Original documentaries: truthful and non-traditional

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Imagine you were given the opportunity to capture hidden voices and untold stories within your community. Where would you start and what would you highlight? Students in the College of Humanities at the University of Utah have that very chance every year.

Raw, insightful, and captivating are three words that can be used to describe the U of U’s 11th Annual Screening of Original Documentary Films. On April 18, from 7-8pm, the Departments of Communications and Humanities hosted this truly moving event.

“My favorite thing about watching the films was how very comfortable and inviting the environment was at the viewing,” Senior Lacey Chun said.  

The event was free to the public and took place at the Gould Auditorium in the Marriott Library. Chairs were placed for about 150 people, but ended up with close to 200 people anticipating the student-made films. These films ranged from stories about a Mexican family coming to the United States to a story about the aftermath of the Trolley Square shooting ten years ago.

The students making the films are part of a course known as Humanities in Focus (HIF). According to their website, HIF is a two-semester documentary course designed to help “non-traditional adult learners” gain filmmaking skills. This course is also free to the public.

Jeff Metcalf, the founder and director of HIF, states on the website, “These stories deserve to be told…Somehow, I would find a way to teach them [students] how to make films and find a “voice” for their stories.”

IB students at Hillcrest were invited to the event by Dr. Sneddon, who teaches IB History at Hillcrest and is a professor at the University of Utah. The theme of social justice and community awareness were things Hillcrest students were told to keep in mind as they watched the films.

“[There are] many people in our own community who struggle with problems that we didn’t even realize were happening,” Chun added.  “These films showed me how there are many people in Utah who have struggled and continue to struggle with problems that are very serious and even heartbreaking.”

After each film the actual subject of the film and crew stood at the podium and were greeted with applause and the occasional standing ovation. Together there were about 10 films revealed that night, each of them highlighting topics of race, identity, religion, homelessness, or violence.

Overall, it was a thought-provoking experience. I am grateful to have been able to see the films and think about how social issues are specific to an individual, yet need to be acknowledged by everyone. For more information on the classes and the film screening visit Humanities in Focus.

 

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