Quinnipiac University professors have won awards in the past, but recently three professors have been nominated for an award that many would normally associate with the entertainment industry rather than academia.
David Ives, executive director of the Albert Schweitzer Institute, Rebecca Abbott and Liam O’Brien, both professors of Communications, and former Communications student David Blanchard, produced a documentary about Albert Schweitzer that has received an Emmy nomination.
“When Becky called me to tell me that we were nominated, I said ‘are you sure?'” Ives laughed.
The documentary titled, “Albert Schweitzer, My Life is My Argument,” is the first one to examine the life of the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize winner since 1957, when “Albert Schweitzer” wond the Academy Award for Best Documentary.
The new movie was shown on Conneticut Public T.V. and in selected high schools around the country and, of course, at Quinnipiac.
However Ives hopes that the Emmy nomination will help the documentary to become more widely distributed.
“We wanted young people to have a reaction,” Ives, who served as executive producer of the documentary, said. “We wanted something that this generation would understand and be able to relate to.”
It took Ives, Abbott, O’Brien and Blanchard about a year to research, film, edit and produce the film. Original footage was shot in Gabon, France, Northern Ireland and here in California, Georgia and Connecticut, according to O’Brien.
While Ives admits to knowing nothing about producing a film, he fulfilled his role very well by raising money for the film and making the arrangements for where to film.
Abbott was the director of photography and was in charge of filming and editing the documentary, while O’Brien was the director of the film and the scriptwriter.
“The real hero here however is John L. Lahey, President of Quinnipiac who funded the entire production,” O’Brien said. “President Lahey is how this documentary was made and if we win an Emmy on May 10th, he gets to keep the statue on his desk for a month or two – then of course, we would like to place it in our cabinet in the School of Communications.”
“The difficulties we faced were the normal ones for producing a documentary with an international subject: traveling with bulky and heavy equipment, setting up lights, tripods, microphones and cameras in many different locations, running with a heavy camera through World War I trenches in Verdun, France, to simulate the experience of battle,” said Abbott in an email.
Ives, Abbott and O’Brien all have a very strong passion for the ideals that Schweitzer upheld.
“He [Schweitzer] looked at every person from every culture as something to celebrate,” Ives said. “He believed that one person can make a serious difference in the world if you have the drive and care about others.”
“I have tremendous admiration for his decision to live part of his life for himself, and to devote an even larger part of his life and work to help others in great need,” Abbott said.
The documentary takes its viewers through Schweitzer’s life. It starts with his boyhood and then moves through the highlights and major events of his life. Schweitzer was a renowned musician and an established public speaker, but he gave all that up to help save the poor in Africa.
“Reverence for Life is a fine philosophy that all of our students should consider. Moreover, it is a philosophy of action. Take action!” O’Brien said.