The Center for Documentary Studies offers Continuing Education classes year-round—in photography, 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 2015 classes and workshops (and upcoming summer institutes), with a host of established, new, and online classes on offer.
Classes set to begin in early January include Women with a Movie Camera, What’s Your Timeline?, and The South in Black and White, among others. A number of new classes will be offered during the upcoming term as well, including The Short Subject (Photography): Durham Mardi Gras, My House—Your House, The Art of Memoir, and How to Build a Podcast (also online), to name just a few.
“Jada-e-Maiwand, a vibrant neighborhood near the center of old Kabul, was a scene of fierce fighting and destruction during Afghanistan’s civil war. Twenty years later, the area remains only partially rebuilt: mud-brick homes flank open sewers, market stalls spill over from broad avenues, and winding alleyways reveal blacksmiths, corner grocers, bolani mongers, and bakers impaling warm fish-shaped loaves on nails above their shop windows.” –James Longley
Photographer and documentary filmmaker James Longley is known for his work that examines the lives of people in conflict zones. Kabul, Afghanistan, opening December 9 at the Power Plant Gallery, features a series of panoramas from a Kabul neighborhood—still images sequenced together to create one photograph—that Longley describes as “scenes united in a short, thirty-second movie.” Read more about the exhibit.
The Power Plant Gallery will host screenings of four of Longley’s films at the Full Frame Theater in January and February. There will be a closing reception for the exhibit on February 20, 2015.
Kabul, Afghanistan Exhibit
December 9, 2014–February 20, 2015
Power Plant Gallery
Third Friday Screening of Gaza Strip
January 16, 2015, 7 p.m.
Full Frame Theater
February 20, 2015, 6–8 p.m.
Power Plant Gallery
James Longley is a documentary filmmaker whose works examine the lives of people in conflict zones, mostly in the Middle East and South Asia. Longley’s 2006 film, Iraq in Fragments, offers an intimate view of the early years of the Iraq War through three different points of view. The film won numerous honors, including three jury awards at Sundance and was nominated for an Academy Award. His short, Sari’s Mother (2007), was also nominated for an Academy Award. Longley was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2009 and a USA Ford Fellow in 2011. He is currently at work on a new documentary about a school in Kabul.
A multimedia exhibit featuring the work of Andrea Patiño Contreras, is now on view at the Center for Documentary Studies. Composed of black-and-white photographs, audio oral histories, and an interactive website, From the World to Lynn: Stories of Immigration is the product of an independent project Contreras undertook while in Massachusetts as a CDS Lewis Hine Documentary Fellow to help her better understand the community in which she was working—the city of Lynn, where almost 30 percent of the population of 90,000 is foreign-born. Click here to read a story about Contereras’s work that appeared in The New Yorker’s Photo Booth blog.
From the World to Lynn: Stories of Immigration
Porch and University Galleries
Center for Documentary Studies
1317 W. Pettigrew St., Durham, North Carolina
On view December 1, 2014–April 13, 2015; reception and artist’s talk January 15, 2015, 6–8 p.m.
The fabric of a city is woven of many threads, and Lynn, Massachusetts, is particularly colorful. The city’s history of industrial success paved the way for a profoundly diverse population to settle in the area. Like many other U.S. cities, Lynn underwent a process of deindustrialization as the twentieth century progressed. Regardless, Lynn’s diverse population and its historical and cultural richness remain, even if under very different conditions. As a hub for refugee resettlement every year people from all over the world arrive in this small city in the Northeast—Cambodians, Bhutanese, and most recently, Iraqis have come looking for better lives, just like thousands of Europeans did decades before them.
Click here for more information about the exhibit.
Andrea Patiño Contreras, a 2012–13 Lewis Hine Documentary Fellow, graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in cultural anthropology and a certificate in policy journalism. She is a master’s candidate at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina. Founded on the spirit, values, and actions of Lewis Hine, the Lewis Hine Documentary Fellows Program at the Center for Documentary Studies connects the talents of young documentarians with the resources and needs of organizations serving children and their communities around the world. As a Hine Fellow, Andrea worked with Raw Art Works (RAW) in Lynn, Massachusetts. RAW is an arts organization that serves over 1,200 youth ages six to nineteen through programming that inspires them to “tell their stories, envision new possibilities, and transform their lives.” Through her work at RAW, Andrea became interested in Lynn’s profoundly diverse population and started documenting the stories of immigrants and refugees in the city.
Click here to read Andrea Patiño Contreras’ blog about her Lewis Hine Documentary fellowship.
