Film about Utah Phillips premieres online this Labor Day weekend

A film about the late folksinger/storyteller/activist U. Utah Phillips has an online premiere screening this Labor Day Weekend.

Ten years in the making, “Tales from the Long Memory” — directed by Charlie Hall and co-produced by Hall and Bevin Bell-Hall, both Nevada County natives — will be available for streaming beginning Friday night at 5 p.m. PDT through midnight Monday night at the website ForAiFilm.com

Dubbed “the story of America you didn’t learn in school,” the film features Phillips as “narrator” by using material from his Pacifica Radio Network series “Loafer’s Glory: A Hobo Jungle Of The Mind,” which was produced at KVMR-FM, Nevada City with longtime KVMR broadcaster/staff member Steve Baker.

Suggested donation for the film is $10, with proceeds going to the social justice organizations mentioned in the film, including Hospitality House here.

As a folk singer Utah Phillips enchanted his audience with humor and insight and taught them the lessons he had learned while tramping about an America rarely seen. Later in life, he settled in idyllic Nevada City, where he created a radio program that brought his traveling show to the audience of the airwaves via “Loafer’s Glory”.

Director Charlie Hall is originally from Nevada City and has volunteered with Hospitality House Shelter, an organization co-founded by Utah before the folksinger passed away in 2008. The nonprofit group is dedicated to providing a safe and welcome place for people experiencing homelessness. At Hospitality House Charlie was able to see first hand the philosophy of how to treat one another that Utah expressed in his art.

During this time he also got to know Utah’s friends and family. With their guidance, Hall developed the film idea and using the audio from “Loafer’s Glory” as narration and contemporary scenes from across the country to show that the story continues.

About the film

In the autumn, when the leaves are down, it’s the time that folk singing rabble rouser U. Utah Phillips thinks about hitting the rails.

As a young man he crisscrossed the country on freight trains in search of teachers that would help to understand himself and where he came from. During this time he experienced the ultimate freedom of having no home ahead and none behind but he also experienced the works of mercy as he faced the difficulties of his journey. He discovered the dynamic struggle of people to organize themselves and demand a quality of life for themselves and those around them that provides bread yes, but roses too.

“Tales from the Long Memory” follows the people who look to Utah as their teacher now while they continue the work that inspired him throughout his life

In Detroit the Wobbly Kitchen shows how the simple act of feeding someone can spark a community of solidarity in a city struggling to rebuild its glory.

In Madison, Wisconsin, the sweet sounds of labor songs echo through the capital building every day at noon, while in Portland the Sisters of the Road Café serve up dignity and nourishment at a price you can afford.

And in a quaint Northern California gold rush town, a dedicated group of community members grow an idea into a house of hospitality called Utah’s Place.

This is the second documentary Hall and Bell-Hall have produced. The first, a film about medical marijuana called “The WAMM Movie,” won the audience award for Best Documentary Feature at the 2010 Santa Cruz Film Festival.

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