Film faculty member Lisa Kaselak wins Silver Heart Award
at Dallas International Film Festival

Film Prof. Lisa Kaselak won a DIFF award for her documentary about a slave plantation.

Lisa Kaselak

Lisa Kaselak, assistant professor in the Division of Film & Media Arts, won the Silver Heart Award at the 2013 Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF) last weekend for her documentary Tomlinson Hill, the story of a small Texas town that was once the site of a slave-holding plantation.

The award recognizes “an individual or film for their dedication to fighting injustices and/or creating social change for the improvement of humanity” and includes a $10,000 cash prize provided by the Embrey Family Foundation.

The film examines the lingering effects of racism in the rural community surrounding the former Tomlinson Hill plantation, near Marlin, Texas, through the eyes of two descendants: white reporter Chris Tomlinson, a descendant of the plantation owner, and Loreane Tomlinson, a black descendant of slaves. As the reporter confronts the shame and guilt he feels from his ancestry and digs deeper into the real legacy of the area, he meets Loreane, who has returned to her hometown with a vision of civic improvement.

Kaselak received a finishing funds grant from SMU, a Humanities Texas grant and a grant from Dallas Women in Film to produce the film.

“I'm deeply grateful to Chris Tomlinson, Loreane Tomlinson and the community of Marlin for allowing me into their lives to tell this story,” said Kaselak. “ I've learned a lot from them about the nature of courage. My biggest hope is that this film inspires others to break free from silence and speak out about the injustices they see around them. My heartfelt thanks to the Embrey Family Foundation and to the wonderful, supportive family at DIFF!”

An independent media artist from Austin, Texas, Kaselak works in traditional documentary and narrative filmmaking as well as non-linear digital storytelling and digital installation art. She served as the first heterosexual director of programming for the Austin Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and is currently principal of Fosforo Films and co-principal of Beak Labs. Her films include Doubting Darwin, The Soup Peddler and Let Them Eat Cake. She received her M.F.A. in film production from the University of Texas.

At SMU, Kaselak teaches courses in production, convergent media and documentary.

Founded in 2006 by the Dallas Film Society, the Dallas International Film Festival has been named by MovieMaker Magazine as one of the “25 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee.” In the past seven years it has received more than 10,000 submissions and shown close to 1,200 films from more than 55 countries, including 62 world premieres and 17 U.S. premieres. It has presented over $430,000 in awards. In addition to independent films, the festival presents award-winning films and filmmakers to regional audiences. For more information visit