By Karen Middleton
Locally, the name Dunnavant is associated with broadcasting and journalism legends, but a scion of that family is making a name in documentary producing.
Keith Dunnavant, a best-selling sports author, has written and directed “Three Days at Foster,” a documentary film about civil rights and sports, which will be premiered Aug. 25 at the Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham.
Dunnavant is the son of the late broadcasting pioneer and radio station founder Robert Dunnavant Sr. and the brother of the late veteran broadcast and print journalist Bob Dunnavant Jr.
“This is a story that’s been in my head for more than a decade, and so it’s very gratifying to have the film recognized in this way,” said Dunnavant, whose books include nationally acclaimed biographies of football icons Bart Starr and Paul “Bear” Bryant.
The film focuses on the pioneers who shattered the athletic color barriers at the University 50 years ago, following segregationist Gov. George Wallace’s infamous stand in the door of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama in his futile attempt to block integration.
Those former Tide players featured in the documentary include Danny Treadwell, Dock Rone, Andrew Pernell, Arthur Dunning, Wendell Hudson and Wilbur Jackson.
Dunnavant, who says, “I’m a historian at my core,” publishes books concerned with sports set against the background of contemporary culture. He said the seed for “Three Days at Foster” was planted in 1999.
“I was working as a magazine editor in New York City and I did a feature on Wilbur Jackson, the first signee to ‘Bear’ Bryant’s football program,” said Dunnavant. “He talked about his daughter, who was a student at Alabama in ’99. Then it clicked in my mind on the plane ride back to New York how (integration of the Alabama sports program) speaks to that moment in time and how the world has changed since then.
“When I started playing with documentaries a few years ago this idea was on the top of my list. It’s been an untold story.”
Dunnavant’s Atlanta-based ShadowVision Productions team began work after a successful Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign in the summer of 2012.
“Crowd funding is all the rage now,” he said.
Dunnavant said he didn’t make his funding goal, but he is “extremely grateful” for those who helped back his project.
“The seed money came out of my back pocket,” he said. “I’m an entrepreneur — that’s what I always do — so this is a natural extension of what I’ve been doing. I’ve been launching magazines for 20 years.”
Other members of Dunnavant’s ShadowVision team are: Director of photography/editor Jonathan Hickman; Editor Joe Beamon and Design Consultant Maggie Boudreaux Hickman.