Cross-Cultural Documentaries

Spring 2017


Brownsburg, Virginia is a tiny farm community in Rockbridge County. Yet, it boasts its own history museum where these days, you can learn about the region’s thriving industry in the 18th, 19th and early 20th Centuries. Connor Chess, Powell Robinson and Witt Hawkins take us to the mills and farmland that drove the economy.


In the 20 years since the Virginia Military Institute went co-ed, the presence of women in the Corps of Cadets is not the only change. Payton Emery, Deanna Schreiber, Kristina Stukalin and Laura Wang explore life for the women who teach the cadets.


When do you stop paying a debt to society? That’s the question Claire Hoffert, Leeann Passaro and Jake Sirota asked after digging into the issue of ex-offenders trying to make a fresh start in a society that doesn’t always value second chances.


Rockbridge County may be named for the Natural Bridge in its midst but farmers will tell you it lives up to its name with all of the rocks in the pastures and grain fields here. Mac Evarts, Thomas Ferguson and Brendan Olski visit three very different farms in the county.


Tourism isn’t usually a controversial industry. But in the south, including Lexington, Virginia, Americans continue to debate how we promote history tourism. Emily Carden, Hannah Denham and Ginny Durfee found many points of view for this documentary.

Spring 2015


Leila Baldridge will be the first to tell you she’s not a typical Mormon. Yet, she still goes to church in Buena Vista and still has Mormon friends, as well as friends who are not part of the Latter Day Saints. Taylor Gulotta, Olivia Howell and Wan Wei share the story of what it’s like to grow up Mormon in Rockbridge County, Virginia. It’s part of Washington and Lee University’s spring term course, Cross-Cultural Documentary Filmmaking.


Diamond Hill overlooks the campus of Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. Historically, it was the home to the city’s African American population. But that’s changing. Crosby Ellinger, Peter Rathmell and Jalen Twine explore how much demographics have shifted in Lexington and why fewer African Americans are living on the hill—or anywhere in town, for that matter. The story is part of Washington and Lee’s spring term course, Cross-Cultural Documentary Filmmaking.


Virginia has a smaller percentage of families who homeschool their kids, compared to the national average. But Lexington is right on par with the nation. Margaret Dick, Jimmy Dugan and Emma Whittemore talk to the experts about why it’s popular in this area. And, as part of the Washington and Lee course, Cross-Cultural Documentary Filmmaking, they introduce us to one family in the midst of educating five kids at home.


Darren Douglas is a rising senior at Washington and Lee. He’s from suburban New York City and both of his parents immigrated to America in their youth. In this first person documentary for W&L’s Cross-Cultural Documentary Filmmaking course, Darren and his fellow producers, Andrew Franz and Michael Hegar, talk to some Lexington business owners who have something in common with Darren’s parents: They, too, came to this country from another part of the world. Darren asks these business owners what brought them to Lexington and how they fit in—as he tries to answer the same questions himself.


It’s been less than 20 years since the first few women joined the “Rat Line” at Virginia Military Institute. Being a first-year student at a military academy is always a harrowing experience but was even more challenging for those pioneering women. Coleman Johnson, Jinae Kennedy and Kylee Sapp explore how far women cadets have come since 1997. For Washington and Lee Cross-Cultural Documentary Filmmaking course, they also reveal what it’s like to be one of “The Ten Percent.”


Two thriving universities and an active tourism industry drive the Lexington, Virginia economy. Jess Castelo, Charlotte Doran and Hayley Soutter found many women in that driver’s seat. For W&L’s Cross-Cultural Documentary Filmmaking class, they talked to three women business owners about what it’s like to own and manage a business in this small city. Each woman has a different approach to Working Her Way to the Top.

Spring 2014


Rockbridge County, Virginia is home to a disproportionately large community of military veterans. Many prefer a rural lifestyle, even though that means traveling a great distance for government services. Emily Leventhal, Liam Gaziano and Patrick McDonald share the story of generations of veterans who have gone from Front Lines to Farm Lives. It’s part of Washington and Lee University’s spring term course, Cross-Cultural Documentary Filmmaking.


Don’t call them “hippie communes.” That name doesn’t fit anymore. Samantha Yates, Alexandra Hagan and Kirby Taylor visited three “intentional communities” in rural western Virginia. Each has a different approach to living, working and growing together. Their story is part of Washington and Lee University’s spring term course, “Cross-Cultural Documentary Filmmaking.”


In the heart of rural western Virginia lies a quiet community. Its faith has its roots half a world away. Yet, it is becoming part of the landscape and the culture of Rockbridge County. Alice Matthai, Mary Elizabeth Shutley and Megan Fricke of Washington and Lee University’s spring term Cross-Cultural Documentary Filmmaking course tell us folks around here would say “Namaste, Y’all.”


Hispanics are part of a small but growing segment of the Lexington, Va. population. They are not all from the same country. But they share similar successes and challenges in their new home. Carolyn Holtzman, Katie Barnes, and Emily Flippo tell their story as part of Washington and Lee University’s spring term Cross-Cultural Documentary Filmmaking course.


Owners of three popular restaurants in Lexington, Virginia bring their unique life experiences to the table every day. The three men were born on three different continents–Europe, Asia and South America. Bryant Becker, Jonah Mackay and Sierra Noland share their stories in “Dining Abroad,” from Washington and Lee University’s spring term course on “Cross-Cultural Documentary Filmmaking.”