Tracy Dvorak
Grand Junction Free Press
Staff Writer

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July 7, 2011
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Mesa State grad wins national award for his documentary

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Mesa State College graduate and filmmaker Justin Hunt won praise and acclaim for his 2007 documentary "American Meth."

Four years later, the accolades are still rolling in.

Hunt, 34, recently won the 2011 Media Award given by the College on Problems of Drug Dependence and the National Institute on Drug Abuse for his film which graphically followed the struggles of families living with methamphetamine abuse. During filming, Hunt lived with one of the drug-addled families featured in the documentary and witnessed first-hand the devastation of the drug.

The award is bestowed each year to an individual or organization which has used the media to enhance public understanding of drug use disorders.

"American Meth" screened at the Avalon Theatre in May 2007.

While "American Meth" still garners attention, Hunt is sure his next documentary will have the same kind of impact.

"Absent" takes a look at the societal crisis of children being raised without a father, and the effects through adulthood.

Hunt calls that pain, that loss, of an absent dad the "father wound."

"A father is the first person outside the world that chooses us or doesn't" at birth, Hunt said. When he doesn't, or when he disengages that bond, the outcome for a child can be devastating.

"It's the most universal wound on this planet," said Hunt, a very engaged single father of two.

Among the many people highlighted in "Absent" is Metallica frontman James Hetfield. Hetfield has been outspoken in interviews about how he was abandoned by his father as a teen, and the struggles that ensued as a result.

On a lark, Hunt sought out Hetfield, who jumped on board tell his story.

"(Hetfield's) story is about how one guy took a father wound and took that into his music," Hunt said.

Together, Hunt and Hetfield have introduced the film at a few screenings and have been interviewed on Fox News.

"Absent" debuted August 2010 and has been accepted into 14 film festivals and nominated for several awards. The film has so far won six awards including best documentary. Visit for more information and upcoming screenings.

Although busy promoting "Absent," Hunt, who lives in Phoenix, has begun shooting his third documentary, the subject matter of which he's keeping under wraps for now. But he will say this:

"It's got ties to Grand Junction in it, and will be the first of its kind. I've even shot some stuff for it in Grand Junction."

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The Post Independent Updated Jul 7, 2011 11:04PM Published Jul 7, 2011 11:03PM Copyright 2011 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.