Parkite’s documentary nabs a Telly Award
When Park City High School graduate Paige Sparks set out last year to film her documentary, "Finding Home: Utah’s Refugee Story," her goal was simply to shine a light on the people who were coming to Utah in search of a better life. It aired last June on KUED, then was rebroadcast this January after the Syrian refugee situation brought immigration back into the spotlight.
The idea that she might win an award for the effort never crossed her mind. When KUED General Manager James Morgese suggested she submit her documentary for a Telly Award, Sparks did so with no expectations. The Tellys were founded in 1979 and honor outstanding local, regional and cable television programs and commercials, online videos and video and film productions. When Sparks learned two weeks ago she’d won a Silver Telly, the most prestigious honor the organization awards, she said she felt tremendously excited and also a little humble.
"I have a hard time flaunting successes like awards," she said. "If I could pass out awards for all of the people featured in the short film I would because they are far more deserving of recognition than I am. I am more happy to see people watching and learning about refugees in our state rather than gaining a sense of achievement of a physical award, but this will be my first actual award for a project I produced on my own from start to finish so it feels nice to have that recognition."
Sparks added that she is hopeful the award will keep people talking about the issues refugees face.
"Now, more than ever, refugees and minorities in our state deserve to be highlighted in a positive light," she said. "If this award means more eyes on the film and more education about refugees, then it serves a great purpose to me."
Mary Dickson, director of creative services at KUED, said everyone at the station is proud of Sparks and the work she produced.
"The documentary was very powerful and very moving and put a much-needed human
face on the resilience and contributions of the refugees who now call Utah home," she said. "Given the current refugee crisis, her piece has become even more relevant."
Lisa Olken, director of content at KUED, agreed, saying the documentary was insightful and topical and deserving of the recognition it received.
"The Silver Telly is a prestigious, national award for such a young talent," Olken said. "We are thrilled that her film has been recognized by the industry."
Olken said "Finding Home" was Sparks’ idea, "from initial pitch to conceptualizing the narrative, from the look to the final editing."
"Her future in social issue documentaries and multi-platform media is very bright," Olken said. "It will not be a surprise to any of us if we see her name ‘in lights’ in the not-too-distant future!"
Sparks said she does intend to continue with social-issue documentaries. Her next project focuses on autism awareness in Utah.
"This is another project I proposed about a year ago and we are now in the pre-production phase," she said. "This film will also closely follow characters in the state who have autism and the many challenges they face, as well as their achievements. There are still plenty of stigmas out there when it comes to autism and I hope this film will help diminish some."
To view Paige Sparks’ documentary "Finding Home: Utah’s Refugee Story" online, visit http://video.kued.org/video/2365641900/.
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