By JAMES BELL
A 1976 documentary showcasing rural life in America with Hays as a subject will be broadcast this weekend and featured on the Hays Arts Council website as a way to help bring people together, even if remotely, after the cancellation of the annual Spring Art Walk.
"I really wanted to find something special to provide the community during what was supposed to have been our Spring Art Walk weekend, a time of such wonderful community connections," said Hays Arts Council Executive Director Brenda Meder.
"To provide a little distraction, revel in nostalgia and demonstrate that things change and, as a community, we have always adapted to the change that, and we will again, the Hays Arts Council has acquired the rights from Radio Television Suisse for both the television and screening rights to the 1976 documentary on Hays, Kansas entitled 'A Quiet America,' " she said.
Meder said broadcasting the film and its 2015 sequel was important to make it accessible to as many people as possible.
With the assistance of the Fort Hays State University's Tiger Media Network, the film will air on both area cable systems on Eagle channel 17 and Nex-Tech channel 102 at 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
"My primary concern has been that the films be accessible to our older citizens, the ones to whom this may mean the most — and will hopefully be a source of joy and entertainment and memories," Meder said.
The film will also be made available on-demand on the council's website in the days following the broadcast.
The film was previously shown in 2017 by the council, but with recent events, Meder said she thought the look back at Hays would be particularly poignant.
"After seeing the enthusiasm for Hays’ recent 'dragging Main' event and seeing how much everyone enjoyed the nostalgia it generated, we were reminded of the 'dragging Main' scenes in that ’76 documentary," she said in a recent Facebook post, which also gave a little history of the project.
Film producers at the time wanted to show a glimpse of small-town American life at the time of the U.S. bicentennial.
Multiple sites were visited before Hays was selected.
"For several weeks in the spring of ‘76, a Swiss production team led by Jean-Jacques Legrange and Marc Schindler traveled the streets of Hays, discovered its history, met its people, and visited churches, businesses, bingo halls, VFW dinners, livestock auctions, newspaper, radio and television stations, even spending a little time with the locals 'dragging Main,' " Meder said.
The film was first shown domestically by the council in 2017 — almost 40 years after it was shown in Europe.
A companion piece — "Back to Hays," filmed by Schindler in 2015 — will accompany the original film.