Professor’s film screened at international film festival

Tom Nelson's “Prisoners of Plenty” tells the story of German POWs during World War II.

Tom Nelson

Communications associate professor Tom Nelson’s documentary “Prisoners of Plenty” was screened this week at the Kansas International Film Festival.

Nelson, who is leading a course in Elon’s study abroad program in Florence, Italy, flew back to the United States to attend the screening. His work is one of more than 50 films scheduled at the internationally renowned festival, which began 11 years ago.

Nelson produced and directed “Prisoners of Plenty,” a documentary that recounts the story of World War II German POWs who were transferred to the United States and interned at a camp in Concordia, Kan. The seeds of the idea for his film were planted during the early 1990s, when Nelson met Michael Fungeling, whose father was a prisoner of war at Concordia.

Fungeling’s father, Hans-Gerd Fungeling, talked to Nelson about his time in Concordia, and Nelson said he was surprised at how fondly Hans-Gerd recalled the experience. It was then Nelson knew he had an interesting story to tell.

Nelson made his first trip to the campsite in 2006, as he was driving to Colorado with his son. Soon thereafter, he began work on the documentary, which was completed in 2009.

“I did my best to give the past a voice in the future,” Nelson said.

The film, which was also honored with an Award of Excellence from the Broadcast Education Association in 2010, was made possible through a grant from Elon’s Faculty Research & Development program.

“Many Elon colleagues were crucial to the success of this project,” Nelson said. “I am grateful to work at a university that is a financial and creative partner in scholarship.”

Nelson came to Elon in 1996 after previously teaching at West Georgia College and in the European Division of University of Maryland (Heidelberg, Germany). He spent seven years as reporter and news anchor at television stations in North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Maine, California and Texas.

– Written by Colin Donohue, School of Communications

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