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A documentary about Florence will help celebrate Kansas' 150th birthday

Staff writer

Stephen Lerner, a psychologist and filmmaker from Lawrence, has obtained a $10,000 grant from the Kansas Humanities Council to create a documentary about Florence. He will be assisted by Frank Barthell, a media specialist at the University of Kansas.

The 15-minute film will be part of the 2011 celebration of 150 years of Kansas statehood.

Lerner said he has been interested in small towns in Kansas for years. He and Barthell visited Florence last summer and became fascinated by the town and its history.

“Our 15-minute film about Florence, Kansas, will reflect the sense of place and points of view of a sampling of those who live there, and their visions of the past and future of the town,” Lerner wrote in his grant application. “Located in the contexts of Florence’s history and the beauty of the surrounding Flint Hills, this film will express the various forces flowing through much of small town rural Kansas, and America today.”

The men hope to finish the film in the summer of 2011 with a possible first showing in Florence.

Filming has already begun. Lerner recently interviewed Norma Hannaford of Marion. She shared memories of many visits to Florence while growing up in Marion.

Lerner has made many films before, mostly educational videos to help train other mental health professionals. His last film was a documentary shot in Mexico, called “Tras Bambalinas” (Behind the Scenes), which won the award for Best Documentary in April 2009 at the Kansas/Missouri Short Film Festival in Lawrence.

Lerner is shooting the film about Florence on high definition video and editing it in his home studio using
Final Cut Pro Studio, Apple’s professional film editing software.

When the film is finished, the Kansas Humanities Council will show it around the state and perhaps put it on its Web site.

Lerner is hoping to enter the documentary in film festivals and perhaps get it aired on public television. A copy will be available permanently at the Harvey House Museum in Florence.

Last modified May 6, 2010

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