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Debut documentary of First Thursday Film Series screened at Chapel Hill Public Library

The Chapel Hill Public Library, pictured on Tuesday, October 20, 2020.

The first installment of the Chapel Hill Public Library and Carolina Public Humanities’ First Thursday Film Series took place on Thursday, Sept. 1. 

The film series will feature a documentary screening on the first Thursday of each month with expert commentary from one scholar and one community member. The events are free and open to the public with no registration required. 

Last Thursday's documentary was "Vaccination from the Misinformation Virus," which explained the development and importance of vaccines and the misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine.

The film was screened at the Chapel Hill Public Library. A portion of the documentary was also filmed at the library, which was a factor in choosing it as the debut venue for the event, according to Library Director Susan Brown.

The film is one of many events the library will host in the coming months that are geared towards adults. 

One of the expert speakers for the Thursday film was Brian Southwell, senior director of the Science in the Public Sphere program in RTI International’s Center for Communication Science. Southwell said he is also currently an adjunct associate professor in health behavior at UNC and an adjunct professor of internal medicine at Duke University. 

The second expert speaker was Orange County Health Director Quintana Stewart. She said she has worked in the field of public health for over 20 years and has firsthand experience combatting vaccine misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think the timing for this film is perfect,” Stewart said. “As we continue to respond to COVID cases, and here today on the brink of having a new vaccine option that specifically targets the circulating Omicron strains, BA.4 and BA.5, I hope we are able to have a great discussion this evening to dispel myths and misinformation.”

Hannah Olson, marketing and communications coordinator for the library, said the goal of the series is to bring documentary films to Chapel Hill alongside expert discussion for context— making sure the films are in some way related to the Town. 

She said topics such as abortion access, environmental issues and affordable housing will be shown as they are nationally relevant current events with local context. 

“Vaccination from the Misinformation Virus” is available to the public on PBS, Olson added. 

“We want this to be accessible for everyone, so it’s going to be at a level that everyone will hopefully be able to understand and get something out of, whether or not you have any sort of science or health background,” Olson said.

The library has been open since May 2021,  after it closed temporarily due to the pandemic. Library staff have been working to bring back public programming for adults and have hosted various events and camps for children throughout the spring and summer. 

“We decided at the beginning of the summer that this fall we were going to bring back programming full force and have a full slate of programs that we were really intentional about developing,” Olson said. “We had been wanting to do an ongoing documentary film series, and so this is the first installment of that.”

Brown said the details of the film series are still being worked out for October and November. 

“It's going to be a variety of documentaries, so things that are in the news but also human interest things, things that are of interest to folks right here in Chapel Hill," she said. 

The Chapel Hill Public Library recently released a full schedule of public events for September on its website calendar. 

The next installment of this series will happen on the first Thursday of October.

@DTHCityState | 

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