Meet APU’s Visiting Professor: Diane Glancy

by Rachel White

At 71, when many others her age are focused on enjoying retirement, Diane Glancy, a visiting professor in Azusa Pacific’s Department of English, decided to take a huge risk, follow her heart, and make her first feature film.

Without any prior filmmaking experience and a limited budget, Glancy embarked on the faith-filled endeavor of writing, directing, and producing The Dome of Heaven, now showing at independent film festivals around the country and garnering nominations and awards.

Glancy, a nationally known Cherokee author, poet, and playwright drew upon her love and understanding of the Native American culture when she developed the screenplay. Shot entirely on location in the small town of Vici, Oklahoma, over a two-week period, The Dome of Heaven is the story of Flutie, who is half Cherokee, and her struggles to overcome the challenges of a dysfunctional family, poverty, and low self-esteem to be the first in her family to attend college.

“Flutie’s character is based upon my life experiences,”Glancy said. “Like Flutie, I was once a young woman who had limitations, who was too shy to speak in class. Through Christ, I have come to realize that those who feel insignificant are greatly significant in God’s eyes.”

Glancy describes The Dome of Heaven as a contemporary film about the importance of ordinary life and the inevitable difficulties we face.

“Nothing is easy. Everything is hard,” said Glancy, repeating a line from the film. “That is true in life, and it was true making this film. Yet, the Lord must like Christian filmmaking because he moved so many hurdles. I love impossible things because I know nothing is impossible with God.”

Those hurdles included the threat of snow and a wind chill of 28 degrees below zero during filming. Glancy said the crew wrapped the cameras in blankets so the equipment wouldn’t freeze. In addition to battling the inclement weather, she soon realized that her budget was running out so shortcuts were taken and scenes cut. Despite these challenges, the film finished on time.

Now complete, Glancy is astonished at the attention and accolades her film is receiving. The Dome of Heaven won Best Faith-Based Film and Glancy was nominated for Best Woman Director at the Action on Film International Film Festival in Monrovia in August. In addition, her film won Best Native American Film at the Trail Dance Independent Film Festival in Duncan, Oklahoma.

Glancy is now working on her second screenplay while also fulfilling another dream this year-- serving as a visiting professor in Azusa Pacific’s Department of English.

“I have always wanted to teach at a Christian university where I can open my class in prayer and share my faith with the students,” said Glancy. “When I visited APU’s campus for the first time, I knew it was a special place and I wanted to be a part of this community.”

With more than 20 years of experience as an English professor at Macalester College in Minnesota, and as the author of 9 books, 15 collections of poetry, and numerous plays, Glancy intends to cultivate a deep love and appreciation of poetry in her students at APU.

“I tell my students that poetry exists all around us in the beauty of nature, the truth of the Scriptures, and the inner strength we find to overcome obstacles like my character Flutie did in The Dome of Heaven,” said Glancy.