Docs on Campus: Spring '17 Documentary Films Reviewed
It's not unusual for faculty to bring documentary films to college campuses to help make connections to places familiar and strange. This semester Skidmore welcomed national and international perspectives for the Skidmore and Saratoga communities. Student storytellers made connections to stories that matter and interviewed some of the visitors.
Faculty teaching Middle Eastern history, politics, visual media and environmental studies hosted a four-night Middle Eastern film series showing aspects of the region distinct from what is frequently depicted in mass media, hosting discussions after each. Jill Moosman '18 reviews the first two films. The Asian Studies Program hosted two films: One Mind, which prompted reviewer Daphne Feller' to explore the difference between a "Buddhist film" and one about Buddhism, and Of Shadows, capturing the liveliness and resilience of a group of local shadow-play artists in China’s Loess Plateau, navigating between the rural staging of ancient plays and the urban spectacle of national cultural heritage..
Biography, a staple of documentary storytelling, inspired portraits showcasing the professionala and personal lives of two American executives with very different stories. The first tracked the decisions and relationships that shaped investor Warren Buffet in a film produced by alum Teddy Kunhardt. The second chronicled the life of Christine (née David) Hallquist, CEO of a Vermont electric company in a story by son, filmmaker and Saratoga Springs resident Derek Hallquist.
Drawing attention closer to home, the American Studies Department hosted the filmmakers and community members of the Rapp Road Historic District of Albany, New York, for a screening of Crossroads: The History of Rapp Road. The event inspired students with their connection of the Great Migration to a community just behind the Crossgates Mall, with stories of perseverance and faith, as well as how southern spatial sense created a neighborhood in the north.
In addition, the Saratoga Springs Film Forum hosted an unprecedented sold-out, four-night presentation of Raoul Peck's new feature documentary I Am Not Your Negro, bringing the words and ideas of James Baldwin to life; this timely release makes clear the cost incurred by partcipants in the civil rights movement, their accomplishments and the road we still have to travel to achieve equity and justice.
In short, Skidmore and Saratoga springs had no dearth of meaningful documentary stories to promote reflection, respect and engagement. And if you missed these films when they were on campus and in Saratoga Springs, you may have your summer viewing list already queued up.