By Nathan Crabbe

Count actor Burt Reynolds among the supporters of the University of Florida’s Documentary Institute.

The institute is targeted for elimination in UF’s options for budget cuts. Supporters have been conducting a campaign to save the program, including an online petition that recently passed a goal of 1,000 signatures.

Signature No. 1,026 is from none other than Reynolds, an actor whose work ranges from Smokey and the Bandit to Boogie Nights.

“It will be a true tragedy if the University of Florida closes The Documentary Institute,” he wrote. “The talent nurtured through this program comes along so rarely … I know because I’ve been doing this for 50 years and the most talented person I have ever met came out of the Documentary Institute’s program.”

Reynolds is referring to Suzanne Niedland, a 2004 graduate of the institute who has worked with him on projects such as the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film and Theatre in Jupiter. She co-directed Miss Lil’s Camp, a documentary about a summer camp in Georgia and its director.