Wednesday, April 08, 2009

'Appalachia' series starts on PBS tomorrow night

Advance reviews are good for "Appalachia," the four-part documentary that premieres on PBS tomorrow night. They began more than a year ago, after the late Rudy Abramson saw the film. Abramson and his co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Appalachia, Jean Haskell, wrote then, "The filmmakers, Ross Spears and Jamie Ross, have broken the mold and produced an entirely new kind of film . . . that not only warms the heart, but exudes authority, credibility and powerful insight."

More recently, from Appalachia's largest city, Diana Nelson Jones of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that the series is "engrossing and beautifully filmed and illustrated," and concluded, "Few documentaries give equal time to species other than the human to explain a history. This one does. It gives first billing, though, to the mountains themselves -- the "soul and spine" of a people as diverse as any but bound by a heart tug for "home" that's all about being an underdog who knows a superior beauty."

Ross and Spears say on the film's Web site that they have produced "the first environmental history series ever made." That means it explores "the intersection of natural history and human history in one of America’s grandest treasures." (Ross is a member of the advisory board of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, which was co-founded by Abramson and Al Smith, former federal co-chairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission.) Ross told Rich Copley of the Lexington Herald-Leader, "Rich landscapes produce rich cultures, and that's what you see in Appalachia. Where Appalachia is troubled is where the land has been plundered, exploited and denigrated." (Read more)

The film is narrated by actress Sissy Spacek, who lives in the Great Smoky Mountains and played Loretta Lynn in "Coal Miner's Daughter," a classic Appalachian film. "She said the most moving part of the narration was reading the names of 20 or 30 of the 470 mountains lost" in the Cumberland Plateau section of the region's coalfield to mountaintop-removal strip mining, wrote David Bauder of The Associated Press.

1 comment:

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