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Doc members in downtown Durham awaiting the Awards Barbecue (from the left: Mason Sklut, Sean Dolan, Mary Johnson, Emma Kwiatkowski, Heather Cassano, Olivia Pohl, Bia Jurema, Katherine Wise and Nicole Triche)

Last weekend, Elondoc members had the amazing opportunity to attend the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham. The festival incorporates a collection of over 100 carefully selected non-fiction films to be shown over the course of several days. The festival also included various discussions and Q&A panels accompanying films as well as smaller fellows-only sessions where filmmakers talked openly to Elondoc members about their experiences and suggestions for aspiring filmmakers. “The main thing I learned at the festival, through panels with filmmakers and the Q&A sessions, was the best way to make a documentary is to just do it!” said Heather Cassano. “Sometimes I have a lot of trouble getting started on my projects, and it was inspiring to hear from filmmakers about their challenges as well.” All Elondoc members agreed that getting the opportunity to meet and hear from many of the filmmakers was something that made the weekend particularly special and inspirational.


The films also inspired the group to think differently about topics they wouldn’t otherwise focus on in-depth and transported them to different world through camera lenses showcasing a myriad different perspectives. Olivia Pohl really liked the way Alan Berliner’s “First Cousin Once Removed” made her think about time, memory and control by bringing to view the life and mind of a man named Edwin experiencing Alzheimer’s disease. “This movie brings forth the ultimate loss of control, and yet, in a way, paints the topic in a hopeful light,” she said. “In the beginning of the film when Berliner asks Edwin if he knows what is happening to him, Edwin replies, “I know I gave up the past to live in the present.” This is an interesting idea, because many people have been told from a young age to always live in the present and not to dwell on the past. In a strange way, Alzheimer’s is simply a forced version of that inspirational phrase.” “Last Call at the Oasis” was another film that made viewers think differently about the world they live in. It revealed the severity of the water crisis and brought to light an issue many people in the United States seem oblivious to as reflected through their continuous consumption of a limited and precious resource. “The film reminded me of the Flannery O’Connor quote: The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it,” said Mary Johnson. “I love documentaries that are wake-up calls. It took me outside the bubble I live in and educated me about a problem I knew little about before entering the theatre.”

The weekend was one of enjoyment and growth where doc members got to experience different mindsets through film as well as different methods for storytelling. “I learned that there are many experimental methods being used in modern documentary filmmaking, and I loved watching them being implemented at the festival,” said Devon Gailey. Emma Kwiatkowski and Mason Sklut said they took away insights about the process of storytelling, like maintaining focus by always keeping the story at the center, and learned how to bring the meaning of a documentary and its editing to a deeper level. The atmosphere throughout the festival contained the energy and passion from an audience who truly cared immensely about filmmaking and were excited to share and learn. The doc members was excited to be among a group of such talented filmmakers and to get the amazing opportunity to hear and learn from them– not only through discussions and panels–but through experiencing their completed works and witnessing their marvelous mastery first-hand as well. 

Elon Docs Favorite Film Picks

Looking for a great documentary to watch? Here are some of the highlights from the festival:

Gideon’s Army,” recommended by Mason Sklut

A Story for the Modlins,” recommended by Devon Gailey

The Crash Reel,” recommended by Heather Cassano and Sean Dolan

First Cousin Once Removed,” recommended by Olivia Pohl& Mary Johnson

The Record-Breaker,” recommended by Emma Kwiatkowski

Spinning Plates,” recommended by Bia Jurema and Katherine Wise




Apply now for the 2013-2014 production program!

Deadline : Friday, April 5th at 5pm

Interviews: mid April


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Grand Prize Winner,Sean Dolan, (second from the right) is pictured with People’s Pick Winner, Rebekah Rausch (second from the left) and two film judges.Photo courtesy of E-net.

Elon Docs member, Sean Dolan, won the grand prize in a North Carolina Campus Compact film competition for his short documentary “Hear For Me.” The film is about an Elon student who engages and strengthens society by learning sign language and becoming a proponent for the deaf community. Congrats Sean!


Glenn Baker,Dominic Bracco and Kem Knapp Sawyer from The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting sat down with members of the elondocs program last Wednesday to share insights they’ve experienced in their Documentarian careers. The journalists shared stories of travel, and the issues they discovered while across seas. Kem Sawyer witnessed and documented the crisis in Haiti first-hand,as well as water and health issues in India. Dominic Bracco shared his experience documenting the violence in Mexico and his brief project covering the water trouble in the Aral Sea as well. Glenn Baker told the elondoc members how he’d produced over 40 documentaries on little known issues everywhere from Bangladesh to Cuba. It was an inspiring experience for the members to meet with Documentarians who had accomplished and discovered so much through their travel and it helped motivate and keep hopes high for the passionate group members.

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting speakers are visiting Elon to share stories they’ve witnessed in their unique field of work. Their presentation “Endangered Children” incoorporates accounts of young people battling hardships in Haiti, Bangladesh and along the Mexican border. Video Documentarian,Glenn Baker, and Photographic  Documentarians Dominic Bracco and Kem Knapp Sawyer will discuss their projects with a Q&A session afterwards.

“Endangered Children” Thursday Sept. 27, 7-8:30pm Whitley AuditoriumImage

Photo from Kem Knapp Sawyer’s project Cynthia in Haiti: After the Earthquake.Cynthia,13, and her mother stand outside their tent camp. Photo from Kem Knapp Sawyer.


Also students can apply for the great opportunity to accompany a Pulitzer Center journalist. Interest meeting Wed Sept 26, 7-8pm McEwen 214. More info here 

African &African-American Studies (AAASE) special showing of the film adapted from Zora Neale Hurston’s novel  Their Eyes Were Watching God at Barnes & Noble Bookstore on Tuesday, September 18, from 4:15-7:00pm. Refreshments and discussion with UNC-G Professor of African American Studies, Dr. Tara Green following screening. 



Don’t forget to check out the Into Poverty: Living on One Dollar premiere at 7pm in KOBC afterwards as well! More info here 


The film Into Poverty: Living on One Dollar  follows four friends who traveled to rural Guatemala and lived on $1 a day to understand what what life is like for most of the world.For them it’s an experiment, but for 1 billion people it’s a reality. It’s an insightful and inspiring journey that shows a lifestyle often heard about, but never understand until now.

They combat misconceptions about lack of ambition and lack of intelligence as the creator of poverty and instead see that many people are just born into an environment without the resources we take for granted ever day.The filmmakers will be there for Q&A after the showing so don’t miss this unique opportunity to get your questions answered and learn about their fascinating journey.

 Special Premiere is Tuesday,September 18th in the KOBC Larose Digital Theater.

 Full details on Facebook