This past March, the student filmmakers of Anytown, USA, a continuing education class at the Center for Documentary Studies, were scheduled to travel to the small eastern North Carolina town of Windsor. They were directed to explore the town, become acquainted with its residents and share an intimate story based on their observations. However, as the fear of the COVID-19 pandemic loomed over America and the quarantine mandate postponed their trip to Windsor, the filmmakers were constrained to their immediate environment – their family, friends and local communities – for inspiration.
“This year, everyone turned their camera inward and told their own stories from within their own quarantined bubble,” explained Randolph Benson, the course instructor. “It’s the challenges that everyone overcame and the self-reflection that everyone had to undertake that really made the program what it is now.”
Their project transformed into Anytown, USA: Quarantine, a collage of films exploring the challenges everyday people face during the pandemic. Their stories of family and community are reflected in ourselves and our own localities during this time. This year’s presentation of the films, followed by a discussion and Q&A session with the filmmakers, was streamed live for the public Aug. 12.
“I was worried about this year,” said filmmaker Durward Rogers. “Could conditions be worse? We can’t even go to a town!”
Rogers’s film, “We Don’t Need a Vaccine: And Waiting for One is a Very Bad Idea,” scrutinizes the current U.S. response to the pandemic and dispels the myth that the
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A world without travel is depressing.
With so many travelers still grounded, and border restrictions keeping people all over the world confined to increasingly narrow spheres, it’s no surprise that people everywhere are feeling unmoored, stifled and — in many cases — downright unhappy.
I can’t remember the last time I was stuck in the same place for so long. Worse than the absence of travel is the loss of my ability to travel. If, in the past, there was a drought in my travel plans, I could at least look forward to future trips on the calendar or anticipate those unexpected, spontaneous work trips or weekend getaways.
And I’m definitely not alone.
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Last week, American Express released a trend report that surveyed 2,000 adults with a household income of at least $70,000 who traveled by air at least once in 2019 — travelers, by their own definition. The findings, though not entirely surprising, paint a somewhat grim portrait of travelers in the U.S.
Nearly half (48%) described the “emotional toll” of not traveling, saying they feel “anxious and stressed” now that they can’t travel. A far more significant number, 78%, said traveling is one of the activities they miss most.