PORTSMOUTH – ‘Peerless City’, a documentary directed by filmmaker David Bernabo and Portsmouth author Amanda Page, is set to premiere at the Appalachian Foothills Literary Festival on Saturday, March 26.
The documentary focuses on Portsmouth, a City the filmmakers describe as once “brimming with industry upon the banks of the Ohio River.” The film tells the story of three phases of Portsmouth by examining the three famous slogans the city has enjoyed: ‘Peerless City’, ‘Where Southern Hospitality Begins,’ and ‘The Comeback City’.
“The central question of the documentary is: what role do these slogans serve in crafting the identity and the narrative of the place?” asked Page. “Each slogan is a piece of the City’s history, and each slogan contributed to the shaping of that history.”
Dozens of Portsmouth residents were interviewed for the film – and Page worked with many locals to make it happen.
“It’s been so fun to work with so many incredible people from Portsmouth,” said Page. “We worked with Nick Sherman, who has been doing the graphics, and they’ve been amazing. Drew Feight, Maureen Cadogan, and David Page were all humanities consultants and have been consistently helpful. Folks should really check out our website, peerlesscity.com, and learn more about it!”
Page also organized the Appalachian Foothills Literary Festival which will kick off on Friday, March 25. The festival is a two-day event that celebrates the writing and storytelling of the tri-state region. It will be hosted at Shawnee State University.
The first session of the festival will begin with a screening of ‘Moundsville’, the documentary directed by Bernabo which ultimately led to the creation of ‘Peerless City’.
“I actually met David (Bernabo) on Twitter after I saw the ‘Moundsville’ film,” explained Page. “It’s about a town in West Virginia that is also very Appalachian and river valley focused. It’s really the inspiration for ‘Peerless City’. I think viewers will see a parallel to Portsmouth.”
The second event is a keynote address by the Poet Laureate of Ohio: Kari Gunter-Seymour.
“She’s a wonderful Appalachian poet and the author of ‘A Place so Deep Inside America it Can’t be Seen’. It was so important to have a champion such as her for Appalachian literature at the festival.”
The last event of Friday evening will be an open mic poetry night hosted by Amanda Rena Lewis at Patties and Pints.
On Saturday, the Appalachian Foothills Festival will start with a poetry write off. Participants will submit poems written on site and be judged. The grand prize winner will receive a gift basket put together by Page.
Finally, the premiere of “Peerless City” will occur at 7 p.m. at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts. Afterward, a Q&A session will be held with Page and Bernabo.
“There is no entry fee for this festival,” said Page. “Because of COVID, this has been a tough couples years for many folks. So, this event is free. I will worry about fundraising later. I’m just so excited for Portsmouth to see this film and catch a glimpse of itself from a native daughter.”
For more information, check out peerlesscity.com and the Appalachian Foothills Festival on Facebook.
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