Field Studio's documentary films include "An Outrage," about lynching in the American South—and "That World is Gone: Race and Displacement in a Southern Town," winner of the Audience Award for Best Short Documentary at the 2010 Virginia Film Festival.
True stories of fights for justice and equality
The heart of our work focuses on intersections of race, justice, and history, examining the roots and resonance of past struggles and current crises.
THE FUTURE OF AMERICA’S PAST
This history-meets-travel show (think Parts Unknown meets American history) will premiere on public television stations across this country this fall.
We take viewers to the fronts lines of American history visiting sites where some of the most difficult chapters of our national past took place. Then, we learn from public historians there how they engage the public with that past. Hosted by historian Ed Ayers (co-host of the hit podcast BackStory), this show explores places familiar and unknown, memorialized and neglected.
Presented by VPM. Major funding from the Virginia Foundation for Public Media. Distributed to PBS member stations by American Public Television.
National premiere: September 2019
Visit the show’s site →
Go behind the scenes with Woke Vote, a coalition of Black millennials shaking up American politics.
Founded in 2017 by DeJuana Thompson, Woke Vote is inspiring and training a new generation of Black voters in civic engagement. Working with HBCUs, churches, and businesses, DeJuana and her team are meeting communities of color where they are—and inspiring them to engage in politics in a new way.
Official Selection, 2019 Sidewalk Film Festival
Official Selection, 2019 Afrikana Independent Film Festival
Now available on Facing South →
AN OUTRAGE is a documentary film about lynching in the American South. Filmed on-location at lynching sites in six states and bolstered by the memories and perspectives of descendants, community activists, and scholars, this unusual historical documentary seeks to educate even as it serves as a hub for action to remember and reflect upon a long-hidden past.
Premiered at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, March 2017
K-12 distribution rights acquired by the Southern Poverty Law Center
Distribution to universities and public libraries by Kanopy
Winner, Audience Award, 2017 Indie Grits Film Festival
Winner, Jury Award for Best Documentary Short, 2017 Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival
Official Selection, 2017 Virginia Film Festival
Official Selection, 2018 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
From 2017-2019, toured to 80 sites in 25 states, by invitation at festivals, universities, and museums.
THE HAIL-STORM: JOHN DABNEY IN VIRGINIA
John Dabney was a giant of 19th-century Richmond high society. He was a fixture of sophisticated gatherings, a connoisseur of the era’s delicacies (terrapin stew, canvasback duck, "hail-storm" juleps), and a family man who with his wife raised five children—among them, schoolteachers, a professional baseball player, and a musician-turned-newspaper editor. Yet the man who knew how to craft what the papers called "immortal foods" was also defined by what prevented him from doing even more. Dabney, an African American, spent his first 41 years enslaved.
Supported by funding from Virginia Humanities and PBS affiliate WCVE / The Community Idea Stations
Premiered at the sold-out, third-annual John Dabney Dinner, a signature event of Richmond's Fire, Flour & Fork food festival
Kicked-off Black History Month programming on WCVE and WHTJ, the Central Virginia PBS affiliates that reach more than 300,000 viewers, on February 1; will air on these stations three times a year for the next four years.
Freely available, along with a viewer discussion guide, web extras, and recipes, on the film's website: hailstormdabney.com.
Richmond Justice considers the justice landscape in Virginia's capital city. Each week in 2016, we revealed a new portrait and story about a Richmonder whose life is shaped in some way by the justice system. Comprised of photos, stories, a short documentary film, and an audio story, Richmond Justice presents the struggles and accomplishments of individuals different from one another in countless ways—but connected by many hands of justice.
In addition to our weekly stories published in 2016, we hosted a Richmond Justice Mayoral Debate during the election season. A physical exhibit was displayed at the Wilton Galleries in UR Downtown in spring of 2017; the exhibit is currently on display as the inaugural Justice Gallery exhibit in the John Marshall House.
