from the Mississippi Delta, which received the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Photography; Deaf Maggie Lee Sayre: Photographs of a River Life; Faulkner’s World: The Photographs of Martin J. Dain; Local Heroes Changing America: Indivisible; and One Place: Paul Kwilecki and Four Decades of Photographs from Decatur County, Georgia.
Anytown, USA, created and taught by Randolph Benson, is a documentary video production and editing class at the Center for Documentary Studies, in which continuing education students produce and edit videos related to a small town in North Carolina. This year’s class focused on the town of Robbins, and each of the students created a short film on a topic of their choice.
Students will screen their films at two separate public events; one in Robbins, the other at the Full Frame Theater:
Friday, May 22, 8 p.m.
Milliken Park Baseball Field
541 Park Ave., Robbins, North Carolina
Tuesday, May 26, 7 p.m.
Full Frame Theater
320 Blackwell St., Durham, North Carolina
For more information, email email@example.com.
At a graduation event at the Full Frame Theater, six 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 culminating with a Final Seminar taught by filmmaker and CDS instructor Nancy Kalow. 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.
Note that while this event is free and open to the public, all attendees must reserve a ticket via Eventbrite. Check back for ticketing details beginning the week of the event.
Congratulations to Morgan Capps, Elizabeth Friend, Don Heineman, Doug Klesch, Houck Medford, and Amy Nelson. Here, the Certificate in Documentary Arts graduates and their projects:
Morgan Capps | You Can Go Left and Come Out Right | Video
You Can Go Left and Come Out Right reflects on the mind and memories of ninety-two-year-old WWII veteran Glen Lee. Over the course of the last six years, Glen has spent nearly every day constructing an elaborate maze of sticks in a clearing of woods tucked behind a Dollar General and abandoned Kmart near the foot of Signal Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His flashbacks and sudden pulses of seemingly unconnected thoughts and stories loosely parallel the winding maze that he occupies every day.
After spending just a week at the Center for Documentary Studies, as a participant in the 2013 Documentary Video Institute, Morgan Capps uprooted her life in Chattanooga and moved east to Durham. During her time here, Morgan has collected upward of five jobs, some of which include CDS Continuing Studies intern, CDS night manager, nanny, photo booth operator, freelance video editor, and dog sitter. Morgan is heartbroken, and excited, to be leaving for Santa Fe, New Mexico, in June, where she will assist on the feature-length documentary film TURN!
Elizabeth Friend | Do’s and Don’ts for Bomb Disposal | Audio
Bomb disposal was a novel concept at the start of World War II. Here, seventy-four-year-old Michael Friend remembers his father, Sub-Lieutenant Peter Donald Friend, who was one of the first people to sign up for the British Royal Navy’s bomb squad.
Elizabeth Friend first fell in love with radio as a child listening to the BBC late at night. She now works as a reporter for a radio station in Chapel Hill and, along with an intrepid group of local audiophiles, curates Audio Under the Stars, Durham’s series of summertime audio storytelling events.
Don Heineman | Silent Sam—A Soldier of Discord | Video
Silent Sam is the nickname of a statue of a Confederate soldier on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s campus. No one is quite sure why the soldier is called “Silent Sam,” but his critics and supporters are anything but silent. To some, Sam is a memorial to those students from the university who fought and died for the Confederacy, often with personal courage and bravery. To others, he is a monument to white supremacy and an insult to the notion of a “university for the people.” This video documentary explores the origins of the statue. Was Sam an actual Civil War soldier? What was in the minds of those who erected the statue? Why has he remained near the center of so many social controversies at Chapel Hill: the Civil Rights movement, protests against the Vietnam War, and today’s discussions about diversity? The irony is that if Sam weren’t silent, if he could speak, he might just repudiate the intentions of those who originally put up the monument in 1913.
Don Heineman is a retired businessman who lives in Chapel Hill. Growing up in Chicago, he saw the Civil War through a northerner’s eyes. Now that he is a southerner, he has come to appreciate William Faulkner’s statement that “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Don first became interested in video documentaries when, as a volunteer, he filmed the activities of free medical and dental clinics in rural North Carolina, Costa Rica, and Honduras. He hopes to use the new skills he’s learned at the Center for Documentary Studies to explore the theme of intolerance.
