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“Facing Forward”
For the last three years, Laura has been chronicling students’ lives at E Prep. Facing
Forward (2011) (http://www.facingforwardfilm.com/), her first feature-length documentary
film, follows the life of Tyree Stewart:
. . .a charmer who arrives at E Prep barely able to read but with dreams of
becoming a ‘billionaire scientist.’ Laura follows him through the halls as he tries to
acclimate to his strict, new environment --- 10-hour school days; no screaming at
teachers; a dress code that demands belts, jackets and ties and survive an
increasingly chaotic home life. (The title is a reference to the admonishment
students receive in detention head off the table, eyes facing forward). Tyree’s
journey is as dramatic and more heart-wrenching because it’s real. (Simakis, 2011,
March, 31)
Laura recently (November 2011) returned from a showing at the Heartland Film Festival,
which presents “transformative films from around the world that artistically explore the
human condition” (http://www.trulymovingpictures.org/heartland-film-festival/).
   
Social Documentary: Intimate Intrusion
 
When I asked Laura about her latest documentary projects, she said, “My new
documentary ‘Eleven’ has to do with the recent serial murders in Cleveland but from the
perspective of the drug addicted women who were his victims.” She confesses, “it’s very
hard to approach or interview the families of the victims because they’re going through so
much grief and you’re intruding and asking them these tough questions. I know news
media people are really good at doing that sort of thing - but if you’re the least bit sensitive,
it’s very hard. You feel intrusive. Even with the election documentary, I felt like a real
goofball going in to the polling place and filming.” Obviously, there is something Laura
enjoys about the process. She adds, “I like meeting people that I would never meet under
normal circumstances.” I note that she puts herself in environments that are
uncomfortable. Laura replies, “or dangerous. Hopefully, it’s for the greater good or to
expose something important.”
   
The Takeaway: The Courage To Try Something Ridiculous
Although never having produced or directed a feature-length film, Laura did something that
she knew was bold by tackling a large project, Nightowls of Coventry, with minimal
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