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A National Preserve of Documentary Films about American Roots Cultures
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 Celebración del Matrimonio
 
Selected Films

The Films of Bill Ferris

The 73-year-old UNC professor has spent six decades becoming Southern culture's chief documentarian. Equally at home on Mississippi state work farms or in college lecture halls, Bill Ferris has broken some of America's biggest racial divides to collect tales of a sometimes-hidden history.

The Films of Bill Ferris

The 73-year-old UNC professor has spent six decades becoming Southern culture's chief documentarian. Equally at home on Mississippi state work farms or in college lecture halls, Bill Ferris has broken some of America's biggest racial divides to collect tales of a sometimes-hidden history.

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Black Delta Religion
This film was made from b/w Super 8mm footage that William Ferris gathered in rural Mississippi in 1968. The film includes footage from rural church services and a full immersion baptism.
Religion, African American Culture / South / 1973
14 minutes | Read More | Preview

Fannie Bell Chapman: Gospel Singer
Film of the singer/faith healer and folk artist Fannie Bell Chapman from Centreville, Mississippi. Footage includes Chapman and her family singing and praying during church services and at home, a healing service at the Chapman home, and Chapman "speaking in tongues" after healing.
Healing & Medicine, Religion, Women, African American Culture / South / 1975
42 minutes | Read More | Preview

Give My Poor Heart Ease: Mississippi Delta Bluesmen
A 1975 account of the blues experience through the recollections and performances of B.B. King, James "Son" Thomas, Shelby "Poppa Jazz" Brown, James "Blood" Shelby, Cleveland "Broom Man" Jones, and inmates from Parchman prison.
Music, African American Culture / South / 1975
21 minutes | Read More | Preview

Gravel Springs Fife and Drum
Othar Turner, a fife-maker and musician, owns his farm in the Gravel Springs community in northwest Mississippi. The rhythmical music he and his friends play is called "fife and drum." A 1971 film by Bill Ferris, Judy Peiser, and David Evans from the Center for Southern Folklore.
Arts & Crafts, Traditional, Customs, Music, African American Culture / South / 1972
10 minutes | Read More | Preview

Hush Hoggies Hush: Tom Johnson's Praying Pigs

Meet Tom Johnson and his praying pigs. "Been fooling with them hogs for 35 long years," Johnson says in the film as he rocks on the porch of his modest residence near Bentonia, Mississippi. "It's just an idea that I took up. It's a play thing. And it put me into something that I didn't get out of too easy and so soon."

Religion, Rural Life, African American Culture / South / 1978
04 minutes | Read More | Preview

I Ain't Lying: Folktales from Mississippi
16mm color documentary based on fieldwork William Ferris conducted with African American storytellers and bluesmen in the communities of Leland and Rose Hill, Mississippi. The stories include include folk and religious tales, jokes, toast telling sessions, and characters from African American oral tradition.
Music, Narrative & Verbal Arts, Work, African American Culture / South / 1975
22 minutes | Read More | Preview

Made in Mississippi: Black Folk Art and Crafts
A 1975 Bill Ferris film that features artists from a number of different craft traditions discussing and demonstrating their work, including quilting, sculpting, house building, and basketmaking. Artists in the film include James "Son" Thomas, Shelby "Poppa Jazz" Brown, Richard Foster, Othar Turner, Louise Williams, Esther Criss, Leon Clark, Amanda Gordon, Mary Gordon, Lester Willis.
Arts & Crafts, Traditional, African American Culture / South / 1975
18 minutes | Read More | Preview

Mississippi Delta Blues

From 1968 to 1970, Bill Ferris travelled from farms, to jooks to homes collecting music he felt best expressed the richness of the Mississippi Delta.

Arts & Crafts, Traditional, Music, African American Culture / South / 1974
18 minutes | Read More | Preview

Parchman Penitentiary
William Ferris's 1969 movie of singing and preaching in the Mississippi State Penitentiary. Shot on B&W 8-mm film. Ferris added the recorded sound later, and it is not in complete sync.
Music, Religion, Work, African American Culture / South / 1969
18 minutes | Read More

Ray Lum: Mule Trader
Ray Lum (1891--1977) was a mule skinner, a livestock trader, an auctioneer, and an American original.
Narrative & Verbal Arts, Work, Agriculture / South / 1972
18 minutes | Read More | Preview

Sonny Ford, Delta Artist
B/w 16mm documentary film based on fieldwork Ferris conducted with Leland, Mississippi, bluesman and folk artist James "Son" Thomas. Included is footage of Thomas performing at juke houses, his wife preparing dinner, and Thomas making skulls out of clay.
Music, Family, Rural Life, African American Culture / South / 1969
41 minutes | Read More | Preview

Two Black Churches

TWO BLACK CHURCHES" is based on fieldwork Bill Ferris conducted at a church in Vicksburg, Mississippi and at a church in New Haven, Conn. Footage includes a full immersion baptism, congregation members and preachers at both churches discussing their call to the faith, and scenes from worship services at both churches. The film contrasts the two approaches to worship at each church.

Music, Religion, African American Culture / South / 1975
19 minutes | Read More | Preview

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