Blinn-Bryan Campus to host seminar with Texas A&M University Bonfire collapse survivor and documentary filmmaker

John Comstock and Charlie Minn discuss their upcoming film "The 13th Man," Thursday, Oct. 17

John Comstock and Charlie Minn discuss their upcoming film "The 13th Man," Thursday, Oct. 17

October 9, 2019

The Blinn College-Bryan Campus invites the community to a seminar featuring John Comstock, the last survivor pulled from the tragic collapse of the Texas A&M University Bonfire in 1999, and documentary filmmaker Charlie Minn.

Comstock and Minn will discuss their film, “The 13th Man,” with students and guests at the Blinn-Bryan Campus at noon Thursday, Oct. 17, in Student Center Room F-120 (map). The event is sponsored by Blinn’s Visual/Performing Arts and Kinesiology, Humanities, and Social Sciences divisions, and admission is free and open to the public.

Comstock will share his story as the last surviving student pulled from the wreckage when Bonfire collapsed during construction in the early morning hours of Nov. 18, 1999. Minn’s “The 13th Man” explores the cause of the collapse and includes interviews with Comstock, other survivors, and victims’ family members. Comstock and Minn will address the creative process that went into developing the film and answer questions from the audience. There also will be a screening of “The 13th Man” trailer along with brief clips of the movie to complement the discussion.

“This event explores a survivor’s resilience and highlights the complexities of documentary filmmaking,” Blinn Theatre Professor Greg Wise said. “The Bonfire collapse had a major and lasting impact on our community and this seminar is a unique opportunity for students to hear a first-hand account of the tragedy while learning about the role the arts can play in the healing process.”

A 90-year Texas A&M University tradition, Bonfire was erected annually by students and former students in anticipation of the rival football game with the University of Texas. Twelve individuals lost their lives and 27 were injured in the 1999 accident. Comstock was trapped for more than seven hours before being rescued, which resulted in the amputation of his left leg, paralysis to his right hand, and six months in various hospitals to recover from his injuries.

Release of “The 13th Man” coincides with the 20th anniversary of the tragedy. The film will debut at Premiere Cinemas in Bryan on Nov. 7. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to a fund benefiting the Bonfire victims’ families.

For more information about the seminar, contact Wise at greg.wise@blinn.edu.

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