Last month, I was delighted to attend the International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema in Kent, United Kingdom. The Briscoe Center’s documentary film When I Rise was nominated for four awards at the festival, and I was extremely pleased that the film won two awards: Best Short Documentary and Best Editing, Short Documentary. When we set out to make this film more than six years ago, none of us had any idea that we would be accepting awards on an international level. Our goal was to tell the story of Barbara Smith Conrad, the extraordinarily talented and charismatic central figure of the film.
While in England I also had a series of very productive meetings with the film’s international distributor, Mercury Media. When I Rise is now being shown worldwide, broadcast by networks in such nations as Israel, Spain, Hong Kong, Sweden and New Zealand. It’s also been selected by Cathay Pacific for their in-flight entertainment. I’ve learned how rare it is for a documentary to have this sort of distribution, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the Mercury team’s willingness to embrace the film’s educational mission.
I’m proud to lead a team of historians and curators who use their creativity to bring history alive to public audiences. It’s also incredibly fulfilling to note that the film’s compelling story and universal themes have enabled us to share Barbara’s story, and the University’s history, with the world. I’d like to recognize our partners in the film, Alpheus Media and Allentown Productions, who have contributed greatly to the film’s success, and thank University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers and Provost Steve Leslie for their wholehearted support. And of course, none of this would have been possible without Barbara and her willingness to share her story with the world. For that, we are incredibly grateful.
Don Carleton, Ph.D.
J. R. Parten Chair in the Archives of American History