An international documentary has earned Taylor’s film department national acclaim.
On June 15, 2019, “Beauty in Affliction” won a Crystal Pillar, one of the highest regional awards presented for student productions. This was the seventh Crystal Pillar won by Taylor students.
Two other films were also nominated for the award. “Before Your Eyes” and “What Remains” were two stories created in Associate Professor of Film and Media Production John Bruner’s Spring 2018 Narrative Filmmaking class.
“We are so incredibly excited to have received these external awards from such a noteworthy organization,” Bruner said in a written statement. “It’s a testimony to the quality of work Taylor’s visual storytellers produce.”
The films were all submitted to the Lower Great Lakes Chapter of The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS), which covers northern Ohio, northwestern Pennsylvania and northeastern Indiana. Assistant Professor of Film and Media Production Steve Bailey and alumna Tori Newman (‘19) represented Taylor University at the award ceremony.
“Beauty in Affliction,” filmed by the 2018 international documentary J-term class, focused on Vidas Plenas, a nonprofit dedicated to helping those in the Guatemalan slum of La Limonada.
“Meeting people there was incredibly impactful because you meet people who are literally living on almost nothing, and there's people there in Guatemala who are doing really excellent work to help those people in those communities holistically,” said Jon Meharg (‘19), a student who went on the trip.
Bailey decided to focus on Vidas Plenas after learning about it from Dean of Student Engagement Drew Moser. Moser is on the board for Lemonade International, a global group dedicated to supporting Vidas Plenas.
The goal for the class was to raise awareness about the group, which was furthered by the awards the film has won.
“I think that the best thing about winning the award is that there's more recognition for Vidas Plenas and the work that they're doing in the La Limonada community, and I think that's the best,” said Brianna Jordahl (‘19). “I just hope that that award can spur interest in that community and encourage people to engage and support it.”
This sentiment is shared by other members of the team. Newman, who gave the acceptance speech at the award ceremony, made sure to mention the group and the work that they do.
Bailey is celebrating this major achievement but is already looking toward the future of the international documentary class. In January 2020, the class will focus on the Samuel Morris Learning Enrichment Center in Liberia, which has worked closely with Taylor.