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    Now Available: Lineup for Fall 2015 Continuing Education Courses, Both Onsite and Online

    July 2nd, 2015
    Mapmaking From the Ground Up, about "activist mapmaking," is one of CDS's courses offered in the fall.

    Mapmaking From the Ground Up, about “activist mapmaking,” is one of CDS’s courses offered in the fall.

    The Center for Documentary Studies offers Continuing Education classes year-round—in photography, video, audio, narrative writing, and other creative media. Registration is now open for Fall 2015 classes and workshops (and a few remaining summer institutes) with a host of established, new, and online classes on offer; see our ten new courses below, several of which are new online versions of established onsite courses.

    A complete listing of all Fall 2015 courses as well as registration information can be found here.

    New Continuing Education Courses for Fall 2015 Semester:

    Onsite and Online:
    *Make That Audio Doc | Sarah Reynolds | Onsite and Online 
    *The Enduring Image | Bryce Lankard | Onsite and Online
    *The Art of Memoir | Krista Bremer | Onsite and Online

    Online Only:
    Memoir of Mobility and Movement | Deavours Hall and Rhonda Klevansky

    Onsite Only:
    Documentary Night Photography | Hal Goodtree

    Photographic Workflow with Lightroom | Eric Waters
    Exploring Contemporary Documentary | Joshua Dasal
    Why Should I Care? Crafting Video Stories That Move People | Catherine Orr and Elena Rue
    Documenting Life, Briefly: Writing Flash Nonfiction | Leslie Maxwell
    Participating Language: Introduction to Documentary Poetics | Andrea Applebee

    Additionally, two summer intensive institutes in the documentary arts are still open for registration: the Digging In Artists’ Retreat from July 26–August 1, 2015, and the Making It Sing audio institute from August 3–8, 2015. More information on the remaining summer institutes can be found here.

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      FREE July 17: Full Frame Third Friday Screening of “In Transit”

      June 30th, 2015
      Film still from the documentary film, "In Transit"

      Film still from “In Transit”

      Put it on your calendar: the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival will present a free Third Friday screening of In Transit in Durham as part of the Full Frame Road Show presented by PNC.

      Friday, July 17, 7:30 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.)
      Full Frame Theater, Power Plant building
      American Tobacco Campus
      320 Blackwell St., Durham, North Carolina

      On the train, life pulls into uncommon focus. In the space between stations, where “real life” is suspended, a peculiar atmosphere of contemplation and community develops. To some passengers, the train is flight and salvation, to others reckoning and loss. But for all, it is a place for personal reflection and connecting with others they may otherwise never know. In Transit delves the hearts and minds of everyday passengers aboard Amtrak’s Empire Builder, the busiest long-distance train route in America. View trailer. Candid and direct, the film unfolds as a series of interconnected vignettes, ranging from overheard conversations to moments of deep intimacy, in which passengers share their fears, hopes, and dreams. As the Empire Builder crisscrosses the country, passing through urban centers, oil fields, vast plains, and towering mountains, a loving portrait of America emerges, in its full human and natural beauty.

      For more information, including other upcoming Full Frame programming, click here. Note that while Full Frame Third Friday screenings are free, all attendees must reserve a ticket via Eventbrite, available at 9 a.m. on the day of the event.

      The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is a program of the Center for Documentary Studies.

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        Abbie Gascho Landis Awarded 2015 CDS Documentary Essay Prize in Writing

        June 30th, 2015
        Abbie Gascho Landis

        Abbie Gascho Landis

        By now I have become a freshwater mussel groupie. I fawn over photographs. . . . I stalk them from a distance, writing their names in my notebooks: fatmucket, pistolgrip, heelsplitter, shinyrayed pocketbook, spectaclecase, pigtoe, snufflebox. I pore over their bios. Posters of mussels hang in our bedroom. —Abbie Gascho Landis, from her prizewinning essay

