AIFVF hosts Ohio premiere of ‘Down by the Riverside’ tomorrow

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) – Tomorrow night a documentary about the environmental legacy of folk singer Pete Seeger has its Ohio premiere as a part of the Athens International Film and Video Festival.

The film is entitled Down by the Riverside, and it’s directed by Jodie Childers of Moundsville, WV and Dan Messina. Childers took the time to take part in a brief Q&A prior to the screening.

An image of the poster for the film "Down by the Riverside." The poster shows the profile of a person looking out over a river.

Emily Votaw: Could you describe Down by the Riverside in one sentence or less?

Childers: Down by the Riverside tells the story of how folk singer Pete Seeger and a crew of musicians built a boat in 1969 to clean the polluted Hudson River and launched a green revolution.

What is your connection to Athens, OH?

Childers: I grew up two hours northeast of Athens in Moundsville, WV, along the banks of the Ohio River. I also spent a lot of time during my childhood with relatives in Ripley, WV, less than an hour away from Athens.

Do you feel your connection to Athens impacted the film in any way?

Childers: I grew up in Rust Belt Appalachia in a milieu of environmental pessimism. I now see parallels between the endangered Ohio River and the polluted Hudson River from 1969. Pete Seeger said, “If there’s hope for the human race, then there’s hope for the Hudson.” I believe if there’s hope for the Hudson, there’s hope for the Ohio.

What do you hope audiences take away from the film?

Childers: When we asked Pete Seeger what he wanted people to take away from the film, he told us he wanted them to see the Clearwater and think to themselves, “I can do that.” I hope this documentary provides a sense of hope and a belief in the power of imagination to solve environmental problems and transform society.

Down by the Riverside has its Ohio premiere as a part of the Athens International Film and Video Festival tomorrow at 5:15 p.m. at the Athena Cinema (20 South Court Street).