J McMerty’s new film wins top prizes at Milwaukee Women’s Film Festival

The Elon alumnus produced a full-length documentary titled “A Year with Betty Gold” that chronicles the life of acclaimed artist Betty Gold. The final product earned raved reviews at an annual festival in Wisconsin.

Assistant Professor J McMerty ’00 envisions his new documentary, “A Year with Betty Gold,” as an hourlong introduction to renowned contemporary artist Betty Gold, providing a look into her incredible personal and professional journey. From her days crowned as Miss Texas to her metal sculptures that stand 40 to 50 feet tall, the 82-year-old Gold defies labels – much like her abstract artwork.      

“The film is really a biography of her life, as well as a glimpse in the mind of a contemporary abstract artist,” said McMerty, director of the Elon in Los Angeles program. “Betty has lived this unbelievable life and I think people will come away from the film really liking her. If that’s the one reaction people have – ‘Hey, it was nice to meet Betty’ – then I’ll be thrilled.”

Count judges and attendees of the Milwaukee Women's Film Festival among those who enjoyed meeting Gold. The annual event, which features shorts and movies about women, awarded “A Year with Betty Gold” with The Jury Award for Best Film as well as Best Screenplay honors.

It was a noteworthy fall for McMerty’s documentary, which had its world premiere in Spain at the 2017 Mallorca International Film Festival. For more about “A Year with Betty Gold,” read this October 2017 E-net release.

McMerty enlisted fellow Elon alumni Laith Majali ’05 and Katrina Taylor ’04 to edit the documentary, which he filmed over the course of 18 months. Having been so immersed in the project, McMerty noted how beneficial it was to have editors detached from the shooting of the film.

“I think it brought a different perspective than mine to the film, especially Katrina’s,” he said. “It was good to connect this story with a female editor, too.”