NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — A documentary the life of Jelani Day was released at the inaugural Foxtail Film Festival at the Normal Theatre on Friday.
The film “Portrait of Jelani: Grief, Art & Memory” was created by four Illinois State University Students; Anthony Fisher, Courtney Ossola, Marcus Pruitt and Aracely Zarco. The project focuses on a mural painted in Uptown Normal in honor of Day.
Day was an ISU graduate student when his body was found in the Illinois River in 2021. The mural was painted by an unknown artist shortly after Day’s body was identified but taken down the following day. The artist’s identity is revealed in the 12-minute documentary.
“We wanted to keep it kind of like close to campus. Something that resonates with us where we’re not involved but we can find out a little bit more. And the portrait was really a perfect opportunity,” Ossola said about the film.
Day’s family is still searching for answers about what happened to him. The filmmakers said they just want to keep Day’s story alive.
“Going into it, our whole goal was to shed more light on Jelani’s situation. I still feel like there’s not enough light being shed on it. There’s a lot of things unsolved, a lot of questions that need answering,” said Pruitt.
The Jelani Day Foundation is offering a scholarship for seniors at Danville High School. Applications are available at the school.