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Maryland Civil War film wins Emmy award

August 08, 2013|By TERESA DUNHAM CAVAGNARO | Special to The Herald-Mail
  • Marylands Heart of the Civil War, combines scenic shots and re-enactments with commentaries from historians.
Submitted photo

A documentary film with local ties brought home a prestigious Emmy Award earlier this summer.

The film, “Maryland’s Heart of the Civil War,” earned its Emmy recognition from the National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences at a ceremony in mid-June in Baltimore.

The historical documentary explores the Civil War’s impact on the landscape and personal lives of Marylanders in the area that is being called the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area — which includes Washington, Frederick, and Carroll counties — by combining scenic shots and re-enactments with compelling commentaries from respected historians.

“To win an Emmy for our film gave us validation that we did justice to the story of how the war impacted Maryland. It felt really awesome,” said the film’s producer, Robert Ferrier.

Each time it airs on PBS stations across the United States, it draws national attention to Washington County’s involvement in the strife, according to Thomas Riford, president and CEO of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

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“We didn’t necessarily set out to win an Emmy,” Riford said, explaining that the real intention was to create a high-quality documentary that would tell a great story accurately and pique interest in local Civil War tourism. 

Winning was a bonus, but Riford said he is thrilled and honored.

“We’re very excited that this documentary film won a regional Emmy Award. It was a very well done documentary,” he said. “It has certainly brought a lot of positive attention to our part of Maryland.”

The documentary was produced by the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area in partnership with Maryland Public Television (MPT). As chairman of the Washington County delegation to the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area, Riford had the chance to collaborate with others to get the process rolling so that the film was ready in time for the 150th anniversary of Antietam last year.

The $400,000 documentary by MPT was funded through grants and contributions from the Tourism Council of Frederick County, the National Scenic Byways Program of the Federal Highways Administration, and the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, according to Chris Haugh, scenic byway and special projects manager for the Tourism Council of Frederick County. 

The film takes viewers on a tour through local Civil War history and homefront experiences — putting battles like Antietam into perspective —and then ends with a 10-minute segment that tells viewers how they can use the scenic byways in all three counties to see battlefields, trails, markers and so forth.

“We gave them a proposed itinerary,” said Haugh, who first came up with the idea of a documentary when he was brainstorming with folks from the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area a few years ago.

Haugh said the Emmy Award is the result of work by excellent videographers, writers and editors — but the “real magic” was the historians who provided commentary and painted a vivid picture of the events.

“We had 16 commentators for this program, and they were top notch,” he said.

Out of those 16 commentators, he said six are residents of Washingon County. Those individuals are Dennis Frye, Steve Stotelmyer, the Rev. John Schildt, Tom Clemens, George Wunderlich and Tracy Evans.

The film first premiered on MPT last September and had its local premier in Hagerstown this June.

With the documentary airing on public television stations across the nation, Riford said he has gotten calls and emails from people from Florida to Washington state who are interested in Maryland’s role as a border state in the War.

“What happened here was unique in the United States,” Riford said.

To see the film

To watch the film, visit http://video.mpt.tv/video/2281227012/. To learn more about Maryland’s role in the Civil War, browse www.heartofthecivilwar.org.

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