Kendall Moore, an associate professor in the departments of journalism and film media at the University of Rhode Island, has released numerous films in her lifetime that uncover issues associated with race, health, environment and gender.
“At the core of everything I have done has been this desire to influence what I saw as a problem for the better…to effect and influence change” she said.
Recently Moore has begun working in a new genre of film, separate from her typical documentary journalistic approach. She describes her latest project, ‘Philosophy of the Encounter’ as a “fictional narrative about a woman who becomes more invested in her own personal history after taking a film philosophy course.” Moore explained that the female protagonist is triggered into a personal journey of understanding and self-awareness after taking a film course.
“I wanted to tell a story that featured a strong, black, female lead,” said Moore. However, originally the role was casted for a male lead. “Of course everything you write is partly you, and I can’t deny that fact,” Moore said with a laugh when asked if this film was based on her personal experiences.
“Sometimes [this film] is what I hope for the future and I think that’s part of what is going on in this film, so it’s not purely autobiographical, but it’s most certainly a reflection of who I am and how I feel there’s a big part of me in this story and in the character.”
Beyond her most recent film, Moore has created numerous other films including “Sick Building” about the potential “cancer cluster” in the Chafee Social Science Center that was aired on CBS this Â year, “The Good Radical”, which describes the relationship between a faculty member and their mother that was aired on PBS last year and many other documentaries. ‘Philosophy of the Encounter’ is her first fiction film.
“I’m more of a documentary filmmaker, even though I love fiction,” Moore said. “If I could make another one I would in a minute, but I think my talent really lies with documentary and journalism.”
Moore’s interest in journalism and film started at a young age when she was given her own television for her bedroom. She said she was always interested in stories and even at the age of six she would always ask strangers questions about themselves.
“What’s your name, where are you from, what do you do?” Moore recalled. “I think it was a collusion of those, a confluence of those [parts of me] that inspired this future flow of events with journalism.”
Moore’s own particular brand of journalism focuses on people and their stories, which can be seen through the films that she has created.
“I learned from a young age that you can [influence change] through journalism,” she said. “So I would pick up stories that I gravitated toward, usually through a person first. So it was always, at the heart of it, a relationship between me and an individual who let me into their life.”
Previous to her teaching at URI, Moore was a professor in Africa as a Fulbright Scholar for one year and prior to that she was working at ABC as a journalist. “I feared that journalism was going to be transformed even more as result of the political landscape and at the time [of my leaving ABC] I was just fatigued by the tension between the corporate side and the need to tell good journalism,” said Moore. Bottom line, she “wanted more freedom.”
Moore is coming up to her 13th year as a professor at URI, and she recognizes that students at the university have played a substantial role in her film’s success. “Students are an integral part of these film productions,” she said. “They wouldn’t get made if students weren’t part of the experience.”
Moore strives to inspire to her students, especially those who want to follow her path in journalism through film. “Don’t give up,” she said, “you just have to follow your own bliss and do what you know is what you want to do with your life.”