Extending the Link wins award for 2019 documentary, ‘Bayt Jadeed’

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April 6, 2020

Extending the Link (ETL), the student-run documentary group from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, was honored with an Upper Midwest Emmy® Student Production Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) Upper Midwest Chapter April 3.

The group won in the College-Long Form: Non-Fiction category for its 2019 documentary “Bayt Jadeed: Seeking Home” (bayt jadeed means “new house” in Arabic). Five other projects were nominated in the category: from Wartburg College (two entries), Central Lakes College, University of St. Thomas and Minnesota State-Moorhead.

It was the 12th documentary the group has done in as many years. It looked at Germany’s efforts to settle over 1 million forced migrants who arrived in the country in 2015, then compares and contrasts that with local efforts in St. Cloud, Minnesota, which has seen a large influx in refugees arriving from Somalia.

The group spoke with residents in St. Cloud, including Muslim community leader Ayan Omar, and prominent religious leaders in the Twin Cities.

The documentary was co-produced and co-directed by two 2019 CSB graduates - Danica Simonet, who majored in peace studies and German from Northfield, Minnesota; and Mackenzie Kuhl, a political science major from Dubuque, Iowa.

ETL is a nonprofit venture through CSB and SJU and the Donald J. McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship. The group has covered a wide range of topics over the years, including fair-trade coffee in Guatemala, micro-lending in Chile and child-headed households in Uganda.

In addition to ETL, two videos produced by Johnnie Bennie Media were nominated for a Student Production Award from the Upper Midwest Emmy® Foundation.

“It’s a Start” was nominated in the College-Music Video class. This was Johnnie Bennie Media’s first music video to combine elements of in-studio and on-location video footage working in a partnership with singer-guitarist Cam Swanson. The studio sessions recording was produced by Emily Booth ’21 and John Nguyen ’19, with the lakeside visuals and Chapel Walk storyline produced by Myah Christenson ‘20.

“Tupa: Priest and Painter” on Fr. Jerome Tupa, OSB, pastor of St. Joseph Church in St. Joseph, Minnesota, was nominated in the College-Short Form: Non-Fiction category. The video, which shares Tupa’s thoughts and reflections on his work as an artist, was produced and directed by Nathan Barrett ’21.

This year, the NATAS-Upper Midwest Chapter received nearly 185 entries from 30 high schools and colleges/universities from across our region. Carla Beaurline was the host of the award show, which was held via video because of the COVID-19 virus.