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Student documentaries peer into the lives of Jacksonvillians

Jacksonville, a city of silent beauty. So silent that, many times, it goes unnoticed.

Students from the UNF Documentary Workshop class ventured out to uncover this beautiful city by documenting different faces of Jacksonville. Their documentaries will be presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art at Jacksonville during the Dec. 1 First Wednesday ArtWalk downtown.

Dr. Jillian Smith, a UNF English professor, teaches the class. Her class dubbed their films a production by the company “Afterimage Documentary at UNF.”

“[Afterimage Documentary at UNF] really tries to embody this idea of community working with university and vice versa,” Smith said. “While we take on different themes each semester, the class is always devoted to community documentary, to moving out into the community of Jacksonville to find those people and places of value that may be overlooked.”

Brit Hudgins, a UNF English sophomore, and James Edmonds, a UNF post-baccalaureate, produced “Broken Races,” which explores problems the African-American community faces in Jacksonville.

“The process was difficult because James and I are both black. So filming for this issue became pretty personal,” Hudgins said.

Edmonds and Hudgins discovered disunity among the community and black-on-black crime are major issues Jacksonville faces.

“It’s not easy to stick a camera in someone’s face and ask them questions that reach right into their heart,” Smith said. “And it’s certainly not easy to scroll through hours and hours of footage to figure out how to cut it into a million pieces so you can put them back together again and construct a beautiful and compelling film.”

Michael Santana, a UNF English junior, and John Dickens, a UNF English senior, compiled the documentary “Touch of Grace,” which explores the influence of music the members of Grace Church of Avondale celebrate.

“Working on the documentary answered many questions about our own faiths, music and brought us really close as friends,” Santana said. “We still can’t believe we got it all done.”

The documentaries, ranging from 10-15 minutes, are products of a full semester’s. Smith assures the final work is insightful, skilled, risky and open to the world. Seven documentaries will premiere, covering stories from the game tables of Hemingway Plaza to the Mayport Village shrimping industry.

The documentary showing is at MOCA theater Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. The event
is free of cost and open to the public. In case you miss the showing at MOCA, all films will be stored in the UNF Library, and Smith plans on conducting another showing next semester in the University Gallery.

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