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Director's Note - November, 2015

November 24, 2015

Much to be thankful for.

Director’s Note

It is a time for giving thanks and MDOCS has much to be grateful for as the end of the semester draws close. 

On campus, MDOCS welcomed Jesse Wakeman, a graduate of Ithaca College’s Roy H. Park School of Communications as program coordinator and experienced media expert. She’s already bringing a professional touch and friendly support to everything MDOCS—look for her on campus!

MDOCS Bill Daniel Exhibit
Wakeman documenting the Bil Daniel pop-up exhibit

Space and time are proving no barrier to documentary community. In October, MDOCS hosted a mini-residency with alum Jesse Flower-Ambroch ’06, who connected with documentary students interested in adding sound effects to film and religious studies students demonstrating sound meditation. The campus learned about founder Lucy Scribner’s silver, now part of Special Collections, from an exhibit researched and presented by Jane Kjaer, and Dorothea Trufleman ’16 offered a long-term visitor’s view of Cuba in photographs taken during a spring semester spent in a photography program in Havana. FilmmakerChip Duncanstopped in to talk about his upcoming projects. We’ll have more on November’s newsletter about a busy month with students completing a documentary film and exhibit project for the Adult and Senior Center of Saratoga, our hosting of multimedia artist Bill Daniel, documentarian filmmakers on campus and more.

Enrollment for spring semester courses in documentary arts and skills is strong; look for a some additions over the next few weeks.  Planning is also under way for spring events with a focus on the business and ethics of documentary work, in collaboration with Media and Film Studies Program and professionals on and off campus.  

From the director’s perch, I’m particularly grateful to have spent a fruitful weekend in North Carolina at the forum celebrating the first 25 years of Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies (highlights here), a pioneer in developing a program that connects practitioners of the documentary arts, students and community partners in a common pursuit of telling stories that matter and using them to foster change locally, nationally and internationally.  As CDS Director Wesley Hogan emphasized in her introductory remarks, documentary relies on fieldwork, attention to ethics and aesthetics to create compelling stories. That combination was on display in film, photography, audio and multimedia works and remarks offered by a host of rising and established practitioners whose commitment to changing the world, one story at a time, was inspiring. Hearing about the importance of research, archive, persistence and imagination to take a project from idea to public impact drove home the thread binding storytellers working in different media.

But we're not done yet! MDOCS wraps up the semester with a networking night for students and area documentarians and arts community organizations on December 11. And please join us on December 2 a screening of Sundance breakout first feature of 2014, (t)error, with co-director David Felix Sutcliffe, at the Tang's Somers Screening Room. While in the Tang Museum, stop in and visit the exhibit No Place to Hide to see how artists grapple with surveillance in contemporary American society, as well as a map of surveillance cameras in town as mapped by students in a first year seminar of the same name.

Happy Thanksgiving and see you in December,
J. Dym