Silas Hunt Documentary Wins Three Awards

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Silas Hunt: A Documentary, the in-depth story of the first African-American to break the color barrier at the University of Arkansas, has earned three prestigious awards from the video and film industry. The film received an Aegis Winner’s Award, an Aurora Gold Award, and a Telly Bronze Award, all in the documentary film category. The awards are each independently judged and attract entries from the top commercial and independent production talent in the country.

The production team included Brian Petty, assistant producer; Jon Kuykendall, audio producer; Mickel McConnell, video editor; and Chris Erwin, producer and director.
The executive producers for Silas Hunt: A Documentary were Donnie Dutton, executive producer and dean of the School of Continuing Education and Academic Outreach, and Mandel G. Samuels, executive producer and departmental director.

  Members of the media services group included:
Front Row: Donnie Dutton, executive producer and dean of the School of Continuing Education and Academic Outreach; Mandel G. Samuels, executive producer; and Mickel McConnell, video editor.
Middle Row: Matt Davis, production assistant; Chris Erwin, producer and director; Michael Maese, engineer; and Ash Goodwin, production assistant.
Back row: Jon Kuykendall, audio producer; Brian Petty, assistant producer; Lee Clinton, engineer; Travis Peeples, Glen Dunn and Colleen Whitman (not pictured), all production assistants.

he film was commissioned by the University of Arkansas School for Continuing Education and Academic Outreach, and produced by its department of media services.

“We are all very proud of this accomplishment,” said Chris Erwin, producer and director of the film. “In all three awards we were judged against the highest industry standards of excellence. It’s a tribute to the hard work that everyone in the department put in to this project.”

Most Arkansans will have their first chance to see Silas Hunt: A Documentary when it is broadcast for the first time on the Arkansas Educational Television Network at 9 p.m. Thursday, June 21.

The film had its theatrical premiere Nov. 15, 2006, at the university’s Center for Continuing Education. Since then it has had several public screenings, and inspired Gov. Mike Beebe to declare Feb. 2 “Silas Hunt Day” in the state of Arkansas.

Hunt was a decorated World War II veteran from Texarkana who enrolled in the University of Arkansas School of Law in February 1948, becoming the first black to enroll at a traditionally white institution since Reconstruction. He completed one semester of classes before becoming ill and withdrawing from school. He died the next year from tuberculosis, aggravated by injuries he received during the war. Hunt's admission to the university began the process of integration at the University of Arkansas and in colleges and universities across the southern United States.

Silas Hunt: A Documentary is the first detailed biography of the Arkansas civil rights pioneer ever assembled. Erwin, his assistant producer, Brian Petty, and screen writer Thomas Jordan researched Hunt's life, dug up archival pictures and documents, and tracked down the people who knew Silas Hunt during his life, including several who witnessed his experiences at the University of Arkansas. Erwin consulted with professional researchers in Washington, D.C., who helped him find material in the National Archives and the Library of Congress. Media services crews traveled as far away as California to videotape interviews for the film. Erwin estimated that, in all, crews traveled 17,000 miles in 12 states, shot 56 hours of videotape, and found 2,500 documents and images.

The result is a compelling portrait of a genuine hero of the civil rights movement, told by the people who knew him. It presents a detailed picture of Arkansas in the first half of the 20th century, and of the people, black and white, who supported Hunt in his struggle.

The documentary is narrated by Emmy-nominated actor Steve Harris.

For additional information or to order DVD copies of the documentary call the media services department at 479-575-5710.





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