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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, November 19 at 8 pm, will feature the following stories:

  • The Banks Of Smithfield by Wendy Redfield. The historic local bank is a reliable feature of many North Carolina towns. As banks have accommodated such modern conveniences as ATMs, drive-through lanes, and on-line banking, many of these magnificent structures no longer serve their original purpose, and yet retain intrinsic cultural value. This film tells the story of the Bank of Smithfield (currently First Citizens Bank) and the roles its historic buildings have played in Smithfield and in five neighboring communities.
  • That’ll Do by Morgan Capps. A portrait of Henry Kuykendall and Louanne Coulter, sheep farmers and border collie breeders living near Liberty. They train a special line of purebred border collies whose lineage dates back to the 1960s. Their reflections on their work and their relationships with their animals reveal the contentedness that comes from a lifetime of dedication to their craft.


Next week’s programs, airing on Thursday, November 26 at 8 pm, will feature the following stories:

  • The Vampire Beast Of Bladenboro by Laura Dunne. More than 50 years ago, residents of the small community of Bladenboro, North Carolina, were terrorized by a predator that viciously killed numerous domestic animals. The events of those few weeks in January 1954 are told through accounts of five individuals who were children or teenagers living in Bladenboro at the time. They are joined by two carnivore behavior “experts,” who speculate on what this creature could have been.
  • Lakewood Standing Strong by Zoe Levitt and Rahima Rahi. High school can be a challenging time, as students must grow into themselves, find friends, and figure out their next steps. In today’s social media-saturated environment, young people have even more challenges to grapple with. Gossip, rumors, photos, and cruel comments can quickly become public knowledge and follow students home from school, even without their consent. This video highlights a group of Lakewood High School students who have come together to address cyber-bullying, an issue facing students across the country.

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.