[Videolib] appalshop

Steve Fesenmaier (mystery12@charter.net)
Fri, 23 May 2003 08:29:34 -0400

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LIFE |Friday, May 23, 2003
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Communities come alive in PBS series

By DAVE LAVENDER <mailto:lavender@herald-dispatch.com> - The Herald-Dispatch

File photo/The Herald-Dispatch

Singer Dr. Ethel Caffie-Austin is one of several musicians spotlighted
in "Headwaters: Real Stories from Rural America."

Portrayals of Appalachia on national TV and in the movies usually fall
into two predictable ruts: dumb (the proposed reality show, "The New
Beverly Hillbillies) and dumber (the to-be-released May 30 horror flick,
"The Wrong Turn," that depicts six young people tracked in the West
Virginia woods by inbred cannibals).

That's all right because Appalshop has got our sun-burnt backs.

Started May 16, West Virginia Public Broadcasting is airing "Headwaters:
Real Stories from Rural America," a new documentary series produced by
the Whitesburg, Ky.-based, award-winning media group, Appalshop.

The series, being shown nationwide, runs each Friday through July 11 on
WVPBS.

Headwaters runs at 10 p.m. Mondays, June 2 through July28, on KET.

The series tackles a wide array of subjects, including musicians Ethel
Caffie-Austin, Hazel Dickens, women's basketball in Appalachia in the
1920s, grassroots environmental activism, struggles to build sustainable
communities in the coalfields and the relationship between media makers
and the communities they portray -- shown in the Sundance Film Festival
selection, "Stranger with a Camera."

Tonight's documentary tells the story of southwest Virginia resident and
bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley.

No, Stanley doesn't snack on a six-pack of kids for lunch, but the
Grammy Award-winner does spin colorful tales about his life traveling
from his beloved Clinch Mountains in Virginia to play bluegrass music
around the world.

Steve Fesenmaier, film critic for Graffiti and organizer of the West
Virginia Filmmakers Festival held each October in Sutton, says the films
are not to be missed.

"People should realize that Appalshop is considered to be one of the
world's best media art centers, and they are a model for people all over
the world," Fesenmaier said. "To see our own stories translated into
film so well is like having Hollywood in your own back yard."

Anne Lewis, a longtime eastern Kentucky resident now living in Austin,
Texas, made four of the nine films and co-produced the series with
fellow Appalshop veteran filmmaker Mimi Pickering.

Headwaters on TV

Here's a schedule for Appalshop's documentary film series, "Headwaters:
Real Stories from Rural America," on West Virginia Public Television.
The shows air at 10 p.m. For more info, go online at www.wvpubcast.org
<http://www.wvpubcast.org>. The film series runs at 10 p.m. June 2
through July 28 on KET. Go online at www.ket.org <http://www.ket.org>.

Today -- "Ralph Stanley's Story," a portrait of this Grammy
award-winning bluegrass legend and star of the "O Brother, Where Art
Thou?" soundtrack, the program explores Stanley's musical roots in the
Clinch Mountains of southwest Virginia.

May 30 -- "Shelter," focusing on the community-based domestic violence
project of the Family Refuge Center in Lewisburg, Shelter tells the
story of five women from rural West Virginia who try to find safety,
freedom and justice.

June 6 -- "His Eye is On the Sparrow: A Portrait of Ethel Caffie
Austin," a powerful African-American singer known as West Virginia's
First Lady of Gospel. "Girls Hoops," profiles several recent teams while
exploring the history of girls high school basketball in Kentucky
starting in the 1920s.

June 13 -- "Rough Side of the Mountain," Documents the "steel ceiling"
encountered by many poor rural communities as they struggle to develop
new economies in hard-hit areas.

June 20 -- "To Save the Land and People," A history of the early
grassroots efforts to stop strip mining in eastern Kentucky, the program
makes a powerful statement about the land and how we use it, and how its
misuse conflicts with local culture and values.

June 27 -- "Hazel Dickens: It's Hard to Tell the Singer From the Song,"
from the coalfields of West Virginia to the factories of Baltimore, this
National Heritage Fellow has lived the songs she sings, fashioning from
her experiences a gritty country music that speaks of hard work, hard
times and hardy souls.

July 4 -- "Coal Bucket Outlaw," built around a day in the life of a
Kentucky coal truck driver, the program gives Americans a direct look at
where our energy comes from, and reveals the human and environmental
price we pay for our national addiction to fossil fuels. "Applewise,"
third generation family farmers struggle to make a living from a small
orchard in an era of a global economy.

