Moundsville was a dream that Dave Bernabo and I had to tell an inclusive story about America after the 2016 election. We got a small grant from Pittsburgh Arts Council and spent 2018 traveling to Moundsville, shooting and editing. From start to finish, it was a two-man job. The film got great reviews, and we spent much of 2019 promoting and screening the movie everywhere from Moundsville itself and WVU in Morgantown to America Magazine in New York and United Steelworkers in Pittsburgh, and talking and writing about it. This blog, with stories on George Brett, Lady Gaga and Brad Paisley (all with roots near Moundsville), economic development, Appalachian books, characters in the movie, and much else, attracted a following of over 50,000 unique visitors and 65,000 views.
We weren’t sure what would happen next. Last month, we got a call from Angee Simmons, the new director of content at NETA, an organization that supplies 338 PBS stations around the country. Moundsville, she said, was in a stack submitted almost a year ago. It had fallen through the cracks. But she had watched it and loved it, and now she wanted to screen it on PBS.
Finally, we had a next. It’s not clear how many stations will pick it up, and how many people will watch it over the next three years. It could be hundreds of stations and millions of people. Or zero. But I’m beyond thrilled and proud that our little project is finally entering the big ring, and will have a shelf life in the culture of this country ahead of the 2020 election. Simply, I hope it helps people understand and listen to each other better.
Below, I’m pasting the full press release that’s going out to media this week.
John W. Miller
MOUNDSVILLE ACQUIRED BY PBS DISTRIBUTOR NETA
– SCREEN ON UP TO 338 PBS STATIONS OVER NEXT THREE YEARS
– PLAY FOR AS MANY AS 100 MILLION VIEWERS
– AVAILABLE ON PBS YOUTUBE CHANEL
– AHEAD OF 2020 ELECTION, MOUNDSVILLE STIMULATES BETTER CONVERSATIONS AROUND ECONOMICS & POLITICS
– “FRESH AND VALUABLE” – JAMES FALLOWS, THE ATLANTIC
PITTSBURGH, PA– The National Educational Telecommunications Association and filmmakers David Bernabo and John W. Miller have reached an agreement to distribute the feature documentary film Moundsville to 338 PBS stations around the country over the next three years. The film will be cut to 57 minutes from 74 minutes and close-captioned to suit PBS standards.
Moundsville is the biography of a classic American town, Moundsville, WV, told through the voices of residents. It’s a Trump-supporting town, but there is no mention of Trump or any other national political leader in the film. The story told is a bigger one, from the native American mound the town is named after, to the arrival of the world’s biggest toy factory, to an economy based on Wal-Mart and fracking and a new generation figuring it all out. The goal of the film is affirm the community-building and healing value of shared narrative.
After premiering in Moundsville in December, 2018, the film in 2019 was distributed online, on Vimeo, and screened publicly in New York City, Pittsburgh, and various locations in West Virginia.
“Moundsville is an excellent addition to our catalog,” says NETA vice president for content Angee Simmons. “NETA’s program service celebrates local voices and stories from all corners of our country.”
Moundsville “just happens to be home to my favorite childhood toy, The Big Wheel, and unbeknownst to me the largest indigenous burial mound in the country,” says Simmons. “But more importantly is told with a lot of heart from the people who call it home. After watching, I knew I wanted to share it with public television audiences.”
“We’re thrilled to find a wider audience for Moundsville,” says co-director John W. Miller. “We want to share the story of a place in a way that affirms the dignity and purpose of all communities in this country, free of the poison of national politics and propaganda.”
Miller and Bernabo filmed Moundsville in 2018 with a grant from Pittsburgh Arts Council
For more information or receive a digital copy of the film, contact John W. Miller on 412-298-0391 or firstname.lastname@example.org
John W. Miller
John W. Miller is an award-winning journalist with over 20 years experiences in print, radio, TV and film. As a foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, Miller reported from 45 countries and covered global mining and global trade, elections, trade negotiations, the World Cup and Tour de France. Miller has also reported and written for Time, America, Heated, NPR, Buzzfeed, the Baltimore Sun, and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and serves as chief economic analyst of Trade Data Monitor. Moundsville is his first movie.
David Bernabo is a filmmaker, musician, dancer, visual artist, and writer, performing with the bands Host Skull, Watererer, and How Things Are Made; devising dances with his variable dance company, MODULES; and often collaborating with Maree ReMalia | merrygogo. He curates and produces work for the Ongoing Box imprint and co-curates the Lightlab Performance Series with slowdanger. Bernabo’s films have screened at the On Art Film Festival, JFilm Festival, Re:NEW Festival, Afronaut(a) Film Club, the Foodable Film Festival, and on WQED’s Filmmakers Corner.
The National Educational Telecommunications Association
The NETA Program Service distributes quality documentaries and specials to 338 public television stations across the country. With our member stations and independent producers as our partners, we celebrate diverse voices and unique perspectives representing every state in the country and share those stories with a national audience.