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, May 28, at 8 and 8:30 pm, and on Saturday, May 30, at 6 and 6:30 pm. This week’s films are:

  • Las Mujeres de San Juan by Leslie Baker. In a small southern town where half the residents are Spanish-speaking immigrants, San Juan Diego Catholic Church serves as a vital meeting place for the close-knit Latino community. Las Mujeres de San Juan is an inside look at the church through the eyes of its female leaders.
  • School Days by Tom Adams. While many rural school districts struggle with low performance, falling enrollment, teacher shortages, and funding issues, the schools in Robbins have created a culture of success. School Days examines how that culture evolved and what is being done to ensure it continues.

The following week, programs are airing June 4, at 8 and 8:30 pm, and on Saturday, June 6, at 6 and 6:30 pm. Next week’s films are:

  • Best Regards by Alan Young. Successful writer, speaker, and teacher; devoted wife, mother, and grandmother: Cecilia Budd Grimes shares her love of the South, pride in her family business, and expertise in all things etiquette.
  • Trace: Town Creek Indian Mound and the Rise of Scientific Archaeology in North Carolina by Clifton Dowell. When a student archaeologist was dropped off in a Montgomery County cotton field in 1937 to investigate a problematic Indian mound, there’s no way he could have known the project would last 50 years. Joffre Lanning Coe would develop academic archaeology in North Carolina and establish the state’s only historical site dedicated to archaeology at Town Creek. But just down the road, a town doctor was busy becoming one of the most prolific artifact collectors of his generation.

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.