        The CDS Documentary Essay Prize honors the best in documentary photography and writing in alternating years: one year, photos; one year, writing. The 2015 prize competition in writing was awarded to Abbie Gascho Landis, a writer and veterinarian in Cobleskill, New York, for “Immersion: Our Native Mussels and Bodies of Freshwater.” In her essay, Landis draws on six years of snorkeling in creeks, exploring large rivers, visiting laboratories, and interviewing biologists, weaving personal experience into her investigation of “these remarkable animals” and their habitats as one way of looking at growing water issues in the Deep South and elsewhere in the United States. “Endangered mussels have garnered national attention in recent water wars involving conflicts with agriculture and with cities like Atlanta during droughts,” Landis writes in her project statement. “While mussels have been studied for more than a century, research has recently ballooned, revealing complexities about their lives and roles in river systems.”


        Mussels’ apertures, Paint Rock River, Alabama. Photograph by Abbie Gascho Landis.

        In her essay, Landis writes: [Mussels] have been called naiads, after Greek mythology’s freshwater nymphs, each linked inextricably to a particular stream or river. Some mussels are widespread, while some exist only in a single river system and some—like the Tar River spinymussel—live in only a few creek sites. Mussels evolved with their river’s flow and geology, requiring particular river bottom habitat. Their need for host fish links them to vulnerable fish diversity.

        Human-driven changes to creeks and rivers often disrupt water flow and quality, destroy the creek bed, and alter fish populations. When a waterway changes, mussels are the first to know. They may die outright, or be unable to reproduce. Like the check engine light on a dashboard, mussels indicate when there’s a problem with how their river is running. . . .

        Abbie Gascho Landis writes a blog,, and is a veterinarian at the Cobleskill Veterinary Clinic in Cobleskill, New York. Landis has received an Arthur DeLong Writing Award and was a finalist for the Constance Rooke Creative Nonfiction Award in 2013. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and biology from Goshen College and a doctorate in veterinary medicine from Ohio State University. Landis receives $3,000 and will give a reading at the Center for Documentary Studies. Her work will also be placed in Duke University’s Archive of Documentary Arts at the David M. Rubenstein Library. An excerpt from “Immersion: Our Native Mussels and Bodies of Freshwater,” will appear in the Winter 2015–16 issue of Document, and the essay in full will be published on our website in 2016.


        Jessica Wilbanks was awarded Honorable Mention by the members of the Center for Documentary Studies Documentary Essay Prize selection committee for her beautifully crafted essay, “The Far Side of the Fire,” which explores widespread charges of witchcraft against Nigerian children and reflects on her own experiences growing up in the Pentecostal faith. Wilbanks has a BFA in creative nonfiction and theology from Hampshire College and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston. Her work has appeared in such publications as the Sycamore Review, Ninth Letter, Ruminate Magazine, and The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses 2014.

        There were other four finalists for the 2014 CDS Documentary Essay Prize in Writing, selected from forty-two entries:
        Gaiutra Bahadur, “Into Dark Waters”
        Benjamin Busch, “Unconscionable Maps”
        Howard L. Craft, “Bull City Summer: Blue Monsters, Mattresses, and Durmites”
        Tessa Fontaine, “A Mouth Full of Fire: Inside the Last American Sideshow”

        The next CDS Documentary Essay competition will be for photography; submissions will be accepted from November 2, 2015, to February 16, 2016. Click here for guidelines.

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          Watch: “East Durham Stories,” From the 2015 Documentary Video Institute

          June 29th, 2015

          Sherman Ragland Sr. surveys his backyard garden. Still from “God, Family, Garden” by Brenda Jamerson and Kent Truckor.

          2015 marked the twelfth year of the Center for Documentary Studies‘ Documentary Video Institute, offered each summer through our Continuing Education program. In early June, students in the Documentary Video Institute returned to the East Durham, North Carolina, neighborhood for the second year of a planned three-year collaboration with this dynamic and diverse part of the city. Sixteen students from across the nation came for a week-long crash course in documentary video production: While they chose their topics from a preselected list, they handled all other aspects of the shoot, including pre-production, lighting, camerawork, audio, interview techniques, b-roll footage, and finally editing and polishing short video pieces. The resulting eight documentaries continue the work begun last summer, to paint a portrait of East Durham and the many remarkable people who make up the community.

