Last night the curtain opened on the third edition of the RIC/RVA history event. As we dodged a brief rain, we piled into the cozy theater of the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar. With the highest attendance yet, the night proved to be a proper culmination of the preceding events. This time the focus was on the way our story is told through film. Part humorous, part educational, and wholly enjoyable, this may have been our best event yet.
Our first scene of the night opened on John with a recap of the past three events and a reminder of the goal of the series: to tell a new story of Richmond. Taking what we learned in our poster making and map revamping, the direction of the conversation was starting to shape up nicely. From the stories told in our history books, to that illuminated through our built spaces, the richness and complexity of our fair city has never been fully captured. As John introduced the night’s proceedings it became clear that we had the unique ability to start getting the full story straight; that we could illuminate the innovation, revolution, and drastic change that continues to shape our town.
With a slow fade Bill Martin of the Valentine Richmond History Center took the floor and introduced three tourism films of Richmond’s past. With all the attendees encouraged to mimic a Mystery Science Theater approach, the films began to play.
The first, from 1957, was a black and white stroll through Richmond’s historical landmarks. With the ‘voice of God’ narrator booming, the commentary of the participants reached a fevered pitch. Laughably out dated, the film offered an interesting view into how our story’s been told.
The second film, from 1977, kicked it up a notch with more of a lifestyle feature. Permitting a glimpse into the discos, and short shorts of ‘70s living in RVA, the crowd clearly enjoyed this musical romp.
The third tourism film featured, from 2007, brought us into the present with a fully diverse swath of Richmond residents, a still heavy focus on history, and an active attempt at pulling folks here.
It was, however, with the fourth film of the night that we began to take a turn. Two students from St. Christopher's featured a film they produced that offered a personal look at their city. At once somber, and intriguing, it led us naturally to a facilitated conversation about how we would tell a new story through film.
We then split into groups and discussed different aspects of the city, from travel, to our general swagger; we could feel the new story coming together. With the night wrapping up, John again took the floor and threw down the gauntlet. He encouraged us all to film our own one to two minute video of our version of #RVA. These would then be the feature of our fourth session, a screening of the new story. It was the opportunity we’d been waiting for! Excited and motivated, we ended our evening hungry for the last session. The work of i.e.*, The Library of Virginia, The Valentine, and The American Civil War Center has certainly paid off.
Follow this link for specifics on the video project. Submissions are due April 19th!