App State professor recognized for Best Southern States documentary

App State professor recognized for Best Southern States documentary
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By Meghan McCandless from Appalachian Today. January 31, 2019. BOONE, NC — “Sound and Sole,” a short film by assistant professor Cara Hagan, has won Best Southern States documentary at the Southern States Indie Fan Film Fest held in Biloxi, Mississippi. Hagan, who teaches in Appalachian State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance, spent nearly 18 months creating the piece on local clogger and buck dancer Arthur Grimes.

COVER IMAGE: Cara Hagan, assistant professor of dance studies in Appalachian’s Department of Theatre and Dance, far left, with clogger and buck dancer Arthur Grimes, center, and AppTV General Manager Robert Gelber at the Boone Film Festival in November 2018. Photo submitted

“‘Sound and Sole’ features a man of color practicing a nonconcert dance form born of a colloquial nature, and the music is by local resident Trajan Wellington,” she said. “It shines a light on the rich African-American culture here in Appalachia.”

Arthur doesn’t text, so when we needed him I’d give him a call or go downtown and start looking.

“Sound and Sole” is Hagan’s third documentary, and one that took quite a bit of planning, she said. In addition to coordinating logistics with her Appalachian film crew — AppTV General Manager Robert Gelber, Tom Hansell, associate professor in the university’s Appalachian studies program and co-director of University Documentary Film Services, and alumnae Susanna Kornegay ’18 and Molly Clay ’15 — she often had to physically locate Grimes.

“Arthur doesn’t text, so when we needed him, I’d give him a call or go downtown and start looking,” she said. “He owns his own moving business as well, so we needed to work around his schedule.”

Hagan also crowdfunded the film, raising enough to cover costs through an Indiegogo campaign during spring 2018.

After almost 18 months of preparation and hard work, the film premiered at the Boone Film Festival in November 2018.

Hagan said Grimes, who attended the documentary’s premiere at the Boone Film Festival, was pleased with the final product.

Hagan is the founder of the American Dance Festival’s Movies by Movers film festival, a biannual event that, according to the festival’s website, celebrates the “collaboration between the ephemeral art of live movement and the perpetual nature of film.” As curator of the program, she screens all submissions, allowing her to mark recent trends in American dance film projects.

She said the experience encourages her to share work that’s not typically seen on the dance film circuit.

Overall, Hagan has submitted “Sound and Sole” to more than 40 festivals around the country and has been accepted to five, including the most recent event in Biloxi.

“I’m excited to have this opportunity — to show the beauty that exists in Appalachia in different ways. I’m thrilled that we were able to bring the film to a festival and have our hard work recognized,” she said.

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