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'Southern Dialogues' Documentary Series: Filmmaker Invites Public Input on Chattanooga's Future


"In all of my work, I go out to listen and to learn," documentary filmmaker Robert Ashton Winslow says. "I have the stories I feel like I can approach, and then I just ask people what their experience is, what they think is most important."

Traveling around the South, working on a shoestring budget, Winslow has created about a dozen films as part of the Southern Dialogues series, including the feature-length Chattanooga Story.

The films are meant to both record and spark conversations.

In Alabama and Kentucky, Winslow talked to various people about elections, politics and campaigning.  In Dothan, Alabama, he created a video about race and poverty.  In Tennessee, he created a short feature on Tennessee's 2014 Republican Senate primary challenger, State Representative Joe Carr.

"The common theme I seek in all of them is, what does political polarization mean in American life today?" Winslow says.  " When you think about how we're able to talk to each other about our experiences in ordinary life, about our values, about what we want for the future, or how we see the economy or the country changing around us, we get very caught up in how divided we seem to be."

He says Web video is an ideal opportunity to listen to others.

His first series was filmed largely on the road, with stops in Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, as well as Tennessee. 

For his new series, he's setting up shop in the downtown Chattanooga library and inviting the public to come visit him.


From his Web site:

Southern Dialogues in Chattanooga: a special documentary project asking for you to share your story, your work. Coming Summer 2015. Because in the last year of asking how the South is changing, the main theme is the growth of cities. And in asking what civic commitment could make possible when we work together, that's Chattanooga's main story. So now let's talk about growth in this city and what's the vision forward. The idea here is just to go out and listen and ask you to come share. Be a part of it. Chattanooga is changing fast. There are four themes I will be following for feature episodes in Chattanooga 2015: The Gig and developing entrepreneurships. Property development, housing and gentrification. The regional economic angle and Thrive 2055. Public Education. I'm just asking for the time to listen and your advice for the present and future of this city. Southern Dialogues is an experiment in civic media. Here the goal is to test open-ended documentary conversation as a resource for people on their own time, to which you can contribute. Join this summer, let's make it real.

More information about participating in the series is here.