Wright State University alumna Selena Burks-Rentschler has a talent for working on award-winning documentary films that tackle thought-provoking issues in the community.
On her latest project, the ThinkTV documentary “Redlining: Mapping Inequality in Dayton and Springfield,” Burks-Rentschler worked as associate producer. The documentary won an Ohio Valley Regional Emmy in September.
The documentary tells the national and local story of redlining, a practice that embedded racial segregation and inequality into the development of American cities and suburbs.
Burks-Rentschler felt it was important to tell this story and educate others.
“I learned so much about redlining and the government’s role in mapping our segregated cities and suburbs, which left many people of color, specifically Black Americans, with little to no options for accessing the American dream,” said Burks-Rentschler, who earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Motion Pictures from Wright State in 2003.
Redlining maps, introduced in the 1930s, delineated risk areas for federally backed mortgages and home-ownership programs. Risk was determined almost entirely by race. Neighborhoods where no loans would be made were outlined in red, or literally “redlined.”
“I spent several years living in Dayton, so the city means a lot to me,” said Burks-Rentschler. “I believe that knowledge is power. And to show how the legacy of redlining in the Miami Valley region is directly tied to disparities in wealth, education and health outcomes still gives me chills.”
The one-hour film tells the story of local families who were impacted by redlining and the lasting effects of the policy on the Dayton Region.
“To find solutions to these problems, it’s essential to understand this history. Because what happened here happened in every major city across the country,” she said.
Burks-Rentschler is currently in post-production with two documentaries. Her latest project is “Youth Jazz Academy,” a documentary about an after-school jazz program in Cincinnati.
She is also in post-production on “With A Single Bullet,” which centers on the tenuous relationship between a quadriplegic gunshot victim and the near stranger who shot her. The film questions whether there is a limit to a victim’s ability to forgive and move on when justice may never be served.
In 2005, Burks-Rentschler produced “Saving Jackie,” a documentary that was screened at the Sundance Film Festival. “Saving Jackie” is a personal look at the long-term effects of drug addiction and the subsequent broken relationships within her own family.
“The film promotes a message of forgiveness and healing,” said Burks-Rentschler.
Burks-Rentschler said she spent a lot of time trying to make a difference in the community by presenting “Saving Jackie” to churches, drug rehabilitation centers, youth groups, high schools and universities.