Remembering the Hubbards

New Hubbard documentary
to premiere in Louisville

Second film showing planned
for Nov. 29 at Hanover College

By Don Ward

(October 2012) – A documentary film about the late Anna and Harlan Hubbard has been completed and is scheduled to premiere at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12, at The Clifton Center, 2117 Payne St., just off Frankfort Avenue, in Louisville, Ky. The event is free and open to the public.

Producer and writer Morgan Atkinson of Louisville has worked on the project for more than a year and generated private funding to produce it. The film, titled “Wonder: The Lives of Anna and Harlan Hubbard,” also is scheduled to be shown for free on Thursday, Nov. 29, at Hanover College. The Rivers Institute at Hanover College provided a large donation toward the project.

The Hubbards, who lived off the land along the Ohio River in Trimble County, Ky., were frequent visitors to the campus to loan books from the college library. Several of Harlan’s paintings hang in a small room at the Brown Campus Center at Hanover College.

Atkinson said he hopes to show the film at other regional locations, including the Trimble County Public Library in Bedford, Ky.

Anna died in 1986 and Harlan died in 1988 after spending their lives avoiding today’s modern conveniences. Harlan wrote his many books and painted scenes of his life along the Ohio River. Many of his paintings featured steamboats or rural landscapes.

Several local people were interviewed for background for the film but none appear on camera. These include Bob Canida, Dr. Marcella Modisett, Bob Rosenthal and Paul Hassfurder, all of Madison, Ind.

Canida and Hassfurder befriended and assisted the Hubbards during their lives. Harlan died at Canida’s riverfront home and he owns several of Harlan’s paintings. Upon his death, Harlan left his property to Hassfurder. Modisett was his physician. Rosenthal is a philosophy professor at Hanover College who took several student groups on field trips to the Hubbards’ home over the years.

Hubbard friend Bill Caddell of Frankfort, Ind., plans to exhibit his collection of Harlan’s paintings at the opening premiere in Louisville. Caddell inherited the paintings from the artist upon his death.

Atkinson has been recognized for his work profiling philosopher-monk Thomas Merton, the writer-social activist John Howard Griffin, Louisville musician Tim Krekel and many others.

Much of the narrative for “Wonder” came from the Hubbard’s journals. Their thoughts have been 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 serves as the voice of Harlan. Actress and teacher Katie Blackerby provides the voice of Anna. Musician-composer Ben Sollee has scored 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.

He hopes to get the film 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 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. Atkinson was assisted with research on the Hubbard project by a close friend, John Kasey. Atkinson has raised about half of the $150,000 to complete the project.

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