Invisible History Documentary
Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts filmmaker-in-residence Valerie Scoon this weekend won a 2021 Suncoast Regional Emmy Award in recognition of her documentary “Invisible History: Middle Florida’s Hidden Roots.”
The film was nominated in the Documentary Historical category, which recognizes films that are a retelling of an event or situation significant to a current or past culture.
“Receiving this Emmy nomination is like finding a treasure after a journey,” Scoon said, before the award was announced. “I am grateful that what started as a personal journey to uncover the history of approximately 9,000 forgotten enslaved men, women and children in Leon County has become a film recognized by the Suncoast Chapter of the National Academy of the Television Arts and Sciences.”
Awards for the 45th annual Suncoast Regional Emmy Awards were held virtually Dec. 11. The Suncoast Regional chapter covers television markets in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Puerto Rico, and is made up of both television professionals and students.
“We are proud of Valerie and her team for crafting this important look into North Florida’s roots in slavery,” said Reb Braddock, dean of the College of Motion Picture Arts. “To have her work be recognized by the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences, especially at a time when our industry is beginning to recognize the effects of inequity, is an incredible honor for all those who contributed to the film.”
Scoon assembled a creative team to work alongside her on the journey of creating the documentary. The team included co-producer Theresa Marsenburg, who was also nominated for a Suncoast Emmy, cinematographer Mark Vargo and editor Sheree Chen.
“Invisible History: Middle Florida’s Hidden Roots” was broadcast by American Public Television, a major programming source for U.S. public television stations, in May 2021 and received funding from the college’s Torchlight Center to help bring the project to fruition.
“The college created the Torchlight Center exactly for this opportunity — to encourage faculty, students and alumni to work together on projects here in Florida,” Braddock said. “To be nominated for an Emmy is a very satisfying proof of concept.”
The support of local museums and archives also proved invaluable to the success of the documentary.
“Often when audiences see the film they comment on the insightful and powerful comments of historians which I happily acknowledge as a key strength of the work,” Scoon said.
Scoon’s other work includes “Daring Women Doctors: Physicians in the 19th Century,” which was broadcast on PBS in 2020, and “Grenada: Colonialism and Conflict,” which was screened in festivals worldwide and televised nationally in Grenada.
The film was produced by Scoon’s film company, True Visions Inc., and was made possible with funding from the Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs and National Endowment for the Arts and with support from FSU’s College of Motion Picture Arts Torchlight Center Studios, the FSU Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, the Florida State University President’s Council on Diversity & Inclusion and WFSU Public Media, the PBS and NPR station for North Florida.
For more information, visit film.fsu.edu.