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New Documentary "For the Record" Celebrates Small Town Newspaper in the TX Panhandle: Interview with Heather Courtney & Laurie Ezzell Brown

From "For the Record," longtime newspaper staff Cathy Ricketts & Mary Smithee join others to stuff papers at The Canadian Record.

Don't miss HPPR's interview with Heather Courtney, the documentary's director/producer & Laurie Ezzell Brown, the Editor/Publisher of The Canadian Record. We discuss the film, the community of Canadian, and the importance of rural stories, regional coverage, and common ground to citizens of the TX Panhandle.

In case you missed it on High Plains Morning today, here's my conversation with Laurie Ezzell Brown of The Canadian Record in Canadian, TX. She's joined by Heather Courtney, the filmmaker of a new documentary called For the Record, which follows the dedicated staff at a small-town newspaper in the Texas Panhandle for five years, including the early days of the COVID pandemic. It will air on PBS in May.

Watch the film's trailer here, and learn more about Reel South, a great documentary film series telling intimate stories from the South and often showcasing the rural experience.

Here's Reel South's trailer for Season 9, which heavily features content from the film "For the Record."

This film will be available EVERYWHERE online starting on May 6th; stream it on PBS.org (or on the PBS app) for up to three months. If you're in the Texas Panhandle, you can also watch "For the Record" on Reel South on Panhandle PBS on Sunday, May 12th at 1pm CT.

If you'd like to donate to the ongoing wildfire recovery efforts (which are needed greatly across Hemphill County), the Amarillo Area Foundation's Panhandle Disaster Relief Fund is still accpeting donations here.

More about the flm (from Austin Film Society): In a small Texas Panhandle town, which over the decades has lived through oil booms and busts, devastating wildfires, and a diminishing population, a few things have remained constant – cowboys, high school football, conservative voters, and the family-owned weekly The Canadian Record. Despite its liberal editorials in the second-most conservative county in the country, The Record is loved and relied on by the community. But now, editor and publisher Laurie Brown is inching toward 70, and a recent oil bust coupled with advertisers’ preference for social media is making it hard to keep the paper alive. For The Record is a mostly verite documentary that follows one year in the life of the small-town newspaper The Canadian (Texas) Record, in what might be its last year..

Filmmaker Heather Courtney & Laurie Ezzell Brown
Filmmaker Heather Courtney & Laurie Ezzell Brown

ABOUT THE FILMMAKER: Heather Courtney is an Emmy-winning filmmaker, and a Guggenheim, Sundance, and Fulbright fellow. Her film WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM, which was broadcast nationally on the PBS series POV, won an Emmy, an Independent Spirit Award, and a SXSW Jury Award. It made several Top 10 films lists, including Salon’s Best Non-fiction, and was supported by many grants and fellowships, including from the Sundance Documentary Fund, the United States Artists Fellowship, and ITVS. She has directed and produced several other documentary films including award-winners LETTERS FROM THE OTHER SIDE, and LOS TRABAJADORES, both broadcast nationally on PBS. They were supported by a Fulbright and an International Documentary Association Award.

She was commissioned by PBS and The Center for New American Media to direct a short documentary on the urban/rural divide as part of the Postcards from the Great Divide documentary series, which streamed on pbs.org and the Washington Post online.

Most recently she co-directed and produced a Ford- and MacArthur-funded feature documentary about undocumented immigrant students in Georgia, called THE UNAFRAID. It won the Human Rights Award at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and was broadcast in Fall 2019 on the national PBS series America ReFramed/World Channel.

When not directing/producing her own projects, she has worked as a field/story producer for several documentary series, including for Director Lee Hirsch (Bully) on a doc series on high schools, as well as works as a producer/shooter for verite doc projects, and as a director-for-hire for branded content.

Prior to receiving her MFA in Film Production, Heather spent eight years writing and photographing for the United Nations and several refugee and immigrant rights organizations, including in the Rwandan refugee camps after the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Jenny Inzerillo joined HPPR in 2015 as the host of High Plains Morning, our live music program that airs weekdays at 9 am to noon CST. Broadcasting from KJJP in beautiful downtown Amarillo, she helps listeners wake up with inspired music from our region and beyond. Tune in for new voices in folk/Americana, deep cuts from your favorite artists, soulful tracks from singer/songwriters across the world, and toe-tapping classics dating as far back as the 1920s. Plus, discover underground greats that just might be your new favorite band.