Sandy Tripods

Sandy Tripods

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill may have drifted to the far corners of our collective memory, but its impacts are still being felt along the affected region of the Gulf Coast. From Pensacola to New Orleans, there continue to be environmental, economic, and sociopolitical consequences that have often escaped the attention of those not directly involved in the aftermath of the spill. www.youtube.com/watch?v=hn4exS_TeGw Through the Interdisciplinary Documentary Media Fellowship, the four of us, Hilary Brashear, Dan Fries, Gebby Keny, Sarah Moses, have had the opportunity to travel down to the Gulf Coast. Following Prof. Helen White and her two chemistry students, Alana Thurston and Chloe Wang, we traveled from Pensacola, FL to Gulfport, MS to New Orleans, LA as they collected samples of oil that continue to wash up along the shore. Rain or shine (mostly shine…hot shine) Helen, Alana, and Chloe marched forward on their search as we chased them with our cameras. Their discerning eyes were quite impressive, finding the tiniest of oil samples among the decoy debris (much to our chagrin, whenever we tried to help we just picked up wood chips). Running after Helen in the blazing heat consists of only part of our documentation this summer. Together, we are developing a short film about the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon spill that explores questions of restoration and voice, while examining our own role as outsiders to the region and the issues at hand. We return to the Gulf in July, focusing our efforts primarily on New Orleans. To be continued… ...

Documentary short on African-American Catholic music culture

This past winter break, I had the chance to travel to Mississippi on a research stipend through the Hurford Center in order to film a short documentary on African-American Catholic music culture in the Deep South. During the filming, I collaborated with film students from The University of Mississippi, and throughout the editing process I will be working with Brandon Kelly ’15. A screening of the film will take place on Haverford’s campus later this semester. Martin Luther King once made the penetrating observation “that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.” Unfortunately, this remark remains true today in Mississippi. Segregation in church has continued for the most part, despite increasing integration in other institutions. A consequence of this fact has been the formation of a distinct African-American gospel music, separate from white, European church music. Just as churches have often been segregated, religious music styles and philosophies have traditionally been divided by race. However, African-American Catholic church music may not be understood based on these conventional parameters about race and tradition. Before the Second Vatican Council, all Catholic churches were limited in their freedom of musical expression during the Mass. For example, the use of any percussion instruments (including piano) was prohibited. In addition, it was required that the Mass be said in Latin. These constraints created a uniformity to religious Catholic worship that crossed both national and racial borders. No matter where you walked into a Mass, it would theoretically be the same. After the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, this all changed. The Vatican lifted restrictions and Catholic...

Finishing My Documentary: “Chipinga”

Over the past few weeks since returning from England, I have been working around the clock to finish my documentary. I went through many stages of rough cuts—the first was 14-minutes and I was finally able to cut it down to 10-minutes with the help of suggestions from my classmates, Professor Vicky Funari, Corey Chao, friends and family. I finally finished my film this past Monday and then on Thursday—May 2—I screened my film, along with the other films made in the Advanced Documentary Video Production course. The running time for the film is 10-minutes and 23-seconds. Below is a link to the final version (for now) of Chipinga.  Watch the film here: Here is a brief description of the film: “Chipinga” is a documentary film, which details a filmmaker’s journey to wade through the multiple layers of her mother’s childhood memories and recollect memories she never had. This film illustrates what stories and images from a past life mean to three generations—a granddaughter, a mother and a grandmother—and how the past is constantly re-imagined in the present. Director’s Statement: My mother was born the 1960s in Chipinga—a small town in southern Rhodesia, which later became Zimbabwe. She grew up on a dairy farm during wartime and knew how to shoot, take apart, clean and reassemble an automatic weapon by the age of nine. As a child I idealized her memories and chose to only see the beauty and excitement in these stories. As I grew older, I heard the stories in new ways and learned about the complexity, tragedy and inequality that underlay each moment of life in...

From the Desk of Beth Willman /// SAVING HUBBLE

This Thursday inaugurates the Hurford Center’s new Fall 2012 Tuttle Film Series “Re-Envisioning Film Across the Disciplines,” featuring three films and conversations organized by faculty from the Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and Humanities.  The series’ first film is Saving Hubble (2012, 70mins), directed by David Gaynes, who will be joining us for the screening at 7:00 p.m. in Stokes Auditorium, as well as for a public observing (weather permitting) at 8:45pm after the post-film discussion.  Also along for the ride is Dr. Nitya Kallivayalil (YCAA Prize Fellow, Yale Center for Astronomy & Astrophysics).  The event’s organizer and host is Assistant Professor of Astronomy Beth Willman, who explains how it all fits together: I’m excited to host this film at Haverford, for the ways it will impact my Astronomical Ideas class and for the opportunity that it brings to connect with the community outside of our class – inside and outside Haverford.  Both director David Gaynes and astronomer Nitya Kallivayalil (Yale) will host a post-film discussion.  I’m thrilled that some local amateur astronomers will also be joining us for the screening, with a few bringing their own telescopes for sky (and moon) viewing after the event if skies are clear. Dr. Kallivayalil’s participation in the screening will enrich our discussion about this film, thanks to her unique expertise in using the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to measure the orbits of the Magellanic Clouds.  The day after the screening, both director Gaynes and Dr. Kallivayalil will visit Astronomical Ideas to tell the students (and some of their parents!) more about their work and to answer questions.  To complement this event, we...

Filming through New England and the Mid-Atlantic

In my last post, I wrote that I am making a documentary this summer about my grandfather, Albert Schatz, who discovered streptomycin, the first antibiotic effective against tuberculosis, when he was a 23-year-old graduate student at Rutgers University. The picture to your left was taken on my 8-day interview tour that I took at the beginning of July. Two other Tri-College students (Swarthmore’s Zein Nakhoda Dec ’13, and Haverford’s Larry Miller ’12) and I went on this tour, interviewing family members, close friends of my grandfather, as well as investigative journalists and scientific historians who have researched his story. We collected vast amounts of information, memories, and anecdotes about my grandfather, who had many different facets to his life. Each person we interviewed revealed a different side of him. Our first stop was in Franklin Square, NY, where we interviewed Flora Diekman, my grandfather’s aunt. Flora grew up on the family farm where my grandfather spent much of his childhood. As I was growing up, my grandfather would tell me stories about his time on the farm, and during my interview with Flora, she told some of the same stories. This was during the Great Depression, and although the family barely scraped by, both Flora and Albert had lasting memories of the farm, that stuck with them all of their lives. On our way north after leaving Flora’s house, we stopped by the site of the old farm. It is no longer a farm anymore; it is a housing development, but as my mother put it when we interviewed her later in the week, when our family goes to that...