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Thursday, November 1st, 2012


Ken Burns' New Film “THE DUST BOWL”


THE DUST BOWL premiers Sunday, Nov. 18th and Monday, Nov. 19th at 7:00pm on WTVP-HD.

The huge Black Sunday storm - the worst storm of the decade-long Dust Bowl in the southern Plains - as it approaches Ulysses, Kansas, April 14, 1935

THE DUST BOWL, a new two-part, four-hour documentary by Ken Burns, airs Sunday-Monday, November 18-19, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. on WTVP-HD. The film chronicles the environmental catastrophe that, throughout the 1930s, destroyed the farmlands of the Great Plains, turned prairies into deserts and unleashed a pattern of massive, deadly dust storms that for many seemed to herald the end of the world. It was the worst manmade ecological disaster in American history.

Each episode will encore immediately following its premiere, from 9:00-11:00 p.m. both nights.

Written and co-produced by longtime Burns collaborator Dayton Duncan, THE DUST BOWL tells the story of the farming boom in the early 20th century that transformed the grassland of the southern plains into wheat fields. Once a drought hit in 1931, winds began picking up soil from the open fields and grew into dust storms of biblical proportions. Each year for nearly a decade, the storms grew more ferocious and more frequent, sweeping up millions of tons of earth, killing crops and livestock, threatening to turn the southern plains into a Sahara, even spreading the dust clear across the country. Children developed fatal “dust pneumonia,” business owners unable to cope with the financial ruin committed suicide and thousands of desperate Americans were torn from their homes and forced on the road in an exodus unlike anything the United States had ever seen.

THE DUST BOWL is also a story of heroic perseverance against enormous odds: families finding ways to survive and hold on to their land, national and local government programs that kept hungry families afloat and a partnership between government agencies and farmers to develop new farming and conservation methods.

THE DUST BOWL chronicles this critical moment in American history in all its complexities and profound human drama. It is, in part, oral history, using compelling interviews with 26 survivors of those hard times — what will probably be the last recorded testimony of the generation that lived through the Dust Bowl. Filled with seldom-seen movie footage, previously unpublished photographs, the songs of Woody Guthrie and the observations of two remarkable women who left behind eloquent written accounts, the film is also a historical accounting of what happened and why during the 1930s on the southern plains.



A preview website for THE DUST BOWL is available at pbs.org/dustbowl and includes video clips, opportunities for users to share stories, background information on the film and filmmakers, and information on engagement activities. The full companion site for THE DUST BOWL will launch in October and will include selections from scripts, video outtakes and transcripts from interviews, archival footage and photographs and music, as well as educational outreach materials and lesson plans that will enable teachers to use the Dust Bowl as a historical lens to explore changes affecting the environment today. PBS has also launched a social media campaign designed to engage audiences online in conversations and discussions around the themes in the film. Fans can follow Ken Burns on Twitter @KenBurns or on Facebook at Facebook.com/KenBurnsPBS. The Dust Bowl: An Illustrated History, written by Dayton Duncan with a preface by Ken Burns, will accompany the film. Published by Chronicle Books, The Dust Bowl will be on sale in October.

THE DUST BOWL will be available on DVD and Blu-ray from PBS Distribution: ShopPBS.org; 800-PLAY-PBS, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Funding is provided by Bank of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, Public Broadcasting Service, National Endowment for the Humanities, The Rockefeller Foundation, Wallace Genetic Foundation and members of The Better Angels Society, including the Dana A. Hamel Family Charitable Trust and Robert and Beverly Grappone.

THE DUST BOWL is a production of Florentine Films and WETA, Washington, DC. Director: Ken Burns. Writer: Dayton Duncan. Producers: Dayton Duncan, Ken Burns and Julie Dunfey. Editors: Craig Mellish and Ryan Gifford.Cinematography: Buddy Squires and Steve McCarthy. Voices: Patricia Clarkson, Kevin Conway, Amy Madigan and Carolyn McCormick. Narrator: Peter Coyote.


About WETA
WETA Washington, DC, is the third-largest producing station for public television and the flagship public broadcaster in the nation’s capital. WETA productions and co-productions include THE NEWSHOUR WITH JIM LEHRER, WASHINGTON WEEK WITH GWEN IFILL AND NATIONAL JOURNAL, AMERICA AT A CROSSROADS and IN PERFORMANCE AT THE WHITE HOUSE. Additionally, for more than 20 years, WETA has partnered with filmmaker Ken Burns to bring his landmark documentaries to the nation via public television, including the 2007 film THE WAR. Sharon Percy Rockefeller is president and CEO of WETA. More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at www.weta.org.

About PBS
PBS, with its nearly 360 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches nearly 123 million people through television and more than 21 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and its website, pbskids.org, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the Internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile devices.





For further information contact Linda Miller, WTVP Vice President of Programming, at (309) 495-0591 or linda.miller@wtvp.org



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