In 2000, Amy and I set out on a long-term documentary project called “Our America,” an attempt to look at the first decade of the new century through stories, photography and video. The idea was to chronicle the American way of life.
Our inspiration was the late O. Winston Link‘s seven years of documenting the end of the steam locomotive era in America — an undertaking that also showcased the American way of life along railroad tracks in the 1950s. If you haven’t visited the Link Museum in Roanoke, you should.
When we started the project, we didn’t foresee the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression or some of the other events, disasters and changes.
Our 2003 documentary about the Friday Night Jamboree was part of the Our America Project. So was another documentary on the Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
With the first decade ended, we have 100s of stories, hundreds of hours of video and thousands of photos. Video technology changed dramatically over the decade. We started the new century shooting primarily digital video in standard definition and ended it shooting high definition widescreen. Now we have to find a way to edit and merge all that footage into one product. It don’t be easy.
Street festivals have also always seemed like a part of Americana. DeutschFest, the video above is from one of those festivals. It was shot in 2002 in Amy’s hometown of Belleville, IL. It’s offered here as just one of the slices of life we wanted to show in America today.