Sunday, February 21, 2010

Duke's Center for Documentary Studies

At Duke's Center for Documentary Studies, I'm greeted by associate director Lynn McKnight, who's clearly done everything in her power to get word out about the evening's screening of Trimpin: the sound of invention.

Founded by Alex Harris, CDS is one of the few educational entities in the country with an abiding commitment to documentary work as it is practiced in the field.  Many documentarians whose work I've long admired - including photographers Wendy Ewald and Tom Rankin, and filmmaker Nancy Kalow - teach at the school; many more have taught or lectured there.  

The screening room is packed.  Extra chairs are brought out, Harlan tweaks the audio, and Lynn introduces me to the assembled.  It's a great audience - receptive and responsive to the film.  After five hours of driving with Jolene, I only wish my answers were half as intelligent as their questions. 

After the screening, I head over to Elmo's for a late-night dinner with my sister Frances and her husband Gaizka.  I haven't seen them in years, and it's a great reunion.

(CDS front porch: tools used for oral research)

A meager sampling of some of my favorite works by documentarians associated with CDS:

Denise Dixon 
"Self-Portrait Reaching for the Red Star Sky, 1977"
c by Wendy Ewald

"Candidate for baptism, fourth week in August, Perthshire, Mississippi, 1989"
photo c by Tom Rankin

"Deacon Fred Davis, Moon Lake, Coahoma County, Mississippi, 1990"
photo c by Tom Rankin

Recommended reading:
Secret Games: Collaborative Works with Children (1969 - 1999) 
by Wendy Ewald

Sacred Space: Photographs from the Mississippi Delta 
by Tom Rankin
The Last Harvest: Truck Farmers in the Deep South 
by Tom Rankin

Recommended viewing:
Sadobabies by Nancy Kalow (go to YouTube)
The Losers Club by Nancy Kalow (again, YouTube)