WIRE" PREMIERES TO PACKED HOUSE AS NEARLY 1,200 FILL
1,200 community members joined together to witness the premiere
of "Barbed Wire Pioneers: Inventing a Community"
last Thursday night at the historic Egyptian Theatre. As
one film viewer commented after having to park his car in
one of the only parking spots left -- nearly six blocks
away from the theatre, "I think all of DeKalb County
is here tonight."
of it was, including DeKalb Mayor Bessie Chronopoulos, Aldermen
Miguel Checa and Steve Kapitan, and Jessie Glidden, Joseph
Glidden's grand-niece. Some even came with their own barbed
wire props, the most notable being an old walking cane fashioned
from the actual 19th century barbed wire, created by barbed
wire pioneer Jacob Haish.
certainly was a night where the entire community came together,"
said DeKalb City Manager Jim Connors. "Where my wife
and I were sitting, we had long-time DeKalb residents aged
80-plus as well as people who had just moved here as well
as ten- and eight-year olds. I came away from that film,
after having lived in DeKalb for 30-years, with such an
appreciation for its rich heritage, its roots, and for the
pioneers who shaped America and our future. The experience
of sharing this with fourth generation DeKalb residents
as well as new residents was one that I've never felt in
any other community I've ever been in."
members, young and old alike, obviously enjoyed the film
-- gasping at the film's depiction of opulence in the barbed
wire inventors' homes and laughing upon learning that the
DeKalb community of that time went without water for two
days in order to damn the Kishwaukee River and impress decision
makers into bringing Northern Illinois University (NIU)
to the area. It worked then, as did the film now.
was very gratified to see such a wide representation of
the DeKalb population come out to see our film," said
the film's director Dr. Chown. "I always knew DeKalb
had a lively interest in its culture and history, but I
was truly humbled to see people, young and old, gathering
together so enthusiastically to see our attempt at telling
the story through the visual medium. And since the film
debuted, I can't tell you how many congratulatory calls
and e-mails we've received. The DeKalb community has a lot
to be proud of and they've shown just how invested they
are in letting the rest of the world know it."
50-minute documentary that highlights DeKalb's important
place in history and tells the story of its nineteenth century
inventors, Joseph Glidden, Isaac Ellwood, and Jacob Haish,
who revolutionized the manufacture and distribution of barbed
wire across the American West, was created by NIU Professor
of Communication Jeffrey Chown and the graduate students
from his documentary course. The documentary, which has
won second place in the biography division at the prestigious
Silver State Documentary festival in Las Vegas, Nevada,
one of the most important university documentary competitions
in the nation, enjoys the support of NIU's leaders as many
attended the screening and were thrilled w. At the public's
request, future screenings of "Barbed Wire" and
copies of the video for sale are being coordinated and will
be announced at a later date.
already had a number of community members requesting copies
of the film and offering their assistance in any future
productions," said Chown.
the success of "Barbed Wire Pioneers," Dr. Chown
plans to engage the Spring 1999 seminar students in producing
a half-hour documentary on the life of Governor John Peter
Altgeld. The completion of this film will coincide with
grand reopening ceremonies connected with the multi-million
dollar refurbishment of NIU's Altgeld Hall. For more information,
call Dr. Chown at (815) 753-6989.