Hubbard documentary to be released soon

Producer still seeking funding
to complete project

By Don Ward

(June 2012) – Anna and Harlan Hubbard lived life as few people in modern times have and in doing so discovered at least two very rare gifts – contentment and freedom. In a house they built by hand in Trimble County, Ky., sustained by food they raised or caught, aided by no electricity or modern “convenience,” the Hubbards met the world on their own terms and found deep meaning.

Anna died in 1986 and Harlan died in 1988 after spending their lives living simply off the land and avoiding today's modern conveniences. Harlan wrote his many books and painted scenes of his life along the Ohio River.

Now a new film documentary, “"Wonder: The Lives of Anna and Harlan Hubbard,” is soon to be released. The film considers the Hubbards’ astonishing life of freedom and what it says to Americans today.

Who hasn’t thought “there must be a saner way to live”? The Hubbards found their way, and this one-hour documentary brings to life the adventure of it all.

“Wonder” is being written and produced by Louisville, Ky.-based producer Morgan Atkinson. He has been recognized for his work profiling philosopher-monk Thomas Merton, the writer-social activist John Howard Griffin and many other programs in a career spanning more than 25 years.

Much of the narrative for “Wonder” will come from the Hubbard’s journals. Their thoughts will be complemented by excerpts from Henry County, Ky., author Wendell Berry’s book on their lives. Berry has agreed to voice his work. Actor-musician Will Oldham will be the voice of Harlan. Actress and teacher Katie Blackerby will provide the voice of Anna. Musician-composer Ben Sollee will score the documentary.

Atkinson has logged 30 years as a filmmaker, the past 25 running his own film production company, Duckworks Inc. He works on commission mostly but in this case has chosen to focus on the Hubbards in hopes of getting the final product aired statewide on Kentucky Educational Television and maybe even nationally on the Public Broadcast System. He began working on the project last year with a goal of researching and presenting the couple in a more personal way – a way that has not yet been seen by the public, he said.

Two previous KET documentaries have been done on the Hubbards – the first in 1980 by filmmaker John Morgan and the second in the mid-1990s for KET's "Kentucky Life" series.

Atkinson says the Hubbards' lives were so inspirational that it bears visiting again. He hopes that when completed, it could be premiered at Madison's Ohio Theatre or at Hanover College.

Atkinson is a Louisville native and a University of Kentucky graduate who has made dozens of films, with about 15 airing on KET and several nationally on PBS. Recent productions have focused on Louisville musician Tim Krekel, Anglo-American Catholic writer Thomas Merton and "Black Like Me" author John Howard Griffin.

Atkinson is being assisted with research on the Hubbard project by a close friend, John Kasey. In all, Atkinson trying to raise about $150,000, which he says is what he needs to complete the project. He still seeks funding to complete the project.

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