Festival celebrates city's ties

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Last summer, Britton Bagwell and several of her friends were sitting on a back porch, discussing the barriers that keep Augusta residents divided.

Britton Bagwell produced the documentary The Augusta Commons to explore issues that divide the residents of Augusta.  Special
Special
Britton Bagwell produced the documentary The Augusta Commons to explore issues that divide the residents of Augusta.

Recognizing that there was a problem was not enough.

"As long as we were just sitting there just talking about it we were contributing to the problem," Bagwell said. "We're not addressing it."

She and her friends planned The Ties That Bind, a festival celebrating the community of Augusta, for 7-10 p.m. Saturday at the Augusta Common.

Local businesses will set up booths along either side of the Common, and My Instant Lunch, Electric VooDoo and Jim Perkins will provide music.

The event includes screenings of Bagwell's The Augusta Commons and Mark Albertin's Augusta Remembers .

Bagwell, whose interest lies in socially conscious theater, said her film is the second prong in her call to action to bridge Augusta's divide. She asked more than 600 Augusta residents, "What would people not know just by looking at you?"

What she found was that Augustans see themselves as divided along economic, racial and social lines.

Told documentary style, the film doesn't have a narrator. Instead, each interview builds upon the previous one.

"The voice of Augusta is way more cohesive than I think people are going to expect," she said. "There's no narrator because we didn't need one."

Bagwell hopes that, rather than becoming an annual event, The Ties That Bind will inspire other members of the community to do something that will have a positive effect on Augusta.

She holds Albertin up as one example of a person who has done just that, at least 10 years earlier. It's one of the reasons she chose to screen his film Augusta Remembers.

"(He) is a prime example of someone in the community answering the call to action," she said. "(He is) an example of an individual being involved and exhibiting care for their community."

Augusta Remembers grew from Albertin's desire to learn more about his current city, he said.

He interviewed more than 20 people, many of whom were in their 80s, about their memories of growing up in Augusta.

"There's a lot that happened to previous generations," he said.

Stories include first-person accounts of the fire of 1916 and the flood of 1929. People also recalled with fondness places that are now just collective memories, including the once-popular swimming hole Getzen's Pond in North Augusta.

Albertin said more than half of the people he interviewed for the film have since died, which makes documentaries like this one even more important. "It's a time capsule, in a way," he said.

Augusta Remembers , originally released on VHS in January 2000, will be re-released on DVD Monday with additional footage.

Want to go?

WHAT: The Ties That Bind, a festival celebrating Augusta, with screenings of films The Augusta Commons and Augusta Remembers and music performances by My Instant Lunch, Electric VooDoo and Jim Perkins

WHEN: 7-10 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Augusta Common

COST: Free

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