Doug Klesch | Vic Hudson: The Real Thing | Video
This short film is an excerpt from Gate City Soul, an in-progress, feature-length documentary about the men and women credited with forming a vibrant soul music community in Greensboro in the 1960s and ’70s. “Vic Hudson: The Real Thing” focuses on the life and career of one of the community’s central characters, a musician, songwriter, and producer who influenced a generation of Greensboro-based musicians and record producers. While filming interviews for Gate City Soul it became apparent that the impact of Vic’s musicianship and mentoring reached far beyond Greensboro and into the fabric of the national soul music scene, touching renowned R&B pioneers such as Sam and Dave and L.T.D. This documentary short celebrates Vic’s influence and offers a glimpse into the rich musical world he helped create. Find out more about the project at www.gatecitysoul.com.
Doug Klesch arrived in North Carolina from the Northeast in the early 1990s with a vague sense of culture shock. He gradually acclimated to southern life, attending Western Carolina University and cobbling together a B.S. in political science with an art history minor. Regardless of the field of study, he always managed to find some way to incorporate music as a theme into his work. Since transitioning away from his decade-plus-long corporate IT career in 2009, Doug has begun to establish himself as a freelance documentary and portrait photographer, graphic designer, and videographer. In addition to creating projects for a wide variety of corporate and individual clients, his personal work includes the multimedia 99 Americans Project. After traveling over 13,000 miles around the United States by car gathering material for this ongoing effort, he decided to turn his camera on a subject closer to his home base in Greensboro.
Houck Medford | The Cotton Chronicle | Motion and Still Photography
“The Cotton Chronicle” is an excerpt from an in-progress, long-form documentary, Cotton Chronicle: Century Industry, Century Farm, Century Family, a story of advances in the mega-agribusiness by a South Carolina family that has been cotton farming on the same land for more than a hundred years. This family has been successful in staying ahead of the technology curve, planning for family succession, and perpetuating family values, but not without struggles and challenges. They have been dependent on their Lutheran faith for divine guidance. Any longtime farming family could stand in for the main characters in Cotton Chronicle—it would be the same story.
Houck Medford was born into a rich storytelling tradition. His father and grandfather, who were bear-hunting and fish-catching storytellers, instilled in him the values of good timing, visual description, and the power of a well-crafted story. Taking pictures, learning the craft, and embracing photography as an art form has become an extension of his compassion for others and his enthusiasm for life. His passion for still photography has evolved into motion photography and sound as a way to further strengthen his imagery. To learn more, visit www.houckmedford.com.
Amy Nelson | Inner Revolutions: Muslim Americans and the Legacy of Imam Khomeini | Multimedia
During the 1979 Iranian Revolution, many Americans came to know Ayatollah Khomeini as a stern, uncompromising political leader who hated America. The United States had helped to install the Pahlavi government in the 1950s and was completely unprepared for this little-known religious cleric’s quick ascension to the leadership of Iran. When it became clear that the Iranian people overwhelmingly supported Khomeini, the tone among U.S. officials grew ominous. At the same time, Muslim converts who were active in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s saw something else. This web-based oral history project brings their voices, their memories, and their narratives about Khomeini and the Iranian Revolution to light.
Amy Nelson is a Montessori teacher and independent multimedia artist. Her work as a reporter for NPR affiliate station WUNC has been recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists, the Associated Press, the Radio Television Digital News Association, and the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation. Nelson is thrilled to have found such a talented and supportive group of teachers and aspirants at the Center for Documentary Studies. She lives in Durham with her family.
The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is seeking aspiring young filmmakers from public high schools in Durham, North Carolina, for School of Doc, the festival’s free documentary filmmaking camp.
Participants in the intensive five-week summer camp learn all aspects of documentary filmmaking including camera operation, editing, lighting, and sound, working in production teams to produce a documentary on a subject of their choosing. The camp is hands-on and fast paced. If you ever wanted to learn what it takes to make a film, this is your chance—no experience required. Click here to view previous School of Doc films.
The application for School of Doc is now online; the deadline to apply is May 20, 2015. School of Doc will take place in downtown Durham at the American Tobacco Campus, June 15 through July 16, Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is a program of the Center for Documentary Studies.