Photo by Daryl Marshke

Across the University, we strive to bring the best experience of teaching, learning, and work environment to our community.  We also support and promote the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) efforts of the college; however, the success of those efforts depend on the University community coming together. An excellent example of this is when the Voices of the Staff provided a free screening of Me, the Other to all U-M staff on both the Academic and Medical Campuses.

Me, the Other is “a documentary film about a diverse group of students living in Washtenaw County in Southeast Michigan... set out to tell stories of prejudice, equality and diversity and discovered that ‘otherness’ is never one thing.” A 100% nonprofit film, Me, the Other, was created in 6 months with over 200 volunteers coming together to produce a documentary that resonates with many in our country. When the Executive Producer, Shahrzad Mirafzali, approached a long-time friend and Broadway Director, Shidan Majidi, they never anticipated that a community-based project would become a documentary that fosters conversations of diversity and inclusion. Me, the Other has been shown in numerous film festivals across the United States and Internationally.

After seeing the movie, Steven Vinson, Financial Analyst Senior with Michigan Medicine, was hoping to bring the movie to campus through his remarkable DEI efforts in Michigan Medicine and beyond. Working with Voices of the Staff provided the opportunity to arrange screenings for the entire UM staff. Vinson arranged for two screenings with panel discussions during the Diversity Summit, located on the Michigan Medical Campus and Central Campus.  In addition to Vinson, the panels included Director Shidan Majidi, cast and crew, and UM DEI leaders Dr. Katrina Wade-Golden and Dr. Gary Freed.

Vinson worked with Sanam Arab, Manager of Programs and Patron Services in LSA Technology Services and volunteer associate producer of Me, the Other, to screen the movie in its original format in Angell Auditorium B. This auditorium houses UM’s Digital Cinema Package (DCP).  DCP, which was installed in 2017, is a digital equivalent of a 35mm film print. It is a high quality projection system with 4k projection and multi-channel sound up to 7.1 surround, giving the audience the same experience of a typical movie theater.  UM is the fourth university in the United States to have both 35mm and DCP, which provided a rare, high quality viewing experience of the documentary, Me, the Other.

The screenings were tremendously successful. The discussions generated amongst the staff have continued and UM DEI leaders are exploring other ways of bringing the movie to the campus. Groups interested in hosting a screening can contact Sanam Arab at sanama@umich.edu for more information.