In August two filmmakers commissioned by Arte TV, French-German public TV, filmed three days each in Leverett, MA and in Whitesburg, KY to document the work of Hands Across the Hills (HATH) to bridge divides in America. The 52-minute documentary will also feature Columbus, Ohio, filmed in spring 2018, and will include interviews with prominent Americans, both Republican and Democratic. The tentative title of the film is: The Split Soul of America -- Is America Hopelessly Divided?
The documentary will broadcast in Europe just before the U.S. mid-term elections, to an audience estimated at over ten million. HATH is working with the filmmakers to obtain an English version to show in the U.S.
"Europeans are extremely interested in what is happening in America," say filmmaker Jorg Daniel Hissen, who goes by the name Daniel, lives in Hamburg, Germany and has an impressive list of international documentaries to his credit (see http://www.riversidefilm.de/). When in Leverett in mid-August the filmmakers filmed a dialogue circle of HATH members, as well as taking in sights, meeting town officials and interviewing several HATH members.
The two Germans drove to Whitesburg where they spent another three days. Paula Green and Sharon Dunn of Leverett also traveled to Whitesburg to connect with HATH's Kentucky partners. They joined the filmmakers as they documented an active coal processing plant at the Deane mine, did interviews and filmed another dialogue circle at Hemphill Community Center in the coal camp town Neon. Ben Fink, organizer for Appalshop, chose Hemphill deliberately because that was where Jay Frost's original invitation to partner with Leverett was read by Appalshop's Culture Hub gathering in late summer 2017.
Photos, Top: Herby Smith, himself a Kentucky filmmaker, talks about the closed Sapphire coal processing plant with Daniel Hissen and Paula Green; Bottom: Paula Green and the filmmakers from Germany at overlook of eastern Kentucky mountains.