Former CMSI Graduate Fellow Kelsey Marsh recently won the Jury Award at the Diversity in Cannes Short Film Showcase for her film Noncritical.
The 20-minute short film follows the journey of Valencia Harris, a mother struggling to bring media and police attention to her daughter’s disappearance. Unique Harris, a mother of two from southeastern DC, went missing from her home on October 10, 2010. Her disappearance was initially classified as “non-critical”.
The film features the work of Black and Missing, a non-profit dedicated to bringing awareness to missing minorities and helping families navigate the legal and media landscape of missing person cases.
Noncritical highlights the media disparity in the coverage of missing black persons and describes the media’s “missing white woman syndrome”. Dr. Sheri Parks, an expert on public aesthetics, says in the film that “the idea of the strong dark woman and the helpless white woman is where the idea of missing white woman syndrome comes from. That somebody’s gotta save her if she’s in trouble.”
Noncritical also features interviews with the detective handling Harris’ case and reenactment scenes that depict the theories of her disappearance. Harris’ case, which is currently with the DC Homicide department, remains unsolved.
The film was submitted as Marsh’s thesis project in the MFA in Film and Electronic Media program at American University. Marsh is currently fundraising for her next documentary.