Myra Greene has often used the human body—primarily black and brown ones, often her own—to explore issues of difference, beauty, and memory. In conversations with white friends, she realized that they had very different notions of racial identity than her own; in one pivotal exchange, a friend remarked that he really didn’t think about whiteness. “I left that night wondering about how one could lack consciousness about one’s racial identity. I had never considered this was possible,” says Greene. “But in the end his position made absolute sense. As the dominant part of popular culture, whiteness is fed back to us as the definition of ‘normal’; it’s marketed as the everyday.” Greene’s My White Friends project was born out of these revelations. Scroll down for a slideshow of images.
My White Friends
Exhibition Dates: Monday, March 10–Saturday, May 17, 2014
Artist’s Talk & Book Signing : April 9, 6–9 p.m.
Center for Documentary Studies, Juanita Kreps Gallery
1317 W. Pettigrew St., Durham, North Carolina
The project’s “racial identity portraits” are co-constructions with Greene’s friends that capture the individual characteristics that make them feel decidedly “white.” Green describes her subjects as being “manicured into a space and provided an opportunity to respond to the idea of being imaged for their race. Some found it amusing; for others, it caused great anxiety.” Greene says that some people see the images as mundane, because at first glance “they appear as something one sees every day. But if you shift your view a bit, they call into question a lot of bigger concerns about how we describe, and then think about, racial identity.” Her goal is thoughtful dialogue. “I want conversations, not categories.”
Myra Greene’s quotes are edited from “Conversation Starter,” an interview with Tate Shaw that appears in the book My White Friends, published by Kehrer Verlag in 2012.
A new digital magazine created by Duke University undergraduates at the Center for Documentary Studies aims to present “the best of the best” student documentary work, says Documentary Publishing instructor Duncan Murrell. From editing to design to promotion, Vanishing Point is a purely student-run publication that will feature work in a variety of documentary forms—audio, film and video, photography, and writing.
Murrell, CDS’s writer-in-residence, describes the magazine’s evolution:
“Two months ago the staff of Vanishing Point had never even met each other. Since then, they’ve come together to develop an idea about how to publish documentary work on the web, they’ve argued over what makes something ‘documentary,’ they’ve argued over what makes a piece of documentary work great, they’ve studied the case histories of legacy magazines (Life, Paris Match, Time, New York) as well as leading-edge, new magazines like XOJane, Rookie, Bomb, Flaunt, and many others. They’ve heard from the publisher of The Awl in class, and debated with him the question of what makes a good web magazine. They’ve sorted through 100+ submissions to the magazine in every medium, worked with each artist to improve their work, copyedited, proofread, wrote heds and deks, designed a website, and developed a social media and promotional program.
“I am truly intimidated by this class, and being a little intimidated by your students is a good place to be as a teacher.”
Vanishing Point is publishing student documentary work, past and present, from other CDS classes (undergrads, grads, and continuing ed), and other Duke and UNC–Chapel Hill students, with the goal of branching out in subsequent issues to include work from North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University, Durham Tech, and other local colleges.
Renowned artist Carrie Mae Weems will give this year’s Rothschild Lecture at Duke’s Nasher Museum of Art. A star in the contemporary art world known for powerful and provocative photographs and videos, Weems has worked in both documentary and autobiographical photography over her thirty-year career, creating works that invite contemplation of race, gender, and class. She has said she wants “people of color to stand for the human multitudes” and for her work to resonate with all audiences.
Thursday, March 6, 7–9 p.m.; doors at 6:30 p.m.
Nasher Museum Auditorium
2001 Campus Dr., Durham, North Carolina
Weems is a 2013 recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant, and the first African American female artist to receive a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, a retrospective show that is currently on view.
The lecture is free and open to the public. Space is limited.
The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival has announced its Invited Program and NEW DOCS lineup of new feature and short films. Click here for a full list with brief descriptions. Specific screening times and venues will be announced with the release of the festival schedule on March 13. Filmmaker Doug Block’s 112 Weddings will have its world premiere as the Opening Night Film on Thursday, April 3.
