Civil War film festival coming in Fall

Students will soon have their chance to bring a part of Civil War history back to life.

Living history — The festival will allow students to create Civil War short films. Liberty Champion file photo

In conjunction with the Civil War Seminar scheduled for Sept. 28-29 in the fall of 2012, a Civil War film festival will also be a part of the event. Students are encouraged to film their own Civil War videos and submit them by the second week of September 2012 to be judged. Currently, the tentative list of judges includes professors from both the History Department and the School of Communications, as well as the head of Bright Images — a video company in Lynchburg, Va.

The theme for next year’s seminar is “The Rise of Lee & Grant,” but students are encouraged to explore other areas of the war. Kenny Rowlette, the director of the National Civil War Chaplains Museum, also leads in planning the yearly Civil War Seminar. With the addition of the film festival, Rowlette looks forward to seeing the students’ creativity on display.

The winner of the film festival will not go home empty handed. A cash prize of $500 will go to first place, $300 for second and $200 for third. Despite the cash prize as motivation, Rowlette and the judges hope that students make the most of this unique opportunity.

“We hope to give these students a creative outlet,” Rowlette said. “I have not heard of any other university in the county hosting this type of film festival from student generated productions.”

To assist students in their videos, Rowlette has been in contact with Bright Images who has stock civil war re-enactment footage available. Additionally, those interested will have a chance to view a short film by Liberty alumnus, Ryan Mix. His “A Day in the Life” will be shown in January as a benchmark for those who plan to enter a production in the film festival.

“We’re not looking for any grand expanse of time to be covered in the videos,” he said. “It’s just short little stories. The Civil War is filled with all kinds of stories about the home front, about what women did away from the battle and the soldiers themselves.”

For Rowlette, the Civil War is not simply an event in the past that shaped American history, but also a war that was fought over issues that are relevant today.

“A lot of these issues that were dealt with at the time of the Civil War are still with us,” Rowlette said. “States’ rights, the issue of immigration (and) a strong central government versus a weak government.”

Because of the wide impact of the Civil War, Rowlette and the other judges are hoping to see short films that look into other aspects of the civil war, focusing on the personal stories that tell the story of war in a new way. One often told story Rowlette enjoys is the role of the pocket Bible. During the war, soldiers would often carry two-inch thick New Testaments in their breast pockets. History and research have found that approximately 12 men were shot in the chest, precisely in the spot of their pocket Bible. While the soldier would be knocked down and potentially wounded, the Bible played a role in saving the soldier’s life.

More information, including applications into the festival and guidelines, can be found online through the school of history, communications and cinematography starting in January or by contacting Rowlette at either 582-2087 or

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