In 1985 we completed "A Singing Stream: A Black Family Chronicle." Five years in the making, this documentary film was a national PBS special for Black History Month and was widely shown and well reviewed. In the Charlotte Observer Frye Gaillard called it "a little epic." In the Washington Post Richard Harrington wrote, “There is so much song, laughter, love, and genial warmth” in it “that your TV set could very easily overheat.”
The 1985 "Singing Stream: A Black Family Chronicle" was the first film to document twentieth-century African American history through the musical traditions and experiences of one family. The central figure in that film was Bertha Landis, born in 1898, who died in 2000 at the age of 102. Whether making their way from tenant farmers to landowners during the Depression or later migrating northward for jobs or finding new careers through education, the Landises kept their sense of kinship and identity. On “any list of the ingredients of black progress in America,” Frye Gaillard wrote, “there is probably none more important than the historic strength of the extended black family.”
At the invitation of several of Bertha Landis' grandchildren, Tom Davenport, filmmaker and Folkstreams founder, returned to North Carolina, to work with the family and continue its story into the twenty-first century.
The new film—“A Singing Stream: Reunion"—focuses on two groups of grandchildren: the children of Bertha's youngest and only surviving daughter, Priscilla Landis Daniel, who have stayed on and near the home farm in Creedmoor; and the children of Bertha's fourth son, Fleming Landis (d. 2006), who moved to Ohio to work in the tire factories in Akron. The annual family reunion that Bertha Landis helped establish in the 1930s still holds the family together, despite distance and all social and generational changes.
This new project was supported by grants from the Folk and Traditional Arts division of the National Endowment of the Arts. Filming began in 2011 and continued into 2014. This new project was a collaboration of folkstreams.net (a 501c3 non profit) and Pinecone.org (Will Lewis, director). Davenport was helped and advised by Bertha's grandchildren Iverson Landis, Kenneth Daniel, Dennis Daniel, and Efrem Daniel and other Landis family members, with the help too of his old friends and mentors, Barry Dornfeld and folklorists Daniel and Beverly Patterson.
Goals and Needs
We hope North Carolina Public TV can show both films as a two-part special series during the next Black History Month, February 2016. University of North Carolina Public Television (UNC-TV) will broadcast the new film, but only if Folkstreams can bring "Errors and Omissions" insurance, a requirement most public TV stations now set. Errors and Omissions insurance will cost $3,000. For broadcast, we also need to retransfer the old 16-mm film to a state-of-the-art HD 2K video file. That will cost an additional $2,500. We are opening this Kickstarter Campaign in hope of meeting these combined costs of $5500.
The video test below shows the improvement we expect over the existing Colorlab HD transfer...
If the campaign raises more than our $5,500 goal, we will use up to $2,000 to build a media campaign for the films, targeting in particular school and public libraries in North Carolina, and seeking reviews of a DVD in appropriate newspapers. Anything over that amount we will split between Folkstreams and the Landis family reunion scholarship fund.
A donor sending as much as $25 will receive a copy of a DVD with both films, including the new high resolution transfer of the original Singing Stream 16-mm film.
Folkstreams, Inc is a 501c3 non-profit for tax deductions on larger donations.
The following letter in the picture below, is from Rev. Horace Boyer, an Episcopal Minister and Editor of the African American Hymnal Project...
DVD rewards for $25 donations are "home use" only. For $50 donations they come with institutional and public performance rights for schools and libraries.
Risks and challenges
The challenge that this project addresses is one of distribution and dissemination. These films risk being like the tree falling in the woods with no one to hear or see. They can be of great value to individuals and communities, to churches, school and public libraries, and museums, whether local or places like the National Museum of African American History and Culture. With their compelling stories and high production values, they are excellent candidates for broadcast in North Carolina and ultimately all over the nation. We want the legacy of Mrs. Bertha Landis of Creedmoor, N.C., to touch all Americans.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)