Student Documentary Makes Official Selection at Six Film Festivals

Graduate student and veteran Army Ranger, Paul Kirby, was notified his documentary short - Lodestar- has been officially selected for no less than six film festivals. 

His documentary focuses on coastal access as an under-utilized intervention for mental health issues. A topical issue, as HR-2435 ‘Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act’ is currently under consideration in congress. If the bill passes, it will help increase access to natural and wilderness areas for the purpose of veterans healing after the trauma of combat. 

“Oregon is unique”, said Paul, “in that it is the only state other than Hawaii that has unrestricted public access to the entire length of its coastline.”. The documentary touches on sensitive issues, such as the suicide epidemic among veterans and the restrictive coastal access laws of other states, like Florida and California.

“Oregon leads the way in terms of public coastal access, but I felt strongly that we need to celebrate our state’s unique status in order to reinforce the existing legislation.” His documentary does just that, invoking brave and emotive images of his own experiences with PTSD and depression, juxtaposed against his experiences of sea kayaking along the Oregon coast.

Paul wrote, produced, directed and acted in the documentary during the Spring 2019 term under the guidance of Dr Chris Lucas, as part of the Advanced Documentary Production class offered at the Digital Media Center. He recruited the help of two other SOU students - Evan Johnson (editor) and Dustin Saigo (cinematographer).

View his documentary his here 

Lodestar has been officially selected for the St Lawrence International Film Festival, the Miami Independent Film Festival, the 2019 Impact DOCS Awards, the First Time Film-Makers Review, and the Digital Monthly Online Film Festival.

In addition to his documentary success, Paul has been selected as a guest presenter at the the Arctic Futures 2050 Conference at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. this September. The research focus of his presentation is Inuit Self-Determination.

“One of the great things about the Interdisciplinary grad program is it provides the skills and flexibility to make a documentary about the suicide rate among veterans and also conduct research on other marginalized groups with similar issues - like the suicide epidemic among Inuit youth. I wouldn’t be able to do that without synthesizing Native American Studies with Documentary Production.”