Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Warner Historical Society releases documentary

[Received this press release from our friend George Packard in Warner, NH about an upcoming screening of his new documentary.]

WARNER, NH--The Warner Historical Society will host the premier screening of its two-hour documentary movie, "This Morning Broke Clear: Warner, N.H. in the Wake of the Civil War, 1860-1900" at 7:00 p.m., Saturday, April 19, in the Warner Town Hall. Admission is free.

The movie is based on material from the historical society's extensive archives, including letters, diaries, photographs, newspaper and magazine articles and town reports and records. It was produced and filmed in Warner with the help of dozens of community volunteers and features Mary Morris, a Warner stage director and actor, as narrator. More than two dozen Warner residents contributed as voice-over actors. The theme music for the movie is by Warner composer Paul Knudson, and incidental music is by Warner area musicians and other New Hampshire performers.

The movie was written and directed by George Packard, a Warner movie maker. Rebecca Courser, executive director of the Warner Historical Society, served as the Research Director, and Marcia Blaine Schmidt, a professor at Plymouth State University, was the consulting historian and Project Humanist.

The project began in 2005 with a budget of $25,000 as a community arts project to produce a documentary movie which would tell the story of Warner and its people from the end of the Civil War to the turn of the century, 1860-1900.

The three decades following the Civil War was one of the most dynamic periods in the town's existence, and in many ways mirrored the profound changes that swept through other small towns across New England.

During these 40 years Warner built a high school, a library, founded one of the best annual agricultural fairs in the region, established social and civic organizations for the betterment of its citizens, and built a rich cultural and artistic life.

But like small towns across New England, Warner also struggled year after year against a faltering farm economy and three national economic depressions. The town attempted to reinvent itself as a center of tourism and small manufacturing during the 1870s and 1880s, but those efforts were challenged at almost every step by a dwindling population, increasing numbers of abandoned farms, falling property values, hotel and factory fires, economic downturns and business failures. Bitter political rivalries, a staggering debt left over from the Civil War and allegations of fraud and dirty tricks in the town hall persisted through the 1890s. Even so, Warner moved forward.

And if anything, the sense of identity, spirit and character of the town grew stronger and stronger, becoming, in an uncanny way, the basis for the Warner we live in today.

The Warner Historical Documentary Movie Project is a community effort with initial funding from the NH Charitable Foundation, NH Council on the Arts, the Warner Fall Foliage Festival and the NH Humanities Council. Major underwriting support to date is provided by Sugar River Savings, Warner Power, Warner Men's Club, the Margaret Courser Trust, Dick & Alice Violette,, the Payson Family, Clark and Jan Lindley, Phil Reeder, the Nancy Sibley Wilkins Trust, and others. Additional funding has been provided by more than 80 individuals and local businesses and organizations.

The movie is available for screening. DVDs can be purchased for $19.95.

For more information please contact contact George Packard: