Title Image

Also Showing on TPC

TPC is presenting Anytown, USA: A documentary short film series profiling small towns in North Carolina, a series of programs created by Randolph Benson and produced by Critical Focus Pictures in collaboration with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

This week’s programs, airing Thursday, September 24 at 8 pm, will feature the following stories:

  • Moratuck by Vann Dwiggins. The Roanoke River’s original Algonquin name meant “river of death.” Moratuck is a glimpse of the people and fauna that make their home along this river of life.
  • Holding On by Kelly Sims. Holding On is a portrait of self-taught canoeist William McDuffie. He has witnessed the local creek in his hometown of Robbins transform from a junk yard to a sliver of paradise. His reflections on the past reinforce his determination to give the community memories that they, too, will never forget.

Next week’s programs, airing on Thursday, October 1 at 8 pm, will feature the following stories:

  • Three Rounds: Musical Stories of Pittsboro by Durward Rogers.
  • Plow Needle Saw by Ernie Sears. This film shows how Mt. Gilead has had to reinvent itself to survive. The transition from a small farming community to a textile mill town, and now a more diversified economy, has had a major impact on the lives of its citizens, in their jobs, and their way of life.

Anytown USA is an annual filmmaking production and editing course, created and taught by Randolph Benson. Each year one small town is featured, and student filmmakers each tell a story of their choice within the town. Together, the short films form a nuanced, intimate portrait of local communities as they struggle to survive.

What is Anytown USA? Series promo video.

Towns featured to-date

  • Pittsboro, Spring 2006
  • Bladenboro, Spring 2008
  • Smithfield, Spring 2010
  • Star, Spring 2012
  • Scotland Neck, Spring 2013
  • Liberty, Spring 2014
  • Robbins, Spring 2015
  • Roseboro, Spring 2016
  • Siler City, Spring 2017
  • Mt. Gilead, Spring 2018

Mt. Gilead, NC was the featured town in 2018

About Randolph Benson

Randolph Benson

Randolph Benson’s work has garnered numerous awards, most notably an Academy Award for Best Student Documentary at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Academy Awards. Benson received an Eastman Kodak Excellence in Filmmaking Award at the Cannes Film Festival and a First Appearance Award at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. He has been an instructor of film and video at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University for over a decade, and he serves on Award Juries at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival (Durham, NC, USA), the Boone (NC) Film Festival, and the Let’s All Be Free Film Festival (London, UK). Benson also serves on the executive board of the Center for Deep Policy Research.

About the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke

The Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) is dedicated to documentary expression and its role in creating a more just society. A nonprofit affiliate of Duke University, CDS teaches, produces, and presents the documentary arts across a full range of media—photography, audio, film, writing, experimental and new media—for students and audiences of all ages.

For more information about CDS, visit the CDS website.

About Critical Focus Pictures

For more information, see the Critical Focus Pictures website.

Critical Focus Pictures uses the power of documentary film to tell the unique and personal stories of people and organizations. Critical Focus Pictures was founded by award-winning producer Randolph Benson, who is also a director, cinematographer, and editor. The Critical Focus Pictures team includes producers John Schoenfelt and Rachel Baer.