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Documentary Guest Talkback 

1 pm - 1:30 pm

Our second documentary panel of the day will feature two of the most incredible voices in Indiana film. Professor, author, and director of the Black Film Center Archive Dr. Novotny Lawrence will be hosting a talk back with documentary filmmaker and National Emmy Award winner, Jerald B. Harkness. Come see how conversations go when two legends come together!

Panelists bios below.


Dr. Novotny Lawrence

Dr. Novotny Lawrence is an associate professor of Cinema and Media Studies and the Director of the Black Film Center & Archive. A widely published scholar, Dr. Lawrence’s research focuses on Black cinematic/mediated experiences and popular culture, areas that reflect the historic racial discrimination that Blacks have endured and the tremendous strides that Blacks have made to overcome oppression. He is the author of Blaxploitation Films of the 1970s: Blackness and Genre (Routledge, 2007), the editor of Documenting the Black Experience (McFarland, 2014), and the co-editor of Beyond Blaxploitation (Wayne State University Press, 2016). He has also published journal articles/book chapters on Black Dynamite, C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, This is Us, and Jordan Peele’s Get Out. Dr. Lawrence is currently co-editing The Oxford Handbook of Black Horror Films and co-authoring a book on Oscar and BAFTA-winning screenwriter and University of Kansas professor, Kevin Willmott. He has made several media appearances, including participating in a roundtable discussion about Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971) for the Criterion Collection box set, Melvin Van Peebles: Essential Films. Dr. Lawrence is also the Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Popular Culture.


Jerald B. Harkness

Jerald B. Harkness is the President and CEO of Studio Auteur, LLC a content creation company specializing in producing broadcast documentaries. A national Emmy award winner, Harkness’s prolific career spans over 25 years and he has produced and directed for Paramount TV, UMC, ESPN, VH1, A&E, PBS and CBS Sports Network. 

Recent work includes producing and directing the biographical documentary “The Bright Path: The Johnny Bright Story” which has had national broadcasts on CBS Sports Network and PBS, and has been selected to multiple film festivals.  Harkness was the Executive Producer and Showrunner of the docu-drama series "True First" which celebrates forgotten and overlooked African American trailblazers and pioneers. Harkness’s first project under his company Studio Auteur was a documentary short titled “Wesley” for the multiple award-winning series “The Election Effect" for Paramount TV and Facebook.

Harkness has been the producer and director of a number of independent and broadcast documentaries including the Al Unser story for ESPN's award-winning Sports Century series in 2002. His first documentary “Steppin’” produced in 1992 won the National Educational Gold Apple Award, making it eligible for an Academy Award nomination. “Steppin’” also won the 1994 Pan African People’s Choice Award. His second documentary “Facing the Façade” debuted in 1994 and won the Indiana Film Festival’s Best Documentary and the People’s Choice award. Jerald produced and directed "The Game of Change" which was selected for the 2008 Heartland Film Festival and was acknowledged by President Barack Obama. 

Other broadcast documentary projects that aired and or screened in Indiana are: “Living as a Legend: The Damon Bailey Story”, “The Men of Montford Point: The First Black Marines”, and “Eyewitness to a Century: The Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper”, “The Heart of the Campus: The Indiana Memorial Union”, and “Glories of Our Journeys” that tells the story of one of Indianapolis first Black public schools. 

Notable awards include a national Emmy, Best Documentary for the International Academy of Web TV, the inaugural Spotlight Award from the Indianapolis Black Documentary Filmmaker Festival and various Festival awards that include three Heartland Film Festival Selections, two Pan African Film Festival Selections, a Chicago Indie Film Festival selection, a Halifax Black Film Festival selection, a Calgary Black Film Festival selection, and Indy Film Festival selection and the New York Independent Cinema Festival selection. 

In 2023, Harkness donated raw footage and master tapes from many of Harkness’s previous projects to the Black Film Center Archives at Indiana University. The Jerald Harkness Collection will be available to students, scholars and the IU community in perpetuity.

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