July 11 -- "Stranger with a Camera," An encore presentation of this
award-winning exploration of the relationship between media makers and
the communities they portray in their work.

On the Web

www.appalshop.org/
headwaters <http://www.appalshop.org/headwaters>

"I think it is important that we say that what goes on in our region is
national and it is important," Lewis said by phone. "We don't get that
exploitation that the 'Real Beverly Hillbillies' would be. This is a
decent and positive look at people in the region."

That said, the series doesn't whitewash hard realities, Lewis said, but
tries to paint an accurate portrayal of people.

"To Save the Land and People" tells the history of the 1960s and 70s
movement in eastern Kentucky to abolish strip mining.

Lewis said they tell the story of coffin maker and environmental
activist Dan Gibson from Hindman, Ky. Arrested for his grassroots
activism, Gibson was once released from jail after folks from Hindman
came to break him out.

"Look at eastern Kentucky and you know the movement was not particularly
successful," Lewis said. "But the film honors the people who fought
really hard to save their land. There are some wonderful people in there
who have passed on. That makes it, I think, not depressing."

The first "Headwaters" series six years ago was shown on 33 PBS stations
(including some statewide systems).

This time around, "Headwaters" is getting similar widespread acceptance.

Available for satellite download in February, the Headwaters series has
been picked up by 25 PBS stations nationwide, including four statewide
networks in Alabama, Wyoming, South Dakota and North Dakota.

Lewis asks that any displaced Appalachian natives who would like to see
moving films about home, call their local PBS affiliate and ask that the
series be shown.

Lewis said it is important too that Appalachian filmmakers explore their
own complex communities.

"I have always felt that people should make their own films," Lewis
said. "There is no reason this day and age that can't happen. Although
the resources to make films gets worse and worse, the access to
technology is wonderful. There ought to be an Appalshop in every community."

Fesenmaier, who works at West Virginia Library Commission, says if folks
miss a chance to see the films, they can ask their local library to get
the films, available through West Virginia's library loan system.

All made within the past few years, the films, or at least many of them,
have been featured at various film festivals around West Virginia,
Fesenmaier said.

"Coal Bucket Outlaw" premiered in Charleston at last year's Flooded Out
Film Festival, which raised money for flood victims in southern West
Virginia.

"Everybody in West Virginia should see this film because they have to
deal with overweight coal trucks every day, and this shows it from the
inside," Fesenmaier said. "This shows, very sympathetically, what it is
like to make your living hauling coal."

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LIFE |Friday, May 23, 2003
E-mail This Story
|
Print This Story

Communities come alive in PBS series

By DAVE LAVENDER - The Herald-Dispatch

File photo/The Herald-Dispatch

Singer Dr. Ethel Caffie-Austin is one of several musicians spotlighted in "Headwaters: Real Stories from Rural America."

Portrayals of Appalachia on national TV and in the movies usually fall into two predictable ruts: dumb (the proposed reality show, "The New Beverly Hillbillies) and dumber (the to-be-released May 30 horror flick, "The Wrong Turn," that depicts six young people tracked in the West Virginia woods by inbred cannibals).

That’s all right because Appalshop has got our sun-burnt backs.

Started May 16, West Virginia Public Broadcasting is airing "Headwaters: Real Stories from Rural America," a new documentary series produced by the Whitesburg, Ky.-based, award-winning media group, Appalshop.

The series, being shown nationwide, runs each Friday through July 11 on WVPBS.

Headwaters runs at 10 p.m. Mondays, June 2 through July28, on KET.

The series tackles a wide array of subjects, including musicians Ethel Caffie-Austin, Hazel Dickens, women’s basketball in Appalachia in the 1920s, grassroots environmental activism, struggles to build sustainable communities in the coalfields and the relationship between media makers and the communities they portray -- shown in the Sundance Film Festival selection, "Stranger with a Camera."

Tonight’s documentary tells the story of southwest Virginia resident and bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley.

No, Stanley doesn’t snack on a six-pack of kids for lunch, but the Grammy Award-winner does spin colorful tales about his life traveling from his beloved Clinch Mountains in Virginia to play bluegrass music around the world.

Steve Fesenmaier, film critic for Graffiti and organizer of the West Virginia Filmmakers Festival held each October in Sutton, says the films are not to be missed.

"People should realize that Appalshop is considered to be one of the world’s best media art centers, and they are a model for people all over the world," Fesenmaier said. "To see our own stories translated into film so well is like having Hollywood in your own back yard."