The Center for Documentary Studies is offering seven summer learning opportunities in 2015 through our Continuing Education program. These intensive Summer Institute sessions, lasting from two to eight days, are open to the general public. Their completion counts as credit toward the Certificate in Documentary Arts for those students working toward a certificate. Registration is now open for the following classes; click links for course descriptions and to register:
Digging In: An Artists’ Retreat with Big Shed
Documentary Video Institute
Hearing is Believing: An Audio Documentary Institute
Intensive Introduction to Documentary Studies
Making It Sing: An Audio Documentary Institute
Master Class: Nonfiction Writing
Duke University’s first MFA program—in Experimental and Documentary Arts—invites the public to screenings of the works-in-progress of the fifteen students from the class of 2016. The students are enrolled in the first-year Documentary Fieldwork seminar taught by Alex Harris. Six students will present their work on Tuesday, December 9, and nine students will present on Wednesday, December 10; see schedules below. Guests are welcome at any time during the events.
Tuesday, December 9, 6–9:30 p.m.
Wednesday, December 10, 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m.
MFA|EDA Carpentry Shop
1509 Campus Drive, Durham, North Carolina
TUE 6:15 – 6:45 p.m.
A modern folklore.
TUE 6:45 – 7:15 p.m.
“Anatomy in Four Parts”
TUE 7:15 – 7:45 p.m.
A boy’s dream, a man’s reality.
BREAK 7:45 – 8:00 p.m.
TUE 8:00 – 8:30 p.m.
A family considers the development of heirs property in the South Carolina Low country.
Also presenting “From Sea to Sea”, Notes For a Hypothetical Project”, “Valley Fever”, “Mr. Horace”
TUE 8:30 – 9:00 p.m.
“After the Fact”
Fifteen years after the fact, we’ve been extraordinarily reckless with our lives, relationships and second chances; falling apart while our friends and lovers try to rescue us.
TUE 9:00 – 9:30 p.m.
One thousand miles from home.
WED 9:30 – 10:00 a.m.
A cognitive assemblage documentary cataloging a subjective and mnemonic travelogue of Istanbul.
WED 10:00 – 10:30 a.m.
WED 10:30 – 11:00 a.m.
“Undocumented Life: Striving to Reach the American Dream”
Siler City had been a rather quiet small Southern town until local chicken processing plants began recruiting workers from Mexico and Central America during the 1980s. In twenty years, the town became predominantly Hispanic.
BREAK 11:00 – 11:15 a.m.
WED 11:15 a.m. – 11:45 p.m.
“Quintessence of Dust”
A love-letter to the inevitable explorer, the astronaut.
WED 11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Nineteen African-Americans in Durham, North Carolina.
LUNCH BREAK: 12:15 – 1:45 p.m.
WED 1:45 – 2:15 p.m.
Short films from inside the accelerated imagination of a laid-off movie projectionist in an alchemical attempt to find a new kind of visual media.
WED 2:15 – 2:45 p.m.
The fatherless epidemic has had both a negative and positive influence on the children left behind. Can a man be a good father for his child, despite the fact he grew up not knowing his own?
BREAK 2:45 – 3:00 p.m.
WED 3:00 – 3:30 p.m.
“Small Caliber Wounds: Murder, Mourning and Memory in Coastal North Carolina”
Also presenting “Discards and Digressions”
WED 3:30 – 4:00 p.m.
At a graduation event at the Full Frame Theater, eleven 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 Randolph Benson. 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, available beginning at 9 a.m. on the day of the event. Ticketing details are available here.
Congratulations to Lomax Boyd, Nancy Crute, Leslie Cunningham, Patricia Daggett, Valeria Elliott, Ernest Bryant Hernandez, Luke Hirst, Shelia Huggins, Marc Menish, Fay Mitchell, and Trace Ramsey. Here, the Certificate in Documentary Arts graduates and their projects:
Lomax Boyd | Becoming Dr. Towers | Video
Scientific training grooms students to adopt a hypercritical point of view. While the fruits of that process are all around us, they carry unexpected and darker consequences for the researchers themselves. Becoming Dr. Towers chronicles the inner conflict of a young Mormon at the beginning of his scientific studies in graduate school.
Lomax Boyd, trained as a research scientist, is fascinated by the complexity of biological systems. Enthralled by the power of documentary film to transport audiences into the lives of others, he adopted CDS as his home away from the laboratory. After completing his Ph.D. in developmental neurobiology, he hopes to use documentary to help build stronger bridges between science and society.
