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 Tom Davenport filming Bertha Landis for A Singing Stream (1986)

PineCone teamed up with Davenport Films and Folkstreams to produce a sequel to the 1986 award winning film A Singing Stream: A Black Family Chronicle, which was funded by the NEA and shown nationally on PBS as a "Black History Month" special in the late 1980s. The new film will be an hour-long documentary examining the cultural shifts that have affected the Landis family and their rural community of Creedmoor, NC, over the past 25 years since the first film.

Photo: Tom Davenport filming Bertha Landis for A Singing Stream (1986)

A Singing Stream personalized American history by exploring social and cultural changes through the lives of a musical family in Granville County, North Carolina--the Landises. With interviews and stories, and scenes from daily life, reunions, gospel concerts, and church services, the 16-mm film traced the history of the family over the lifetime of its oldest and most influential member, Bertha M. Landis, who was born in 1898 and was in her 80s when the film was made. Mrs. Landis passed down a cultural heritage of gospel singing, religious faith, and civic responsibility to her eight boys and three girls. The experiences of this farming family represent the broader history of many 20th-century African-Americans with family roots in the rural South.

Bertha Landis lived to be 102. Of her 11 children, only two survive today. But her 27 grandchildren and her great-grandchildren include college graduates, ministers and business people working for banks and insurance companies in Durham, Raleigh, and the Research Triangle Park, a center for high-tech and suburban growth. The Landis family has managed to cling to the autonomy of the land and home obtained more than half-a-century ago with a New Deal loan. Although they no longer farm, many still live around the old homeplace on Horseshoe Road near Creedmoor. They are still leaders in their local church, still singing in choirs and gospel quartets, and still holding their annual family reunion.

The new film will use interviews and footage shot in the family members' daily lives and important events to explore how the Landises are dealing with changes in their home community, and how/why they are actively pursuing ways to preserve and perpetuate their family's legacy of music making. Unlike the first film, the sequel will be a collaborative filmmaking effort involving Tom Davenport (who produced the first film) as the executive producer and select members of the Landis family as co-producers. They will share roles in the decision-making, planning, production and editing of the film. Upon completion, the family will share the copyrights to the film with Folkstreams and the rights to reproduce the film in DVD format. The new film will also be made available on the folkstreams.net website. PineCone will organize free educational forums in the Creedmoor community to engage/inform the public locally about the project.

Supplemental background and educational materials will also be created with the film. Dan Patterson wrote a booklet of background materials related to the original film, the family, the region, and the filmmaking; Beverly Patterson and Paddy Bowman wrote educational guides. These materials will be updated to incorporate information about the sequel. The original information remains available on www.folkstreams.net; the updated information will be available on the site as well. Copies of the film and all the related materials will be made available to the Southern Folklife Collection (SFC) at UNC-Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) for their archives, in addition to being available online through Folkstreams.

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