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Asheville-made Sandburg film on PBS

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9/24/2012 - Asheville-made Sandburg film on PBS
by Tony Kiss - Asheville Citizen Times

FLAT ROCK -- A documentary about the great poet and author Carl Sandburg by Asheville filmmaker Paul Bonesteel gets a national TV audience tonight, and a local historical site gets a resulting windfall of digital video.

"American Masters: The Day Carl Sandburg Died" plays at 10 p.m. today on PBS and locally on UNC-TV and Asheville's WUNF/Channel 33.

At the same time, the complete, unedited interviews Bonesteel recorded for the documentary are now housed in the Museum Preservation Center at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, where Bonesteel did considerable filming.

Bonesteel interviewed notables including folk singer Pete Seeger, author Studs Terkel, Sandburg biographer Penelope Niven and radio writer-producer Norman Corwin, among others.

The video interviews, along with transcripts, make a "special addition to the museum," says Connie Backlund, park superintendent, in a statement. The archives will be available to researchers and park staff "for further understanding and appreciation of Carl Sandburg's contributions to the American public," she said.

"Sandburg is such a fascinating and complex person, and as often happens in documentary filmmaking, an amazing amount of materials we gathered for the film was not able to be included in it," Bonesteel said. "I'm thrilled that these interviews are part of the (home's archives) and accessible to people."

A three-time Pulitzer Prize winner -- twice for poetry and once for his biography of Abraham Lincoln -- Sandburg moved in 1945 to Flat Rock to an estate he and his wife, Lilian, continued to call Connemara, a name given the property by a previous owner. Sandburg lived there until his 1967 death age age 89.

His homeplace, across from Flat Rock Playhouse, is now a national historic site, essentially unchanged since the day he died. Admission to the property, which is open daily except Christmas, is free. Tours of the home are available for a small charge.

In "The Day Carl Sandburg Died," Bonesteel looks at Sandburg's politics and anarchist writings during World War II and the increasing interest in his work.

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