Two FSU alumni team up on film shown at Sundance Film Festival

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Members of the film team who made "I Snuck Off the Slave Ship."Members of the film team who made “I Snuck Off the Slave Ship.” (L-R) Joy Davenport (editor); Brittany Nugent (producer); Matt Arnett (executive producer); Lonnie Holley (co-director); Cyrus Moussavi (co-director); Charles Autumn (director of photography)

Two Florida State University graduates are attending the renowned Sundance Film Festival, the largest showcase of independent films in the country, to participate in the premiere of a film they both worked on.

Film editor Joy Elaine Davenport and videographer Pablo Correa, both graduates of FSU’s School of Communication, collaborated on the film “I Snuck Off the Slave Ship,” created and directed by visual artist and musician Lonnie Holley. He made the short film to accompany his song of the same name released in 2018.

Some of the film’s scenes were recorded last year in the Mississippi Delta by high school students under the guidance of Davenport, Correa and FSU Professor Davis Houck. The trio led a Young Filmmakers’ Workshop that trained eight students to record the necessary footage for the movie project. All of them are listed in the closing credits.

Pablo Correa, who earned a doctorate in communication from FSU in 2018, helped film scenes in the movie.Pablo Correa, who earned a doctorate in communication from FSU in 2018, helped film scenes in the movie.

“We ended up being the second unit (film crew),” Davenport said. “The goal I set for the students was simple: capture moments of feeling, and they really delivered. I edited the film, and their footage ended up providing a crucial bridge connecting a fantastical story with moments of earnest feeling.”

Selena Davila, at the time a senior at Gentry High School in Indianola, Mississippi, said she initially felt nervous to participate in Holley’s film project.

“But my instructors eased me into the wonderful process of filmmaking,” Davila said. “I got to interview many people and develop my own passion for creative work. I hope more (students) will try the workshops.”

Davila was one of the students participating in a five-week Young Filmmakers’ Workshop at Gentry High School, which introduced them to all aspects of filmmaking. The educational training was part of the “Fannie Lou Hamer’s America” film project created by Houck, FSU’s Fannie Lou Hamer Professor of Rhetorical Studies in the College of Communication and Information.

Houck is leading an effort to document the powerful contributions of 1960s civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer with rare archival and video footage. A rough cut of the documentary is slated for completion this spring.