The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday February 4th

Filming, Writing, Farming: Professor's Field of Dreams

It is an appropriate motto for Diamant, who has high expectations for herself and the resourcefulness to fulfill them.

Even the oddly shaped, chalky rock on the shelf in her office has to serve three purposes -- it's a bookend, pen holder and reminder of the beach she found it on.

The 37-year-old American Literature Ph.D takes advantage of all the area has to offer. She teaches Film Criticism here at UNC, but she lives on a small farm in Chatham County with her husband and three stepdaughters.

Besides teaching classes and taking care of her chickens, geese and goat at her house in the country, Diamant is now working on a film with the Empowerment Project, which is a nonprofit organization that offers inexpensive film production.

Diamant is collaborating with David Kasper and Carlyle Poteat on a documentary about N.C. painter Maud Gatewood. The film will record not only the paintings of the artist but also the story of a strong woman now in her 60s.

"Documentary is a way to record a way of life that may be slipping away all around us, so it won't be lost forever," Diamant said.

The documentary, called "Maud Gatewood: Out of the South," is still in its fund-raising stage.

In the future, the professor said she hopes to film her own documentary. She would like to do a film about the N.C. shrimping community of Sloop, preserving it for everyone to appreciate.

"I've always wanted to be a writer, but documentary is my passion right now," Diamant said. "I find myself lying awake watching PBS documentaries late at night."

The enthusiasm that Diamant has found for making documentaries is actually part of her lifelong love of fiction. Although a documentary ostensibly offers the truth, she recognizes that it is an expression of one perspective. "You've always got someone behind the camera, whether it's the author or the filmmaker," she said.

And Diamant always wants to be that someone.

She sees her work on documentaries as a jumping off point, a way to segue from using images to tell a story on film to doing the same thing on paper.

As a child, Diamant would make up stories, but even then it wasn't enough just to have them in her head. She actually wrote and illustrated her own books and bound them with whatever material she could get her hands on.

Now she wants to get back into the habit of writing.

Perhaps her busy schedule of handling animals and teaching students will provide ample subject matter for her ultimate goal of writing fiction.

But Diamant's writing aspirations currently are on hold in favor of documentary filmmaking with the Empowerment Project. "I feel like I'm still gathering life experience," she said.

Right now she's concentrating on her farm, her family, her work and all the resources available to her.

By pulling together all of these elements, Diamant is gaining different perspectives so that she can write about life from more than one angle.

She said, "It's not what you are telling, but how you tell it."

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at artsdesk@unc.edu.

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