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Filmmaker Barbara Martinez Jitner to speak at William Jewell
Contact: Rob Eisele816-415-7574
September 7, 2007

Latina filmmaker Barbara Martinez Jitner will speak at 7:30 p.m. September 26 in John Gano Memorial Chapel on the William Jewell College campus in Liberty, Mo. The public is invited to attend the free event, which is the 2007 Peggy Kern Lecture on Women and Society, part of the college’s “Perspectives on the Common Good” lecture series.

For her critically acclaimed documentary “La Frontera,” Martinez Jitner posed as a factory worker on the U.S.-Mexico border in order to uncover a dark world of grueling poverty and sexual abuse. Martinez Jitner is one of the first Latina executive producers of a primetime network television series. The Emmy-nominated “American Family” made history when it debuted in 2002 as the first Latino drama on broadcast television. Writer/director Martinez Jitner wrote the PBS premiere episode that garnered unanimous critical acclaim, and went on to write 10 and direct 7 of the show’s first 22 episodes.

Martinez Jitner is also the first Latina ever to be nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Emmy as an executive producer/writer/director for a miniseries for “American Family.” She is currently slated to executive produce and write the HBO miniseries “Rain of Gold,” adapted from Victor Villasenor’s original text. She is also scheduled to be the executive producer and writer of a miniseries for ABC starring Jimmy Smits, which discusses the themes of immigration and the border. She is currently penning “A Day Without An Immigrant,” a script for Antonio Banderas about last spring’s immigration march.

A collaborator of Academy Award nominee Gregory Nava (“El Norte,” “Mi Familia”), Martinez Jitner began working with Nava on his feature film “Selena,” based on the life of the slain Tejano singer. She directed the music videos for the feature and served as the second unit director and visual effects production supervisor on both “Selena” and Nava’s “Why Do Fools Fall In Love,” starring Halle Barry.

Raised by her grandmother, a Mexican immigrant, Martinez Jitner’s mission is to bring the untold stories of Latinas to both television and film. In her William Jewell lecture, entitled “Femicide At Our U.S. Border: To Be A Woman In Juarez Is A Death Sentence,” Martinez Jitner will discuss the crippling poverty and gender discrimination in the Mexican city of Juarez, where more than 400 women have been found raped, mutilated and murdered.

The Peggy Kern Lecture on Women and Society is named in memory of the mother of Jewell alumna Penny Kern White of the William Jewell class of 1968. This annual lecture honors Mrs. Peggy Kern, who lived through the Great Depression, sent a husband and son to war, developed and ran a successful business, served as an active community volunteer, and was a longstanding member of the First Baptist Church of Independence.

“Mrs. Kern valued education,” said Dr. Chad Jolly, vice president for advancement at the college. “The lecture established in her memory is committed to addressing contemporary topics and subjects that encourage the betterment of society and women in particular, and is designed to foster greater awareness of issues that influence women’s lives. The annual lecture celebrates Mrs. Kern’s life and is a living memorial of her commitment to helping others.”

With its rigorous academic culture and focus on student achievement, William Jewell College promises students an outstanding liberal arts education that cultivates leadership, service, and spiritual growth within a community inspired by Christian ideals and committed to open, rigorous intellectual pursuits.

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