A sneak peek at "LaPorte, Indiana" - a documentary film by Joe Beshenkovsky and Jason Bitner. For more info on the project, head to laportemovie.com. The film premiered in LaPorte in July, 2010, and had its Film Festival Premiere in Indianapolis at the Indy Film Fest where it won the "Hoosier Lens Award!"
[Update!] We're thrilled to announce that DVDs of LaPorte, Indiana are now available, as well, on our website. Super cheep, and totally worth it. Come find them here: laportemovie.com. Thanks so much for helping to support the project.
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Tucked away in the back room of a B&J’s American Cafe lies a secret history waiting to be discovered: 18,000 dog-eared studio portraits from the 1950s and 60s. From baby pictures to graduation shots to young soldiers heading off to war and beyond, each of these photos hints at a personal story waiting to be told.
From 1947 through 1970, the diner’s second floor housed Muralcraft Studios. It was here where Frank and Gladys Pease documented many important milestones—a sailor in uniform, a graduate in cap and gown, a couple newly-engaged—while others made modest attempts at posterity. Muralcraft was the go-to studio for special event photography but little did they know they would also become the “accidental historians” of LaPorte, Indiana with the extensive archive they left-behind.
Now, the subjects of these portraits share their own life stories: deeply personal tales of love and family, divorce and loss, and the search for identity and one’s place in the world. We also encounter the next generation of LaPorteans, grappling with the decision to stay and begin their adult life in their hometown, or search for opportunities elsewhere, a truly universal dilemma experienced across America and beyond.
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Director Joe Beshenkovsky was awarded the 2009 Emmy Award for Nonfiction Editing for his work on the Showtime television series “This American Life,” based on the celebrated public radio program. Other projects include “Objectified,” a documentary film currently in theaters, and numerous television series and programs sponsored by the UN and State Department.
Producer Jason Bitner is the co-creator of FOUND Magazine, an acclaimed show-and-tell project celebrating found notes, letters and other ephemera, and the creator of Cassette From My Ex, a storytelling project based around love and mixtapes. Jason’s work has been widely published and reviewed, and has been featured in print, web, radio, and television appearances including The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, National Public Radio, SPIN Magazine, The New Yorker and many others.
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These are real people. The grace and dignity one sees in their faces should be a source of hope for us all.”
- John Mellencamp
“A touching and full-bodied cinematic portrait of an entire small city, told through the individual faces and stories of the people who lived there mid-century…simply one of the best documentaries I’ve seen in recent years.
- The Film Yap
“The story is universal. It would do some good for everyone in this country to take an hour and six minutes and watch this documentary — an hour and six minutes to reconnect with our roots, our heritage — and set our future paths a little straighter.”
- The LP Herald Argus