I had been thinking about what to say when discussing the making and development of “Dream Land: Little Rock’s West 9th Street.” It has been an honor, for sure, to be asked to research and in some way present a part of this history. We are humbled also to have been asked to undertake this task. But, what is there to say that sums that up and describes the experience of it?
Filmmaking is a journey that involves many people with varied talents. It often involves many unseen twists and turns. This documentary was definitely that. How do I express it? I saw and heard this from the amazing Viola Davis as she accepted her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress:
“People ask me all the time, what kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola? And, I say, exhume those bodies. Exhume those stories. The stories of people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition. People who fell in love and lost. I became an artist and thank God I did – because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.”
I was struck. What a way to say it! While I don’t presume to be the kind of artist that Ms. Davis is, the sentiment she expressed was on target. I felt she was speaking directly to what I was feeling.
My sincere hope is that we have exhumed some of the stories that have too long been buried on West 9th Street, that have been buried in the hearts of its former residents, that have been locked away in boxes, that have fallen along with many of the businesses along the street. Through this airing out and shining a light on the framework of this district’s life, I hope more and more of the personal stories can be exhumed to share, to celebrate, to cherish, to educate, and to move us forward and out of the shadows of the past.