Meet the Filmmaker: Paula Orndoff
“How Sweet the Sound”
Date: Thursday, March 12, 2015
Location: NY NATAS, 1375 Broadway (between 37th and 38th Streets), Suite 2103
Reception: 6:00-6:30 PM ~ Program: 6:30-8:00 PM
*Free to NY NATAS Members! $15 for those without current NY NATAS membership.
Produced & Moderated by Sumner Jules Glimcher.
How Sweet The Sound is, essentially, a documentary film about music, Appalachian Gospel music. At the end of the Friday evening service, a few of the parishioners from the little Scrabble Creek Pentecostal Holiness church in Gauley Bridge – a little river town in West Virginia – have gone, instruments in hand, directly over to the Pastor’s house for another hour or two of singing and playing gospel music…. self-trained and unrehearsed, they move from one song to the next, many of which they have written and composed. But to regard these casual gatherings as little more than evenings of joyful music is to misunderstand the cultural significance of who they are and the music they play. These are members of the Holiness Church, a serpent-handling church, a religious Pentecostal sect, established a hundred years ago; and it is out of that religion – a religion that many experts believe may be disappearing - that the music, linked to a vanishing Appalachian way of life, has come. This is coal-mining country. Michael Lanham, the pastor of the church was a coal miner. His father, a coal miner, died in the mines. His brother, aged 27, died in the mines. Life is hard, uncertain. But there is a religion to hold fast to, to believe in. And the music itself is fundamental, essential to a cultural understanding of the Holiness Church, the Serpent-handling church, as it is popularly called. The music they compose they regard as God-given; a gift from God. To have learned their instruments was, again, a gift from God. And the music they now play is, in their beliefs, a tribute and a testimony to the Lord and basic to the role of the church. “Music”, Pastor Lanham observes, “is the heart of the church. Without music,” he concludes very simply, “it wouldn’t be church to me.” Co-Director Morten Parker, who passed away in May, 2014 at age 94, was a distinguished film director, writer and producer with some fifty documentary and narrative films to his credit. Among his more notable awards and citations were two Academy Award nominations; First Prize, Venice Film Festival; Four CINE Golden Eagle Awards; First Prizes and Film of the Year Awards, Canadian Film Awards; First Prize, Associated Film Writers Competition; Golden Sheaf Awards, Best Drama, Best Direction; Robert Flaherty Film Award; etc., etc. Co-Director Paula Orndoff has worked at Hallmark Entertainment - at that time the world’s largest producer and distributor of television movies and mini-series - under the aegis of David Picker, on half a dozen movies and mini-series, Turner Broadcasting and Discovery Communications. She has worked as producer, director, cinematographer, camera, editor, etc. on numerous independent projects.
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