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Science on Screen: SONGCATCHER

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Science on Screen: SONGCATCHER

Part of Science on Screen®.

After being denied a promotion at the university where she teaches, Dr. Lily Penleric, a brilliant musicologist, impulsively visits her sister, who runs a struggling rural school in Appalachia. There she stumbles upon the discovery of her life—a treasure trove of ancient Scots-Irish ballads that have been handed down from generation to generation, preserved intact by the seclusion of the mountains. With the goal of securing her promotion, Lily ventures into the most isolated areas of the mountains to collect the songs and finds herself increasingly enchanted—not only by the rugged purity of the music, but also by the raw courage and endurance of the local people as they carve out meaningful lives against the harshest conditions. It is not, however, until she meets Tom—a handsome, hardened war veteran and talented musician—that she's forced to examine her motivations. Is the "Songcatcher," as Tom insists, no better than the men who exploit the people and extort their land?


SPEAKERS: Film director Maggie Greenwald and ethnomusicologist Langston Wilkins from the Tennessee Arts Commission
TOPIC: A Conversation about Ethnomusicology

About the speakers:
Maggie Greenwald is an independent American writer and director whose most notable films include SOPHIE AND THE RISING SUN (2016), SONGCATCHER (2000) and THE BALLAD OF LITTLE JO (1993). SONGCATCHER premiered in Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won a Special Jury Award for Ensemble Performance. The film received the first Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize, Deauville Film Festival Audience Award, two Independent Spirit Award nominations (for actors Emmy Rossum and Pat Carroll) and a GLAAD Award nomination.

Dr. Langston Collin Wilkins joined the Tennessee Arts Commission in November 2017 as a traditional arts specialist. Prior to that, he worked as a program officer for Humanities Tennessee, where he was primarily responsible for youth-oriented programs. Langston was a Laura Bolton Junior Fellow in the Department of Folklore & Ethnomusicology at Indiana University, where he engaged in research and generated programming related to African American music. He also served as a fellow for the Folklife and Traditional Arts Program of the Houston Arts Alliance and the Houston Museum of African American Culture, where he conducted field work and produced public programs that centered on the traditional arts of Houston’s African Diasporic communities. Langston also co-founded the Houston Slab Parade & Family Festival, art car culture that emerged within Houston, Texas’ African American community.

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