With 2013 getting into full swing, I’d like to look back at the highlights of 2012 and share some personal and professional plans for the coming year.
I’m extremely grateful and pleased with the reception of my short documentary, “The Mothers,” which I finished in May 2012. The film is about the impact of gun murder. I followed two mothers from the Parents of Murdered Children chapter in Durham and made the film as part of earning a certificate in Documentary Arts from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke.
After the film premiered, I traveled to Arizona, where “The Mothers” was screened during the Parents of Murdered Children national conference. The film was also among 33 films shown during the 7th annual Carrboro Film Festival.
Like my journalism work, making the film was uniquely rewarding. It made a difference in the lives of Diane Jones and Mina Hampton, the main mothers in the film, and that filled my heart.
Mina’s daughter, Charlotte Hampton, posted a comment on my website as I filmed and wrote updates about the story on this blog:
“This is not a topic that everyone will read, and some who read will not understand. Leanora, you are so brave and so deeply caring to even attempt it. Thank you for letting us know we are not forgotten, and that our loved ones will live on through us and your efforts to bring these stories to others.”
Just before Christmas, the Parents of Murdered Children chapter in Durham presented me with a framed portrait of a mother embracing her child. As much as I appreciate the gratitude, the greatest gift for me has been the opportunity to get to know this group and learn from the strength, perseverance and love they’ve cultivated in the midst of debilitating grief.
With the short documentary finished, friends, family and peers are asking, “What’s next?”
Truthfully, I’m not sure yet. I’m considering expanding the film but would like to form a team to work with me. If you’re interested in working on a project that will change lives, and you are skilled at shooting video or adept at editing, let’s talk.
In the meantime, I plan to make “The Mothers” available on my website in the coming months. I also hope to host a few community screenings in the coming year.
As I consider next steps for the film, I’ll be getting settled in Durham. Late last summer, I sold my house in North Raleigh and moved to Durham, finally ending a seven-year work commute. For now, I’m living in downtown Durham while I search for a house to buy. Most of my stuff is in storage, but I’m so excited to be a Durham resident. I love living in this city. My drive to work is six minutes, not even close to the nearly hour-long drive home I had after work. Now, I walk to restaurants, theater and other cultural venues. I started a blog with Heather Pownall - DurhamFinally.com – about our adventures in the Bull City.
This November will mark my ninth year as a Duke employee. I’ve got some unique opportunities this year. Specifically, I was selected to participate in the Duke Leadership Academy, a yearlong program to nurture the next generation of leaders at Duke. I’m honored to be part of the fourth class and look forward to learning from my peers.
When I launched this blog in late 2011, it mainly served as a home to post updates about my documentary film and my original news stories about underreported crime in Durham. I enjoyed practicing journalism again (I’m a former newspaper reporter.) I felt proud of reporting stories like the “2011 Year in Review: Homicides in Durham.”
I don’t think I’ll ever shake my crime reporter persona, but I’m going to take some time to think about the next iteration of this blog. I welcome your insights or suggestions.
Thank you for your support in 2012, and I wish you all the best in the coming year.