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A National Preserve of Documentary Films about American Roots Cultures
streamed with essays about the traditions and filmmaking. The site includes transcriptions, study and teaching guides, suggested readings, and links to related websites.  

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 The Men Who Dance the Giglio
 
Selected Films

Ethnic and Immigrant Cultures

Some of the many faces of America.

Ethnic and Immigrant Cultures

Some of the many faces of America.

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Ave Maria: The Story of the Fisherman’s Feast
Documents one of the most important traditions of Boston's Italian-Americans: the annual celebration of the Feast of the Madonna del Soccorso, popularly known as the Fisherman's Feast.
Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Religion, Festivals/Customs, Urban Life / Northeast / 1986
27 minutes | Read More | Preview

Bronx Irish at the Ramparts

The story of the settlement of Irish immigrants in the North Bronx, New York, and how the once predominantly Irish neighborhoods are changing because of the influx of other groups.

Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Regional, Urban Life / Northeast / 1984
28 minutes | Read More | Preview

Celebración del Matrimonio
This film records a rural wedding in the American Hispanic community of El Rito, New Mexico, with reminiscences and commentaries that show continuities, changes, and meanings in this rich tradition.
Customs, Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Family, Festivals/Customs, Hispanic Culture / West / 1986
29 minutes | Read More | Preview

Closing Time
The New York real estate market forces the oldest store in Little Italy to shut down. The film is a portrait of a family, of the neighborhood that used to be and of the way the city changes in a blink of an eye. Behind the surface, the old store contain small treasures belonging to a part of Italy that does not exist anymore, not even in Italy.
Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Family, Regional, Urban Life / Middle Atlantic / 2006
33 minutes | Read More | Preview

Crossroads: An American Journey
August 1996, in Uvalde, Texas: the Hernandez family holds a reunion, undoubtedly one of many such gatherings held that summer in small towns across the nation.
Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Family, Hispanic Culture / Southwest / 1997
52 minutes | Read More | Preview

Displaced in the New South

In 1980, there were a few thousand Asian and Latino immigrants in Georgia. By 1994, there were more than 300,000. Displaced in the New South explores the cultural collision between Asian and Hispanic immigrants and the suburban communities near Atlanta where they settled.

Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Hispanic Culture, Social Justice/Protest, Fusion, Asian American Culture / South / 1996
56 minutes | Read More | Preview

Eatala: A Life in Klezmer

Klezmer is Eastern European Jewish folk music. In other parts of the country, klezmer seemed to disappear and then was revived. But in Philadelphia, the Hoffman family never stopped playing this music.

Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Music, Women, Family, Folkmusic Revival / Northeast / 2011
38 minutes | Read More | Preview

Euchre

This film examines the card game euchre, played with gusto throughout the Midwest. Focus is on the informal traditions surrounding the game including hand gestures, jargon, taunts and chants, as well as the variation in rules of play among a wide variety of players. Available for instructional use.

Arts & Crafts, Traditional, Customs, Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Family, Play, Regional, Rural Life / Midwest / 1998
12 minutes | Read More

Every Island has its Own Songs: The Tsimouris Family of Tarpon Springs
Nikitas Tsimouris (1924 - 2001) brought the complex music of the tsabouna, a type of Greek bagpipe, to Tarpon Springs. In 1991, Tsimouris became the first Floridian to receive a National Heritage Fellowship.
Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Music, Festivals/Customs / South / 1988
27 minutes | Read More | Preview

Family Across the Sea

Family Across the Sea shows how scholars have uncovered the remarkable connections between the Gullah people of South Carolina and the people of Sierra Leone.

Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Foodways, Festivals/Customs, African American Culture / South / 1990
57 minutes | Read More | Preview

The Fiddlers of James Bay

This National Film Board of Canada documentary traces the history of the fiddle’s arrival in Canada 300 years ago via Scottish traders from Orkney Island.

Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Music, Native American, Canada / Canada / 1980
28 minutes | Read More

Finnish American Lives
A 1982 portrait of traditional Finnish American culture in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, highlighting the fragile community of memory connecting one with parents and grandparents. A Michael Loukinen production from Up North Films.
Customs, Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Work, Family / Midwest / 1982
45 minutes | Read More | Preview

Flight of the Dove

A portrait of the Portuguese-American dairy-farming community in the Chino Valley of southern California. This is one of the first films ever to document the experiences and culture of Portuguese Americans.

Customs, Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Family, Festivals/Customs / West / 1989
29 minutes | Read More | Preview

From Shore to Shore

A film on Irish immigrant musicians and their offspring, tracing the influences of family and community, ethnic identity, and American popular culture on the traditional music played in contemporary New York City.

Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Music, Urban Life / Northeast / 1993
57 minutes | Read More | Preview

From Shore to Shore - Retrospective Reels

Beginning in April 1988, a number of oral histories and Irish traditional music and dance performances were videotaped for the documentary From Shore To Shore: Irish Traditional Music In New York City. Inevitably, many of these recordings were not able to be included in the original 57-minute documentary. This additional footage provides a retrospective look at a vibrant community of musicians, dancers, and audiences during one important era in the story of Irish traditional music in America.

Dance, Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Music / Northeast / 1988
52 minutes | Read More

The Germans from Russia

The Germans from Russia is the story of the Germans from Russia - agricultural pioneers on several continents whose quest for land and peace shaped them into a distinctive and enduring ethnic group.

Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Agriculture, Family, Rural Life, Canada / Midwest / 1999
57 minutes | Read More

God Given: Cultural Treasures from Armenia

The exquisite metal repoussé artistry and life experiences of Norik Astvatsaturov, formerly of Baku, Azerbaijan, now an American citizen in Wahpeton, North Dakota, reflect in microcosm the history and culture of Armenia.

Arts & Crafts, Traditional, Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures / Midwest / 2009
09 minutes | Read More | Preview

Halsted Street USA

Nowhere in America does a stretch of pavement slice through a more vibrant and diverse cross-section of humanity than Chicago's Halsted Street. Along its length one can view a dozen nationalities, a thousand lifestyles -- the American melting pot at full boil.

Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Foodways, Work, Urban Life, Social Justice/Protest / Midwest / 1995
56 minutes | Read More | Preview

Hamburger and Dolma
Over preparations of a sumptuous Armenian meal of stuffed vegetables (dolma), five Armenian-American women discuss their feelings of alienation from their ethnic community and their desire to relate to their cultural heritage on their own terms.
Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Foodways, Women / Northeast / 2000
49 minutes | Read More | Preview

Hundred and Two Mature: The Art of Harry Lieberman
Harry Lieberman, at age 102, shares with wit and wisdom his art, which celebrates Talmudic lore and Jewish life in long-ago Eastern Europe, in this documentary which describes his transformation from retired businessman to artist who, in his old age, is "living on the top of the world."
Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Arts, Visionary and Outsider, Aging / West / 1980
28 minutes | Read More | Preview

I Choose to Stay Here

This documentary follows a group of people opposing the city of Philadelphia’s “takings” of private homes: the little-known downside of the city’s “redevelopment” initiative.

Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Hispanic Culture, Social Justice/Protest / Northeast / 2002
23 minutes | Read More | Preview

Its All In My Hands: John Prince, Shoemaker

Young Italian American shoemaker John Prince, following in his father Tony's footsteps, invites you into his shop to share the pleasure and pride he feels from his work.

Arts & Crafts, Traditional, Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Work / Middle Atlantic / 1972
08 minutes | Read More | Preview

Jumpin' Night in the Garden of Eden
A Jumpin' Night in the Garden of Eden was the first film to document the klezmer revival, tracing the efforts of two founding groups, Kapelye and Boston's Klezmer Conservatory Band, to recover the lost history of klezmer music. A Michal Goldman film.
Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Music, Urban Life, Folkmusic Revival / Northeast / 1987
01 hour, 15 minutes | Read More | Preview

Look Forward and Carry on the Past : Stories from Philadelphia's Chinatown

“Look Forward and Carry on the Past": Stories from Philadelphia’s Chinatown” illustrates the strength and complexity of Philadelphia’s only remaining community of color in the city’s center. The documentary attends to the role of folk arts and community cultural expression in the community’s continuing struggles for respect and survival.

