“Films find me,” explained award-winning documentary filmmaker Eduardo Montes-Bradley. “Films happen for a reason.” The latest film subject that has possessed the imagination of Montes-Bradley is a documentary about Crozet, which he plans to produce as part of his Heritage Film Project www.heritagefilmproject.com. With the working title Crozet: Where Past Meets Future, the film will look at Crozet’s history, growth into the town it is today, and where it is headed.
“I am fascinated with America, with its spirit of independence,” he continued. “I’ve always wanted to do a film about a town. Towns have a life and personality of their own. Crozet has a unique sense of identity and community, an outstanding past and a great future.” Montes-Bradley himself has star power: he exudes confidence and charisma, with his booming voice and eyes glittering with warmth and gregariousness.
If you see film crews on the streets of Crozet next spring, don’t be surprised. Crozet: Where Past Meets Future is currently in pre-production. “We need to secure financing, talent, and other assets,” Montes-Bradley explained. “Our funding will come from generous contributions by people who love this community and who believe its story needs to be told.” The film will be about one hour long, and will include archival footage, eyewitness and oral history, aerial photography, and live interviews with long-time residents as well as the people involved in shaping Crozet’s future. “We hope to start production in March 2019, and premiere the film at next year’s Virginia Film Festival” in November 2019.
Montes-Bradley is looking for a well-known narrator, and hopes to include interviews with local historical experts such as Phil James, Leonard Sandridge, Henry Chiles, Steven Meeks, and with Lions Club members. “We will definitely need Phil James’ help,” he confided. “We couldn’t make it without him… he should expect a call from me very soon!” His close collaborators and producers of the film are his wife, Soledad Liendo, and Anne Yancey Spillers, whose family has owned and operated the Yancey Lumber Company for 60 years. “We plan to begin Crozet’s story in the 1700s, with the original land grants,” he explained, “and move through time to cover how the train depot was needed for the building of Miller School.” The film will explore both the happy and not so happy episodes—such as desegregation—and will include the farming days, manufacturing era, the current housing boom, and a look into the future.
Montes-Bradley was born in Cordoba, Argentina, and moved to New York when he was 18 years old in 1978, after the military coup that overthrew Isabel Peron (third wife of Juan Peron). He has lived in Europe and Latin America—wherever his film projects led him. After a career in Hollywood with Columbia Pictures and others, Montes-Bradley began making films of his own, and produced a series of Spanish documentaries about Latin American writers such as Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortazar, and others—as well as films on Eva Peron and Che Guevara with National Geographic. In 2008, he settled in Ivy with his wife and three children, and together they founded the Heritage Film Project, which aims to celebrate the accomplishments of people and institutions all over the world. Since then they have produced 45 films in America, Germany, Spain, Portugal, and Italy—including films on Rita Dove, local doctor and horticulturalist Jay Gillenwater, and James Monroe’s Highland. “I like to find great stories that have never been told,” he explains. Their film Julian Bond: Reflections from the Frontlines of the Civil Rights Movement was shown at the Crozet Library in 2014 (see Gazette story), with both Bond and Montes-Bradley as speakers, and A Soldier’s Dream: The Milt Feldman Story, about a Jewish POW during World War II, was a selection at this year’s Virginia Film Festival. Montes-Bradley’s films have garnered many awards, including the 2002 Silver Condor Award, the Jefferson Trust Award, and best documentary in the Richmond International Film Festival and the Baltimore International Black Film Festival. His exhibit “The Mere Distinction of Color” won the Outstanding Public History Project Award from the National Council on Public History (for more information, check Wikipedia).
Montes-Bradley’s 2015 film White: a Season in the Life of John Borden Evans, about the Virginia artist, premiered at the Virginia Historical Society and appeared on PBS. Upon seeing this film, Dave Matthews commented, “I felt as if I were riding on the wings of a butterfly into Evans’ farm to experience his work.” The Crozet film project holds great promise. “I like to work with friends,” Montes-Bradley explained. “I have to enjoy it and be in love with it.” How can he help being in love with Crozet? I expect he’ll make a lot of friends along the way, as well! If you would like to contribute information, talent, or funding to this project, email [email protected].