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After The Smoke Clears

Detailing the plight of NC's tobacco farmers


It's hard to shed a tear for the cigarette-manufacturing conglomerates that are affected by attempts to downsize this nation's fondness for smoking. At the same time, it's easy to sympathize with the farmers who depend on growing this crop in order to pay the bills, provide for their families, and maintain an adequate standard of living.

Tobacco Money Feeds My Family, co-produced and photographed by Charlotte filmmaker Curtis Gaston, is a personal look at the plights of Carolina tobacco farmers as they struggle to come to terms with cultural changes that have heavily influenced their way of life. For three years, Gaston and director-producer Cynthia Hill (who grew up among the tobacco fields of Pink Hill, NC) followed the stories of three farmers who ply their trade in the sorts of rural areas that are so dependent on the tobacco, the opening of the new school year would occasionally be delayed if the crops hadn't come in on time so the kids could lend a hand with the picking.

The three farmers are an affable lot, but in almost every frame of this informative documentary, they find it difficult to camouflage their fears and concerns. As one of them comments to the filmmakers, "When ya'll first started, this was a story about what we did. It was not going to be a story about our demise."

The movie Tobacco Money Feeds My Family will be screened at 7:30pm Thursday, August 26, in The Light Factory's Knight Gallery in Spirit Square. Admission is $7. For details, call 704-333-9755.

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