February 2, 2016 | The Winding Stream | Greenvale, NY
Yesterday I flew into JFK from Portland, Oregon to begin screening my film, The Winding Stream – The Carters, the Cashes and the Course of Country Music as one of the selections on the On Screen/In Person tour. The film tells the story of this foundational family at the heart of country music and their influence on generations of musicians.
Long Island University’s Tilles Center for the Performing Arts was the first stop on the tour and it is a gorgeous venue. A gallery of black and white photos on the Center’s perimeter suggests its prestigious history: everyone from Wynton Marsalis to Lily Tomlin to Bernadette Peters to Zubin Mehta to Natalie Cole to Yo-Yo Ma to James Taylor have played here. Perhaps not coincidentally in a few weeks the Center will welcome Rosanne Cash who figures prominently in The Winding Stream.
It’s a thrill to know your film will cosmically rub shoulders with the greats.
The audience tonight was engaged and inquisitive. People asked about the genesis of the project (answer: I had made a previous music documentary about women rockabilly singers that lead me down the path to the Carter Family as a topic), about why it took so long to make the film (short answer: extreme challenges finding the necessary funding), and whether I was going to make more music documentaries (short answer: I’d like to. Except for the part about raising money).
But the most interesting question of the night was one that spurred an interesting discussion: “Why couldn’t members of the family – presumably people with some resources – fund the film?” And I explained something that is often lost in our market-driven entertainment field. Documentaries are journalism and accepting money from our subjects is a conflict of interest.
This came as a surprise for some folks and I was glad for the opportunity to underscore this tenet of documentary ethics.
Tomorrow I fly to Newport News, Virginia in advance of our next screening Thursday, February 4 at Christopher Newport University’s Ferguson Center for the Arts.
Post by On Screen/In Person touring filmmaker Beth Harrington.