NOW AVAILABLE ON DVD FOR THE FIRST TIME
Directed by: Rick DiClemente
Running Time: 22:00
Chairmaker follows 80-year-old Dewey Thompson from Sugarloaf Hollow, Kentucky, as a rough-hewn rocking chair takes form under his experienced hands and well-worn knife. But this “how-to” film is as much about how to live as it is about how to make a chair. Thompson’s philosophy and insights into his character are gently interwoven with the depiction of his work. For the student of folk culture, the film provides a rare opportunity to see a folk artist creating his craft in the context of his everyday life. In addition, Chairmaker offers a glimpse into the past, for Dewey Thompson embodies both the skills and values that were once widespread throughout rural America.
This film was preserved by Appalshop Archive with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. To support the work of preserving and safeguarding Appalshop’s collections, please consider making a donation to Appalshop Archive.
“A tour de force….Anyone of any age wanting to stay young should see this relaxed film….Dewey’s is the kind of individual enterprise that makes a man along with a chair.” –Film News
“The tone and pace of the film match the personality of Dewey Thompson and the rhythm of his work–unhurried, uncluttered, understated….Chairmaker is a fine demonstration of folk craft and a warm portrait of an Appalachian highlander.” –William Lightfoot, Appalachian State University, -Journal of American Folklore
“In an amazing demonstration that begins with the chopping down of one tree and ends in a beautifully crafted rocking chair, Thompson shows off his skills while carrying on a casual and thoroughly winning conversation with the camera. A delightful visit.” –The (Louisville) Courier-Journal
Screenings & Festivals
American Film Festival–Finalist
Birmingham International Educational Film Festival–Finalist
Columbus International Film Festival–Chris Bronze Plaque
Festival of American Folklife, Smithsonian Institution
International Festival of Documentary