I had a fascinating interview with the producer and writer of the (IMPACT film VIFF) Two Trains Runnin’, Benjamin Hedin in the interview room at the Sutton Hotel courtesy of VIFF about the movie, being a producer and the state of multigenerational racism in the US.
The Film: Two Trains Runnin’ blends together a mystery, a search for forgotten blues singers, skillfully blended with animation and interviews with the two groups that searched for blues greats such as Skip James and Son House among others. Set across the backdrop of the American Civil Rights movement (The Freedom Summer, 1964) in the Deep South, it is especially pertinent at this time of unrest and the urgent need for all to work together for equality. The wonderful music and the second chance that was given to some of the “lost blues musicians to perform again was such a delightful, positive outcome.
Director: Samuel D. Pollard did an excellent job blending the search with music and animation. Stars: Taylor Branch, Gary Clark Jr. Common Source/photos: VIFF.
The Producer: Benjamin Hedin’s fiction, essays, and interviews have been published by numerous magazines. His nonfiction chronicle, In Search of the Movement: The Struggle for Civil Rights Then and Now was published in March of 2015 by City Lights Books. He is the son of Robert Hedin, the award-winning poet and translator. Two Trains Runnin’ is his first film as writer and producer. He was chosen by the director Sam Pollard because he had done so much research and “knew the stories.” In describing the role of a producer: Hedin says: “As a producer, it is incredibly difficult, managing all personalities, all sorts of unforeseen costs, dealing with creative people and talent. On the plus side, it is liberating to be in charge.”
The Current Racial Situation in the United States:
Producer Hedin has a bleak outlook on the state of racism in the United States saying “The 911 attack and the election of Obama opened the booby hatch for increased hostility and worsened racism. Until people change from within, it is going to be difficult.” He hopes that the film Two Trains Runnin’ will help to educate people through storytelling and give the viewers an insight into the past. As well as keeping the conversation alive in the world.
VIFF and Canadian reception to the film:
Benjamin Hedin is honoured that the film was able to premier in Canada. He wants to thank the Vancouver International Film Festival, the media and Canadians for their enthusiastic reception.