          Rahima Rahi and Bryson Rogers | Al Frega
          Sculptor Al Frega turns demolition projects and found materials into original, eye-catching works, both decorative and functional, at his East Durham studio.


          Brenda Jamerson and Kent Truckor | God, Family, Garden
          Sherman Ragland Sr.’s impressive backyard vegetable garden is a relaxing, rewarding hobby, but it also connects him to his childhood, when the family garden was an important source of sustenance.


          Amy Cleckler and Afi Scruggs | Good Times Roll
          Locally-owned Wheels Fun Park has offered roller skating and other family fun since 1972.


          Erin Birney and Brenda Hughes | Not Just a Job
          In his East Durham funeral chapel, Bishop Franklin O. Hanes performs last rites, and also ministers to the living, counseling those in need.


          Jonathan Jenkins and Katelyn LaGrega | The Reverend Dante Randolph
          After a stint in prison as a young man, Dante Randolph was inspired by a sermon and discovered a new faith and purpose. Today he’s the pastor at Grace Park Church and executive director of Agape Corner School.


          Tiara Lassiter and Sandra Stinnett | School of Hard Knocks
          Bishop Arnold S. Harris is devoted to training young men for the boxing ring, and fleet-footed Keyon L. Jones is his star pupil.


          Andrew Kragie and Julia Rogers | This Side of the Counter
          Family-owned Los Primos Supermarket has been a neighborhood anchor and a labor of love for Miguel Collado since he opened it with his brother in 2002.


          Bradley Bethel and Patricia Tolbert | The Woodcrafter
          In a small storefront in East Durham, veteran craftsman Bryant Forehand repairs wooden furniture with a patient hand.

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            Enjoy Online: Spring/Summer 2015 Issue of “Document”

            June 27th, 2015
            Yung Jock fans at the Bud Billiken Parade, Bronzeville, 2006. Photograph by 2014 Lange-Taylor Prize winner Jon Lowenstein, from "South Side."

            Yung Jock fans at the Bud Billiken Parade, Bronzeville, 2006. Photograph by 2014 Lange-Taylor Prize winner Jon Lowenstein, from “South Side.”

            The quarterly publication Document features some of the best documentary work supported and produced by the Center for Documentary StudiesThe 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.

            To receive print issues of Document, join Friends of CDS.


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              “Phone Home Durham” Exhibit Celebrates Durham Culture and Locales

              June 25th, 2015
              Images featured in "Phone Home Durham." Top:  "Eno State Park" by Dawn Surratt. Lower Left: "Catsburg Country Store/ Old Oxford Road" by Stephanie Leathers. Lower Right: "Near Herndon Hills Farm" by Julie Rhodes.

              Images featured in “Phone Home Durham.” Top: “Eno State Park” by Dawn Surratt. Lower Left: “Catsburg Country Store/ Old Oxford Road” by Stephanie Leathers. Lower Right: “Near Herndon Hills Farm” by Julie Rhodes.

              “Through this performance, the digital converts to the material—from an image living in the world of the virtual to being something that can hang on a wall, rest in a box, live as a print and become historical record.” —Caitlin Margaret Kelly,  Power Plant Gallery public programs director

              The Power Plant Gallery, a laboratory for the arts at Duke University, invites you to explore and contribute to an exhibit of crowdsourced digital images celebrating Durham localities and identities in Phone Home Durham. For this exhibition, the Power Plant Gallery invited—and continues to invite—mobile phone photographers from all walks of life to submit images of Durham County taken with mobile phone cameras or other handheld devices.

