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Nov 26th
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blog_slug"The work you will see, hear, and experience is the culmination of an intense two years as our students immersed themselves in documentary traditions and craft, scholarly research and analysis and storytelling," Renee Tajima-Peña, professor and graduate director of the social documentation program, said on UCSC's website,

Tajima-Peña, also announced on that beginning next fall, the program, which has been part of the community studies department in the Social Sciences division since it was founded in 2005, will join the Film and Digital Media department in the Arts Division.

The social documentation program is a two-year graduate-level program leading to a Master of Arts degree, providing students with a chance to develop expertise in various documentary mediums, including film and video, audio, photography, and digital media.

This year is the fifth annual SocDoc Graduate Exhibition, the second to be held at the Del Mar. After last year's packed screening, the exhibition is moving to the larger downstairs theater for this year’s and will feature six video documentaries, each approximately 30 minutes long. These include: Whistlin’ Dixie: Queer Sounds, New South by Meredith Heil; The Unique Ladies by Gloria Morán; Paved With Good Intentions by Natalie Rold; My Fa’aSamao by Ursula Siataga and Kate Trumbull's Abaayo (Sister).

In Whistlin’ Dixie: Queer Sounds, New South, Meredith Heil takes a road trip to the South in search of Southern musicians who are queer activists, creating independent music, promoting acceptance, and celebrating queer visibility. Heil's film, which she says is “organized like a mixed tape,” investigates the historical relationship between Southern music and identity politics while challenging the viewer's assumptions about life in the South.

“It's an issue people can connect with and also be surprised by," says Heil. "[the music] is low-fi indie, it shows you don't need a record deal to make a difference, people need to look within their own communities to inspire change, instead of feeling like they have to pick up and move."

The first year of the Master's program is spent planning their projects followed by a summer of production and then a year of shaping and editing in post-production. Heil, who had never before spent two years working on a single project, says the process was challenging but well worth it.

"Working with the faculty and getting their input and viewing other students work and having them view mine and give feedback was incredible," she says.

The graduate exhibition also features ElShelleh (The Guys), Bridgette Auger's photography and sound multimedia video that follows four Iraqi refugees, all friends, as they search for direction and purpose in their new home, El Cajon, California. ElShelleh will be at the Michealangelo June 3 – 26 with an opening reception on Friday, June 3.

ElShelleh (The Guys) is being shown as part of Home Interrupted: Artifacts of Iraqi Displacement at Michealangelo Gallery. This exhibition features a projection of ElShelleh, prints of photographs from the project on the walls and approximately 50 paintings by Iraqi refugee artists. The paintings, which are at Michaelangelo Gallery and Laili restaurant, are available for purchase. The gallery will donate all proceeds to A Plate For All, an organization that gives direct food aid to Iraqi refugees living in northeastern Syria (

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