Anne Lewis, a longtime eastern Kentucky resident now living in Austin, Texas, made four of the nine films and co-produced the series with fellow Appalshop veteran filmmaker Mimi Pickering.

Headwaters on TV

Here’s a schedule for Appalshop’s documentary film series, "Headwaters: Real Stories from Rural America," on West Virginia Public Television. The shows air at 10 p.m. For more info, go online at www.wvpubcast.org. The film series runs at 10 p.m. June 2 through July 28 on KET. Go online at www.ket.org.

Today -- "Ralph Stanley’s Story," a portrait of this Grammy award-winning bluegrass legend and star of the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack, the program explores Stanley’s musical roots in the Clinch Mountains of southwest Virginia.

May 30 -- "Shelter," focusing on the community-based domestic violence project of the Family Refuge Center in Lewisburg, Shelter tells the story of five women from rural West Virginia who try to find safety, freedom and justice.

June 6 -- "His Eye is On the Sparrow: A Portrait of Ethel Caffie Austin," a powerful African-American singer known as West Virginia’s First Lady of Gospel. "Girls Hoops," profiles several recent teams while exploring the history of girls high school basketball in Kentucky starting in the 1920s.

June 13 -- "Rough Side of the Mountain," Documents the "steel ceiling" encountered by many poor rural communities as they struggle to develop new economies in hard-hit areas.

June 20 -- "To Save the Land and People," A history of the early grassroots efforts to stop strip mining in eastern Kentucky, the program makes a powerful statement about the land and how we use it, and how its misuse conflicts with local culture and values.

June 27 -- "Hazel Dickens: It’s Hard to Tell the Singer From the Song," from the coalfields of West Virginia to the factories of Baltimore, this National Heritage Fellow has lived the songs she sings, fashioning from her experiences a gritty country music that speaks of hard work, hard times and hardy souls.

July 4 -- "Coal Bucket Outlaw," built around a day in the life of a Kentucky coal truck driver, the program gives Americans a direct look at where our energy comes from, and reveals the human and environmental price we pay for our national addiction to fossil fuels. "Applewise," third generation family farmers struggle to make a living from a small orchard in an era of a global economy.

July 11 -- "Stranger with a Camera," An encore presentation of this award-winning exploration of the relationship between media makers and the communities they portray in their work.

On the Web

www.appalshop.org/
headwaters

"I think it is important that we say that what goes on in our region is national and it is important," Lewis said by phone. "We don’t get that exploitation that the ‘Real Beverly Hillbillies’ would be. This is a decent and positive look at people in the region."

That said, the series doesn’t whitewash hard realities, Lewis said, but tries to paint an accurate portrayal of people.

"To Save the Land and People" tells the history of the 1960s and 70s movement in eastern Kentucky to abolish strip mining.

Lewis said they tell the story of coffin maker and environmental activist Dan Gibson from Hindman, Ky. Arrested for his grassroots activism, Gibson was once released from jail after folks from Hindman came to break him out.

"Look at eastern Kentucky and you know the movement was not particularly successful," Lewis said. "But the film honors the people who fought really hard to save their land. There are some wonderful people in there who have passed on. That makes it, I think, not depressing."

The first "Headwaters" series six years ago was shown on 33 PBS stations (including some statewide systems).

This time around, "Headwaters" is getting similar widespread acceptance.

Available for satellite download in February, the Headwaters series has been picked up by 25 PBS stations nationwide, including four statewide networks in Alabama, Wyoming, South Dakota and North Dakota.

Lewis asks that any displaced Appalachian natives who would like to see moving films about home, call their local PBS affiliate and ask that the series be shown.

Lewis said it is important too that Appalachian filmmakers explore their own complex communities.

"I have always felt that people should make their own films," Lewis said. "There is no reason this day and age that can’t happen. Although the resources to make films gets worse and worse, the access to technology is wonderful. There ought to be an Appalshop in every community."

Fesenmaier, who works at West Virginia Library Commission, says if folks miss a chance to see the films, they can ask their local library to get the films, available through West Virginia’s library loan system.

All made within the past few years, the films, or at least many of them, have been featured at various film festivals around West Virginia, Fesenmaier said.

"Coal Bucket Outlaw" premiered in Charleston at last year’s Flooded Out Film Festival, which raised money for flood victims in southern West Virginia.

"Everybody in West Virginia should see this film because they have to deal with overweight coal trucks every day, and this shows it from the inside," Fesenmaier said. "This shows, very sympathetically, what it is like to make your living hauling coal."

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