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DocuDay CAMD crew! Photo by Wanqi Yi.

Each year, film fanatics and critics join together on the Saturday before the Academy Awards to watch screenings of recent classic documentaries as well as some of the best documentaries of the year including the Oscar nominees for Best Feature Documentary and Best Documentary Short. Called DocuDay, this sixteen-hour marathon is sponsored by the International Documentary Association. This year, a group of ten Northeastern students joined the crowd of filmmakers and fans in Los Angeles for a one-credit, four-day intensive pop-up course led by CAMD’s Bobette Buster, School of Journalism Professor of the Practice of Digital Storytelling.

The course allowed the group of CAMD majors to analyze the Academy Award Nominated Films, as well as immerse themselves in the world of one of the most prestigious annual events in Hollywood: The Oscars. In the heart of Lost Angeles, students had the opportunity to meet and network with directors, producers, and other industry insiders at DocuDay and were able to attend Q & A sessions with the film’s subjects and other film team members.

This first-hand experience was paired with Professor Buster’s teachings. Her lessons highlighted how difficult the documentary-making process can be. Requiring a large team of collaborators, documentaries typically take about seven to ten years to create – and often don’t make big money in the box office. These films, however, frequently shed light on inequity, crimes, and other important topics, sometimes leading to policy change and greater awareness overall. DocuDay seeks to admire and appreciate the inspiration that documentaries employ through visual storytelling, as does Professor Buster both in and outside of the classroom.

“The course was extremely inspirational, unforgettable, and meaningful,” said CAMD student Wanqi Yi, who participated in the pop-up. “On DocuDay, we had the chance to chat with the nominated Oscar best documentary/short films directors and producers, and network with them after the movie screenings.”

The group even stayed in the same hotel as director Bing Liu, whose recent film, Minding the Gap, was nominated for Best Documentary.

“We got to network with him and his subject in the film in-person, and for me, that was a highlight of this trip” Wanqi concluded. “I cherish this opportunity. The experience meant so much both in terms of knowing what I want to do in the future, and also learning more about how the industry works, and Professor Bobette Buster is the best.”

This sentiment was certainly shared by the rest of the student group, as well. Thank you to Professor Bobette Buster and all the students who participated. Please stay tuned for more CAMD pop-up course opportunities in the future.