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Prof. Coester wins award for multimedia documentary

Dana Coester

Dana Coester, an assistant professor in West Virginia University’s P.I. Reed School of Journalism, has created an award-winning documentary that isn’t your typical love story.

“Pretty,” which recently won an Award of Excellence in Narrative in the Faculty Video Competition at the Broadcast Education Association Festival of Media Arts, is a documentary love story using elements of photography, typography and design. The story, which follows a non-linear narrative, intertwines three generations of women in Coester’s family.

“On one level it explores the cultural desire to document experience and how we map the forensics of memory through photographs and artifacts,” said Coester. “But on the most basic level, it is the reconstruction of a private love story – a story unearthed when my grandfather, a photographer, died in 1989. This story was just one of many that began to emerge, revealing the hidden, ‘in-between’ stories that had haunted and transformed a half century of women in my family.”

Coester began working on a book version of the project in 1991, but it evolved into a film project when she started experimenting with multimedia in 2004. She collaborated on the piece with School of Journalism Associate Professor Joel Beeson, former School of Journalism graduate students Melissa Korzun and Adam Webster and WVU Television Productions staff Kelly Heasley and Brad Stalnaker. Their voices are all in the final work. An excerpt can be viewed at

The BEA Festival of Media Arts is an international refereed exhibition of faculty creative activities and a national showcase for student work. The Festival provides a venue for exhibition of winning submissions, including recognition of project authors, through showcase and awards sessions held during the annual BEA convention in Las Vegas. The Festival seeks to enhance and extend creative activities, teaching, and professional standards in broadcasting and other forms of electronically mediated communication.

Coester is currently submitting her work to additional film festivals. She plans to accept the BEA award when she attends the association’s annual international conference in Las Vegas in April.

Read the official press release on WVU Today.