The Invited Program features 21 films screening out of competition, including the festival’s “Center Frame” screenings, with moderated panel discussions after the films. The NEW DOCS program includes 10 World and 10 North American Premieres in 48 titles (33 features and 15 shorts) from across the United States and around the world, selected from over 1,200 submissions. NEW DOCS films are eligible for the Full Frame Audience Award and are shortlisted for a variety of additional juried prizes.
112 Weddings, an HBO Documentary Film, is a heartwarming, poignant examination of the struggles and joys of lifelong partnership. Acclaimed director Doug Block (51 Birch Street), was a part-time wedding videographer for two decades; in the film, he revisits couples years after the big day in order to see how love and life have unfolded.
One of the nation’s premier documentary film festivals, Full Frame celebrates its 17th annual festival this April 3–6. Full Frame is a qualifying event for consideration for the nominations for both the Academy Award® for Best Documentary Short Subject and the Producers Guild of America Awards.
The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is a program of the Center for Documentary Studies.
The Center for Documentary Studies is proud to announce the second year of the re-launched Lange-Taylor Prize, which supports documentary artists—working alone or in teams—who are involved in extended, ongoing fieldwork projects that rely on and exploit, in intriguing and effective ways, the interplay of words and images in the creation and presentation of their work.
The guidelines were updated in 2011 to expand on the idea of “writing” by allowing words to be represented by audio or in graphic novel format. Edited oral histories, creative narratives, and poetry (that is both personal and social) are also encouraged. The new guidelines require that artists have already started their fieldwork. However, please note, the guidelines no longer stipulate that a writer and a photographer, i.e., two people or more, collaborate on a project. Single artists and collaborative teams working with text/audio/photographs/video/graphic novel format may apply. There are no restrictions regarding age, nationality, or subject matter.
The winner receives $10,000, a solo exhibition at the Center for Documentary Studies, and inclusion in the Archive of Documentary Arts at the David M. Rubenstein Library, Duke University. The winner will be publicly announced in September 2014; the winner’s solo exhibition will be on view at CDS in fall 2015.
The American Society of Media Photographers is sustaining sponsor of the Dorothea Lange–Paul Taylor Prize.
In recognition of Women’s History Month, the third annual Alice Fest film festival showcases curated and submitted works by women with a special emphasis on women’s history and achievements. Alice Fest screens short documentaries, experimental films, documentary works-in-progress, animation, and multimedia projects. The 2014 lineup for shorts and works-in-progress has been announced. FREE and open to the public but seating is limited. Reserve a spot by sending your name to: infoAliceFest@gmail.com.
Sunday, March 9; doors and refreshments at 1 p.m., screenings begin at 1:30 p.m.
Full Frame Theater, Power Plant Building, American Tobacco Campus
320 Blackwell St., Durham, North Carolina
Alice Fest is named for filmmaking pioneer Alice Guy-Blaché (1873–1968). From 1896–1906, she was Gaumont Film Company’s head of production, and is generally considered to be the first filmmaker to systematically develop narrative filmmaking. Watch clips from some of Guy-Blaché’s films and learn more about her life and career here.
Alice Fest is produced by founder and executive director Vivian Bowman-Edwards and is sponsored by The Alice Project. Co-sponsors include the Center for Documentary Studies and the Southern Documentary Fund.
Spaces remain in three Center for Documentary Studies Continuing Education classes. For more information, and to register, click the class links below. Other than One Voice, which will be held online, classes are at CDS; for directions, click here.
One Voice: Constructing a Narrative (Phoebe Judge)
Wednesdays, March 5–April 9, 7–9 p.m.
NOTE: This is an online class.
Turning an interview into a compelling narrative is one of the fundamental challenges in audio documentary—indeed, in all documentary work. In One Voice, students will conduct a long-form interview with one subject for 45 minutes to an hour and then use it to construct a piece with a cohesive narrative arc and thread. Unlike reportorial pieces, which make use of ambient sound and outside voices, this piece will rely on voice alone, along with the student’s narration.
