Monday, January 7, 2008

Cape Breton flavour added to documentary about Parton’s literacy program

TROY — A documentary detailing a country music legend’s campaign for children’s literacy will feature some Cape Breton flavour.The Book Lady, chronicling Dolly Parton’s Dollywood Foundation and her Imagination Library program in both the United States and Canada, shot some footage in Cape Breton this week, conducting interviews with renowned fiddler Natalie MacMaster and a Waycobah-area family which has been involved in the program.The one-hour documentary is being produced by Sydney native Brad Horvath for Halifax-based Emotion Pictures, in association with Horvath’s own company, Amygdala Pictures.“The documentary is two-fold,” said Horvath, who serves as producer on the project. “(It) will show another side of Dolly and shed light on the importance of reading to preschool children. We hope it will also inspire people to get involved in this initiative.”Imagination Library is a program that mails free, age-appropriate books each month to preschool children.The Grammy-winning and Oscar-nominated singer, songwriter and actress has given millions of books to American children since initially setting up Imagination Library in 1996 to aid children in her home state of Tennessee. In 2007, she partnered with Canadian charitable organization, Invest in Kids, and brought the campaign to several Canadian communities, including two in Nova Scotia — Dartmouth and Waycobah.Several months ago, Horvath and Halifax-based director Natasha Ryan travelled with a small crew to meet Parton in Tennessee and have since interviewed a number of prominent Canadians and Americans for the documentary including Academy Award-winning actress Olympia Dukakis, country music singer Keith Urban, actress and singer Miley Cyrus, star of the Disney Channel hit series Hannah Montana, figure skating champion Kurt Browning and children’s author Robert Munsch.Horvath said he was thrilled to include a piece of home in the documentary and MacMaster — an admirer of Parton’s and a mother of two young children who is committed to the literacy cause — was a natural fit for the documentary.“Natalie was lovely. We had a great time with her,” he said, noting after doing an interview with the fiddler they taped MacMaster’s young nephew reading a book to her.After completing filming with MacMaster in her home community of Troy, the documentarians moved on to the Waycobah First Nation where they interviewed a mother who has been receiving books for her children through the program as well as local health centre staff who help administer the program in the community.Halifax-based filmmaker Thom Fitzgerald serves as executive producer on The Book Lady, which has been pre-sold to CBC-TV for national broadcast. Horvath noted other broadcasters have also expressed interest in the documentary.
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