Viva Documentary enriched my life through inspiration, encouragement and fraternity. I met former Viva Doc leader, Suree Towfighnia, in the second week of Doc 1 at Columbia. She was a recent graduate of the MFA Documentary program and already had a feature doc called Standing Silent Nation air on PBS. Her class visit inspired me to follow in her footsteps, even though the path had faded and membership had dwindled.
Luckily, Margaret Ratliff was willing to join me in reviving the student organization during our second year in the MFA program. Thanks to her schmoozing skills, we managed to find a core of dedicated students to band together for the sake of keeping The Michael Rabiger Center for Documentary Film alive and vibrant. Together, we organized a party for The 20th Anniversary Reunion for the Doc Center, rewrote the Viva Doc constitution, made a 27 minute doc and started our own website called VivaDocumentary.com There were other successes and failures but we gained a lot of momentum.
Today, Viva Doc alums can be found all over the Chicago documentary scene and one of our current members, Wonjung Bae, has recently gotten national notoriety by winning The Student Academy Awards for a short doc called Blunt Edge: Vera Klement. I’ll be posting more stories about Won and other Docsters as they continue to build on Chicago’s solid non-fiction foundation.
I’ll leave you with this short video that Viva Doc members contributed to last spring about renowned Chicago legend, Studs Terkel.