Nancy Crute | Making Room for What Matters | Audio and Photography
What started out as a photographic inquiry of Bridget the cow became the story of the relationship between Cheryl and the cows that found her, an account of one woman’s conscious choice to love and the bravery to live her truth. Cheryl took a leap of faith and followed her heart from working a job in the computer industry to maintaining a forty-acre farm and living close to the land. As Cheryl began this spiritual journey, influenced by the teachings of the Lakota people, a life of value began to unfold before her. Little did Cheryl know, by making room for what matters, she was making room for the cows to come home. Cheryl’s story is one of grace, love, hope, and respect for the cows, because they matter.
Nancy Crute works as an art-based psychotherapist and emergency room social worker. She has a deep love of photography and of hearing people’s stories. Her career has taught her the gift of truly listening, and so she does.
Leslie Cunningham | JIG SHOW: Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana | Video
Step Right Up, Folks! America’s most successful traveling show is back! In the untold story of an American jig show, filmmaker Leslie Cunningham takes viewers on a magical journey under the biggest tent on the world’s largest carnival midway to uncover the legend of Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana, the epic black and Cuban musical revue that had a profound impact on North American entertainment in ways that still resonate today.
Leslie Cunningham is an independent filmmaker, artist, writer, and owner of TRIBES Entertainment, a digital media and film production company based in Durham. Her films include M.I.: A Different Kind of Girl, Triangle Black Pride, and Domestic Violence: Healing Through Spoken Word. JIG SHOW: Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana is her second feature-length documentary. Visit jigshow.com.
Patricia Daggett | The Sand Hill Incident | Writing
The Sand Hill Incident is based on the brief memoir of a young teacher in rural Georgia who found herself at the center of a short-lived political crisis in the mid-1940s because she dared to teach contemporary scientific research in support of racial equality.
Pat Daggett recently retired after nearly forty-five years in the computer industry. In 2002, she decided to make better use of the other side of her brain and pursued a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree at Duke University, where she discovered a talent for historical research and rediscovered a love of writing. Upon completing her master’s, she enrolled in the Certificate in Documentary Arts program at CDS with the goal of using personal stories as a lens through which to view larger events in the history of the American South.
Valeria Elliott | The Mokovi Project | Multimedia
One of the easiest and quickest ways to learn a second language is to connect to stories. Mokovi is an online platform for practicing Spanish through video stories featuring Spanish speakers living in the United States. My goal is to create an online community that can immerse language learners in the Spanish language and culture regardless of whether they plan to travel abroad or regularly have personal interactions with native speakers. I believe that learning a second language is a transformational experience that helps us embrace other cultures and better understand the human experience. Filmmaking is the perfect vehicle to make language learning accessible to a wide range of people, regardless of their formal education or ability to travel.
Valeria Elliott is a documentarian and educator who uses video and multimedia in innovative and engaging programs to teach Spanish. A former international lawyer turned social entrepreneur, she earned a Master of Arts in International Affairs degree from Ohio University, an LL.M. in American and Comparative Law from the University of Denver, and a J.D. from the Universidad Nacional del Litoral in Argentina. She has been a visiting scholar at University of California–Berkeley and the University of Colorado College of Law. She has spoken on issues of foreign language acquisition and cross-cultural skills at conferences in the United States, Latin America, Europe, and Asia. Her teaching and academic work have been featured on TV and radio, including Univisión and Colorado Public Radio, as well as in print media such as U.S. News & World Report and the Associated Press.
Ernest Bryant Hernandez | The Reel Journey | Video
The Reel Journey, about my struggle to become a filmmaker/producer and an actor, is a behind-the-scenes look at the multiple skills and activities that go into making an indie film. It’s also meant to give future documentarians, filmmakers, and others a bird’s-eye view of what it’s like to produce a film in terms of equipment, set locations, permit requirements, safety, actors, crewmembers, and the inevitable personal disagreements that arise during production. The Reel Journey brings to light several complicated factors I faced in film production, like stunt coordination, how complaints were handled, the leadership of the director, and my determination to keep going despite all the struggles and frustrations. In the end, realizing your vision and that of your actor friends and crewmembers is what makes it all worthwhile.
Ernest Bryant Hernandez was born and raised in Miami. While pursuing his Certificate in Documentary Arts at CDS he wrote, acted in, and produced a TV pilot (Miami Vida) and a movie (Miamiopolis), both of which are currently undergoing a final edit. His goal is to use both documentary and fiction to bring awareness to current environmental issues and to depict diversity and multiculturalism in society. In Miamiopolis, he uses the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan to create a story about misinformation and deception on the part of world governments. In Miami Vida, he brings the diversity and culture of South Florida to life. At present, he studies the Uta Hagen acting method with Marc Durso, director of Act True. He has a Master Certificate in Business Management from Tulane University.
