Friday, September 25, 2015

An "Update" from Chris Hamby

Well, everyone- I'm creating a new blog.  No, this does not mean the "end" of At The Matinee.  

This new blog will be part of the Online Journalism class that I am currently taking at Hood College.

My upcoming blog site will have some of the same features as the blog that you are currently reading right now, mostly focusing on classic, contemporary and cult motion picture and television programs, along with new interactive features as well.

My goal in this class is to become a better blog writer.  I hope you will join me and fellow like-minded film enthusiasts in this new endeavor, which will be coming shortly.

Oh, and one more thing.  Remember when I stated earlier that classic, contemporary and cult cinema features were being virtually ignored in the Frederick area?

Finally, one Frederick theater will be bringing back "classic" and "cult" feature films soon.  More information will follow in this and my "new" blog, which will be coming shortly.

Coming Soon to a competing blog platform near you!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Mr. Hamby meets Ken Burns at Gettysburg (November 2008)

In commemoration of the upcoming premiere of the new high-definition transfer of Ken Burns' landmark 1990 documentary film, The Civil War on PBS, let's take a walk down "memory lane."

November 19th, 2008: Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns addresses the
crowd at the Dedication Day ceremony at Gettysburg National Cemetery
in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
"November 19th... This day is one of my most favorite of days, a day of possibilities."
-Documentary Filmmaker Ken Burns, giving the introductory keynote address at The 145th Gettysburg Address Dedication Day Ceremony, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19th, 2008

November 19th, 2008: It was a chilly day up in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  I learned about the Dedication Day commemoration event several days earlier, after reading in The News-Post that documentary filmmaker Ken Burns would make a special appearance at the event.  I was studying at Frederick Community College at the time, and by luck- I didn't have any classes on that day.  So I trekked up to Gettysburg to watch the Dedication Day ceremonial event on the morning of November 19th, which marked the 145th anniversary of President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

On that cold day at Gettysburg National Cemetery, the guest speakers for the event (in addition to Ken Burns) were renowned Abraham Lincoln impersonator Jim Getty, Andy Brunhart, then-deputy director of the United States Mint (Brunhart unveiled a commemorative Lincoln coin design at the Dedication Day ceremony), Gettysburg National Military Park superintendent John Latschar, Sons of Union Veterans' Chief Commander of the National Order David Acheson and Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania President Ron Hankey.

Ken Burns with a Civil War re-enactment troupe
at the 2008 Dedication Day ceremony in
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Throughout the ceremony, Burns gave the keynote address, after Jim Getty's re-enactment of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.  With my palm-sized Aiptek Digital Camera that I had at the time (I still have it in my camera collection, as I have upgraded to better cameras since then), I filmed the entire event from start to finish in freezing temperatures, along with some still photographs of the ceremony (including a group photograph of Burns with an area Civil War re-enactment troupe).

At the end of the ceremony, Burns was on hand to sign programs from interested patrons.  I was one of the lucky ones to have my program booklet signed by the master documentary filmmaker.  After the event, I had lunch at The Dobbin House Tavern in Gettysburg, sitting near several Civil War re-enactors who attended the event, munching on a delicious hot Reuben sandwich with warm cider.

Ken Burns (center), singing autographs on patrons'
programs at the 2008 Dedication Day ceremony
in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  I was one of the
lucky ones to have my program booklet signed
by Burns.
The day after, I had my one of my evening Video Editing classes at FCC.   I thought that it would be an unique idea to share with the class about getting Ken Burns' autograph on my program guide for the ceremony in Gettysburg.  To my surprise, neither the instructor, nor any of my fellow friends in class knew who Ken Burns was.  I was in shock that no one knew about the acclaimed historical documentary filmmaker.

Some six years later, when I entered Hood College as a transfer student (using my FCC credits), I was glad to hear that several of my friends in my classes have heard of Ken Burns and his critically-acclaimed documentary films on Public Television.  I was glad to hear that I wasn't the only one who had heard of Ken Burns.

Aside from all that, I felt that was one of the most exciting moments of my life, not only as an aspiring filmmaker/videographer, but as a person who enjoys watching Ken Burns' iconic historical documentaries, including The Statue of Liberty, The Civil War, Empire of the Air, Baseball, Jazz, The National Parks and The Roosevelts (which premiered last fall on PBS)- just to name several.

Here's your chance to see documentary filmmaking at its finest: The 25th Anniversary edition of Ken Burns' The Civil War (restored in high-definition), will be shown on PBS, starting on September 7th at 9:00 PM EST (in areas close to the home base of At The Matinee, it will be shown on Maryland Public Television and WETA-TV 26).

More on Ken Burns' 1991 documentary on the pioneers of radio and television broadcasting, Empire Of The Air can be found here.