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Filmmakers to show documentary, lead discussion on racism

“Man on Fire,” a documentary about racism, will be screened 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18 in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium.

Filmmakers Joel Fendelman and Dr. James Chase Sanchez will lead a discussion about their work at “The Salt of the Earth: Workshop on Whiteness, White Supremacy and Documentary Filmmaking” 11:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 19 in Carlson Library Room 1005.

“Man on Fire” focuses on Grand Saline, Texas, which has a history of racism, a history the community refuses to talk about. This shroud of secrecy ended when Charles Moore, an elderly white preacher, self-immolated to protest the town’s racism in 2014, shining a spotlight on the town’s dark past.

In the 2017 film, Fendelman and Sanchez examined the protest and question the racism in Grand Saline as it stands today.

“It’s important for people to realize that things like racism and race relations do not exist in a vacuum,” Jennifer Pizio, associate director in the UT Office for Diversity and Inclusion, said. “By taking time to learn about the historical context within which a situation arises, we are better able to grasp the why and how so we can do things differently and, hopefully, better.”

During the Oct. 19 workshop, Fendelman and Sanchez will discuss how whiteness influences everyday conversations about race in Grand Saline. The workshop also will relate this to broader research on the rhetoric of white supremacy.

“The filmmakers will discuss some of the ethical questions they had while making the documentary and how their identities played into it,” Pizio said.

“We are honored to host the documentary screening and the workshop in order to foster these important discussions about racism,” she said.

The free, public events are co-sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion; the College of Arts and Letters; the Roger Ray Institute for the Humanities; the Department of English, Language and Literature; the Department of History; and the Department of Theatre and Film.

is UT's Media Relations Specialist. Contact her at 419.530.2077 or
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