Caretaker of Stories

Cuban Earth scene with stilts

Melinda Levin ('92 M.A.) knows what makes a good film.

She saw it in the colorful, jubilant street performances from the Cuban arts group Teatro Callejero Medio Ambiental (Street Theatre about the Environment). And she pictured it in Mongolian elder Delgar Mondoon, a high monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. These individuals have committed their lives and livelihood to celebrating culture and the sanctity of the environment.

She turned their stories into the documentaries Cuban Earth and Mongolia: Earth and Spirit. And they earned her and her documentary crew members six international Telly Awards, which has recognized excellence in video and television since 1979.

Cuban Earth was produced by David Taylor, a former UNT English lecturer who is now an assistant professor at Stony Brook University. The film recently won top honors in the Documentary Short category at the national meeting of the University Film and Video Association, the oldest academic film organization in North America. Mongolia: Earth and Spirit was co-produced and directed with Liz Daggett Matar ('08 M.F.A.) and aired on KERA. It also won a Best Documentary Award at the Female Filmmakers Festival Berlin.

Levin, who is a professor in the Master of Fine Arts in Documentary Production and Studies program in the Department of Media Arts, says, "Both TECMA and Delgar Mondoon are making selfless efforts for the betterment of our environment, and I'm honored to be a caretaker of their stories."

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