Bold and brave voices continue to make their mark in the documentary filmmaking world, and 2023 is no exception. Six filmmaking teams from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism opened the month with World Premieres of their short form work at the American Documentary and Animation Film Festival (also known as AmDocs) in Palm Springs, California. Let’s take a look at the six filmmaking collaborations.
The teams are led by documentary filmmaker and Medill professor Brent Huffman. “I am so incredibly proud of these first-time filmmakers,” Huffman shared with SCREEN. “They have poured their passion and heart and soul into these wonderful short documentaries. I’m thrilled we can share the films with audiences at Amdocs.”
Here are the six filmmaking teams and a brief introduction to their powerful and progressive voices…
The Clowns Are Coming
Directors Andrew Kwa, Samantha Boas, Tabor Brewster, and Victoria Benefield follow the efforts of the Chicago-based Hot Clown Company to put together a show under the bold — and polarizing — leadership of its head clown, Thirsty.
Director Kalina Pierga follows Julia Baranek, the elected queen of Chicago’s 2022 Polish Constitution Day Parade, as she navigates her aspiration of becoming famous.
Ballroom in Guangzhou
Director Leyi Huang takes you into ballroom events where LGBTQ+ community members showcase their fashion tastes and dancing skills. These events are trending in Guangzhou, China, thanks to a gay dancer named Purpo, and his Voguing team Vonders. Purpo introduced and promotes this culture in Guangzhou to salute New York City’s Black queer communities who have survived the fear of AIDS in the ’90s, and to shed light on how the sexual minorities are making themselves seen in Guangzhou.
Beyond The Fantasy
Director Madison Smith, Tara King, Rebecca Shaid introduce audiences to Kat Savage, an artist, a photographer, a performer – and a stripper. Her art dares to defy patriarchal expectations by depicting sex workers in positions of power. Joined by her sister and girlfriend, Kat shows us how her job and her art are so intertwined.
Feeling of Betrayal
Director Olivia Yarvis documentary short centers on Ess Welsh. Ess spent her entire life in Texas. But when Governor Greg Abbott told the Texas Department of Family Protective and Services to investigate families providing their transgender children with gender-affirming care, her family had to make a difficult decision: leave home or live under the threat of separation.
Directors Sharon Kleiman, Jason Harward and Daniela Lubezki explores the journey of an artist who recasts major changes in her life as deaths, seeking to change how individuals think about their lives and the lives of others.
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