April 6, 2020
Q&A with “From Sundown to Sunrise” Filmmakers Pat Wisniewski and Tom Desch

Earlier this year we toured the INseparable Films to eight cities and towns and now they will be available to enjoy from your home. On April 7, From Sundown to Sunrise premieres on Facebook at 7 p.m. ET. Tune in here: bit.ly/FromSundowntoSunrise

Director and producer Pat Wisniewski is a former steelworker from Chicago’s South Side and a two-time Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker. Her previous films include The Lively One, Shifting Sands and Everglades of the North, which appeared on PBS.

Producer and editor Tom Desch was raised among the cornfields of Herscher, Illinois (population 1,600) and credits his upbringing in this rural community on the fringe of Chicago’s influence as the inspiration for his films, including the Emmy-nominated An American Home and Everglades of the North, that take a look at our relationship with our natural and built environments. 

Pat is based in Valparaiso and Tom lives in Chicago.

Before watching, learn more about From Sunrise to Sundown filmmakers Pat Wisniewski and Tom Desch:

How did you choose the story/topic of your INseparable film?

TOM: The idea really came from producer/director Pat Wisniewski and her experiences in Valparaiso and her relationship with the film’s subject, Robert Cotton.

PAT: I came across this story when I met members of the Cotton and Reiner families in my hometown of Valparaiso.  After hearing about their incredible courage and humanity I knew I wanted to tell this story.

What was the toughest challenge of making your film? 

TOM: I think the toughest challenge was truly seeing the story through Mr. Cotton’s point of view.  I hope we succeeded, but I think I will always wonder if we could have done a better job.

PAT: I agree with Tom. It is always tough to see through a lens that you haven’t actually experienced first-hand. As filmmakers I think we are always holding up a mirror to reflect a story back to our audience. The African American experience is something I have not lived as a white filmmaker. We could emphasize and only hope we did it justice through Robert Cotton’s eyes. Which is why we wanted him to lead the storytelling experience in the film.

As a director, what kind of stylistic choices did you make and why? 

TOM: I think, personally, I favor a simple approach for the visual style of a piece. I often rely heavily on archival material and interviews, and I think those basic elements can tell a complete and engaging story.

PAT: I think, similar to my answer above, I always saw the style of this film as seen through Robert Cotton’s eyes from childhood to adulthood with archival photos, footage and supporting interviews structured around his narrative.

What are you working on these days?  

PAT and TOM: We have several projects in various stages of production. One follows the topic of walkable urban design through the lens of a revitalization project in Hammond, Indiana. We’ve also just embarked on a project about the St. Joseph River which we will be producing in conjunction with the South Bend PBS station, WNIT. We’re also trying to wrap up post production on a documentary that tells the history of the American auto dealer through the story of a family that sold Fords for three generations. Also an ongoing production is Project Neighbors, a story of a group of people working for years in their community to help those less fortunate.

Tune in to our digital INseparable Film Fest on Facebook on the following dates:

April 7: From Sundown to Sunrise (Valparaiso)
April 14: Hometown Media (Wayne County)
April 21: The Earthkeepers (Bloomington)
April 28: Raised in Contrast (Lebanon)

After making their premieres on social media, the full films will be available to stream at inseparablefilms.org.

Posted In: INseparable

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