Film by Appalachian dance studies professor recognized at Mississippi film festival

“Sound and Sole,” a short film by assistant professor Cara Hagan, has won best Southern States documentary at the Southern States Indie Fan Film Fest held in Biloxi, Mississippi. Hagan, who teaches in Appalachian State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance, spent nearly 18 months creating the piece on local clog and buck dancer Arthur Grimes.

No stranger to film, Hagan is the founder of the American Dance Festival’s “Movies by Movers” film festival, an annual event dedicated to the celebration of the conversation between the body and the camera. In this role, she curates the program by screening all submissions. This experience, she says, is what allowed her to see recent trends in American dance film projects and encouraged her to share work that’s not typically seen on the dance film circuit.

“‘Sound and Sole’ features a man of color practicing a non-concert dance form born of a colloquial nature, and the music is by local resident Trajan Wellington,” she shared. “It shines a light on the rich African-American culture here in Appalachia, which is something that people don’t always see.” 

“Sound and Sole” is Hagan’s third documentary, and one that took quite a bit of planning. In addition to coordinating logistics with her Appalachian film crew – AppTV General Manager Robert Gelber, Associate Professor Tom Hansell and alumnae Susanna Kornegay ’18 and Molly Clay ’15 – she often had to physically locate Grimes.

“Arthur doesn’t text, so when we needed him, I’d give him a call or go downtown and start looking,” she said. “He owns his own moving business as well, so we needed to work around his schedule.” 

Hagan also crowdfunded the film, raising enough to cover costs through an Indiegogo campaign during spring 2018.

After almost 18 months of preparation and hard work, the film premiered at the Boone Film Festival in November.

“To me, it was so special that Arthur was able to attend the premiere here in Boone,” she said. “He got a great reception and was pleased with the final product.”

Overall, Hagan has submitted the film to more than 40 festivals around the country and has been accepted to five including the most recent event in Biloxi.

“I’m excited to have this opportunity – to show the beauty that exists in Appalachia in different ways. I’m thrilled that we were able to bring the film to a festival and have our hard work recognized.” 

About the Department of Theatre and Dance

The Department of Theatre and Dance is one of seven departments housed in Appalachian’s College of Fine and Applied Arts. Its mission is to facilitate transformative experiences for students and the public, which cultivate compassionate, creative and collaborative communities through theatre and dance. The department also offers coursework for integrated learning through the arts to the general university student population. Its dynamic co-curricular production program provides exemplary theatre and dance experiences to departmental students, the university community and the region.

About Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.

Cara Hagan, Arthur Grimes and Rob Gelber
Published: Jan 22, 2019 10:08am