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Thank you again to our 154 supporters. We are very pleased to announce the campaign reached over $10,000 with on and offline donations. We're looking forward to the next phase of post-production and will be in touch very soon!
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I've been logging and reviewing footage the past few weeks. Ellen and I have both been blogging to keep the project visible. its becoming clearer to me how this film can become part of a larger dialog about environment and land use. I see various themes starting to emerge -- The shift around 1735 that increased tensions between Native American (Indian) and non-Indian folks, the emergence of this town into an official 'place' sometime at the begining of the 1800s, The love that people have for this location that keeps them coming back or remaining when it's no longer financially viable to sustain industry here. It becomes a vacation haven for city dwellers, summer healing camps for tubercular children and permanent residence for many locals with family ties going back several generations. When the news of fracking -- another incursion in a list of several that date back through the past few decades-- tensions in the area have risen. Who might be leasing their land ? Who is resisting ? City dwellers vs. long time residents. Economic boom vs long time impact. In the background the whole time:The River a constant presence and character throughout.
About the Project
River is Remembering is a meditative documentary that asks: What does it mean to own the land?
The story of this film is told through the portraiture of Lordville, a small New York town on the Upper Delaware River that is filled with ghosts. In 1848 it became a stop on the Erie Railroad. by the turn of the 20th century it was a boomtown. But after several catastrophic floods and the decline of the logging industry, it slowly eroded. Lordville's grand, old edifices have been abandoned by their owners and the land has begun to reclaim them.
Ten years ago I stumbled upon Lordville while riding my bicycle. I turned down a country road, came around a bend and found myself crossing the Delaware River. The bridge spit me out in front of the Alva Lord mansion, a classic ruin at the entrance to Lordville.
About a year later, I bought a house here, and this is where our story begins...
"Haunting is a Ghost trying to remember..." Ain Gordon
The first thing I was handed when I signed the papers to close on my house was a land survey map and a deed from 1867. The survey map had an odd graphic shape representing an outline of my property. The deed linked me to a chain of people who came before me and lived where I was now living.
I needed to feel my land through that shape. By tracing it I was reaching out for those people were, who were here before me. I walked the boundary lines of my property and sat down, and felt the ghosts--not just the ones described in the local myths, but also those who were actual historical question marks...whose tracks had been erased. I realized that recorded history, like my deed, is not the whole story.
Owning land is like having a relationship with a living being. When we walk over the land we push against it and it pushes against us. As we live and move and breathe on the land the land absorbs our imprints.
When the owners of the house I live in sold me their property, they said they'd had several offers, but they chose me because they felt I would look after it. For me, ownership is stewardship and stewardship involves really understanding the land and what, and who, happened upon it. This film begins the day I bought this land and as it unfolds it will use the landscape of Lordville to uncover its layered history.
Even though there's almost no industry left in the town, a few loyal locals choose to remain and make this place their home.
What's Done | What's Left
Last summer I conducted several key interviews with town locals Boris and Constantine, Russian immigrants who settled in Lordville because they were charmed by the ghosts. I also filmed environmental scientist Tom Wessels (Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England) reading the landscape behind my house. I've also gathered archival photographs and video and shot steadicam and underwater footage that showcases the eccentric beauty of the Lordville landscape.
With the money I raise for this next round of shooting, I’ll be talking with Sheila Spencer Stover, a Native American geneaologist who traces the lineage of the founders back to a Native American woman, Betia Van Dunk. I’ll also be talking to a few more locals who share their scrapbooks, contest the Native American ties, and talk about why they remain here. Funding will go towards the costs of production including crew salaries, travel and lodging for shooting, as well as post-production and editing fees.
River is Remembering is not your typical, issue driven documentary, but it's very much an environmental film. At a moment where we're rapidly industrializing the landscape, it's vital to reflect on our relationship to land, its history, how we use it, and our body's connection to it.
Lordville beckons! Come visit the mannequins of Lordville, walk the famed Lordville Bridge, have your brainwaves recircuited towards bliss as you breathe in the fresh air of the Upper Delaware River Valley. The boat or swim entry point is less than a city block from the house. Watch the eagles from your kayak, or take a swim in the Delaware, one of the cleanest river waterways in the country, and drinking water source for 17 million across New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
One lucky big supporter will receive a weekend stay for two at this retreat house on the Delaware River. Offer available for the first supporter who contributes at the $500 level or over. Be prepared to use this offer within 3 months from the end of the campaign.