September 15, 2016 | Sweet Dreams | Lewisburg, WV
“With few resources but a determination to succeed, the women did just that.”
I drove from Lancaster, PA south through Virginia and into the hills of West Virginia coal country to the small vibrant town of Lewisburg. In addition to being a center of culture and education in rural Greenbriar County, Lewisburg is proud home of Carnegie Hall, one of only three such named buildings in the country. In 1902, Andrew Carnegie was asked to help Lewisburg residents build the hall after a fire destroyed the one before it, which he did. Carnegie Hall is now a thriving cultural center, and on the night of the 15th, it hosted a screening of Sweet Dreams. Before the screening, I was asked to address the Greenbriar Women’s Fund, an organization that raises money for programs to help women in the region. West Virginia women rank near the bottom in health and education in the country, and the Fund is fighting to change that. At a dinner in the local church (the women cooked a traditional Rwandan stew – yum), I spoke about the Rwandan women that we feature in our film, and how they came together to form a successful drumming troupe – breaking the taboo that only men could drum – and then forming a cooperative to open the country’s first and only locally owned ice cream shop. With few resources but a determination to succeed, the women did just that.
Before the film began, a group of young women from nearby Greenbriar Academy performed excellent West African drumming for the audience, to great applause. After the screening, many people asked questions about themes that the film addresses: forgiveness and reconciliation, grass roots entrepreneurship, and the empowerment of women. It was a great discussion and one, I felt, that related to their own community in many ways.
Post by On Screen/In Person touring filmmaker Rob Fruchtman.