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'Saving Brinton' team hosts IPTV drive

GTNS file photo

Local historian Mike Zahs shows a copy of the DVD documentary that told his story of trying to preserve the Frank Brinton films. The DVD will be given as a reward to people who join Friends of Iowa Public Television at a certain rate when Zahs and the filmmakers host the showing Thursday.
GTNS file photo Local historian Mike Zahs shows a copy of the DVD documentary that told his story of trying to preserve the Frank Brinton films. The DVD will be given as a reward to people who join Friends of Iowa Public Television at a certain rate when Zahs and the filmmakers host the showing Thursday.

Much of the original fanfare surrounding the release of the documentary film “Saving Brinton” is dying down and the main subjects are moving on to other projects, but have one more appearence left to complete on Thursday.

Mike Zahs, the subject of the 2017 documentary film that has been shown worldwide and was in the running for an Oscar this year, said he and two of the filmmakers would host the film during the Iowa Public Television membership drive at 8:30 p.m., Thursday, March 7. National Public Television began showing the film in a variety of cuts earlier this year and Zahs believes it has been shown in every state.

“They will show the film and there will be breaks,” he said. “(Filmmakers) Andrew Sherburne, John Richard and I will be there during those breaks live. It seems logical to me because it is an Iowa film and an Iowa station. It seems like a perfect match to promote Iowa.”

He explained the public station is offering a DVD of the film to people who join “Friends of Iowa Public Television” at a certain rate.

Zahs said a few showings are scheduled for Des Moines and the team has received inquiries to show the film in Spain as well as at the University of Southern California. Recently Zahs spoke with someone who had watched the film on Florida Public Televsion. He commented the movie still is going strong.

The documentary film shows the story of Zahs, a former Washington Middle School history teacher described by the filmmakers as “an eccentric Iowa collector” who uncovers a series of antique films in the basement of a local resident, finding them to be the works of Frank Brinton who began shooting the films as early as 1879.

Zahs may have traveled the world to show the film and speak with viewers, but his favorite stories of the film always land close to home. He recalled recently he was teaching in the Mid-Prairie School District and he learned of a fourth-grade boy in one of the classes who had a passion for local history. On viewing the movie, the boy found himself in one of the shots.

The story had actually begun over 100 years ago when Washington residents Frank and Indiana Brinton traveled to local theaters, sharing the new invention of film with the public. Several of the films were discovered in 1981 in the basement of Indiana Brinton’s executor and were given to Zahs. The documentary chronicles Zahs’ quest to preserve the films and to give them a modern audience.

People seeing the 87-minute documentary can expect to see both the story of the Frank Brinton films and the story of Washington County. There are plenty of community shots from the last four years, including such things as Washingtons 175th anniversary celebration, the unveiling of the new marquee at the State Theatre, and the celebration where the State Theatre was named the longest continually running theater by Guinness.

Zahs commented he is helping Richard with one of his future projects regarding a pioneering group at the University of Iowa called the Iowa mountaineers. He said people from Washington County may be involved.