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Columbia Missourian

MU to host documentary film and journalism conference

By Lauren Page
February 28, 2012 | 1:01 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Filmmakers, film critics and scholars will converge at Reynolds Journalism Institute for the "Based on a True Story: Intersections of Documentary Film and Journalism" conference Wednesday through Friday.

The conference will explore the overlap of documentary filmmaking and journalism, the challenges facing contemporary documentary filmmakers and the potential impact on the American media landscape.

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Sponsored by Mizzou Advantage, the conference will take place just before the True/False Film Fest, which runs Thursday through Sunday.

"I hope people view it as a great run-up to the festival," co-organizer Brad Prager said.

The conference was co-organized by Stephanie Craft, chair of journalism studies, and Prager, who is an associate professor in the German and Russian Studies Department and is active in the program in film studies. They also had help from faculty members in other disciplines.

Prager said the film studies program and the School of Journalism weren't "talking much," so this conference is a way for the two to draw resources together, along with  a third component: the True/False Film Fest.

"By putting people like the True/False organization together with film studies and the journalism school, new questions will be raised that haven't been before," Prager said. "It makes for better research overall."

He also said that this is a way to make sure the university knows about exciting things happening in the community through the True/False Film Fest and vice versa.

"One of the great things about Columbia is that it has been very welcoming to the True/False Film Festival," Craft said. "There has been such a response that people are looking for more opportunities to discuss film and documentaries, and the conference provides that."

She also said that festival-goers often arrive early, so the conference offers something to fulfill their pent-up interest.

About 100 people are expected to attend the conference, Barbara Wills, MU conference office coordinator, said.

"I'm excited for guests from varieties of backgrounds coming together to examine issues in contemporary documentary making," Prager said.

Craft said she is looking forward to talking about journalism's overlap with film studies.

"There are a wide range of perspectives of where the overlaps are, what the implications are and what journalism and documentary can learn from each other," she said.

Registration closed Tuesday morning.  

The conference was paid for by a $20,000 Mizzou Advantage grant that was received in January 2011, Prager said.