Rebekah Ferguson, Documentary Filmmaker


A native Charlottean who went to Duke (insert various boos and cheers from the crowd here), turned documentary filmmaker, took us through the process of making a film from her eyes.

Her film, Peleada premiered at SXSW 2010 and was an Official Selection at IFF Boston, Full Frame, Sidewalk Moving Pictures, Heartland, Denver Starz, Newport Beach, and Docaviv.

Speaking about Peleada, Rebekah opened with sage wisdom about her approach to making this film…

“Soccer was the vehicle that would lead to the stories.”

Rebekah started her journey by spending time in Argentina, chasing down the stories – her group didn’t have an NDO, they didn’t have a translator, they just went to discover the stories. Upon arriving in one of the neighborhood where the pick-up games took place and despite the language barrier, they connected with one of the players on the sidelines and returned to film for a full 2 days. They discovered the pace of the city, befriended the locals, met the dogs that roamed the streets, and discovered the stories that lived inside the pick-up soccer games.

The real effect on Rebekah happened ‘behind the camera’ – despite being taken care of and looked out for during the process of making the film, Rebekah felt the constant reminder that she didn’t belong to that place – that she was still a gringo and an outsider.

An entry from Rebekah’s journal conveyed this fact, describing how she’d be yelled at as she walked down the street and told that she’d be robbed, and this trip tested her romantic notion of what being a documentary filmmaker really means.

Rebekah learned to respect the differences between people as well as appreciate her own ability to be stubborn.

“You have to engage people and try to gather there stories, as well as try to get them to understand where you’re coming from.”

Rebekah named Rio and Iran as the next places that brought difficulties, followed by San Pedro Prison in Bolivia, Capetown, South Africa, freestylers in Shanghai, China, Austin who lost his entire family in Nairobi, and many more people they encountered on their filmmaking journey around the world.

“As filmmakers, we had the opportunity to share stories from a life we would never know with others.”

Rebekah urges the crowd to examine the differences between people as much as we examine the things we have in common. Take the opportunity and see the world through another lens and adopt a different perspective.

In closing, Rebekah urged the audience to take these lessons out into the world – not just today, but always. A noble challenge for the dream makers in attendance today.