Havre de Grave is an historic town in Maryland at the confluence of the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay. Through interviews with local residents, this lighthearted and lyrical film examines the origin and meaning of the town's name, the concept of grace and one's need for it, and whether or not any location truly can be considered a "harbor of grace."
I first heard about Havre de Grace when I worked as an intern at Maryland Public Television during the summer of 1996. One of my tasks was to edit a short documentary about duck decoy carving in the state and it turned out that the town was home to a renowned carver named Madison Mitchell. (He ran a funeral home as his day job!) After that, signs for Havre de Grace and its Decoy Museum always caught my eye whenever I traveled near Baltimore on interstate 95.
Fast-forward a few years, and I was studying filmmaking at Temple University. This time when I drove past the signs on I-95, the wheels got turning. It had always stuck me that Havre de Grace meant "harbor of grace" or "safe harbor" in French. I started to wonder how a small town in Maryland ended up with such an evocative—even spiritual—moniker. Did it live up to its name? Were the people especially religious? Was there anything graceful, or graced, about its locale? What did the concept of grace mean to its residents? Indeed, can any place truly be a "harbor of grace"? I decided that the pursuit of these questions might make a great little documentary film, and that's how Greetings from Havre de Grace was born.
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