Richmond NPR affiliate WCVE, "University of Richmond Downtown to Open Exhibition on 'Richmond Justice,'" February 1, 2017
Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Richmond Mayoral Hopefuls Debate City's Criminal Justice System," October 14, 2016.
Richmond Magazine, "You've Got Justice: A Yearlong Project in Storytelling Yields Diverse Perspectives," September 27, 2016
Visit the project's site to learn more: richmondjustice.org.
Adrian Swearengen is a barber-in-training. He is refining his skills with the clippers while offering haircuts for individuals who cannot afford to visit a barber shop. Adrian has long dreamed of becoming a licensed barber, and is realizing this goal after years of incarceration.
Official Selection, 2016 Virginia Film Festival
Official Selection, 2016 Skyline Indie Film Festival
Official Selection, 2016 Washington West Film Festival
Official Selection, 2016 Film Festival at Little Washington
Featured at "Richmond Speaks," the inaugural film screening at the ICA in Richmond
Featured on Narratively
KENNETH'S FIRST VOTE
On November 8, 2016, Kenneth Williams voted for the first time. Though he completed a prison sentence for robbery 30 years ago, this 67-year-old Richmond resident lacked voting rights until Governor Terry McAuliffe restored them earlier this year.
Kenneth is one of more than 206,000 Virginians who had lost the right to vote due to incarceration. Most states restore voting rights automatically after incarcerated individuals have completed their sentences; Virginia requires an application and approval by the Governor.
We were fortunate to join Kenneth and his wife, Alfreda Williams, for this first journey to the polls. Listen to our six-minute story here:
PORTRAITS OF HEALTH, PORTRAITS OF STRUGGLE
Supported by a grant from the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation, we explored obstacles to health equity in Richmond by creating five video portraits. The videos are designed to serve as introductions to five women and men at different points in life, who live in different neighborhoods, and who have distinct health needs. Getting a glimpse of the challenges they’ve faced and the opportunities they’ve carved out, we gain an intimate perspective of what health equity—and inequity—means in Richmond. The women and men featured in these stories are Willnette Cunningham, Aubrey Gholson, Martha Santacoloma, Tom Wallace, and Elaine Williams.
Exhibited at the VCU Arts Research Institute May 17 - July 22
The story of Richmond, Virginia, in April 1865 is one of chaos, hope, uncertainty, and joy. The capital of the Confederacy finally fell as the Confederate government evacuated amid burning warehouses, and Union army units—including United States Colored Troops—entered the city. Richmond's slave markets were abandoned and formerly enslaved men and women greeted the arrival of Abraham Lincoln with jubilation.
We helped to mark the 150th anniversary of these events in April 2015. Under the banner of The Future of Richmond's Past, a coalition of more than 20 historical, cultural, and arts organizations presented a weekend of tours, workshops, and commemorations.
CALLS FROM HOME
Radio station WMMT broadcasts hip-hop and shout-outs to those incarcerated in the prison system of Central Appalachia, giving family members—many of whom live hundreds of miles away—a chance to connect with their loved ones.
Official Selection, 2014 PBS Online Film Festival
Read our behind-the-scenes production notes and learn more about the troubling trend of prison proliferation in coal country:
THAT WORLD IS GONE:
RACE AND DISPLACEMENT IN A SOUTHERN TOWN
Revealing the history of Charlottesville's largest African American neighborhood, Vinegar Hill, we explored black property ownership and the area's destruction in 1965.
Audience Award for Best Short Documentary, 2010 Virginia Film Festival
Aired on PBS affiliates WCVE and WVPT in Summer 2012
NBC 29, "Charlottesville City Council Allocates $15K to Create Vinegar Hill Park," December 6, 2016.
Charlottesville Daily Progress, "Charlottesville Officially Apologizes for Razing Vinegar Hill," November 7, 2011.
Charlottesville Daily Progress, "Vinegar Hill Displacement Topic of Film Festival Event," November 6, 2010.
Watch the film, read our behind-the-scenes production notes, and learn more about the history of Vinegar Hill at this link.