In this section, we celebrate the many accomplishments of CHIDdies of all types—students, faculty, alumni—by highlighting recent honors and news items.
Do you have news that you want to share with your CHID community? An award or recognition? A great gig? Going to grad school? Life event to share? Let us know – send a short description and any web links to administrator Suzanne St Peter, email@example.com. We want to hear from you!
This Community News provides an update on the author of one of our Fall 2015 Newsletter articles, Emily Jensen, '15, On Flattopper Pride and CHID. Emily (now Vonn) sent the following greeting in December 2016, to CHID’s “chidchat” online mailing list. For more information visit Vonn’s website, https://vonnjensen.com/:
I've been continuing the work that began as my senior thesis in 2014 (was it that long ago?!). Today I officially announced an intermedial, documentary-form project which is another iteration of that ideological and community work. Read below the treatment that was sent to our email subscribers…
All my best,
Tapestries is a documentary series that chronicles the stories of individuals as they navigate their lives after a breast cancer diagnosis. In an effort to change the discourse around breast cancer, this project offers alternative narratives to the mainstream depiction of ‘pink survivorship.’ By sharing the complicated stories of people navigating life after diagnosis, we question our culture’s relationship with cancer, femininity, gendered bodies, power, and survival.
This series intends to be a vehicle to reassess how we talk about breast cancer. In sharing their stories and exposing their scars – literal and figurative - the individuals in this project are normalizing bodies and narratives that we do not see depicted often enough in media. This documentary series aims to challenge our audience to recognize the untold stories of breast cancer. In doing so, we draw attention to the fact that there is a world of individuals who exist outside the ‘pink ribbon’ culture. By shifting the focus and decentering middle aged, middle class, cis white women, and reframing the narrative to be more complex than the ‘warrior’ story of survival, we aim to honestly depict to the nuanced and complicated realities of life after a breast cancer diagnosis.
This project will be comprised of eight to ten short documentary pieces, each of which will feature at least two people who have both been diagnosed with breast cancer discussing their experiences with one another. Instead of a talking head interview approach, we will create a discursive video piece – allowing these individuals to speak in their own words, ask their own questions, follow their own lines of thinking. Subject matter will be up to the participants – if they want to discuss the evolution of their gender identity pre and post mastectomy, compare notes on how much easier it is to run down a flight of stairs without breasts, or swap horror stories of devastating chemotherapy treatments, all subjects are fair game. Each video will be edited to differentiate it from the others, to highlight unique experiences and conversations directly from the participants who experienced it. While each conversation will be one to two hours long, the final video piece for each will be between five to ten minutes.
Working collaboratively, these videos will be directed and edited by filmmaker Emily MacKenzie and produced in partnership with Vonn Jensen who will at times also appear on camera in conversation. MacKenzie and Jensen will take three road trips to different regions in the US where they will meet and film with the individuals who will be featured in the documentary pieces. After the final road trip in May, Jensen and MacKenzie will complete the edits on all videos and upload them online, available for immediate viewing. The video pieces will be published in the Summer of 2017.
EMILY MACKENZIE is a New Orleans based director and editor. She is a graduate of Bard College and the New School’s Documentary Media Studies program. MacKenzie edited on Nina Davenport’s feature length HBO Documentary FIRST COMES LOVE. MacKenzie has worked as a director, producer and editor for broadcast networks such as MTV, HBO, and Animal Planet and for documentary films - features and shorts - that have been screened at festivals internationally. MacKenzie was the recipient of the Franz Boas Ruth Benedict award for research into NY’s Ethnomesh music and was Awarded the “Best Made in NY” silver spoon for her first documentary THE BEST THING I EVER DONE in 2011.
VONN JENSEN (formerly Emily Jensen) is a US-based cancer advocate and vanguard approaching advocacy through the lens of social justice. They founded the movements Flattopper Pride and Queer Cancer and work specifically with populations often disenfranchised or rendered invisible in the dominant breast cancer narrative. Using a variety of media, they have worked for visibility as a means of combating the marginalization that certain groups, such as the queer community, face during treatment. Vonn formed the organization Flattopper® Pride, and the support group Queer Cancer.