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Communication Department to screen American Civil War film

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The University of South Alabama’s Department of Communication will premiere a film based on the book Journey to the Wilderness: War, Memory and a Southern Family’s Civil War Letter written by the USA writer in residence Frye Gaillard. The film is scheduled to premiere on Thursday April 5 at 6 p.m. in the Marx Library Auditorium.

“Journey to the Wilderness tells the story of Gaillard’s uneasy relationship with his family’s Confederate past, his personal and professional journey during the Civil Rights era and his quest to learn the unvarnished truth about what the American Civil War was really like for his ancestors,” said Dr. Steven Trout, co-chair of the USA Center for the Study of War and Memory and chairman of the English department.

Gaillard’s book was first published in 2015. Dr. James Aucoin, chairman of the Department of Communication, approached Gaillard two years ago to apply for a
grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation to create a film based on the book. The film was directed and produced by Emmywinning Mike Letcher from the Tuscaloosa-based Dragonfly Public Media, an independent production partnership, and filmed by Emmywinning cinematographer Preston Sullivan of the Alabama Center for Public Television.

Gaillard gives much credit to the faculty involved for the success of this project.

“Dr. Aucoin from the Department of Communication, who originally had the idea for the film, applied for and received a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation,” Gaillard said. “Oncampus support came from the President’s Office, the USA Center for the Study of War and Memory, co-chaired by Dr. Steven Trout in the English Dept and Dr. Susan McCready in Foreign Languages and the Departments of English, History and Communication. Dr. Richard Ward of Communication and Dr. Trout, Aucoin and McCready offered feedback on content and technical advice.”

For Gaillard, this film is a tool to emphasize the importance of the American Civil War in the nation’s history, even today with the debate surrounding Confederate monuments.

“It couldn’t be more timely,” Trout said.

“The book and film are a part of my career that have been very meaningful,” Gaillard said. “We hope people who see it will be moved to reflect on the difficulties of our past, including the shadows of slavery and war, and how we can move forward together with unity and understanding.”

Gaillard has begun discussing with the Alabama Public Television to air the film. He hopes to make an announcement soon. The film is scheduled to premiere on Thursday, April 5 in the Marx Library Auditorium at 6 p.m. President Waldrop plans to attend, as well as Mike Letcher and Frye Gaillard, who will hold a question and answer panel following the film.

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Communication Department to screen American Civil War film