MDOCS Storytellers' Institute

Shalon Buskirk, Haley Hnatuk, & Drew Swedberg

a virtual exhibit of work by the 2020 MDOCS Storytellers’ Institute Fellows

in love, in memory is a portrait of love and loss in the post-industrial city of Allentown, Pennsylvania. At the center of the film, our co-producer, co-director, and protagonist, Shalon Buskirk, brings new life to the story of her oldest son, Parris Jerome Lane, who was nineteen when he was murdered across the street from Allentown’s City Hall. Shalon connects this proximal relationship to Parris’ story, unearthing a haunting legacy of racist, policy-driven housing violence to reframe her son’s death. The documentary poetically weaves her words, actions, and collaborations into an assemblage of memories that amplifies her advocacy and archives the story of her son.

The film is the feature directorial debut of Shalon Buskirk and Drew Swedberg. Together they have built a team of artists and collaborators around Parris’ story, including co-editor and assistant producer Haley Hnatuk. This team attended MDOCS 2020 Storytellers’ Institute, rebuilding the momentum of the project alongside this brilliant community of artists. The residency allowed us to shape the end of the film, which then informed the visual language, pulses, and rhythms of a documentary that is now nearing its final form as a feature. This is a work in progress rough cut of the film.

Shalon Buskirk
is known as a community leader who has dedicated her life to protecting, helping, and saving young adults from violence within our community. She was born and raised in Allentown, PA. After the tragic death of her first-born son Parris, she decided to start to work towards a nonprofit for young adults that engages them with the resources they need for success. She was the driving force behind the first major funding in the city for youth violence prevention. She wanted to tell her son Parris’ story as a storyteller, a mother of eight children, and currently the CEO/Founder of the Parris J. Lane Memorial Foundation. Shalon is the co-producer, co-director, and central protagonist of the documentary film in love, in memory.
Haley Hnatuk
is an award-winning film editor born and raised in Pennsylvania with a knack for shaping complex narratives about social issues into compelling stories. Her documentary practice is deeply rooted in collaboration. As an undergraduate at Muhlenberg College, Hnatuk worked as an editor of “Dos Hermanxs: The Blood of the California Fields,” a short documentary in which Luis Magaña, an immigrant rights organizer, recounts two tragic losses of indigenous youth from México working in Central Valley vineyards. This film has been screened at festivals internationally. Additionally, while studying abroad at Dublin City University, she worked as a Media Production Assistant at Motherland, an award-winning Irish production company that produces commercials, films and documentaries. Currently, Hnatuk is working on a new feature-length documentary as an Editor’s Apprentice at New Circle Films, a film production company based in New York City.

Drew Swedberg
is a documentary filmmaker, cinematographer, and educator living and working in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.
His filmmaking orbits around dreams, utilizing a patient and poetic lens to navigate intimate stories of community, interiority, and memory, all while engaging in modes of storytelling that collectively reimagine accountability, collaboration, and truth-telling. As an artist-in-residence and teaching artist, he has produced over 50 youth films through his workshops in the Lehigh Valley. He is the founder of the digital storytelling initiative, Collaborative Media Expressions, which is focused on engaging, supporting, and cultivating youth voices in Allentown, Pennsylvania. In the summer of 2020, he co-designed a local high school documentary program that brought ten teaching artists from across the country into a virtual classroom, where three teams are currently finishing up pre-production and will be supported over the course of the next year as they navigate new films.
He currently teaches an array of media and film classes from elementary after-school programs to college classrooms and coaches 5th grade basketball at Jefferson Elementary School. He is moving through his feature directorial debut with co-director Shalon Buskirk. The documentary, in love, in memory, is currently between production and post-production.

Work of the Fellows * Work of the Institute * Exhibition Description