The spirit of Tucson shines brightly in the 2021 What’s Up, Docs film festival – a collection of short documentaries created by BFA and BA students of the School of Theatre, Film & Television. The films are available to watch online for free through February 17 via a partnership with the Loft Cinema.
In the latest episode of AZPM’s Arizona Spotlight, film essayist Chris Dashiell took a closer look at two of the documentaries examining public issues and affairs:
“Solution Number Two, directed by John Taylor and Carter Hayek, has an urgently topical subject – the innovative method employed by the University of Arizona to detect and isolate COVID-19 infection on campus. The method is known as wastewater-based epidemiology. By testing the water in the sewer system, the staff at the UA Water & Energy Sustainable Technology (WEST) Center is able to prevent the spread of coronavirus. In an interview, Dr. Ian Pepper explains how it’s done while wearing a t-shirt that says “poop doesn’t lie.” Put more scientifically, this means that fecal matter will always betray the presence of COVID-19. In less than 9 minutes, the film shows and explains this complex process that other [universities] may seek to imitate. And the humorous note set by Dr. Pepper’s t-shirt is mirrored by the filmmakers’ choice of title. This is truly a Solution Number Two.
Be Our Guest, by Martin Olloren and Jacob Robinson, profiles Casa Alitas, the Tucson-based program that provides food, shelter and medical care for asylum seekers from Latin America. Throughout the 7-minute film we see staff welcoming new guests, talking to them, teaching them English, and orienting them for life in the U.S. The emphasis is on asylum seekers as individuals and their unique talents, dreams and aspirations. The pacing and editing in the film – the silences and choice of shots – are beautiful and accomplished. We get a sense of the spirit of [Casa Alitas] and the meaning of what they’re doing. Be Our Guest carries a valuable message of hope and compassion.”Listen to the full story at AZPM