Movie review: ‘From the Heart of Williamsport’

Film showcases appreciation of city

From the Heart of Williamsport takes all the gifts Williamsport has to offer and sweetly packages them neatly into this sixty minute documentary that makes its debut at the Community Arts Center on Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

The Sun-Gazette had the opportunity to review a rough cut of the film prior to its completion. What we saw validated our love of all things Billtown.

The production crew that created the film are by no means professional filmmakers but that didn’t thwart their story-telling skills. The film was produced by the Susquehanna Greenways Partnership’s sub-group, Heart of Williamsport. Their cameras shot eighty locals whose stories illuminate who we were, are and will be.

Unlike every other film, this film has no director. And no, this is not an Alan Smithee situation. Alan Smithee was once used as a pseudonym for films whose directors abandoned their creations because they were edited beyond the director’s vision. According to Heart of Williamsport Project Director Alice Trowbridge, “From the Heart of Williamsport” had so many collaborators that it was hard to define who would bear the title. The fact that no director credit was assigned only serves to underscore the film’s lack of pretentiousness.

Fifty volunteers strived to find out why locals love their home. The interviewees in the film include a broad section of the people who live here. Their stories come together to create a chorus of why Williamsport is on the rise.

There are even a couple of folks who announce that we still need to fix some things. For instance, musician and artist Lena Yeagle points out that we still need to find a way to connect more with the Susquehanna River. She said, “We kind of ignore, aside from the Hiawatha, the fact that we have this great natural thing that runs through our city.”

Yeagle’s point is exactly what made the filmmakers start asking questions in the first place. The Heart of Williamsport’s main function is to find out what works and what doesn’t in our communities. Prior to the film’s inception, The Heart of Williamsport staff was interviewing locals to create a data bank that would define what we love and what we don’t. Once the interviews were completed, it was decided to weave the interviews into a film.

What resulted is a film that reminds us that we are very lucky. Themes include our culinary landscape, natural surroundings, history, Little League, artists, architecture and much more. Somehow the documentary manages to capture the city succinctly in the relatively short amount of time they had to sum it up.

The beauty of From the Heart of Williamsport is that it serves as a historical record of who we are now. It will certainly be nice to rewatch the film in the future to see how we take the insights of the film to shape our future.

Sure our city isn’t perfect but it sure is nice to be reminded of what we get right.

From the Heart of Williamsport is a love letter to all of us just in time for Valentine’s Day.

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