Chicago Doc Summit 2012b

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I attended the Chicago Doc Summit last weekend and was able to catch up with old friends, get to know new ones and learn about more projects that are happening around town.

Viva Documentary is a student organization and website that I helped grow during my time at Columbia. It’s also a network that values Chicago’s brand of documentary film; character-driven non-fiction that impacts communities while seeking an ethical truth. Many Viva Docsters were in attendance at the summit including, Deborah Harper, Anu Rana, Laurie Little and presenters Jeff Spitz and Ruth Leitman. Our roots stretch far. It’s a beautiful thing.

Anu told me that Viva Doc will hold the 5th International Student Documentary Competition, now called Viva Doc International. My undergrad thesis, Shabuya, was a finalist in the ISDC before I enrolled at Columbia and one of my favorite moments in grad school was finding a copy of the film in Russell Porter’s legendary DVD collection. Wonjung Bae, one of the winners from the 2010 competition went on to win a Student Academy Award for her film, Vera Klement: A Blunt Edge. Early and regular deadlines are in June and the fee is only $20!

Photo by Viva Docster, Ryan Gleeson

I was most impacted by Ruthless Films’ presentation about advocacy, unconventional distribution and Tony and Janina’s American Wedding. Not only were we allowed the first public viewing of the trailer for their epilogue, but we heard about her distribution process within the context of the immigration debate. The only thing I love more than context is contextualizing the immigration debate. As I, and countless others, watched events like Obama’s speech in El Paso, the house vote on the DREAM Act and The 25th Anniversary of ICIRR, she was networking and spreading Tony’s story to people who could make a difference. The path that she laid out has given me a lot of ideas for my next film project. It was very inspiring.

Lastly, I caught up with Julie Keck before her talk on Crowd Funding and she told me about an upcoming project that she was working on. I wasn’t able to stay for her talk but it turns out that my cousin might be the ideal subject for the next King is a Fink project. I’m not sure she’s ready to go public with the idea but I’ll be sure to let you know as soon as there’s some concrete information.

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