Fayetteville History Alive ‘Among The Hills’
By Terrah Baker
“Up Among The Hills,” (2012) the documentary film written and produced by Emmy award-winning UA professor Larry Foley, and commissioned by the Fayetteville Public Library, is an educational experience on the colorful people and history of Fayetteville, with a touch of humor for good measure.
The free screening of “The Story of Fayetteville” (part of the title) drew in a large crowd on Sunday at the Fayetteville library, with no sitting or standing room available by the time the movie had begun. It was a powerful community experience to witness the faces of the crowd — some I recognized — smile with eagerness while holding their necks outstretched toward the illuminating screen that showed images of home, of people we know and see in the streets, and of a history that touches us all.
The crowd laughed and awed together as the many characters that have filled Fayetteville folklore were touched on in this film, including John Lewis or Mr. Fayetteville the historian, Archibald Yell the great soldier, Roberta Fulbright the revolutionary business woman and dare I say feminist, and Buddy Hayes the talented blues musician who chose Fayetteville over fame, to name a few.
Most of the locations were recognizable to the crowd, and there was joint laughter and excitement as familiar faces like the one seen every Friday night at George’s Majestic Lounge on Dickson flashed on screen.
It was done in a PBS-style documentary with soft twangy bluegrass often playing in the background as narrator and former president Bill Clinton read his lines, and short skits performed by many local actors came and went. Many times the film would begin with a shot of Fayetteville today, like the band Farmer and the Markets playing on the square, and transition to black and white to show photos of images of the past.
Like these black and white photos, humor was dispersed throughout the film to break up the plain facts and familiar hillsides. The crowd seemed pleasantly surprised by humorous outtakes following the film credits, including one of Clinton making some confessions of his younger days in Fayetteville.
Overall, if you weren’t from Fayetteville, loved or hated Fayetteville and in some way cared about its colorful past to include colorful characters, this film wouldn’t be more than a Sunday PBS-like show about people and places you may never think about again. But for those of us who meet that criteria, “Up Among The Hills” offers a sense of adventure, mystery and pride in the history of such a great town that many have loved before us.
The Fayetteville Public Library will hold free showings of “Up Among The Hills: The Story of Fayetteville” on Nov. 14 at 6 p.m., Nov. 20 at 6 p.m., Nov. 24 at 10 a.m. and Nov. 26 at 6 p.m. The film was funded by the Fayetteville Public Library Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, while the library served as the executive producer of the film and will own the rights.
The film was inspired by John Lewis, a native of Fayetteville and founder of the Bank of Fayetteville. Lewis was known as “Mr. Fayetteville” for his knowledge of the city’s history and his desire to get the community involved in its present and future development. The film is dedicated to his memory.
Copies of the film will be for sale at each screening for $19.95; all proceeds go to the Fayetteville Public Library Foundation. To purchase the DVD online visit www.uofapress.com