J-School documentary showcase features thought-provoking stories

By Costa Maragos Posted: April 12, 2017 5:00 p.m.

Shown here are some of the students who have produced the documentaries to be shown at the Documentary Showcase. (l-r) Alex Antoneshyn, Alex Johnson, Brandon Harder, Allison Bamford, Cheryl Lu and Jessie Anton.
Shown here are some of the students who have produced the documentaries to be shown at the Documentary Showcase. (l-r) Alex Antoneshyn, Alex Johnson, Brandon Harder, Allison Bamford, Cheryl Lu and Jessie Anton. Photo by Trevor Hopkin - U of R Photography

The School of Journalism has a reputation for its students producing compelling documentaries.

This year is no exception as the school is holding its annual Documentary Showcase on Thursday, April 13 at the Shu-Box Theatre from 6:30 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. The screenings are open to the public and feature three documentaries produced by graduating students.

“It’s an incredible experience and I’m just thankful to be a part of it,” says Jessie Anton, a final year student in the School of Journalism and the producer of one of the documentaries at the showcase.      

Journalism Showcase
Filming the documentary Severed. (l-r) Students Alex Antoneshyn and Alex Johnson interviewing Janz Stein, who is the focus of the story. Photo courtesy of Jessie Anton

Anton and the rest of the students worked on their documentaries under the direction of Trevor Grant, a lecturer at the School of Journalism.

“The overall quality of the documentaries is outstanding. Each has a strong emotional core and an intimacy that will engage the audience,” says Grant, “Indeed, some of the stories will challenge stereotypes the audience may bring into the screening. Even if the documentaries don't alter a stereotype, they will force the audience to think more deeply about the specific issues and the main characters within the stories.”

Grant is a mentor to the students thanks to his extensive field experience.

Grant has produced, directed and written numerous acclaimed network television programs and documentaries including Flight from Darkness, Indecently Exposed, Playing with Poison and The Candy Show.

He earned his MFA in media production at the University of Regina.
It was the students, however, who came up with the story ideas and then took those ideas to the field. Over a period of painstaking months of research, filming, writing and editing, the students produced these insightful documentaries.

Says Jessie Anton: “You’re given the tools here. You’re given that one-on-one with the profs. They give you their time. And if you give them the time they will give you the time. I don’t think I would be able to go to any other school and get that kind of dedication and that kind of support.”

Each documentary shown at the Shu-Box will run about 22 minutes. They are:

Terms and Conditions - The story of a mother and a daughter who struggle with shame, guilt, and judgment all while trying to maintain their fragile relationship.

Producer:         Cheryl Lu
Director:          Brandon Harder
Videographer:  Emily Pasiuk
Picture Editor:  Allison Bamford

Crossed Wires – Erica, 28, hates being alone, yet she intentionally continues to isolate herself from others. She struggles with an internal conflict between her natural inclination to isolate herself and her fear of being alone.

Producer:        Tennessa Wild
Director:         Joelle Seal
Videographer:  Jeanelle Mandes
Picture Editor:  Busayo Osobade
Severed -Janz Stein's choice to undergo a life-changing surgery was meant to save his athletic career, but his decision reveals an obsession to overcome a troubled past.

Producer:         Jessie Anton
Director:          Alexandra Anotoneshyn
Videographer:  Alexandra Johnson

“We don’t want the documentaries to be merely an assignment that is handed in and forgotten,” says Grant. “The stories are deeply passionate expressions by the documentarians and they deserve to be brought into the light on a larger stage. In the past, many of the J-School’s documentaries have been broadcast, screened at film festivals and won substantial awards.”

Most recently, the documentary, In Her Veins, produced at the journalism school in 2016, was nominated for Best Student and Best in Saskatchewan Award at the 2017 Yorkton Film Festival. The production has also been nominated for best videography at the Emerge Media Awards. In Her Veins was directed by Rebekah Lesko and Kendall Latimer and produced by Eric Westhaver, Carlos Prieto, and Britton Gray.

“This year’s group of documentarians are passionate, committed and highly skilled, and I believe the public and the students will benefit from a public screening,” says Grant.
Event:   Documentary Showcase
Venue:  Shu-Box Theatre
Date:     Thursday, April 13
Time:     6:30 p.m. – 8:15 p.m.
This event is open to the public. You’re encouraged to take part in the brief question-and-answer session following each screening.