              Phone Home Durham
              May 29–August 22, 2015
              Gallery Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
              Power Plant Gallery, American Tobacco Campus
              320 Blackwell Street, Durham, North Carolina (Directions)

              A select number of photographs from the open call were printed for Phone Home Durham and will be added to the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Library following the exhibit’s closing. The gallery will continue to accept submissions throughout the exhibition for the “rotating wall” with new photographs every three weeks. For more information on submitting a photograph, visit the Power Plant Gallery’s website.

              Print the Phone Home Durham gallery guide, which includes a list of photographers whose work is on display throughout the exhibit.

              The Power Plant Gallery is a joint initiative of Duke’s MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts and the Center for Documentary Studies. Phone Home Durham is cosponsored by Museo Digital Fine Art Media and the Durham County Libraries.


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                Watch: “Anytown USA” Student Video Projects on Robbins, North Carolina

                June 24th, 2015

                One small town.
                Seven stories.
                Seven filmmakers.

                Despite popular misconceptions, the overwhelming majority of North Carolinians live in towns of 5,000 people or less. We are a state of small towns. In fact, NC has the second-most number of small towns in the country.

                But all is not well. The mass exodus of manufacturing abroad as well as urban flight has devastated small towns. Many are on the verge of disappearing forever.

                Anytown USA, created and taught by Randolph Benson, is an annual filmmaking production and editing course in which one small town is featured. Intermediate to advanced continuing education student filmmakers tell stories of their choice within the town. Together the short films form a nuanced, intimate portrait of communities as they struggle to survive. This year’s class focused on the town of Robbins, North Carolina. The films were screened in Robbins as well as the Full Frame Theater on the American Tobacco Campus in Durham.

                Now available for your viewing pleasure, all of the 2015 Anytown, USA student films:

                Tom Adams School Days
                While many rural school districts struggle with low performance, falling enrollment, teacher shortages, and funding issues, the schools in Robbins have created a culture of success. School Days examines how that culture evolved and what is being done to ensure it continues.

                Tom Adams grew up in rural Wake County before graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy. After service in the navy and graduate school, Tom held positions in engineering and R&D with major chemical and pharmaceutical companies. Now retired, Tom’s documentary and volunteer interests focus on public education and homelessness. This is Tom’s third film for Anytown, USA.

                Leslie Baker | Las Mujeres de San Juan (The Women of San Juan)
                In a small southern town where half the residents are Spanish-speaking immigrants, San Juan Diego Catholic Church serves as a vital meeting place for the close-knit Latino community. Las Mujeres de San Juan is an inside look at the church through the eyes of its female leaders.

                Leslie Baker is a photographer, aspiring filmmaker, and North Carolina native. She is currently working toward a Certificate in Documentary Arts at CDS. Leslie is interested in documenting the changing people and culture in small Southern communities. This is her first film.

                James BalfourHope: A Profile of the Northern Moore Family Resource Center
                In 1996, the Northern Moore Family Resource Center was started to support families by focusing on education for children and improving housing conditions. Its programs have included GED classes, after-school and summer camp programs, financial education, and toys and clothing for children, among others. Under Executive Director Clare Ruggles’ leadership, the Center is currently establishing a low-cost preschool, the Hope Academy, in Robbins, which is scheduled to open in August.

                James Balfour grew up in Chapel Hill and now resides in Mebane. He has a BS and MA from Appalachian State University in Boone and currently works in computer support. James is an ardent photographer and is now seeking a certificate at CDS with a concentration in film.

                Clifton DowellBird in Hand/Más Vale Pájaro en Mano Que Cien Volando
                The wrecked economy of Robbins isn’t going to be easy to revive. The town has only 1,000 residents, but it’s managed to lose more than 1,200 jobs over the last few decades. The water plant is closed, the downtown buildings mostly empty, and the mill that once formed the backdrop for much of Robbins life lies in a heap of bricks and burned timbers that the town can’t afford to clean up. Anchoring the mostly empty northern end of a county famous for the golf resorts and million-dollar homes located 26 miles to the south, the town is invisible to government planners. If the residents of Robbins want to bring the town back, they’ll have to do it themselves.

