CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Three documentary filmmakers who’ve tackled subjects ranging from biography and history to sexual assault and hip-hop will be featured guests for the second of three online discussions that constitute this year’s Chaz & Roger Ebert Symposium.
Kirby Dick, Sacha Jenkins and Dawn Porter will be panelists for “Documentary Film and Social Change,” on Oct. 22 at 5 p.m. CDT. Their work has aired or streamed on CNN, HBO, Netflix, PBS and Showtime, among other venues, and received numerous awards and nominations.
Joining them will be three other documentary filmmakers who are also University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign faculty members: Angela Aguayo and Jay Rosenstein, professors of media and cinema studies; and Alison Davis, a lecturer in journalism.
The panelists will examine documentary feature films, community-engaged projects, and documentary as a means to examine and engage public life.
Porter’s work includes recent films on African American leaders Vernon Jordan and John Lewis, as well as a film about former White House photographer Pete Souza, “The Way I See It,” and the four-hour series “Bobby Kennedy for President.” Her earlier film “Gideon’s Army,” about the work of public defenders, was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and an Emmy. “Trapped,” about laws regulating abortion clinics, won a special jury social-impact prize at the Sundance Film Festival, as well as a Peabody Award.
Jenkins has explored hip-hop fashion and the crafting of hip-hop lyrics in “Fresh Dressed” and “Word Is Bond.” In a 2017 documentary, he examined the 1992 civil unrest in Los Angeles and its roots in the relationship between African Americans and the city’s police. More recently, his four-part series “Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men” looked at 25 years of the hip-hop group’s history and the obstacles overcome by its members.
Dick’s investigative documentaries have earned him two Emmys and a Peabody, as well as two Oscar nominations. Among his films are “The Invisible War,” about rape in the U.S. military, after which Congress held hearings and passed reforms; “The Hunting Ground,” about campus sexual assault; and “The Bleeding Edge,” about corruption and malfeasance in the medical device industry.
(Full bios of all panelists can be found on the symposium webpage.)
All three Ebert Symposium events, free and open to the public, are exploring the media industry in a time of change, shaped in part by the global pandemic and the racial justice movement.
The first, on Oct. 8 – now available for streaming – looked at the movie industry with a panel of directors, executives and others involved in the business. (Bios on the symposium webpage.)
The remaining event, “Representation in Media,” Nov. 5 at 5 p.m. CST, will examine how television, film and other media represent and portray certain types of people or communities, the importance of balanced representation, the need to challenge stereotypes and industry efforts to eliminate bias.
Panelists will include Illinois professors Jason Chambers, advertising; and Angharad Valdivia, media and cinema studies; with other panelists to be added.
All symposium events are being streamed on both the Ebertfest YouTube channel and Facebook page on their respective dates. Additional details will be announced on the symposium webpage. Questions for the panelists may be submitted prior to each event here.
The Ebert Symposium is a collaboration between the College of Media and the Roger Ebert Center at Illinois. Roger Ebert, who died in 2013, was an Urbana native, Illinois journalism alumnus, Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, co-founder of Ebertfest and founder of RogerEbert.com. Chaz Ebert was Roger’s wife.