From Academy Award nominated filmmakers Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan’s comes Our Towns. It is a moving and uplifting portrait of America and how the rise of civic and economic reinvention is transforming small cities and towns across the country. Based on the bestselling book “Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America” by journalists James and Deborah Fallows, the visually stunning feature documentary spotlights ingenious local initiatives and explores how a sense of community and common language of change can help people and towns find a different path to the future. In 2011, the Fallows created a blogpost for The Atlantic asking their readers to share compelling stories about their towns – from economic setbacks to local struggles or achievements – that have been overlooked by the national press. Within a week, they received over 1,000 responses. For the next five years, they traveled the United States exploring the changes taking place across small town America for what would become their bestselling book. In 2018, Ascher and Jordan joined them to revisit eight of those cities, including San Bernardino, CA; Sioux Falls, SD; Columbus, MS; Eastport, ME; Charleston, WV; and Bend, OR. Our Towns introduces us to a wide range of civic leaders, immigrants, educators, environmentalists, artists, students, and more, witnessing their love for their communities and the innovative ways they are improving them. OUR TOWNS provides an expansive perspective on America that finds unexpected connections between personal stories, community actions, and the arc of history. Although filmed before the pandemic, OUR TOWNS speaks to how the country, and by extension the world, can find a way forward.
About the filmmaker – STEVEN ASCHER is an Academy Award-nominated director and writer. He’s author of The Filmmaker’s Handbook, a bestselling text, and has taught filmmaking, most recently as a visiting professor at Harvard. The Boston Globe calls his work “filmmaking at its finest.” He wrote, directed and co-produced the short drama Seduction Theory which was selected for the Toronto International Shorts Festival , the Los Angeles International Shorts Festival, won a Platinum Remi for best dark comedy at Worldfest Houston and screened at the Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner. He is author of The Filmmaker’s Handbook: a Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age (with Ed Pincus) a bestselling text and a staple of universities and film schools internationally. Called “the bible” by The Independent, the “gold-standard technical reference” by The Boston Globe, and “seminal” by The New York Times. Ascher has written greatly expanded new editions; the fifth was released in 2019. Over 360,000 copies in print. He has served as a juror at the Sundance Film Festival, the Emmys, the Full Frame Film Festival, the Independent Film Festival Boston, the National Student Film Festival, Woods Hole Film Festival and the McKnight Fellowship. He has been a guest critic for several film programs including Yale University, Duke University and the Rhode Island School of Design. Writing on Ascher’s work has appeared in many publications including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, Variety, Ecran Total and books including Documentary Storytelling by Sheila Curren Bernard. For more go to: West City Films
About the filmmaker – JEANNE JORDAN is an Academy Award-nominated producer, director, and editor of documentaries and dramas. TheIndependent said of her resume, “it reads like PBS’s greatest hits.” Jordan was Series Producer of the PBS children’s series Postcards from Buster for two seasons, producing a new, international version of the show, nominated for the Outstanding Children’s Series Emmy both years. Jordan edited two films of the groundbreaking civil rights series Eyes on the Prize which was nominated for an Oscar and won the DuPont Columbia Award, and films for American Experience, including season opener, Amelia Earhart and The Wright Stuff. Other editing includes My Mother’s Murder for HBO and the Emmy-nominee, A Normal Face for NOVA. Her dramatic feature work includes several films for American Playhouse, including Noon Wine, Lemon Sky and the Emmy-winning series Concealed Enemies on the trials of Alger Hiss. She edited the bilingual feature, Blue Diner which won the prestigious ALMA award. In 1988, Jordan and Orlando Bagwell produced Running With Jesse, a chronicle of Jesse Jackson’s presidential run for FRONTLINE, which Jordan also edited. She has produced and edited several pieces for The PBS Newshour and films for the PBS series Art Close Up, which won and were nomintated for Emmys. Jordan graduated from the University of Iowa and began her career at Iowa Public Television. She has twice been honored with a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard and she was a member of the Breadloaf writers conference. She has taught filmmaking at Harvard and the Art Institute of Boston. She has lectured and held master classes in several countries, including Tokyo University, the CPB/PBS Producers Academy, the Full Frame Fellows Program, the Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Harvard Law School, and the Aristoteles Workshop in Romania sponsored by the European network Arte. She has been a guest critic at Yale University, Duke University and Rhode Island School of Design. Jordan has advised and contributed to numerous film productions. She and Ascher are Executive Producers of the ITVS-supported film, Deej, winner of the Peabody Award. She has received grants from the the LEF Foundation, the Artists Foundation, the Paul Robeson Fund, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Iowa Humanities and many other state humanities and arts councils. Her films have screened at major festivals internationally and are in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, Harvard Film Archive, UCLA and the Sundance Collection. Jordan’s writing on films has appeared in Documentary Magazine. Writing on Jordan’s work has appeared in many publications including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, Variety, Ecran Total and books including Documentary Storytelling by Sheila Curren Bernard. For more go to: West City Films
“Ascher and Jordan’s films are consistently thoughtful and moving, deeply committed, and resonant with craft: their considerable gifts as filmmakers include their ability to make what is complex and difficult to film and edit seem easy.” – Scott MacDonald, American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary
“Dedicated filmmakers with an uncanny eye for capturing drama in the most commonplace activities.” – John Cooper, Director, Sundance Film Festival Festival