The second student-led documentary project to come out of Capital University’s Immersion course premiered Monday during Capital’s 29th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Learning to a packed house at The Drexel Theatre, Bexley’s historic independent theatre house built in 1939, the same time period covered in the film.
“Dear Miss Conrad, Capital University in WWII” resurrects an important narrative and cast of characters out of archived materials, historic records, and letters from deployed students and alumni to their beloved university head librarian, Miss Dorthea Conrad, during World War II. With insight and historical context offered by Capital and Trinity Lutheran Seminary faculty, “Dear Miss Conrad” tells the story of Capital’s struggle to distinguish and articulate the promise of its German-Lutheran identity against the horrors of Holocaust and World War II in an increasingly Jewish community and America’s anti-German sentiment.
Through extensive research and synthesis, storytelling and scriptwriting, digitization of materials, filming, editing, voice acting and much more, Capital’s Immersion students – historians and film-makers among them – collaborated to create a story that brings new life to Capital’s history while reinforcing the time-honored bond its students, faculty and staff share.
“As a history major, I knew little to nothing about making a documentary – making it, as you can imagine, terrifying when I walked into a 400-level film and media class,” said Rocky Jorgenson, a third-year history major and lead writer for the project. “But I think that in itself is the beauty of the immersion project. At the surface it was just another tough class with stressful deadlines but if you dug deeper and immersed yourself, what you found was a group of very unique people across extremely different fields that came together to create something really special, and I think that is shown here.”
For Dr. Betsy Pike, who co-teaches the Immersion class with Dr. Andrew Carlson, professor and chair of History, developing the skill of collaboration can be the most challenging, and fruitful, part of the project.
“On the surface, collaboration is a buzzword. Everyone’s happy. Everyone looks like they get along. Projects look effortless. But collaboration is hard,” said Pike, assistant professor of Communication and director of Film and Media Production. “It takes commitment not only to the idea or project but to all the folks involved. It takes positivity even when you’re irritated or frustrated and confused. It takes letting go of your own ego for the sake of all the people in the room, for the sake of the project, and to be able to move forward. … That’s what this year’s immersion students did, and we are so proud of them.”
The documentary will be shown again on Monday, March 9, in conjunction with Capital’s third annual International Women’s Day of Action. Events include a day of presentations by community and university speakers on diverse topics related to gender, social justice, and civic engagement. More details will be available in the coming weeks.
DVD sales of the film will begin Wednesday, April 1. Learn more and read student blogs about the making of the film at DearMissConrad.com