Original Body of Pain Lands Outreach Grant

Wake Forest University’s Center for Bioethics, Health and Society has awarded SJ Wright and Dominic Silva an outreach and impact grant for their thesis film Original Body of Pain.  The film profiles the lived experiences of women and children struggling with the ripples of opioid addiction.  The grant will provide the filmmakers with $5,000 to use toward project outreach and educational support materials

“We are thrilled that CBHS is supporting our efforts to bring the stories of these resilient women into the community and to educate the public about the stigma around opioid addiction,” said Wright and Silva.

We congratulate the Silva and Wright on securing this grant and extend our appreciation to the CBHS for its continued support of DFP student films.

Berra Co-Directs New York Times Op-Doc

DFP alumna Monica Berra (MFA ’16) co-directed, produced, and edited, Black Colleges in the Age of Trump, released this week by The New York Times Op-Docs. Berra co-directed the Op-Doc with critically acclaimed filmmaker Stanley Nelson. Nelson is an Emmy and Peabody award-winning director and producer, a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, and a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Documentary Association.

“I’m thrilled to share this short documentary which takes a look at the treatment of our nation’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) by the Trump administration. It was a true honor to make this film with director Stanley Nelson.”

                                                                                 — Monica Berra

The Op-Doc is adapted from Nelson’s latest feature documentary Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities, will premiere on the PBS series Independent Lens on Feb. 19th 2018 at 9pm ET. Berra is the Impact and Engagement Coordinator for the film. You can learn more about the film and its outreach events at Tell Them We Are Rising #HBCUrising.

Daddy Premieres in DC

Congratulations to John Gallen (MFA ’17) and Alex Faoro (MFA’17)!  We are delighted to share the news that their film Daddy will make its world premiere as an official selection of the DC Independent Film Festival on February 19th.

Daddy tells the story of beloved youth basketball coach and duplicitous drug trafficker Curtis Malone. In examining Curtis’s life from his childhood to his arrest, it challenges audiences to decide if he is a calculating criminal or caring mentor. In addition to Curtis, the film includes interviews with the NBA players he raised, the DEA agents who investigated him, and the U.S. Attorney who prosecuted him.

Emmy-Nominated Producer and Editor Visits DFP

Emmy-nominated producer and editor Inbal Lessner stopped by the DFP this week to share her producing and editing expertise with the students. Lessner, who is serving as a visiting instructor at UNCSA this fall, has worked in non-scripted television, documentary series, documentary feature and narrative films. She produced and edited Brave Miss World, which premiered at AFI Docs and was launched as a Netflix exclusive in 2014. The film received an Emmy nomination for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking. Lessner spoke to the students about her career path and offered a workshop on archival editing.

Gilbert Leads BendFilm Festival Panel

DPF Professor of Practice and producer/cinematographer Peter Gilbert recently moderated the second annual First Features panel at the BendFilm Festival in Bend, Oregon. The First Features panel brings in established independent filmmakers to share their experience to help mentor emerging filmmakers breaking into the industry. Gilbert discussed his filmmaking journey from the Sundance premiere of the documentary Hoop Dreams to the experience of making his first narrative feature, Prefontaine.  Gilbert and the panelists also discussed the industry-wide issues emerging filmmakers face today.  The panelists included: Jamie Brooks (Bomb City), Kate Brooks (The Last Animals), Josh Crockett (Dr. Brink & Dr. Brinks), and Jen Heck (The Promised Band)

BendFilm Festival also hosted a 20th anniversary screening and post film discussion of Prefontaine. The film, produced by Gilbert and directed by Steve James, chronicles the life of long distance runner Steve Prefontiane.

Sheridan to Speak at Mizzou

Chris Sheridan is heading to the University of Missouri to take part in a two-day conference looking at how the digital disruption is changing the business of content.  The two day conference is called Revenue Models That Work:  The Challenge of Creating the Most Engaging Content While Maintaining Profits – or as Chris likes to say – “Selling your stuff without settling your soul”.  Drawing from his time at ESPN and CNBC – Chris will  be moderating a panel on the opportunities that niche content presents – how you can really make money by super-serving a smaller, but dedicated audience.

Award-Winning Filmmaker Visits DFP

Award-winning director and editor Hemal Trivedi will visit the DFP on October 10-11. During her two-day visit, Trivedi will share her storytelling expertise and editing techniques with the DFP students and provide advice and feedback on thesis film projects.

Trivedi’s work as a filmmaker and editor has been recognized with one Oscar and three Emmy wins and seven Emmy nominations.   Her work has been showcased in major film festivals including Sundance, Tribeca, and IDFA and broadcast on Netflix, HBO, and PBS (Frontline and Independent Lens). Trivedi’s critically acclaimed film Among the Believers, which premiered at the Tribeca film festival, was ranked as one of the top documentaries of 2015.   Among the Believers screened in over 50 film festivals in 25 countries and won 12 awards including an Independent Spirit Award nomination.

The DPF will host a screening of Among the Believers on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at The Graduate School @ Brookstown, 200 Brookstown Avenue, Suite 302B.

DFP Hosts Meet the Filmmaker Session with Jessica Devaney

The DFP will host a lunchtime “Meet the Filmmaker” session with Jessica Devaney, co-director of Love the Sinner, on Thursday, October 5.  Love the Sinner is a short documentary that explores the Evangelical roots of homophobia in the wake of the Pulse shooting.

Devaney will speak to DFP students about her experience directing the film and her work as a producer and communications strategist.  She recently produced Speed Sisters (2015), which follows an intrepid team of Palestinian women racecar drivers.  Devaney co-produced the Peabody Award winning short My Neighbourhood (2012) and produced its companion web series Home Front (2011). She associate produced Budrus (2009), which won over a dozen international awards, including the Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize. Devaney is a 2016 Women at Sundance Fellow, founder of the Queer Producers Collective and the former Director of Communications at Just Vision.

The lunch session with Devaney will be hosted at noon in Room 302B.  A screening of Love the Sinner and a panel discussion hosted by the Department of the Study of Religions and Pro Humanitate Institute will take place on Thursday evening at 6:00 p.m. in Annenberg Auditorium, Carswell Hall.

Wright and Zhang Represent DFP at Pitch Perfect

DFP students S.J. Wright and Hao Zhang will head to the Big Easy soon to test their pitching talents in the New Orleans International Film Festival’s Pitch Perfect competition.  The annual Pitch Perfect competition provides film students from universities across the South with the opportunity to practice the art of pitching in front of a panel of film industry professionals.

Wright will pitch Original Body of Pain, an observational documentary, co-directed by Dominic Silva, that follows three young mothers touched by the American opioid epidemic.  Zhang will pitch An American Adventure, a film that follows Chinese university students in North Carolina as they encounter evangelical Christianity and struggle with questions of faith and identity. The Pitch Perfect competition takes place on Friday, October 13.