I’m probably the only person in Columbia who would admit this, but I’ve never been a fan of documentary films.
*pause for gasp*
I don’t recall exactly which documentary I watched in my younger days that made me dismiss the craft but I vaguely recall not being interested in the subject and questioning the purpose and my time spent watching it.
I have to tell you, though, I’m developing a new respect for documentary filmmaking—especially after Saturday’s Senior Film Showcase.
I told you about the showcase before, but I focused on more of the fictional pieces; Kelli Devon Ross’s animation, Kelcie Mattson’s quirky blend of sci-fi and film noir and Emily Damiano’s superhero love fighter film. And none of those disappointed—they were highly entertaining.
But, to my surprise, I especially enjoyed the documentaries and films based on actual events.
In “Displacement,” Sky Robinson gave us an uncomfortable glimpse of early stages of dementia when two girls, along with their mother, visit their grandmother’s house for an awkward, but also very real and touching, afternoon.
Similarly, Erika Adair’s film, “Still,” gave us a 7:37-minute look into the mind of a 5-year-old boy with a camera and how it changed his own lens on life.
Both based on true stories, the short films were intense stories that might not rise to the level of mainstream entertainment but do expose audience members to slices of lives other than our own, but that we can certainly all relate to.
The showcase included three documentaries, including a kinda-uncomfortable-but-I-think-it-was-supposed-to-be look at some of our students’ “first time.” Although not a topic old women like myself really want to hear about, you gotta give filmmaker Tenetta Steward props for tackling the subject—especially since she worked with our psychology department about how to broach the topic and did her homework and research before just putting a camera in front of students’ faces and asking them tough questions.
The documentaries that really made me realize the significance of documentaries as a whole, though, were “Sovereign” by Tiffany Paradise and “The Wonder Tower” by Jacqui Joyce.
In “Sovereign,” Tiffany introduced us to Anita Brandon, a St. Louis-based recording artists, and her latest album, Sovereign. The 8-minute documentary highlighted her life as a preacher’s kid and now minister in the St. Louis area.
And Jacqui’s “Wonder Tower” featured the Wonder Tower in Colorado, a quirky museum run by a quirky man. And I seriously just looked down and read that her one-word summary of the film was “quirky,” so I think I described that pretty well!
The world-at-large doesn’t know about Anita Brandon and the good works she’s doing or the Wonder Tower museum and all of its quirkiness in Colorado. And perhaps they’re never going to be thrust into a national spotlight. Perhaps the beauty of documentaries is that they introduce us to people and places we would not find on our own. And, yes, I realize that might seem obvious to people who have enjoyed documentaries for years, but I’m just now catching on.
Really, though, congrats to all of our senior filmmakers for an excellent showcase event.