Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows Offer Expertise in Many Fields, Including Documentary Films

Colleges and universities that wish to bring high-impact, cost-effective programming to campus have a great opportunity: Campuses can still arrange to host a CIC Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow for programming during the 2018–2019 academic year. For more than 45 years, the Fellows program has brought prominent nonacademic professionals to college campuses for week-long substantive dialogues with students and faculty members. The more than 135 Fellows available include distinguished artists, journalists, business leaders, diplomats, environmentalists, civil libertarians, and other nonacademic professionals.

As many Fellows can talk with students and faculty members across disciplines, the impact of a visit often is felt campus-wide. For example, documentary filmmakers are storytellers, historians, philosophers, ethicists, artists, and technicians, all in one. They are, in brief, the consummate representatives of the liberal arts. The roster of the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows includes three highly accomplished full-time professional documentary filmmakers.

Helen Whitney headshotHelen Whitney is a long-serving Fellow whose films have garnered an Emmy Award, a Peabody Award, an Oscar nomination, and the Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Journalism. Whitney’s films reflect her lifelong interest in the spiritual landscape and a similar interest in the lives of outsiders. Her films include Into the Night: Portraits of Life and Death, which premiered on PBS in March 2018; The Mormons, a four-hour PBS series; John Paul II: The Millennial Pope, a three-hour Frontline production; Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero, a film about the spiritual aftershocks of 9/11; and Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate, a three-hour PBS series. Following her visit to the University of Findlay (OH) in 2017, the campus coordinator characterized Whitney’s campus discussions as “wonderful, magical, illuminating, and inspiring.” After Flagler College (FL) first hosted Whitney in 2009, the visit developed into a long relationship. She has since been invited back to the college multiple times, including to deliver the freshman convocation address and to receive an honorary degree.

Eric Stange headshotEric Stange, executive producer and founder of Spy Pond Productions, is an award-winning independent documentary film producer, director, and writer. His films reflect his background in history and political science and have appeared on PBS, BBC, the Discovery Channel, and the National Geographic Channel. His most recent film, Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive, premiered on PBS in October 2017 and showcases new scholarship about the iconic author. Former Secretary of State James Baker was the subject of Stange’s The Man Who Made Government Work. Two of his films, The Wall and After the Wall, tackle German history; and The War That Made America examines the French and Indian War. Murder at Harvard, narrated by acclaimed writer Simon Schama, addresses the 1849 murder of a Harvard professor. Stange is currently producing the film Leap of Faith, which features a diverse group of Americans whom pundits claimed would never vote for Donald Trump but did. Stange’s next film explores democracy’s challenge of separating fact from fiction in the political world.

Peter Frumkin headshotPeter Frumkin has directed, written, and produced award-winning documentaries for the past 30 years. He has three projects currently in production: a short film about epigenetics (the science of how the environment can affect the expression of genes) in the context of early-childhood development; a website for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs about post-traumatic stress disorder that documents veterans’ experiences and encourages treatment; and a feature-length treatment of a German museum curator who had to make ethical choices in the face of Nazi cultural policies. Frumkin is perhaps best known as the producer, director, and writer of Woody Guthrie: Ain’t Got No Home (2006). He also produced the 2008 PBS film, Caring for Your Parents, which follows five families as they face the challenges of caring for ailing elderly parents, along with many other works. Over the past several years, Frumkin also has counseled filmmakers in newly democratic European nations about how to advance democracy through film.

Other Fellows who work in documentary filmmaking include Callie Crossley, who served as producer for the Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning civil rights documentary, Eyes on the Prize; and Lee Feigon, a historian of China, who wrote, directed, and produced The Passion of Mao, a revisionist critique of Mao Zedong.

The Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows program, operated by CIC for more than a decade, is structured to make compelling programming easy and accessible. Host institutions pay a set fee to CIC. CIC helps institutions select a Fellow and plan the visit, and then covers the Fellow’s honorarium, primary travel, and incidental expenses. Institutions are responsible for providing lodging and meals for Fellows while they are on campus. For more information or to complete an application form, visit the program website.