Award-winning documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy to speak and screen film at Fairfield University

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy to speak and screen film at Fairfield University

Image: Rory Kennedy The Program in Black Studies at Fairfield University, in conjunction with the Center for Faith and Public Life, is bringing award-winning documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy to the Barone Campus Center Oak Room on Thursday, March 23, to open its new series, "Public Health, Human Rights and Social Justice". Kennedy, whose impressive body of work has tackled some of today's most pressing social concerns, will screen her film, "Pandemic: Facing AIDS," at 7 p.m., followed by her talk at 8 p.m. on "The Camera Doesn't Lie: Social Change through Documentary Filmmaking."

The Program in Black Studies is directed by Renée T. White, Ph.D., professor of sociology, and Yohuru R. Williams, Ph.D., associate professor of history, who said the focus of their series will be AIDS in the African Diaspora. Dr. White is also the co-editor of the "Journal of HIV/AIDS Prevention in Children & Youth," published by Haworth Press. The Center for Faith and Public Life is a cross-disciplinary forum for students, scholars, policy makers and religious leaders, to converse and reflect on the many issues where religion intersects with civic life.

The co-founder and co-president of Moxie Firecracker Films, Inc., Rory Kennedy is one of the nation's most prolific independent documentary filmmakers. Through her lens, Rory Kennedy has covered issues of poverty, domestic abuse, drug addiction, human rights, AIDS and mental illness. In Pandemic: Facing AIDS , she follows the lives of five people living with AIDS, ultimately connecting audiences with the heartache and triumph of living under the extreme conditions of the disease. Her work has garnered numerous awards and been featured on HBO, A&E, MTV, Lifetime, The Oxygen Network, Court TV, TLC and PBS.

Kennedy's films illuminate larger social issues by telling the stories of everyday people. Her film, American Hollow , an award-winning documentary about an Appalachian family caught between century-old tradition and the encroaching modern world, premiered to critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival, was broadcast as part of HBO's America Undercover series and received a Non-Fiction Primetime Emmy Award nomination.

Most recently, Kennedy directed and produced A Boy's Life , a heartbreaking and dramatic portrait of the troubling forces that have shaped the life of a seven-year-old boy from an impoverished region of Mississippi. Intimate and never judgmental, A Boy's Life touches on drug abuse, family dysfunction and religion. Her other films include Epidemic Africa , Fire in Our House , Juvies , The Changing Face of Beauty , Travelers , Different Moms , Healthy Start , The Nazi Officer's Wife , Sixteen and Girlhood .

An eloquent public speaker, Kennedy embraces film as a vehicle to inspire others to action, She was the speaker for the Women of Substance Education Outreach Campaign, the Fire in Our House Outreach Campaign and a surrogate speaker for Bill Clinton's 1992 Presidential Campaign.

In 1998, Kennedy's Moxie Films merged with Liz Garbus's Firecracker Films to form Moxie Firecracker Films, Inc. Their first joint venture was Different Moms , a documentary about mentally retarded parents raising their children, which aired on Lifetime Television. Kennedy was the executive director of MayDay Media, a non-profit production and distribution division of Video/Action Fund. In that position, she developed, produced and distributed social issue video projects, including Fire in Our House , which won the CINE Golden Eagle, top prize at the U.S. International Film and Video Festival and the Silver Apple for the National Education Media Network.

In addition to her impressive film career, Kennedy is a committed social activist and human rights advocate. She has been a member of the board of directors for a number of non-profit organizations, including the Legal Action Center and the Project Return Foundation. She served as chairperson of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation Associate Trustees Program and continues as a member of the board. She was a member of the 1999 Presidential Mission on AIDS in Africa. Kennedy initiated and helped develop the Teacher Transfer Program between the U.S. and Namibia after her work at the Dobra Resettlement Camp. She has also been a member of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Human Rights delegations in South Africa, South Korea, Japan, El Salvador and Poland.

Kennedy is a graduate of Brown University with a Bachelor of Arts in Women's Studies.

Posted On: 03-06-2006 10:03 AM

Volume: 38 Number: 185