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In 1933, John and Alan Lomax, a legendary father and son musicologist team, travel through the American South recording unheard folk songs. They bribe their way into the country’s most oppressive penitentiary. In order to record a chain gang singing, the father must confront his own personal traumas.

Director's Statement:

I have a visceral reaction to hearing the field recordings of John and Alan Lomax. These are evocative work songs, spirituals, ballads and oral histories. These are rarely heard American voices that ring out from the past with wisdom about pain, beauty, desire and above all, spirituality. They describe a life of suffering and the bliss that can come with death. Ultimately, I see them as a form of narrative medicine. The only way to access the emotional truth of 20th century field recordings is to make their depictions of Heaven and Hell feel undeniably real. These recordings have sparked my passion for marrying an obsessively researched depiction of the Lomax legacy with a surreal visual language that is inspired by the lyrics in this music. The Lomaxes truly did introduce impoverished and incarcerated voices to a mainstream audience. However, they also represent some of the first instances of appropriating black culture. My hope is that our story can sit at the intersection of this moral balance.

Lukas Huffman
Lukas Huffman
Anthony Santos
15 Minutes
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