Film Projects

The Institute and filmmaker Paul Wagner have worked on two film projects: Faith in the Hood and The Great Democratic Revolution.

Faith in the Hood

Faith in the Hood is a documentary film series about churches and faith-based organizations in “Southeast,” the poorest community in Washington, D.C., and the people they serve.

The God of a Second Chance won an award for Best Feature Length Documentary in the “Our City Film Festival” in Washington, DC.

Part I, The God of a Second Chance, was completed in 2006 and focuses on the lives of two men: Sleepy, a teenager dealing with issues of sexuality and responsibility to his girlfriend, is a member of The House, a Christian after-school program for teenagers. Richie, a reformed crack addict trying to help his addicted wife, is a member of Community Action Group, a recovery program for adults sponsored by a local Catholic church.

Part II will utilize film footage of a wide range of churches and organizations in Southeast, including Afro-centric Christian and Muslim denominations, and will incorporate commentary from leading scholars and commentators on the role of faith in inner city communities like Southeast.

The God of a Second Chance premiered in the Fall of 2006 at the Virginia Film Festival. Reviews of the film appeared in The Daily Progress and C-Ville Weekly.

The Great Democratic Revolution

The Great Democratic Revolution is a series of films, inspired by Alexis de Tocqueville’s classic work Democracy in America, that examines the prospects and challenges for both emerging and established democracies in the world today.

The first installment, 1989: Learning the Art of Freedom, focuses on the Eastern European events of 1989 and the preceding years that contributed to such vast political change. The film tells the story of 1989, not from the omniscient eye of an historian, but from the dynamic perspective of the actors in that story. An oral history of democracy activists, with a particular focus on Poland and Czechoslovakia, the film interweaves interviews with contextual material, archival footage, and narration, to present this story of (as Tocqueville might have described it) a “democratic revolution”—one that might still be in process.

For more information on the Institute’s film projects, contact:

Joshua Yates
(434) 924-7705 | Email

Paul Wagner is an Academy Award-winning filmmaker best known for his documentaries about American history and culture. They include Out of Ireland: The Story of Irish Emigration to America; Miles of Smiles: The Untold Story of the Pullman Porters; and The Stone Carvers, a film about Italian-American craftsmen that won the Academy Award for Best Short Documentary.

Who We Are

The Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture is an interdisciplinary research center and intellectual community at the University of Virginia committed to understanding contemporary cultural change and its individual and social consequences, training young scholars, and providing intellectual leadership in service to the public good.

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