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'Loving' Film by Alumna Wins Award at International Festival

The Lovings

The Loving Story, edited and produced by Elisabeth Haviland James (F'99), tells the story of Mildred Jeter, far right, and Richard Loving, far left. Their marriage was considered illegal under Virginia law in 1958 until the U.S. Supreme Court ended all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in 1967. James and the film's director, Nancy Buirski, spoke to students in a film and media studies course this week. Photography by Grey Villet, 1965

June 28, 2011 – One of the four films with Georgetown alumni connections won an award at the June 20-26 AFI/Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Festival.

The Writer's Guild of America Documentary Screenplay Award went to The Loving Story, produced and edited by Elisabeth Haviland James (F'99) and directed by Nancy Buirski.

The festival is being studied as part of a course at the university this summer.

The films accepted at Silverdocs also included Age of Champions, directed by Christopher Rufo (F’06); Rebirth, directed by Jim Whitaker (C’90); and Miss Representation, executive produced by Regina Kulik Scully (I’85).

James and visited Georgetown’s Film Festival Studies course June 14 and Rufo spoke to the class on June 20.

Significant Recognition

Film Festival Classq

Bernie Cook, director of Georgetown’s film and media studies program, listens as his students talk to filmmakers Nancy Buirski, center, and Elisabeth Haviland James.

“Through meeting with alumni filmmakers like Elisabeth and Chris, our students are able to learn about two important new documentary films and about film festivals from the filmmakers’ perspectives,” says Bernard Cook (C’90, G’91), director of Georgetown’s film and media studies program.

Rebirth and Miss Representation were accepted to the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, where Another Earth by Mike Cahill (C’01) and Brit Marling (C’05) won two prizes. Rebirth, which follows the story of five people transformed over 10 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, will be broadcast by Showtime later this year on the anniversary of the attacks.

Cook, also associate dean in the College, is teaching the film festival course with Jody Arlington (C’93), a communications strategist who manages publicity for Silverdocs. Arlington is also director of the Georgetown Entertainment and Media Alliance for Washington, D.C.

The Lovings

A seven-day international film festival, Silverdocs took place at AFI’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Md.

The Loving Story, to be shown on HBO in February, is about Mildred Jeter, a black and Cherokee woman whose marriage to Richard Loving was considered illegal under Virginia law in 1958. The couple brought their case in 1967 before the Supreme Court, which ended all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States.

The film includes rare archival footage, home movies and interviews with the couple.

Better Questions

James says she was inspired at Georgetown by associate professor of anthropology Denise Brennan, Elizabeth Andretta, who taught culture and politics courses, and Katherine Mezur, an adjunct experimental theater professor.

“All of them pushed me to ask better questions, to take risks in telling stories and to engage in research in the field,” James says. “My education at Georgetown deepened my commitment to justice, my drive to seek truths in storytelling and piqued my interest in cultures around the world.”

She also says she enjoyed speaking to current students interested in film.

“Having Elisabeth James come to our class to discuss her film, which we had seen just the day before, was an amazing opportunity to engage with a Georgetown graduate about her work and about her process getting from undergraduate to documentarian,” says Kylé Pienaar (C’12), an English and government major minoring in film studies.

Students in the film festival course also took a master class with Whitaker and film writer/director/producer Heidi Ewing (F’94).

Powerful Image

Georgetown English professor John Glavin (C’64) recalls teaching Rufo, whose film documents the elite National Senior Games and includes Washington, D.C.’s octogenarian swimmers John and Bradford Tatum.

“I've never taught anyone as committed to his art as Chris Rufo,” Glavin says. “From the beginning his work was grounded in a remarkable ability to make a complex statement in a single powerful image. That skill led to what became the documentarian’s eye, and his work to this date continues strikingly marked by its haunting, indelible, provocative images.”


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