MediaLab explores issues of diversity with premiere of documentary series, ‘A World of Difference’
By Helen Smith ‘19
Contributing writer, Marketing and Communications
Two episodes of a new four-part MediaLab documentary project is set to premiere this spring.
The series, titled “A World of Difference,” explores issues of diversity, including gender, race, immigration and social class.
The first two segments, about immigration and gender, screened Feb. 17 at the Seattle Central Public Library, 1000 Fourth Ave. in Seattle.
The other two portions of the series will premiere in Tacoma later this spring. Episode III (Sedalia, Missouri- race) and IV (Richwood, West Virginia- class) will be featured on April 5, at 7pm in Ingram 100.
“A World of Difference” was jointly sponsored and supported by PLU’s School of Arts and Communication, the Wang Center for Global and Community Engaged Education and the university’s Diversity, Justice and Sustainability (DJS) fund.
Over the past 10 months, the series was produced by a documentary team of four MediaLab students: project director and graphic designer Rachel Lovrovich ’18, a digital media major; director of photography and editor Joshua Wiersma ’18, a communication major; chief writer Julia Grosvenor ’19, a communication major; and producer Mackenzie R. Cooper ’19, a communication major.
The team traveled to four locations nationwide to investigate how different communities approach issues of diversity. One such location was El Paso, Texas, a Southwestern border city that is part of a metropolitan area of nearly 2 million people, which includes Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Wiersma said he found the circumstances in El Paso to be much different than he originally expected.
“El Paso is actually, according to multiple sources that we talked to, one of the safest cities in the country, which is entirely contrary to what you would hear about it,” Wiersma said, adding that “in contrast with Juarez, which is one of the most dangerous cities on the face of the planet. We really wanted to get to the bottom of it and be like ‘What’s it actually like living in a border community?’”
The second episode, which screened on Feb. 17, focused on women who work in the construction trade. Construction is an industry typically dominated by males. But in Portland, Oregon, an estimated 19 percent of all construction workers are women, more than twice the national average.
“We basically went around talking to a variety of industry experts,” Wiersma said, “to try and get a sense of just the scope or perceptions regarding ‘what does it mean to work in a masculine industry?’ or, ‘what does it mean to work in a feminine industry?’”
“Just like we did through the process of making the series, we hope everyone will gain a better understanding of the meaning of diversity and the varying ways in which it is valued and discussed.”- Rachel Lovrovich ’18
Given the current political climate and various events in the U.S. and abroad, Lovrovich said she hopes the series encourages meaningful conversations about diversity and difference.
“Just like we did through the process of making the series,” Lovrovich said, “we hope everyone will gain a better understanding of the meaning of diversity and the varying ways in which it is valued and discussed.”
Lovrovich added that, like many past MediaLab projects, the ultimate goal is to spark conversations well beyond the Pacific Northwest.
“We hope that our audience will not only learn about the communities and issues we highlighted,” said Lovrovich, “but also reflect on and start a dialogue within their own communities.”
In addition to the four primary filmmakers, the production team included music major Dalton Rouse ’18 — who composed the project’s score — and narrator Jonathan Spielmann ’18, a communication major.
Visit worldofdifferenceseries.com for more information about the documentary series, or to see a trailer.