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Extraordinary Ordinary People
A film by Alan Govenar

84 minutes, color, English, 2017

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Extraordinary Ordinary People is a music-fueled journey through folk and traditional arts in America. At a time when the existence of the National Endowment for the Arts has never been more threatened, Alan Govenar's documentary focuses on one of its least known and most enduring programs: the National Heritage Fellowship, awarded annually since 1982.

Featuring a breathtaking array of men and women who have been awarded the fellowship, including musicians, dancers, quilters, woodcarvers and more, the film demonstrates the importance of the folk and traditional arts in shaping the fabric of America. From Bill Monroe and B.B. King to Passamaquoddy basket weavers and Peking Opera singers; from Appalachia and the mountains of New Mexico to the inner city neighborhoods of New York, the suburbs of Dallas, and the isolated Native American reservations of Northern California - each of the artists share exceptional talent, ingenuity, and perseverance.

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"A dazzling array of talent." - John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter

"Inspiring...a vision of sweeping cultural breadth. The film is sure to spark further exploration: Many viewers will be more than eager to follow these folk heroes off the beaten path." - Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times

"Enjoyable and enticing! Director Alan Govenar's knowledge and affection are contagious." - Serena Donadoni, The Village Voice

"A celebration of art, survival, and the riches of human experience. This exuberant film makes each art sampled, from oud playing to basket weaving to bobbin lace making, feel indispensable." - Regina Weinreich, Huffington Post

"A must-see documentary! There were so many great artists/craftsmen featured...I was mesmerized by their stories. I found myself in tears by the end and wanting to hear more." - Tara Low, Guitar Girl Magazine

"Includes footage of some of the most significant artists of the past century, from bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe to bluesman B.B. King. With budgets for the arts in peril, it couldn't come at a more opportune time." - Daniel Eagan, Film Journal International

Disc Features

Six bonus short films:
  • Keeping Tradition Alive
  • The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art
  • Yary Livan: The Need for Cultural Preservation
  • Antonio De La Rosa: Community and Traditional Music
  • Dan Sheehy: Folk Culture and Social Justice
  • National Heritage Fellows 1982-2015: Portraits by Alan Govenar


See details about this film's Theatrical Run

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