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‘The Dust Bowl’ to premiere on AETN Nov. 18, 19

Posted 13 Nov 2012

CONWAY, Ark. (AETN) — “The Dust Bowl,” a new two-part, four-hour documentary by Ken Burns, will air on the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) Sunday and Monday, Nov. 18-19, at 7 each night.

The film chronicles the environmental catastrophe that destroyed the farmlands of the Great Plains, turned prairies into deserts and unleashed a pattern of massive, deadly dust storms in the 1930s – the worst manmade ecological disaster in American history.

“The Dust Bowl” follows the tale of a farming boom in the early 20th century that transformed the grassland of the southern plains into wheat fields. Following a drought in 1931, winds began picking up soil from the open fields and grew into dust storms of biblical proportions. Each year for nearly a decade, the storms grew more ferocious and more frequent, spreading the dust and despair across the country. This film details the natural disaster and the mass exodus it created; survivors’ heroic perseverance; and the ingenuity of government agencies and farmers who worked together to develop new farming and conservation methods.

Featuring compelling interviews with 26 survivors of those hard times, “The Dust Bowl” preserves what will likely be the last recorded testimony of the generation of survivors. Filled with seldom-seen movie footage, previously unpublished photographs, the songs of Woody Guthrie and two remarkable women’s eloquent written accounts, the film provides a historical account of the 1930s on the southern plains.

The film’s website,, includes video clips, background information on the film and filmmakers, and opportunities for users to share stories, as well as educational outreach materials and lesson plans that will enable teachers to use “The Dust Bowl” as a historical lens to explore changes affecting the environment today.

“The Dust Bowl,” is a production of Florentine Films and WETA, Washington, D.C. It is narrated by Peter Coyote, directed by Burns, written by Dayton Duncan, and produced by Duncan, Burns and Julie Dunfey.