RESCHEDULED: Introduction to Audio Documentary Workshop (Aaron Smithers)
Saturday, March 8 & Sunday, March 9, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
In this class, students will learn the basics of audio documentary, with an emphasis on obtaining good results in recording. This workshop is a condensed version of the full eight-week course offered in the fall, which includes more in-depth work and instruction in audio editing. It is intended especially for students who live outside the Durham area.
Writing Memoir (John Manuel)
Mondays, March 10–April 28, 6:30–8:30 p.m.
Memoirs are not just the province of the rich and famous. Memoirs can be written by anyone at any point in his or her life and about any aspect of that life. This course is designed to introduce students to the many different forms of memoirs and to encourage them to work on their own. Classes will help students find their voice, decide how to frame their stories, and begin writing. The class also offers guidance on publishing.
For a complete list of spring and summer Continuing Education classes at CDS, click here.
Al Letson, host of the popular NPR/PRX radio show State of the Re:Union, will discuss the show and share audio and video clips in a public talk, “A More Perfect Union,” sponsored by the Center for Documentary Studies. The Public Radio Talent Quest Winner will also incorporate performance elements from his other lives as an actor and poetry slam performer.
“Telling the story of America, one community at a time.” That’s the tagline for State of the Re:Union; each hour-long program focuses on one city, region, or other community and features interviews, commentary, recordings, listener-generated letters, and music.
Note: Due to weather concerns, these two events scheduled for March 3 and 4 have been postponed; stay tuned for rescheduling updates. Duke University’s Forum for Scholars and Publics is hosting two events—a screening and a lunchtime conversation—with award-winning Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck; both are free and open to the public.
Screening of Fatal Assistance
Monday, March 3, reception at 5:30 p.m., screening at 6:15 p.m.
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr., Durham, North Carolina
Peck’s documentary charts a two-year journey into the post-disaster reconstruction process in Haiti, revealing the complexities and failures of humanitarian aid following the 2010 earthquake. A reception will precede the screening; following the film, director Peck and author Jonathan Katz will participate in a Q&A session. Watch a trailer for Fatal Assistance.
Tuesday, March 4, 12–1:30 p.m.
Lunch with Raoul Peck
Forum for Scholars & Publics, 011 Old Chemistry, Duke West Campus
415 Chapel Dr., Durham, North Carolina
At an informal lunchtime conversation, Peck will talk about his career and his perspective on the current global politics of filmmaking and representation. A light lunch will be served.
For more information about Raoul Peck and the events, click here.
The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival has announced its annual Thematic Program, which will look at the role of the subject in documentary through a series of films curated by esteemed filmmaker Lucy Walker, and Full Frame Tribute, which will celebrate the work of award-winning filmmaker Steve James with a retrospective series of his work. Both Walker and James will attend the the seventeenth annual festival, held this year April 3–6.
Lucy Walker is a British film director whose feature and short documentaries—Waste Land, The Crash Reel, The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, among others—have been nominated for two Academy Awards, seven Emmys, an Independent Spirit Award, and a Gotham Award, and have won over eighty other film awards. Titles in Walker’s Thematic Program will be announced in March. “We’re interested in how the people featured in documentary films—their personal openness and charisma—shape the impact of these works,” said Sadie Tillery, Full Frame’s director of programming.
“There’s a deep tie between our Thematic Program and Tribute this year in that Steve James is responsible for introducing audiences to some of the most memorable documentary subjects of all time,” remarked Tillery. The 2014 Full Frame Tribute recipient produced and directed Hoop Dreams, winner of every major critics’ prize; other award-winning films include Stevie, At the Death House Door, No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson, and The Interrupters. James’s most recent documentary on the life and career of critic Roger Ebert, Life Itself, premiered to great acclaim at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Titles in the Full Frame Tribute series will be announced in March.
The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is a program of the Center for Documentary Studies.