“Grays Harbor Happenings” receives statewide acclaim

Communities rarely get a chance to really see how their ancestors lived — how they walked, how they smiled, how they laughed.

But about a year ago, Harborites were given a rare glimpse into the 1920s when “Grays Harbor Happenings: the Newsreels of C.D. Anderson” premiered at the 7th St. Theatre. Since then, the documentary has received acclaim from both the Washington State Historical Society and Seattle’s film making community.

The documentary was recently accepted into the Seattle True Independent Film Festival, a yearly event featuring independent, underground, experimental and zero-budget films. According to Polson Museum Director John Larson, the film’s director, Ann Coppel, entered the documentary in the festival so it could be seen by a larger audience.

“Now people up in Seattle, people from all over the region will be able to learn about our local history,” Larson said.

The documentary, along with two other films, will play at the the Grand Illusion Theater in Seattle at 8 p.m. on May 6. To learn more about the film festival or purchase tickets, which cost $8, visit www.trueindependent.org.

The film festival announcement comes on the heels of another honor awarded to the makers of “Grays Harbor Happenings: the Newsreels of C.D. Anderson.” The University of Washington Libraries Special Collections staff received the David Douglas Award — one of the Washington State Historical Society’s most prestigious awards, according to Larson, who nominated Special Collections for the honor.

“It is uncommon for a big-city institution to reach out to a small and geographically distant community with a genuine interest in sharing something historically precious,” Larson wrote in his nomination letter.

The process of preserving the rare C.D. Anderson newsreels began in 2004 when Special Collections received a donation of 53 film reels discovered in a Seattle storage area. Staff spent years restoring the historic film and making it accessible to the public.

Coppel later wove the footage into a documentary, with the help of research by Aberdeen Museum volunteer Roy Vataja.

“The fact that the Historical Society gave them this award, that’s huge news,” Larson said. “It was a great project.”

Those who would like to watch the documentary closer to home can attend a screening at the Aberdeen Timberland Library on April 12 at 2 p.m. The event is free, and members of the public are invited to attend.

Copies of the documentary can also be purchased for $25 at the Polson Museum, the Aberdeen Museum, Harbor Drug and City Drug.


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