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NEA Heritage Fellows Documentary Premieres September 15

Monday, August 21, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rosalind V. Rini Larson
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Documentary Arts announces the premiere of Extraordinary Ordinary Peoplea film tribute to 35 years of the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, the nation’s highest honor for folk and traditional artists. Director Alan Govenar has documented the lives and artistry of the Heritage Fellows for decades through books, radio series, exhibitions, films, videos, and interactive media.

Distributed by First Run Features, Extraordinary Ordinary People (84 min.) opens September 15 and 16 at Cinema Village, 22 E. 12th St., New York City. Alan Govenar will introduce the film, which will be followed by conversation and performances by Heritage Fellows Sheila Kay Adams, renowned for her Appalachian ballad singing and narrator of the film, and Sidiki Conde, a remarkable dancer and drummer of NYC. These special evenings begin at 8pm. Buy tickets at, adults $12; seniors, students, and children $8.

In the film, viewers learn the history of the Heritage Fellows through voices of the dozens of musicians and craftspeople who have won it and NEA folklorists who crafted this honor. Alan Govenar, who has interviewed and comprehensively documented many Heritage Fellows, notes, “My relationships with so many gifted artists from diverse cultures across the U.S. have enriched my vision and motivated me to make their stories more broadly known.” A longtime partner of Documentary Arts, Local Learning, is celebrating 25 years as a network of folklorists, folk artists, and educators dedicated to integrating traditional culture and folk arts into the nation’s education. Founding director Paddy Bowman extols the Heritage Fellows as master teachers. Lead author of the education guide on the extensive multimedia Documentary Arts website Masters of Traditional Arts, she said, “These more than 400 artists have dedicated themselves to ensuring their art forms are passed along to younger generations. Their passion for their traditions inherently embraces educating others.”

Other events in Washington, DC, will celebrate the 36th anniversary, including a ceremony inducting 2017 Heritage Fellows September 14 and the annual Heritage Fellows concert September 15. To learn more, visit the NEA website. See the trailer and learn show times on the First Run Features website. The film runs at Cinema Village through September 21.

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