October 19, 2004

Award-winning filmmaker coming to SIUC

by Pete Rosenbery

Stanley Nelson

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Peabody Award and Emmy winning documentary filmmaker and director Stanley Nelson will share his insights on filmmaking next week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

His appearance is free and open to the public.Nelson's lecture will include discussion of his research and preparation for his highly acclaimed documentary that focuses on 50 years since the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Brown vs. Board of Education. Nelson will show clips and lead an audience discussion on the 2004 film, "Beyond Brown: Pursuing the Promise," at 7 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 24, in Student Center Ballroom D.

"We are very fortunate that Stanley Nelson has agreed to share his marvelous talent and social conscience with us," said Mike Lawrence, director of the Public Policy Institute, one of the co-sponsors of Nelson's visit. "He is not only a skilled filmmaker, but his award-winning work has stirred the nation.

"In this year noting the anniversary of the Brown v. Board decision, it is a singular honor to have in our midst someone who has challenged us, through his extraordinary talent, to consider the full implications of the landmark desegregation decision. I am certain that our community, faculty, students, administrators and Southern Illinoisans generally will be inspired by his visit here," Lawrence added.

The next day, Nelson is meeting with cinematography students to discuss documentary filmmaking, and also with campus leaders on issues dealing with minority faculty and higher education.

Nelson's 1997 film, "Shattering the Silence: The Case for Minority Faculty," explores issues of faculty diversity in American higher education in the mid-1990s by focusing on the experiences of eight minority scholars at a wide range of institutions.

The film is part of a continuing effort to educate the campus community about the issues involved in recruiting and retaining a diverse faculty, said Seymour Bryson, associate chancellor for diversity, whose office is a co-sponsor of Nelson's appearance.

"I think this experience will help enhance the awareness of some of the issues that are related to diversifying our campus faculty in terms of ethnic and racial diversity," said Bryson. "It provides an opportunity to hear from some minority faculty in the film about their experiences in higher education. It gives us an opportunity to look at campus life through the eyes of faculty of color."

In 2003, Nelson received the George Foster Peabody award, the highest honor in broadcast journalism, for the film, "The Murder of Emmett Till." The film focuses on the August 1955 kidnapping and murder of a 14-year-old African American Chicago boy killed for whistling at a white woman. Earlier this year, the U.S. Justice Department cited the presence of witnesses in the film as a major factor in reopening the case. Nelson received the Primetime Emmy for best director, non-fiction.

In 2002, the MacArthur Foundation selected Nelson as a MacArthur Fellow. In its announcement, the Foundation described Nelson as a "documentary filmmaker with a signature style and a distinctive cinematic voice."

In addition to his other award-winning independently produced films, Nelson has produced for television, including programs by Bill Moyers and Michael Moore. He was a senior consultant to the award-winning HBO program, "On The Record with Bob Costas."

Nelson is also executive producer of Firelight Media, a not-for-profit documentary production company dedicated to giving voice to people and issues "who are marginalized in popular culture."

He holds a bachelor of fine arts degree from the City College of New York, and was a fellow at the American Film Institute and a Revson Fellow at Columbia University. Nelson served on the Fulbright media fellowship committee, and was a regent's lecturer at the University of California.

Other co-sponsors of his visit include: the Bethel AME Church, Faith Temple Church of God in Christ, Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, New Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Olivet Freewill Baptist Church, and Rock Hill Missionary Baptist Church, all in Carbondale; SIUC's Black American Studies Program; the College of Education and Human Resources; the Department of Cinema and Photography; Alpha Kappa Alpha; and the Carbondale branch of the NAACP.

Developing citizen-leaders with global perspectives is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.

For more information, contact the Public Policy Institute at 618/453-4009 or visit http://www.siu.edu/~ppi.