As part of the inaugural class of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, the media arts and entertainment graduate is producing a documentary highlighting the lives of two San men.
By Brett Gubitosi ’16
Elon alumnus Dan Koehler ’12 released a trailer in July for his documentary, “Looking for Life,” funded as part of his Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship. Koehler was one of five individuals awarded the scholarship in 2014. To get a closer look at his work, visit the film’s Facebook page or check out this Fulbright video with Koehler discussing the film.
“Looking for Life” is billed as an “intimate coming-of-age portrait of two young San men charting a course between tradition and modernity in the wake of relocation from their ancestral homeland” in Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Through these individuals’ lives, Koehler’s film examines the larger issue of San identity and membership in a modern state, promoting healthy dialogue about threatened cultures.
Approximately two months of production remain for Koehler, and post-production will continue until the fall. He hopes to run the film festival circuit in the spring and fall of 2016.
The media arts and entertainment major is taking full advantage of his scholarship and his time abroad. “A couple of years after I graduated, I found out about this new fellowship and I just thought it was perfect for me,” explained Koehler in the Fulbright video highlighting the film. “It combines the cinematic nature of National Geographic with the academic social interest nature of Fulbright.”
Koehler emphasized the theme of identity struggle in his film. “I’m really happy with the footage that we’re walking away with,” he said. “I think it’s deeper and more intimate than anything I’ve ever shot before.”
In the past year, Koehler has worked with two-time Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker Marshall Curry. He also collaborated with Curry on “Point and Shoot,” a documentary that follows a Baltimore, Maryland, man who goes on a motorcycle trip through Northern Africa and the Middle East; it won best documentary at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. In 2012 Koehler directed, edited and shot “Win or Lose,” a short documentary that was screened at different film festivals, including the Seattle International Film Festival. As an undergraduate student, he was a member of elondocs, Elon’s documentary production program.
The Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship was launched in 2013 as a new component of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. It provides opportunities for U.S. citizens to participate in an academic year of overseas travel and digital storytelling in up to three countries on a globally significant theme. This fellowship is made possible through a partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the National Geographic Society.