Two University of Arizona faculty members have earned a Peabody Award for their work on “Missing in Brooks County,” a documentary about migrants who go missing in the rural area of Brooks County, Texas.
Lisa Molomot, adjunct professor in the School of Theatre, Film and Television and the James E. Rogers College of Law, co-directed the film with Jeff Bemis. Jacob Bricca, associate professor in the School of Theatre, Film and Television, was the editor. Molomot and Bricca also served as two of the film’s producers.
“This award is validation of the importance of this story and the importance of more people seeing this film and understanding what’s happening,” Molomot said. “Hopefully, as a result, there will be a change.”
“Missing in Brooks County” follows two families searching for loved ones who went missing in the fields of Brooks County, Texas, which is the site of a large U.S. Customs and Border Protection checkpoint 70 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. The film also chronicles the impact of decades-long U.S. border policy.
Using the slogan “Stories that matter,” the Peabody Awards honor excellence in storytelling that reflects social issues and emerging voices. “Missing in Brooks County” is one of eight films to win in the documentary category.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” Bricca said. “It’s an award I have a lot of respect for. I’m happy that it’s going to give the film more visibility and I’m grateful to be recognized for the hard work that we and several other people put into the film.”
The Peabody marks the most prestigious honor yet for “Missing in Brooks County,” which has collected 11 awards for best feature documentary at film festivals throughout the United States. Molomot says the recognition can be a key benefit in the independent documentary space, where interesting stories are plentiful but financial support is often in short supply.
“Any kind of validation gives you confidence in your next project,” Molomot said. “Fundraising is really tricky when making independent documentaries, so hopefully the fact that this film has won a Peabody Award will help attract funding for future films.”
Their success in filmmaking has also given Molomot and Bricca the chance to pass along their experiences and expertise to their students. Bricca says he uses “Missing in Brooks County” as a teaching tool in his documentary filmmaking course.
“Students really are fascinated by real-life stories on the producing end and learning about how we raised the funds, the contractual agreements we made and the behind-the-scenes details on the storytelling side,” Bricca said.
Molomot shows the film in one of her courses for undergraduate law majors and discusses the legal issues that come with making a documentary, such as when people can be shown on film in public spaces versus when filmmakers need to obtain a signed release form.
Molomot, Bricca and other Peabody Award winners will be honored at the 83rd annual Peabody Awards ceremony on June 11 in Los Angeles. “Missing in Brooks County” is available to stream for free through June 16 on PBS and is available to rent or buy on streaming services including Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video and Vudu.
“Missing in Brooks County” nominated for Peabody Award
This press release originally appeared on the University Communications news site on May 9. Republished with permission.