Customs, Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Family, Urban Life, Aging, Social Justice/Protest, Asian American Culture / Northeast / 2002
26 minutes | Read More | Preview

The Men Who Dance the Giglio
A documentary on the Brooklyn St. Paulinus Festival. This film explores ethnicity, cultural traditions, and religious devotion as the performers, participants, and community members explain the significance of the festival.
Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Festivals/Customs, Urban Life / Northeast / 1995
28 minutes | Read More | Preview

Mennonites of Manitoba

The Mennonites of Manitoba is the story of a modest, peaceful, religious people. A people who have fled from Holland to Poland, from Poland to Ukraine, and from Ukraine to Manitoba, where they have held on to their distinctive culture and common history for 125 years.

Customs, Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Religion, Agriculture, Family / Midwest / 1998
56 minutes | Read More | Preview

Moveable Feast
This documentary follows a group of Italian-Americans from Boston's North End to their ancestral hometown, Sciacca, Sicily, to participate in the Feast of the Madonna del Soccorso (also known and celebrated in Boston as the Fisherman's Feast)
Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Religion, Festivals/Customs / Northeast / 1993
29 minutes | Read More | Preview

Moving Mountains: The Story of the Yiu Mien
High in the mountains of Laos the Yiu Mien lived as they had for centuries until the Vietnam War forced them to leave their homeland and come to America....catapulted from one century into another. MOVING MOUNTAINS is the story of these refugees caught between two worlds.
Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Family, Festivals/Customs, Asian American Culture / Pacific Northwest / 1989
58 minutes | Read More | Preview

The Music Makers: Seamus Connolly and Friends

Séamus was 12 years old when he began playing the fiddle. As a young musician he traveled throughout Ireland, meeting and playing music with some of the legends of Irish music. Seamus Connolly is one of the world's most respected master Irish traditional musicians and teachers.

Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Music / Northeast / 1991
27 minutes | Read More | Preview

My Town: Mio Paese
Shot on location in Palermiti and the Boston area of Massachusetts, MY TOWN/MIO PAESE shows the family, cultural and religious ties between immigrants and their paesani in Southern Italy. The documentary features La Festa della Madonna della Luce (the feast of the Madonna of Light) in both countries and the story of the patron saint’s legendary miracles as told by three generations of Italians and Italian-Americans.
Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Religion, Festivals/Customs, Urban Life / Northeast / 1986
26 minutes | Read More | Preview

Old Believers
Hixon's film documents a real-life wedding in the Old Believer settlements of Marion County, Oregon, in the years 1979 and 1980. The film briefly touches on a wealth of traditional arts (embroidery, clothing construction, weaving, vernacular architecture, folk song and foodways) and beautifully presents a whole series of rituals -- the "devichnik" (engagement party), "selling" the bride and her braid, the wedding feast, the bargaining over the dowry, and the ceremony of bestowing gifts and advice to the newlyweds. In English and Russian with subtitles or voice-over translations.
Arts & Crafts, Traditional, Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Religion, Women, Costume/Dress, Family, Festivals/Customs / West / 1981
29 minutes | Read More | Preview

Painted Bride
This 1990 video features the exquisite mehndi body painting tradition as it is practiced among Pakistani immigrants living in Queens, New York City. The film follows a mehndi artist, Shenaz Hooda, as she prepares a henna paste and paints intricate designs on the hands and feet of a bride-to-be, while the bride's friends sing humorous songs mocking the groom and the future in-laws.
Arts & Crafts, Traditional, Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Women, Festivals/Customs / Middle Atlantic / 1990
25 minutes | Read More | Preview

Paj Ntaub: Textile Techniques of the Hmong

Hmong textile art, Paj ntaub or "flower cloth" consists of textile arts traditionally practiced by Hmong people. The Hmong, a nomadic group originating in China, migrated through the centuries into Southeast Asian countries including Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. Closely related to practices of other ethnic minorities in China, the embroidery consists of bold geometric designs often realized in bright, contrasting colors. Different patterns and techniques of production are associated with geographical regions and cultural subdivisions within the global Hmong community.

