Events, Film, Southern Historical Collection, Special Collections

George C. Stoney, Documentary Filmmaker and Educator, To Speak Oct. 16

An Evening with George C. Stoney
Friday, Oct. 16, 2009
Reception at 5 p.m. | Program at 6 p.m.
Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History
Free and open to the public
Information: Liza Terll, Friends of the Library: (919) 962-4207 or liza_terll@unc.edu

Documentary filmmaker George C. Stoney, a graduate of UNC’s class of 1937, will return to the University Oct. 16 for a screening of clips from his movies and a question-and-answer session led by Tom Rankin, director of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

The event is sponsored by UNC’s University Library, along with the Center for Documentary Studies and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.

About George C. Stoney
Stoney is recognized for the pioneering social engagement of his film work and for his decades of mentoring young professionals. His early advocacy for public access television helped to create the Federal Communications Commission’s cable access requirements in 1972.

Stoney’s papers are part of the Southern Historical Collection at UNC’s Wilson Special Collections Library.

After graduating from UNC, Stoney was southern correspondent for the periodical Survey Graphic and he assisted political scientist and later Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph Bunche in a study of racial segregation published as An American Dilemma (1944). He also worked briefly as a secretary to author and UNC alumnus Thomas Wolfe.

Mrs. Mary Francis Hill Coley (“Miss Mary”) was the midwife featured in Stoney’s 1952 documentary <em>All My Babies.</em> Credit: George C. Stoney, 1952.

Mrs. Mary Francis Hill Coley (“Miss Mary”) was the midwife featured in Stoney’s 1952 documentary “All My Babies.” Credit: George C. Stoney, 1952.

In 1938, he became information officer for the Farm Security Administration in the southeast. In World War II, he served as photo intelligence officer in the Air Force.

In 1946, Stoney joined the Southern Educational Film Production Service as writer and director. In 1953, he started his own production company for documentary films.

All My Babies, one of his first efforts created for the Georgia Department of Public Health to train rural midwives, was eventually used around the world by UNESCO. In 2002, the Library of Congress placed All My Babies on its National Film Registry.

From 1968 to 1970, Stoney served as executive producer of the Challenge for Change program at the National Film Board of Canada.

Stoney joined the faculty at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in 1970, where he is teaching three classes for the fall 2009 semester. He is currently working on three major films: a reunion of All My Babies, a portrait of the late Brazilian educator Paulo Freire and a documentary about the penal system called Staying Out.

Oct. 16 Program
The screening at UNC will include clips from six of Stoney’s films:

  • Palmour Street (1949), a dramatized discussion of family relations in the African American community for the Georgia Department of Public Health;
  • All My Babies (1952), a training film about midwifery, also for the Georgia Department of Public Health;
  • Southern Voices (1985), tracing the development and premiere performance of a symphonic work by Sorrel Doris Hays for the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Symphony Orchestra;
  • We Shall Overcome (1988), a film history of the song;
  • The Uprising of 34 (1995), documenting textile strikes in the South in 1934;
  • The reunion for All My Babies (in progress), tracking down the people delivered by midwife Mary Francis Hill Coley in the original film.

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