Announcement

Professors Jesse Drew and Glenda Drew Participate in Radical Film Network Conference

Filmmakers and professors Glenda Drew (of Design) and Jesse Drew (of Cinema and Digital Media) will participate in the Radical Film Network Conference in Madrid, Spain, June 19-22. The filmmakers will give a presentation “Exploring the Archive to Reclaim the Radical Heart of US Country Music” in conjunction with their documentary about the roots of American Country Music titled Open Country

In recent years, country music has increased in popularity and continues to cross-over into many other forms of popular music like Rock and Hip-Hop/Rap. Their new film challenges the assumptions many listeners have of country music as a form of right-wing/conservative music. The film is a journey into the roots of American country music, reclaiming it as the creative musical expression of working people of all colors.

Through archival clips, contemporary interviews and performance, and animation, Open Country repositions country music into its rightful place as a people’s music. The filmmakers consider this archival history as a vital link that reconnects working class people in North America to class struggle and to a shared history of oppressed peoples in general. Through the compiled material, the Drews reconnect country music to many of its hidden influences, from the African-American banjo, to the Hawaiian lap-steel guitar, from Swiss yodelers, to Scots-Irish coal miners, and beyond.

A particular contribution Open Country makes challenges the very notion of what country music is, and shows its emergence on the stage as contingent upon McCarthyism and the anti-communist hysteria of the 1950s in the USA. Uncovering the archives of the music industry reveals solid evidence of a country music that was not afraid to stand up for the rights of the poor and the dispossessed. 

The Radical Film Network was founded in 2013 when a group of activists, academics, filmmakers and programmers involved in radical film culture in Britain met to discuss the ways in which they could work together to support its development, growth and sustainability. Since then, the RFN has grown rapidly, and now consists of more than 200 organizations from forty countries around the world: from artists’ studios and production collectives to archives, co-ops, distributors, film festivals and exhibition venues, as well as a host of other less easily categorised groups and individuals.

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