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The University of Alabama

UA Student Films on Justice, Injustice in Alabama to Debut at Screening

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility and department of telecommunication and film at The University of Alabama will host the fourth annual Documenting Justice film screening Tuesday, April 27, at 7 p.m. at the Bama Theatre in downtown Tuscaloosa.

The short documentaries that will premiere were created by non-film majors who dedicated a year to learning how to document and analyze culture and social experience – and communicate about issues of justice and injustice in Alabama – through videography.

The screening is free and open to the public; it will consist of five films exploring:

  • Circumstances surrounding the sentencing of juvenile offenders to life without parole, and the question of whether punishment ever goes too far;
  • A small community in rural Alabama where 10 individuals rethink the American Dream and find just what they need for a life well-lived;
  • Perceptions of safety, community and development in two neighborhoods living side by side, but separated by a barbed-wire fence;
  • The small town of Brilliant, Ala., where two high school seniors think about the future and whether they will stay or leave their hometown; and
  • The physician shortage in rural Alabama and difficulties in doctor recruitment, specifically in Wilcox County, where there is one physician for every 4,667 people.

“Ethical citizenship requires a strong sense of empathy and compassion,” said Stephen Black, CESR director. “Developing such qualities requires the ability to imagine what others see, feel and experience. A central focus of CESR, therefore, is the development of courses such as Documenting Justice in which students learn the personal stories of people outside their immediate sphere.”

Working in pairs, 10 undergraduate and graduate students produced the documentaries as part of a nationally unique, two-semester course taught by an award-winning group of filmmakers. The University has offered the Documenting Justice course since 2006.

“Each year we have an exceptional group of students, and I’m continuously impressed with their abilities, their wide ranging topic ideas and interests, and their commitment to storytelling,” said Andy Grace, Documenting Justice director. “This is the fourth year of the class, and I feel like we haven’t even scratched the surface of all the important, interesting and unique stories throughout Alabama.”

Documenting Justice is a signature initiative of CESR. Past Documenting Justice films have been featured in film festivals, and several have won awards. “Storybook,” a film by 2007-2008 students Kristian Collins and Stephen Lovell that examined the challenges of parenting from prison, was selected for inclusion in the 2009 Undergraduate Ethics Symposium held at DePauw University.

To learn more about Documenting Justice and other CESR initiatives, visit

Created in 2005, CESR established university-wide programming supporting the development of projects that nurture social responsibility and reflective, thoughtful citizenship. CESR staff develop – and assist faculty members in developing – service-learning courses that engage community organizations in partnerships designed to both enhance academic goals and apply scholarly learning to salient community issues.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.

  • CONTACT: Amanda Aviles or Linda Hill, media relations, 205/348-8235,
  • SOURCE: Stephen Black, CESR, 205/348-6490,, Andy Grace, department of telecommunication and film, 205/348-8245,