New short film, ‘The Diary of Michael Shiner,’ to premiere at Omaha Film Festival Feb. 29

background photo of UNL city campus with red overlay; "The Diary of Michael Shiner" poster on top

New short film, ‘The Diary of Michael Shiner,’ to premiere at Omaha Film Festival Feb. 29

28 Feb 2024     By Kelcey Buck

Michael Shiner was an enslaved man who labored at the Washington, D.C., Naval Yard. He wrote one of the only diaries of an enslaved person known to exist. Based on his writings that span 56 years and cover politics, family and natural phenomenon, a new short film depicts the day he saved his wife from the notorious slave traders, Franklin and Armfield. 

“The Diary of Michael Shiner” was selected for the Omaha Film Festival as one of seven films during the short film block 3 to be shown at 8:15 p.m. at Aksarben Cinema, screen 4, North Sea Films Theatre. “The Diary of Michael Shiner” will also screen at the Phoenix Film Fest in April. 

This is the fourth film produced by Salt Marsh Productions, which was founded by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln team of Michael Burton, assistant professor in textiles, merchandising and fashion design; Kwakuitl Dreher, associate professor in English; and William Thomas, professor of history, Angle Chair in the Humanities, and associate dean for research and graduate education in the College of Arts and Sciences. The film was produced with support from an interdisciplinary grant Burton received from the UNL Office of Research and Economic Development in 2022. 

“We paged through all 186 pages of Shiner’s diary last summer at the Library of Congress and we were amazed by his indelible memory of people, dates and locations,” Burton said. “His stories about life at the Naval Yard and politics in Washington paint a clear picture of society at that time.”

Previous films by the Salt Marsh Productions team include “Anna,” an animated film based on true events in one woman’s quest for freedom and family; “A Gold Slipper,” an animation based on the short story by Willa Cather first published in 1917 in Harper’s Monthly Magazine; and “The Bell Affair,” a feature-length animated film about the Daniel and Mary Bell family that chronicles the legal fight for Mary’s freedom. 

Find the full schedule and ticket information for the Omaha Film Festival at Learn more about all the films from the Salt Marsh Productions team at

College of Education and Human Sciences
Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design

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