Professor to receive grant for new Fredonia documentary

An Artist in the Community grant will be presented to Roslin Smith, assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the State University of New York at Fredonia, to fund her new documentary, “Among the Hemlocks. Fantastic Stories from Fredonia, NY.”

She will be recognized at a public awards ceremony on Tuesday, March 27, at the Jamestown Community College Olean campus.

Ms. Smith is one of three recipients of 2018 Artist in the Community grants administered by the Cattaraugus County Arts Council and funded by the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Program.

The film, which Smith describes as a “memory” documentary, will show the history of Fredonia using voices of Fredonia people. Historical photographs, newspaper clippings, re-enactments, interviews and voice-overs will bring to life humorous, strange and factual stories from long ago.

Inspiration for the title was drawn from the Seneca Indian nation that once lived along the banks of a small creek surrounded by towering evergreen trees. “These gentle people called the area ‘Ga-na-da-wa-o,” which means ‘among the hemlocks’,” Smith explained. That creek is known today as Canadaway Creek, and the surrounding area, of course, is Fredonia.

Beautiful landscapes of Fredonia will be featured, as well as historical music and sounds to relive a bygone era and the people who lived among the hemlocks.

Envisioned as a 15-minute documentary, the wealth of background information, archival footage and other materials obtained at the Darwin R. Barker Historical Museum in Fredonia convinced Smith to expand the documentary to around 30 minutes.

Filming is expected to be finished by August and post-production completed by the end of the year. The film will be screened as part of College of Liberal Arts and Science 2018-2019 Brown Bag Lunch Lecture Series, whose theme is “Conflicts and Consequences.” A copy of the film will also become part of the Barker Museum archives.

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