What started as a way to educate students and the public about the circumstances along the U.S.-Mexico border has led to additional critical acclaim, as documentaries created by the UCF Center for Distributed Learning (CDL) won four Suncoast Regional Emmy awards.

Water is Hope, the fourth episode from the Crosses in the Dust docuseries, and What We Came From, a standalone documentary short, won the following awards:

  • Public Affairs Program (Single Program) – What We Came From
  • Public Affairs Program (Series) – Crosses in the Dust: Water Is Hope
  • Editor (Long Form) – Crosses in the Dust: Water is Hope
  • Director (Long Form) – Crosses in the Dust: Water is Hope

What We Came From was also nominated for directing.

Crosses in the Dust documents Irene Pons ’00, senior lecturer in the Department of Legal Studies, and her students along the Arizona-Mexico border. Pons and her students worked with humanitarian organizations to provide first aid to migrants in the Sonoran Desert, learning more about their harrowing journeys.

In the fourth episode, Water is Hope, Pons and students conduct water runs with Humane Borders, a nonprofit organization maintaining a system of water stations in the desert on routes used by migrants. After crossing the border to volunteer at Casa de La Esperanza in Sasabe, Mexico, Pons and students encounter a group of migrants from Honduras determined to make the dangerous trek across the Sonoran Desert into the U.S. What We Came From documents the ongoing work of the Pro Amore Dei shelter in the dense suburbs of Tijuana, Mexico. There, guests live in a state of fear and uncertainty. Aided by the generosity of their caretaker and a team of counselors, these families prepare for one of the most important days of their lives.

The nominations continue for the Video@CDL team and the College of Community Innovation and Education faculty member. This year’s honor mark series producer/director Christine Kane’s fourth Emmy win; series lead producer and editor Aaron Hosé’s ninth; producer/director of photography Tim Reid’s third; and producer Pons’s second (this year’s honors were her first nominations).

Kane was also recently named Female Filmmaker of the Year at the San Angelo Revolution Film Festival for Crosses in the Dust.

In 2020, Hosé, Kane, and Reid won a Suncoast Regional Emmy for A Break for Impact, a seven-part docuseries that examined immigration organizations working along the Texas-Mexico border. ABFI is the first phase of a multi-year project documenting the border crisis, which has since led to Crosses in the Dust (phase 2 in Arizona and Mexico), What We Came From (phase 3 in Tijuana, Mexico), and soon A Break for Impact: El Paso (phase 4, Texas).

The 47th Annual Suncoast Regional Emmy Awards were held Dec. 2 at Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida. Theatre alum Laura Lockner ’14 and musical theatre alum Jenny Totcky ’17 also won Emmys for Human Interest – Long Form for Illuminating Runway to Hope’s Purpose: Jaturi’s Legacy. Lockner is executive director of Runway to Hope, an organization that supports children battling pediatric cancer and their families. Totcky is director of operations for the organization.