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.

The next programs are airing Thursday, April 2, at 8 and 8:30 pm, and on Saturday, April 4, at 6 and 6:30 pm. This week’s films are:

  • Diamond Dave’s: The Heart Of Bladenboro by Teresa Pigeon. Most small towns have at least one central gathering spot: a place where friends and family – young and old – come to replenish the body and soul; a place where social connections are just as important as the food. In Bladenboro, Diamond Dave’s is just that kind of place. … Come on inside; let’s take a closer look.
  • Buddy and the Treehouse by Leslie Baker. In the summer of 1997, Willie “Buddy” Melvin collected wood from an old tobacco barn and constructed a tiny bar around his backyard tree. Then he added a kitchen. Then came the pool room and dance floor. For two decades, Buddy continued to gather found materials and incorporate them into what is now a 13,000 square foot structure. Nearly twenty years into construction, Buddy reflects on his legacy and the solace he found in his grown-up treehouse.
  • Black In Blue: A Mt. Gilead Police Story by Seneca J. Modest. This film chronicles four police officers who served in Mt. Gilead and Montgomery County.

The following week, programs are airing Thursday, April 9, at 8 and 8:30 pm, and on Saturday, April 11, at 6 and 6:30 pm. Next week’s films are:

  • Regeneration Development Group by Susan Barco. Phyllis Chavis and the Regeneration Development Group offer career counseling, support, and training to residents of Scotland Neck. How does their “personal touch” help job seekers struggling to find their way up in a town with one of the highest rates of unemployment and poverty in North Carolina?
  • Bird In Hand by Clifton Dowell. The wrecked economy of Robbins isn’t going to be easy to revive. The town has only 1,000 residents, but it’s managed to lose more than 1,200 jobs over the last few decades. The water plant is closed, the downtown buildings mostly empty, and the mill that once formed the backdrop for much of Robbins life lies in a heap of bricks and burned timbers that the town can’t afford to clean up. Anchoring the mostly empty northern end of a county famous for the golf resorts and million-dollar homes located 26 miles to the south, the town is invisible to government planners. If the residents of Robbins want to bring the town back, they’ll have to do it themselves.

Anytown USA is an annual filmmaking production and editing course, created and taught by Randolph Benson. Each year one small town (population less than 5,000) 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? View a promotional 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 director, cinematographer, and editor. The Critical Focus Pictures team includes producers John Schoenfelt and Rachel Baer.