Luke Hirst | If There Is Such a Thing | Audio and Photography
If There Is Such a Thing is a series of portraits and oral histories of Triangle residents who identify as lesbian, gay, queer, or transgender that focuses on the words the participants use to describe themselves. Their reflections offer a glimpse into the myriad ways people take on (and reject) identities. These stories of (often obligatory) self-categorization complicate the common perception of a singular, “born this way” LGBTQ community consisting of lives that can be summed up in a letter of the acronym. As one participant said: “We use this word ‘community’ as if there is such a thing.”
Luke Hirst has been taking classes at CDS off and on for the past fourteen years and has explored the genres of film, photography, writing, and oral history. Luke strives to create collaborative projects that foster connection and hope. Luke has recently used documentary skills as the oral history coordinator for the Heirs to a Fighting Tradition project and as cofounder of an initiative with the mission to collect and share Durham’s vibrant LGBTQ history.
Shelia Huggins | Remnants and Revival: A Conversation in Images | Audio and Photography
I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t remember my parents mentioning anything about it. I only knew that the neighborhood I grew up in was changing, and I knew I had to capture it.
Shelia Huggins has been photographing places for almost thirty years, starting in the 1980s with pictures of the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. Since then, her portfolio has grown to include cities like Chicago, New York, and Boston. Now she has returned home to capture the transformation taking place in Greenville, North Carolina, as the development of a transportation corridor changes the landscape of the community. Interested in what she calls the “genealogy of place,” with Remnants and Revival she shares pieces of the past and hope for the future.
Marc Menish | Dance of the People: Spirit of the Green Grass Cloggers | Video
Prior to 1971, most precision clogging teams in North Carolina performed in a similar traditional style. The Green Grass Cloggers, founded by East Carolina University students, sidestepped many staid conventions and sparked a shift within the greater clogging community. Forty-four years on, with some of its members facing physical decline, it is clear that younger dancers are needed to maintain the Green Grass legacy—dancers with their own sense of what it means to be a clogger. This documentary explores this pivotal point in the team’s rich history.
Marc Menish, an associate professor of interdisciplinary cultural studies in Japan, came to CDS motivated by a strong desire to incorporate nonfiction film techniques in his university classes. Duke’s proximity to the southern Appalachian region, with its robust musical and dance traditions, inspired him to seek out a story that demonstrates the powerful hold these traditions have on their followers. (Bonus: He can now play “Cripple Creek” on a five-string banjo with his daughter, Clara, on the fiddle.)
Fay Mitchell | Artistry and Athletics | Video
Athletes are much admired and celebrated in our sports-steeped American culture, but one group of athletes is much less widely adored. This film explores the question of whether dancers are indeed athletes and examines the reasons for the larger public’s disconnect with these performers. Long years of training, discipline, and focused effort are required of both dancers and sports competitors, but the rewards, and renown, are very different. A collection of participants and observers from the worlds of dance and sports discuss the similarities and differences between the two realms and raise the question of whether athletes should be considered artists. See what conclusion you reach.
Fay Mitchell grew up in rural eastern North Carolina and attended UNC–Chapel Hill, where her interest in sports was fueled by the Carolina/Duke/N.C. State rivalries. Her subsequent experience of the arts in an academic setting, and later the arrival of the American Dance Festival in Durham, made her keenly aware of the differences, in terms of composition and intensity, between sports and dance audiences. In her work as a radio reporter, she discovered that seemingly disparate groups are often quite similar, though they cling to ideas of the “other.” This project’s exploration of the commonalities between notionally distinct individuals and groups reflects her role as a “synthesizer.” She came to CDS in 2010 to expand her reporting to the world of film.
Trace Ramsey | Carrying Capacity | Writing
Carrying Capacity is a book of essays about ancestral mythology, recovery from depression and substance abuse, and the disintegration of generational memory in the absence of physical evidence. Each of the chapters is both standalone and cumulative, built of memoir-style vignettes and named after streets the author has lived on during the past forty years. Carrying Capacity is strongly personal and reflective with the author, his partner, and their young child as its core.
Trace Ramsey is a writer and photographer. He lives in East Durham with his partner, Kristin, and their child, Tennessee. He writes the nonfiction essay zine Quitter, which has been compiled into the compendium Quitter: Good Luck Not Dying and published by Pioneers Press. Trace is not a talker.