                Clifton Dowell earned his Certificate in Documentary Arts from CDS in 2007. He works as a journalist in Raleigh.

                Shelia Huggins Mechanics Hill
                War Sport might just be the second coming of guns for the town of Robbins. With a proud nod to their family heritage and tradition in manufacturing, Martha and Joey Boswell design and build advanced weapons systems in a 20,000-square-foot facility in their hometown.

                Shelia Huggins is an attorney who spends her spare time capturing and sharing stories of the changing economic environment in communities throughout North Carolina.

                David Puckett | Clyde’s Place
                Every Tuesday people travel many miles to enjoy southern cooking, live music, and good company at the Maness Pottery and Music Barn. Clyde Maness, the barn’s founder and operator, has been opening the doors to his barn since 1974 and has many stories to tell.

                David Puckett is a filmmaker and photographer living in Durham. He earned a degree in journalism and media production at East Carolina University. He is currently the photographer and videographer for the Duke University Talent Identification Program and a CDS certificate candidate.

                Kelly Sims | Holding On
                Holding On is a portrait of self-taught canoeist William McDuffie. He has witnessed the local creek in his hometown of Robbins transform from a junk yard to a sliver of paradise. His reflections on the past reinforce his determination to give the community memories that they, too, will never forget.

                Kelly Sims has bachelor’s degrees in Creative Photography and International Humanitarian Assistance from the University of Florida. With an interest in oral history and telling stories to aid nonprofits, she moved to Durham to study audio and filmmaking.

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                  Remembering Mary Ellen Mark

                  June 23rd, 2015
                  Helda lifts Eydís in the pool, Lyngas, Reykjavik, Iceland, 2006. Photograph by Mary Ellen Mark, from Undrabörn/Extraordinary Child.

                  Helda lifts Eydís in the pool, Lyngas, Reykjavik, Iceland, 2006. Photograph by Mary Ellen Mark, from “Undrabörn/Extraordinary Child.”

                  We at the Center for Documentary Studies feel extremely fortunate to have worked with the inimitable Mary Ellen Mark over the years—her Undrabörn/Extraordinary Child photographs were on exhibit here in 2009–10 (the first presentation of that body of work in the United States), and in 2008 she served as the judge of our First Book Prize in Photography competition. On the First Book Prize blog, CDS publishing and awards director Alexa Dilworth writes:

                  “Mary Ellen cared so much about getting things right. She selected Jennette Williams as the winner for The Bathers, a series of platinum palladium photographs of women in Hungarian and Turkish bath houses. And she also chose to award two honorable mentions that year, to Lucian Read and Jon Lowenstein, because she wanted to show her appreciation of their work and to encourage and celebrate it by acknowledging them. [Related note: Lowenstein won CDS’s prestigious Lange-Taylor Prize last year for his South Side project.] This is a short excerpt from the foreword Mary Ellen wrote for The Bathers:

                  Jennette’s photographs could only have been taken by a woman—a woman with passion, a strong personality, and great talent—a woman who is gentle, kind, and engaging. When I met Jennette I understood immediately why these women welcomed her. She is appealing, direct, intelligent, and possesses an essential vulnerability, which is evident in the photographs. All women can find a part of themselves in Jennette. She is every woman—a mother, a daughter, a sister, a best friend. . . .

                  “Mary Ellen’s extraordinary vitality, commitment, and incisive views on life and photography were wonderful to behold and experience. She was the epitome of a person with presence: She had passion, a strong personality, and great talent; she was gentle, kind, and engaging. She will be very missed.”

                  Visit the First Book Prize blog to watch a video in which Mark and Jennette Williams talk about The Bathers, making a life as a photographer, and the importance of first photography books, and to read a transcript of their further conversation, with Alexa Dilworth, about photography and books.

