monumental is an experimental documentary about toppled statues, Southern history, the legacy of names, the resilience of bricks, the power of poetry, the definition of patriotism, hidden family trees and segregated cemeteries. In this time, we know that there is no static history. It lives on, layered in the landscape, painted on the brick mills. In this time, as statues rise and fall, we are asking: where have we been, where are we now, and where are we going? Through investigating the ripples of the words and deeds of local postbellum industrialist Julian Shakespeare Carr, paradoxically called “the most generous white supremacist,” and reenacting scenes from the childhood of Pauli Murray, an unsung civil and women’s rights activist, the film scratches away at surfaces of stories about Durham, North Carolina. Careful scrutiny of such surfaces may reveal effaced answers to the questions that history leaves us with today, regarding racial identity and segregation, industrialization and labor, and gentrification and community. In this time of flattened stories and controversial monuments in stone, monumental will create a multi-dimensional, layered retelling of the life of a Southern city.
Sarah Riazati is a documentary artist, educator and designer based in Durham, NC. Originally from Marietta, Georgia, she is a graduate of the School of Media and Journalism at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she gained experience in video and web development through working on award-winning visual storytelling projects. In her career as a video producer, she has supervised video productions at The Fader magazine, Cornerstone Agency and Brickhouse Projects in New York. From 2014 to 2015, she was a filmmaker-in-residence at Fabrica Communications Research Centre in Treviso, Italy. In 2016, she moved (back) to North Carolina teach adjunct courses at UNC-Chapel Hill and open a freelance video production and web development business. In 2018, she was awarded the Princess Grace Award for Film in support of her thesis project.
Photo by Jade Wilson