COLUMBIA, Mo. (Oct. 4, 2022) — Sebastián Martínez Valdivia, who has worked as a health reporter and documentary filmmaker at KBIA-FM since 2018, has been named supervising producer and assistant professor at the Missouri School of Journalism’s Jonathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism. Martínez Valdivia joins Filmmaker-in-chief Robert Greene in co-leadership of the center, which was recently designated one of the best film schools in the country by Moviemaker Magazine.
“Sebastián brings experience in documentary filmmaking and broadcast production to this new role, which puts the symbiotic producer-director relationship at the heart of the center’s leadership,” said David Kurpius, dean of the School of Journalism. “His presence will help the program continue to make a name for itself on the national stage with the opportunities it presents for our students and Columbia’s thriving documentary film community.”
Martínez Valdivia is a consummate member of that community as an alumnus of the center, having earned his master’s degree in documentary journalism in 2017 (he also earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the School in 2013). In coming back to the center, he is eager to return the favor by working closely with students.
“One of the things that excites me is that it’s a teaching-focused position,” Martínez Valdivia said. “I still plan on making films, and I still plan on doing some reporting, but with this position I’m kind of transitioning to focusing more on teaching, and that’s something that’s important to me.”
For Stacey Woelfel, who is stepping down as director of the center, hiring a graduate of the program to help lead it is a landmark moment in the center’s eight-year history.
“One of the things that excites me is that it’s a teaching-focused position. I still plan on making films, and I still plan on doing some reporting, but with this position I’m kind of transitioning to focusing more on teaching, and that’s something that’s important to me.”
“I’m thrilled that we’re able to get someone who is a product of the program to come back and continue the legacy of teaching,” Woelfel said, adding that Martínez Valdivia’s varied background — as an award-winning independent filmmaker, a producer, reporter and anchor at KOMU-TV, a reporter at KBIA-FM, and a digital content producer at Newsy — allows him to work with students in a number of different ways.
That depth and breadth of experience excites Jonathan Murray, who provided a $6.7 million gift to found the center in 2014.
“As a graduate of the Murray program, and as someone who has a successful track record working with students at KBIA, Sebastián is an exciting choice to join Robert Greene at the Murray Center,” Murray said. “With his past work at KBIA, he’ll bring a real attention to the approach to sound design in students’ documentary work.”
Along with Greene, Martínez Valdivia will see the center through the end of its first decade, one that has seen it quickly rise to national recognition as an atypical documentary film program that allows both undergraduate and graduate students to create feature-length films within the broader context of an education in journalism.
In ushering the center into a new era, Greene said Martínez Valdivia’s status as an important community voice will complement the center’s already-significant community presence through its work with True/False Film Fest and independent movie theater Ragtag Cinema.
“He’s become an important voice in our community and region as a journalist guiding us through the pandemic on KBIA,” Greene said. “I’m excited to see him coming back over to the documentary side where his voice as an artist can help guide the next generation of Murray Center filmmakers.”
Updated: October 4, 2022