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PTSD Documentary Brings Home Award

Poster Girl, a film helmed by first-time director Sara Nesson and produced by USC School of Cinematic Arts adjunct professor Mitchell Block, won the International Documentary Association’s award for best short documentary and also is nominated for an Academy Award.

“I was delighted that our film was selected,” Block said of the film about Robynn Murray, a service woman who returned from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “It’s the first film for the director. It’s the second time I’ve mentored a first-time filmmaker to an Oscar or a nomination. It’s always gratifying.”

Block decided to produce the film after seeing a cut of Nesson’s first documentary about PTSD, which included footage of Murray.

“[Nesson] was asking me to help on another documentary she was doing about post-traumatic stress in which Robynn was one of many characters,” Block said. “When I watched the rough cut, I asked her about her footage with Robynn. When you think about it from a teaching point of view, we basically made a short film out of material that had been discarded.”

As a filmmaker, Block has marketed and distributed films that have won 25 Oscars and have been nominated for 71.

“Here you have this amazing observational material,” Block said. “I think it’s a very convincing story. You realize that when you’re telling stories, it’s incredibly important to pick material that has emotional and intellectual content.”

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