"Eating Alabama" honored by national James Beard Award!

We were thrilled to learn that "Eating Alabama" has just won the James Beard Award for Best Documentary! The JBF Awards honor not only great restaurants and restaurantuers, but also broadcast media in print, television and film. Glad to be among such a distinguished group of nominees and winners! 


"The Durrs of Montgomery" wins big at the Southeastern Regional Emmys

We were very pleased to learn last week that "The Durrs of Montgomery" picked up three Emmys in Atlanta during the Southeastern Regional Emmy Awards. The film was nominated in four categories - photography, editing, sound design and Best Historical Documentary. The only place we got robbed was in the photography category - and it was indeed a robbery, since Justin's work on the movie was really beautiful. But a hardy congrats to Nick Punch (audio) and Paul Rogers (editing).

If you haven't seen the film, you can watch it for free on APT's Vimeo channel here.

I like to think that Virginia would be pleased. That's my favorite picture of her, sitting in the den at Pea Level, regaling some visitor with stories and theories and admonishments.  


On the road and in the edit suite.

"Eating Alabama" has been making the film festival circuit rounds for the past year. It's been great to share the movie with different audiences throughout the country. We've picked up some great reviews and some awards too! Check out the "Eating Alabama" website to see more and read about our various screenings. But it wasn't just screening the film that dominated last year - I also finished shooting and editing "The Durrs of Montgomery" for Alabama Public Television. The crew and I delivered the movie in June and it's been playing regularly on APT. We had a wonderful screening of the film at the Capri in Montgomery, with lots of Cliff and Virginia's friends in attendance. And I shared the film with the Southern Historical Association Conference too back in November. You can watch the entire movie for free on Vimeo! 

Next up I'll be working on the interactive documentary "After the Storm" for ITVS Interactive. And I'll have an announcement in the coming months about the next feature documentary project. Suffice it to say, I'm getting very excited about starting another film. And, if the movies weren't enough, I've started another class at UA called "Anatomy of a Trial." We're soliciting applications from UA students and will begin teaching in the fall. Stay tuned for more info about that one, too!


"Eating Alabama" at SXSW

I'm very pleased to announce that "Eating Alabama" will finally have its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin in March! Four years in the making, I don't know that I had a very good idea of what this day would feel like. But now that it's finally here, I'm thrilled! I have to keep this feeling in mind when I'm in the middle of those dark nights of the soul making a film... Hope to see you in Austin!


Some recent production stills

I'm busy working on a documentary about the lives of Clifford and Virginia Durr for Alabama Public Television. In the past few months, my cinematographer Justin Gaar and I have traveled around the south to film interviews with a variety of Southern historians. The story of the Durrs is a remarkable one, and I'm excited to be working on a film about such principled and admirable Southerners. They represent a kind of transformation narrative that has all the hallmarks of an engaging and emotional drama. It's likely that you've never heard of the Durrs, so if you're interested you can read Cliff's Wikipedia entry here and Virginia's here.

In doing research the past few months and reading their letters and other writing, I've come to identify with them both, but especially with Virginia. Moving back to Montgomery in the early 50s, Cliff and Virginia quickly found themselves involved in the early stirrings of what would become the Civil Rights Movement. Writing to a friend about her feelings on returning South, Virginia said, "The only time I like it is when I'm trying to change it." I've certainly felt that way myself from time to time...

I've started a Twitter account for the film where I'll be periodically posting quotes from Cliff or Virginia and occassional updates on production. Please follow along if you'd like @Virginia_Durr. Incidentally, you can follow me on Twitter @andrewebeckgrace 

Interviewing Clay Carson, Memphis

Tearing apart a hotel room for the interview...The legal historian Laura Edwards at her home in Chapel Hill.

The dean of Southern history, Dan Carter, at his home outside Brevard, North Carolina.

Justin shooting on a dolly in Wilson Library, UNC.The original oral history interview tapes from Virginia Durr, 1974