The Center for Documentary Studies seeks an Operations Coordinator to manage facility operations for CDS at both the 1317 West Pettigrew Street campus and at the American Tobacco Campus facilities at 320 Blackwell Street in Durham. This is a year-round, full-time position with full Duke University benefits. Duties include:
For more information on areas of responsibility, qualifications, and application instructions, click here.
The Center for Documentary Studies is pleased to launch a new initiative for Duke University undergraduates in Spring 2015, when the first Research in Practice Program (RIPP) Fellowships in the Documentary Arts will be awarded. The Fellows will complete and present for the public at the end of the semester a CDS faculty-advised documentary project on social issues, which might be a film, photo exhibit, website, audio recording, or magazine-length article, among many possible options. The mentoring and professional practices program is an independent studies arrangement that strengthens bonds between students and CDS faculty and builds in more time for projects to mature outside the confines of a regular course, with faculty guiding the students in conceiving of and implementing the most appropriate outcome for their work.
Applicants must have already completed at least one Documentary Studies (DOCST) course and undertaken an intensive period of documentary fieldwork. For more information on the RIPP Fellowships in the Documentary Arts, including application instructions, click here.
“The RIPP Fellowships in the Documentary Arts add a new dimension to our undergraduate teaching and research program,” says Christopher Sims, Undergraduate Education Director at CDS. “By supporting some of our most engaged students, the fellowships will directly impact the production of well-crafted and deeply observed documentary work. This initiative will push students to think how and where their work can travel off-campus in a finished form, where it can engage audiences, spark conversations, and make lasting impressions.”
Applications for Spring 2015 will be accepted on a rolling basis until January 9, 2015, until all spots are filled.
On December 4, the Center for Documentary Studies will host producer Yvonne Welbon for her case study of The New Black—a discussion of the award-winning documentary’s journey from development to distribution. Director Yoruba Richen’s film captures the complex intersection between faith, racial justice, and LGBTQ rights as it tells the story of how the African American community is grappling with LGBTQ issues in light of the marriage equality movement and the struggle for civil rights. The New Black has been previewed, reviewed, discussed, and blogged about in 140 broadcast, online, and print publications ranging from The Washington Post to The Village Voice to MSNBC to NPR.
Thursday, December 4, 12–1 p.m.
Center for Documentary Studies Auditorium
1317 W. Pettigrew Street, Durham, North Carolina
Drinks provided; please bring lunch if you’d like
A screening of The New Black followed by a panel discussion will take place at the Nasher Museum the day before this event, December 3, 6–9 p.m. Welbon’s fellow panelists will include Mark Anthony Neal, Blair Kelley, Alexis Pauling Gumbs; Melissa Harris-Perry will moderate. Click here for the Duke Events Calendar listing.
Yvonne Welbon has produced and distributed over twenty films including The New Black, Living With Pride: Ruth Ellis@ 100—winner of ten best documentary awards including the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary—and Sisters in Cinema, a documentary on the history of black women feature film directors. Her films have screened on PBS, Starz/Encore, TV-ONE, IFC, Bravo, the Sundance Channel, BET, HBO, and in over one hundred film festivals around the world. Her current projects are Dena Montague’s Paris Rebels, which examines the story of black youth participating in the hip hop inspired Zoulou movement in Paris during the 1980s and 1990s, and “Sisters in the Life: A History of Out African American Lesbian Media-Making,” a web based online community-building project that includes a book of essays, a documentary, an archive, and a mobile application. Welbon is an associate professor in the journalism and media studies department at Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The Center for Documentary Studies is cohosting Welbon’s case study with Duke’s Humanities Writ Large.
Watch an interview with our 2014-15 Lehman Brady Professor, acclaimed filmmaker Marco Williams, that was recently featured on UNC-TV’s North Carolina Now. The program “examines the most pressing issues of the day, talks with its most important people, visits the most interesting places in the state, and celebrates our arts and culture.” In the video below—beginning at timestamp 13:32—Williams discusses his unlikely entry into filmmaking and his experiences as a professor at NYU and in North Carolina as the Lehman Brady Visiting Joint Chair Professor in Documentary Studies and American Studies at Duke and UNC–Chapel Hill.
“It’s fantastic; I’m around students who are very different than the students I teach at New York University. I teach at a film school, I teach students who want to be filmmakers. Down here in North Carolina, I’m teaching students who are interested in film, but in many ways are exploring film as a tool to understand the world they live in. . . . That’s how I became interested in film: at Harvard when I took filmmaking… we were studying film as a tool for understanding our society. So to be back in North Carolina, and to have a chance to give that to a different set of students has been really invigorating; the classes have been spectacular.” -Marco Williams