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Silent Storytellers Documentary Screening

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  • Arlton Lowry
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Silent Storytellers - Production - Abby Burnett #2 

I just came from the Silent Storytellers documentary screening and it was amazing.  The videography and music was beautiful, the stories were compelling, and the storytellers were fascinating.  The documentary follows individuals across the state as they bring awareness to preserving deteriorating cemeteries.  

Abby Burnett is the main storyteller of the documentary.  She takes us to some remote cemeteries across the state that hold some very unique stories some sad, some downright funny.  She explains to us why some carvings were used on certain headstones and how they fit into our Arkansas heritage.  She also gives us a bit of her back-story and how she became interested in cemeteries.

The documentary also features a couple of organizations in the state that help to preserve cemeteries. One of these groups is the Preservation of African-American Cemeteries (PAAC).  The documentary shows us how the organization is working with schools to help educate 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders about the importance of cemetery preservation. 

One of the best parts of the documentary is how it educates the public of how to properly clean and take care of headstones.  Many individuals will use harsh techniques such as bleach and wire brushes to clean the stones but these methods will deteriorate the stone and destroy the carvings.  The documentary shows us how we can clean the stone while preserving its history.

The documentary was produced for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, an Agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, and their initiative to protect and restore old cemetery headstones.

You can see the film yourself March 11th right here on AETN.  

We will be posting some additional content online an interview with the producer, filmmaker, and one of the featured storytellers so look for that content shortly.  You can check out some production photographs on of Flickr account   We will also have some additional footage that we were not able to fit into the documentary available online.

We invite you to leave any questions or comments below.  We would love to hear from you.