Documentary EXTRAORDINARY ORDINARY PEOPLE Opens 12/1 in LA Plus Q&A with Alan Govenar
First Run Features is proud to announce the Los Angeles opening of Extraordinary Ordinary People, a sweeping celebration of the cultures of the world living and thriving in the United States. The feature-length documentary, directed by longtime filmmaker and folklorist Alan Govenar, opened in New York in September to terrific reviews.
At a time when the existence of the National Endowment for the Arts has never been more threatened, Govenar's documentary focuses on one of its least known and most enduring programs: the National Heritage Fellowship, awarded annually since 1982. Featuring a breathtaking array of men and women who have been awarded the fellowship, including musicians, dancers, quilters, woodcarvers and more, the film shows how folk and traditional arts have helped shaped the fabric of America. From Bill Monroe and B.B. King to Passamaquoddy basket weavers and Peking Opera singers; from Appalachia and the mountains of New Mexico to the inner city neighborhoods of New York, the suburbs of Dallas, and the isolated Native American reservations of Northern California - each of the artists share exceptional talent, ingenuity, and perseverance.
Govenar began documenting the artists more than 35 years ago. His work has so far led to three books, two NPR radio series, and this new documentary. He has been able to explore in great detail the intersection of disparate cultures (many brought to our shores by immigrants over hundreds of years) with America itself, revealing insights into how cultural expressions evolve but at the same time remain true to their roots.
**Filmmaker Alan Govenar will appear in person on opening weekend**
Alan Govenar is a writer, folklorist, photographer and filmmaker. He is president of Documentary Arts, which he founded in 1985 to present new perspectives on historical issues and diverse cultures. Govenar is the author of twenty-nine books and is a Guggenheim Fellow. The Off-Broadway premiere of his musical Texas in Paris received rave reviews in The New York Times and Huffington Post. Govenar's film Stoney Knows How, based on his book by the same title about Old School tattoo artist Leonard St. Clair, was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and was selected as an Outstanding Film of the Year by the London Film Festival. Govenar has also produced and directed numerous films in association with NOVA, La Sept/ARTE, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, including Master Qi and the Monkey King, The Beat Hotel, You Don't Need Feet to Dance, and Extraordinary Ordinary People, all distributed by First Run Features. Since 1982, Govenar's work related to the recipients of the National Endowment for the Arts' National Heritage Fellowship has included three books: Masters of Traditional Arts, Extraordinary Ordinary People, and Stompin' at the Savoy; two 52-part radio series, broadcast on more than 150 NPR stations nationwide; the development of the website www.mastersoftraditionalarts.org; and a learning resource guide for students K-12 that he co-authored with Betty Carter and Paddy Bowman.