By Jonathan Turner
Harriet Beecher Stowe may be well-known as a progressive New Englander, but it's the 19th-century author and social activist's formative years in Cincinnati, Ohio, that will be explored in a new documentary from Moline-based Fourth Wall Films.
Through their fiscal sponsor, Friends of the Harriet Beecher Stowe House, Kelly and Tammy Rundle of Fourth Wall have received a grant for $19,099 from the Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of The National Endowment for the Humanities, for their new documentary “Harriet Beecher Stowe: Her Transformative Ohio Years.”
Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was an author best known for her popular anti-slavery novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” who was born and died in Connecticut, but lived in Cincinnati between 1832 and 1850.
“We are eager to begin production in Ohio and on the East Coast, interviewing authors, historians and scholars about Harriet and her young, influential years in Cincinnati,” producer Tammy Rundle said in the release. Her husband, Kelly Rundle, will direct the documentary.
“Harriet Beecher Stowe: Her Transformative Ohio Years” is slated for release in late 2019.
This new documentary — their 12th — will complement Fourth Wall's soon-to-be released docudrama “Sons & Daughters of Thunder,” which tells the true story of the Lane Seminary rebels and the first public debates of the abolition of slavery to take place in the United States.
Young Harriet Beecher Stowe's father was the president of the seminary. The debates awakened her to the horrific realities of slavery, turned her into an abolitionist, and set her on to writing "Uncle Tom's Cabin." A Cincinnati world premiere of “Sons & Daughters of Thunder” is planned for the 185th anniversary of the Lane debates, in February 2019.
A special Quad-Cities screening is tentatively planned for early 2019 on the Putnam Giant Screen in Davenport.
Friends of the Harriet Beecher Stowe House is a nonprofit founded in 2006, committed to assuring that the place and importance of the Lane Theological Seminary and the Beecher and Stowe families is perpetuated and shared, according to the release.
Based on a play by Earlene Hawley and Curtis Heeter, “Sons & Daughters of Thunder” tells the true story of the beginning of the end of slavery in America. In 1834, “if polite discussions about abolishing slavery were considered inappropriate among Americans in Northern states, then 18 days of public student-sponsored debates on the divisive subject at Lane Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio (a border community) were scandalous,” Fourth Wall's release said.
“Uncle Tom's Cabin" was described by President Abraham Lincoln as the book that started the Civil War, and the novel “changed the course of American history by turning public sentiment in favor of abolition,” the release said.
The film was shot at historic sites including the historic Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Cincinnati; Augustana College's House on the Hill and Karpeles Manuscript Museum in Rock Island, the Jenny Lind Chapel in Andover, and Dillon Home Museum in Sterling. The majority of the actors and crew are from the Q-C area.
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