Arts & Crafts, Traditional, Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures / Northeast / 1996
40 minutes | Read More | Preview

The Popovich Brothers of South Chicago
Filmmaker Jill Godmilow (with folklorists Ethel Raim and Martin Koenig) made this film in 1977 when there was a community of 1100 Serbian-Americans families in South Chicago. They worked in steel mills, drove trucks, taught school, played tennis and golf, watched television, and went to church on Sunday. But what connected them to their family, church and community and provided the deepest expression of their identity was their traditional Serbian music and the Popovich Brothers were a constant source of that music.
Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Music, Family / Midwest / 1978
59 minutes | Read More | Preview

Prairie Churches

Showcases the diverse history and architectural traditions represented by 117 churches throughout Manitoba, Saskatchewan, North Dakota and Minnesota.

Arts & Crafts, Traditional, Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Religion, Canada / Midwest / 2008
56 minutes | Read More

Prairie Crosses

Prairie Crosses follows the traditional iron art form that crossed continents and oceans and survived famine and war to be reborn on the Great Plains of America and Canada.

Arts & Crafts, Traditional, Customs, Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Religion / Midwest / 2002
56 minutes | Read More

Rebuilding the Temple: Cambodians in America
After fleeing their country and the Khmer Rouge, this one hour documentary examines the Cambodian refugees' efforts to adjust to Western life and the significant role played by the Buddhist culture in this difficult process
Customs, Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Religion, Festivals/Customs, Asian American Culture / Any / 1991
57 minutes | Read More | Preview

Scandinavian Folk Music in Minnesota

Scandanavian Folk Music in Minnesota celebrates the musical and cultural legacy that grew out of the Scandinavian immigration to Minnesota- a legacy that is still being practiced by Scandinavian descendants and American musicians alike.

Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Music / Midwest / 2014
20 minutes | Read More

Scandinavian Traditions

Scandinavian Traditions takes a nostalgic look at childhood memories and family traditions and shows us that there is more to being Scandinavian than Ole and Lena jokes — this heritage is something to celebrate!

Arts & Crafts, Traditional, Customs, Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures / Midwest / 2002
59 minutes | Read More

A Soulful Sound

Throughout their travels, this enduring ethnic group maintained their traditional religious music, their lullabies and folk songs, their vocal and instrumental music. "A Soulful Sound: Music of the Germans from Russia" blends expert commentary with performances of traditional music—in the original language—from regional talent.

Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Music, Religion, Festivals/Customs / Midwest / 2005
56 minutes | Read More

Tradition Bearers

A documentary about Finnish American history and folk art expressed through the lives and repertories of our folk artists living in the western Great Lakes Region.

Arts & Crafts, Traditional, Customs, Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Music, Regional, Rural Life, Aging / Midwest / 1983
48 minutes | Read More

Two Homes, One Heart: Sacramento Sikh Women and their Songs & Dances
Sikhs in Northern California celebrate special events with Giddha and Bhangra, songs and dances from their native land, Punjab, India.
Customs, Dance, Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Women, Festivals/Customs / West / 1992
26 minutes | Read More | Preview

Weaving Bitter with the Sweet
A portrait of a Lao refugee woman Mone Saenphimmachak who seeks to overcome loss through the weaving for which her people are famous. Mone Saenphimmachak is a National Heritage Award winner.
Arts & Crafts, Traditional, Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Women, Costume/Dress, Asian American Culture / Midwest / 2003
30 minutes | Read More | Preview

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