‘The Crisis Mr. Faubus Made’ wins Indie Fest award

CONWAY — “The Crisis Mr. Faubus Made: The Role of the Arkansas Gazette in the Central High Crisis,” has won a prestigious Award of Merit from The Indie Fest.

The 30-minute film, released in 2010, was honored in the Short Documentary category.

“Our film shows an important part of American history that has not been fully explained before, and it is gratifying for it to be recognized with an Indie for its contribution to history,” said Donna Lampkin Stephens, assistant professor of journalism at UCA and the film’s producer.

Elizabeth Eckford being harrassed by white students at Central High.

The film’s title echoes the headline of a 1957 editorial that ran in the late Arkansas Gazette. Under the leadership of owner J.N.Heiskell, who served as editor for 70 years until he died at age 100, the Gazette became the first newspaper to win two Pulitzer Prizes in the same year for its coverage of the integration of Little Rock Central High School in 1957 as Gov. Orval Faubus called out the National Guard to prevent nine black students from entering the school.

The newspaper won the Pulitzer for Meritorious Public Service, and its executive editor, Harry S. Ashmore, won the prize for editorial writing. The Gazette’s stance for law and order served as a voice of reason during those tumultuous months, according to the Pulitzer citation.

Harry Ashmore (from left), J.N. Heiskell and Hugh Patterson of the Gazette.

The Indie Fest recognizes film professionals who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity and those who produce standout entertainment or contribute to profound social change. Entries are judged by highly qualified professionals in the film industry.

Information about the Indie Fest and a list of recent winners can be found at www.theindiefest.com.

The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation funded “Mr. Faubus,” by independent filmmaker Kevin Thomas Clark in collaboration with the University of Central Arkansas. Clark was the director. Stephens, the producer, worked as a sportswriter at the Gazette from 1984-91. Dr. Joseph Anderson, retired chair of the Department of Mass Communication and Theatre, was executive producer and Mike Gunter, assistant professor of digital filmmaking, was director of photography.

“Mr. Faubus” is the companion film to the 2006 feature-length documentary “The Old Gray Lady: Arkansas’s First Newspaper,” which tells the story of the Arkansas Gazette from its birth in 1819 until its death on Oct. 18, 1991, when the Gannett Corporation sold its assets to Walter Hussman, owner of the Arkansas Democrat. Hussman then changed the name of his publication to reflect his purchase.

Academy Award-winning actress Mary Steenburgen, who grew up in North Little Rock, narrates the voice of the newspaper in both Gazette films.

“The Indie is not an easy award to win,” said Thomas Baker, Ph.D., who chairs The Indie Fest. “Entries are received from around the world. The Indie helps set the standard for craft and creativity. The judges were pleased with the exceptionally high quality of entries.

“The goal of The Indie is to help winners achieve the recognition they deserve.”

“Mr. Faubus,” which screened previously at the Conway Film Festival and the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, will play in the Arkansas Documentary Showcase at the Ozark Foothills Film Festival in Batesville at Independence Hall on the campus of the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville at 2:30 p.m. on March 26.

In 1974 the Trustees of Governor Winthrop Rockefeller’s Estate endowed the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation to continue the work of The Rockwin Fund. Gov. Rockefeller set up The Rockwin Fund in 1954 and, on an annual basis from 1956 until his death in 1973, funded projects and programs he believed were important to improving the quality of life in Arkansas.

The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation whose mission is to improve the lives of Arkansans by funding programs and projects that improve education, economic development and economic, racial and social justice. During the past 30 years the Foundation has awarded more than $85 million in grants. Additional information about the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation can be found on its Web site, www.wrfoundation.org.

For further information, contact Stephens at (501) 852-2599, (501) 450-5605 or [email protected]