The Schwartz Center in downtown Dover is premiering the new documentary about a community in downtown Dover, no more than a few blocks from where the theater itself sits.
From the Ground Up - One Woman's Fight for Change is the new documentary recently completed by Delaware State University graduate William S. Haywood. The short film is a snapshot of the efforts of Marion Harris, as she oversees the House of Pride, a residential substance abuse program.
I had the fortune of getting a special advanced screening of the 30-minute-long film and a sit-down interview with Haywood, the aspiring filmmaker.
Haywood graduated with honors. He's a native of Virginia but has been a resident of Dover since 2001. His degree is in video production, but Haywood also has a minor in history.
Exposed to camerawork for decades via his father who did 8mm wedding and special event videos for friends, and recently inspired by Oscar-nominated documentaries like Lalee's Kin: A Legacy of Cotton (2001), Haywood has put together a short piece of work that perfectly captures the spirit and struggle of an amazing community activist.
Haywood used a single Panasonic high-def digital video camera to interview about ten people. He edited for a year, combining newspaper clippings to tell a story of how one woman took a neighborhood that was crime-ridden and filled with men suffering from various drug habits and turned it into a place of hope.
The most metaphorical moment comes when that woman, the founder of the House of Pride and community activist, Marion Harris, picks a beautiful, ripe tomato from a city garden that was previously found to be difficult to even see green grass grow.
Haywood does a great job at what most great documentarians should do and that's listening, letting his subjects tell the story. Utilizing a technique that I personally enjoy of no narration, Haywood's eye is an objective observer.
As such, Haywood allows us to be a fly on the wall for a very powerful intervention, termed "crating." Crating is when the men in the rehabilitation program sit and confront another man who has relapsed and has gone back to using drugs. It's an example of not some outside, authoritative force dictating what and how things should be. It's an example of people in the community looking out for one another and trying to help each other.
Due to rules and regulations regarding the city's zoning laws, this community drug-rehab program will be shut down, Haywood's film stands as a brief, yet important, relevant, and highly-moving testimonial to the exceptional deeds of Harris and her faith, "hope in the hood" and charity.
The event is Thursday, Oct. 30 at the Schwartz Center at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. I highly recommend all who can attend to do so.