Social issues brought to light

Former UH student and critically acclaimed social documentarian Erica Fletcher sets out to create a more social and responsible world through her films all while keeping a sense of humor.

“Films are very limited in their depth, but the hope is always that audiences will feel more comfortable talking about difficult issues and continuing the never-ending process of trying to make sense of our world,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher graduated from UH in May 2010 with a triple major in anthropology, sociology and psychology.

She is currently a graduate student at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston working on towards a doctorate in medical humanities and says her studies give her a better perspective of life.

“The more I study about societies, the more I realize that we live on a very strange planet,” Fletcher said. “We all have to get along the best we can with what we have.”

“Marianismo,” her first documentary, put a face to the growing issue of HIV/AIDS among Latin women — eight times higher when compared to white women — and brought her national recognition when Glamour Magazine named her among 2010’s Top 10 College Women in the U.S.

Her second film tackled human trafficking; a topic Fletcher says needs more than surface exploration.

“‘Pack and Deliver’ calls into question what we know about human trafficking and seeks a more critical lens for learning about this issue.” Fletcher said.

When she’s not working, Fletcher is researching for a paper and film on low-income psychiatric patients and says her interests are hard to narrow, if not downright scattered.

“Usually I end up drenched in my own brainstorms huddling under a broken umbrella of semi-traceable theories and previous research to back up my interview findings,” Fletcher said. “If I’m lucky, the hail and thunder will inspire some coherent research project.”

Fletcher said UH gave her the opportunity to explore her various interests in social science, social work, media and human situation studies. All serve as influences seen in her films.

“I was able to bounce around The Honors College and a number of other departments learning about what interested me,” Fletcher said. I took classes on the history of Houston, human sexuality, death and dying, disease in antiquity and several independent studies.”

Above all, Fletcher advises students to be able to take an honest look in the mirror and laugh.

“Not to be too trite, but there is something to trying to be yourself. I’m just now starting to come to terms with the fact that on the inside, I am an awkward, multi-cultural, second-generation immigrant and formerly religious fundamentalist homeschooler,” she said. “In trying too hard to fit in, I ended up being even more of an anomaly.”

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