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7 Days in America Key Art

Five documentaries with ties to UT’s School of Journalism and Electronic Media and Land Grant Films are among the official selections for the 2018 Knox Film Festival.

“We are really excited to have so many of our documentaries recognized by the Knox Film Festival,” said Nick Geidner, associate professor of journalism and director of Land Grant Films. “It is a testament to the documentary program we’re growing at Land Grant Films and in JEM.”

Geidner created Land Grant Films in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media to give students hands-on experience in documentary storytelling while providing video assets to local nonprofit organizations.

The UT films selected for the festival include:

  • Welcome Home Brother, directed by recent graduates Isaac Fowler and Tim Morris, tells the story of three Vietnam veterans as they find their voices in East Tennessee through the help of the Bill Robinson Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans Association. Fowler and Morris’ documentary is part of Land Grant Films’ Defender of the Dream documentary series, which aired on East Tennessee PBS. The documentary also will show at the Full Bloom Film Festival in Statesville, North Carolina.
  • Land Grant Films’ most recent documentary, 7 Days in America, which follows a case worker from Bridge Refugee Services as she helps a family of Burundian refugees resettle in Knoxville. The documentary also will show at the Immigration Film Festival in Washington, DC. 7 Days was directed by Geidner and crewed by 10 University of Tennessee students.
  • Meant to Be, directed and produced by graduate student Yuan Yue, tells the story of Human Animal Bond in Tennessee (H.A.B.I.T.) dog Tidbit and his support of students reading at Fountain City Elementary School.
  • Lieselotte, a documentary that Fowler, along with senior Matt Freels and graduate Chandler Burgess, created for Geidner’s senior-level documentary production class. The film is a look at 92-year-old, immigrant Lieselotte “Lottie” O’Brien, who still works 60 hours a week at her small-town pizzeria. The project was personal for Fowler as a Kingston native.

“I’d grown up eating at her restaurant, and everybody in the community knows who Lottie is,” said Fowler. “The main reason I made it was for the people back home in Kingston, so that was rewarding enough, but getting the selection was so exciting.”

  • Abigail’s Picnic was also created for Geidner’s documentary production class. The film, created by recent graduates Brock Zych, DeShawn Thomas, and Story Sims, shares the story of UT junior Abigail Smallwood’s battle against cancer during her freshman year.

The festival, in its 15th year, will be held at Knoxville’s Regal Downtown West Cinema 8. The Knox Film Fest draws close to 4,000 attendees annually.

Visit Knox Film Fest for the full list of 2018 selections. Tickets can be purchased in advance or on-site.


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,