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                    June 26: “Audio Under the Stars” Audio Festival Continues With “Haunted”

                    June 22nd, 2015
                    Illustration by Jenn Hales (detail).

                    Illustration by Jenn Hales (detail).

                    What is it you can’t let go? Who—or what—won’t let go of you? We’ll have stories of obsessions, fixations, otherworldly encounters, and perhaps unwholesome interests. Our closet of skeletons is open; come have a peek.— Audio Under the Stars creators Jenny Morgan and Elizabeth Friend on “Haunted,” the theme of the upcoming event

                    Audio Under the Starsa series of summer-long outdoor listening parties created by alums of the Center for Documentary Studies summer audio institutes—debuted last summer to widespread delight, with curated playlists of most compelling, fun audio pieces. CDS is delighted to continue hosting this summer’s series on Friday, June 26, with Haunted: Obsessions, Fixations, and Otherworldly Encounters. Scroll down for the full series schedule.

                    Bring your own lawn chair or blanket. Dang Good Dogs will be selling hot dogs, turkey dogs, and veggie dogs all night. Audio Under the Stars is rain or shine. If it’s raining, we’ll be in the auditorium at CDS.

                    Stay up to date with Audio Under the Stars happenings through Facebook; use this link to submit your audio stories.

                    Note: Shows are from 8–10 p.m. at the Center for Documentary Studies, in Durham, North Carolina. Free parking. Directions.

                    Dog Days: Stories of Indolence and Frenzy
                    Show: July 24
                    It’s not all lazy days and picnics. The “Dog Days” were once considered an evil time when “wine grew sour and dogs turned mad.” Send us the good and the bad: summer flings and overheated outbursts; stories of indolence and frenzy. Plus, dogs. We like dogs.

                    Alternative Romance: Love Stories of All Stripes
                    Submissions Deadline: July 14
                    Show: August 28
                    What if the person, place, or thing that sets your heart strings strumming also sets you apart in some way? What if your happily ever after… wasn’t? We want to hear about unorthodox cravings, unexpected endings, and love stories of all stripes.

                    Bad Advice and Second Chances
                    Submissions Deadline: August 11
                    Show: September 25
                    Some of us have actually paid cash money for a 1974 Dodge Dart. Tell us your stories about when you listened to your Uncle Leo rather than your common sense and a Consumer Reports review, or any other time you told that small voice in your head to shut up and sit down, and how you’ve lived to tell the tale.

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                      Listen: Student Work from the Spring 2015 Short Audio Documentary Class Now Available Online

                      June 18th, 2015
                      Duke sophomore Sachin Patel interviews Shamar Kirk, a student at the School for Creative Studies in Durham.

                      Duke sophomore Sachin Patel interviews Shamar Kirk, a student at the School for Creative Studies in Durham.

                      Forty-five audio pieces from undergraduate students in this spring’s Short Audio Documentary course, taught by CDS audio program director John Biewen, are now available online.

                      Each student produced three short audio documentaries during the semester, choosing from a handful of predetermined themes and approaches. For the spring 2015 class, the themes of the pieces are:

                      Race@DukeIn the spring of 2015, against a backdrop of disturbing and overt expressions of racism across the country, incidents at Duke University sparked concern and discussion about racism on campus. In response, several students in The Short Audio Documentary produced pieces exploring race on campus for their final projects.

                      Teen Portraits: The class carried out a Service-Learning collaboration with students at the School for Creative Studies, a Durham public magnet school. SCS students met with Duke students throughout March and April to learn how to record and produce short audio documentaries, resulting in several Duke student-produced pieces with and about their SCS partners.

                      Third Coast Audio Challenge: Pieces responding to this year’s Third Coast International Audio Festival ShortDocs Challenge.

                      Duke Magazine: Audio pieces to accompany the alumni magazine’s stories online.

                      Producer’s Choice: Pieces on topics and themes chosen by the producers.

                      Visit the course website and hear all of the audio documentaries here.

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