About The Film
Freedom & Unity: The Vermont Movie is the first-ever documentary series about Vermont. The six-part film is a collaboration of three dozen critically acclaimed Vermont filmmakers, led by award-winning filmmaker Nora Jacobson (“Delivered Vacant,” “My Mother’s Early Lovers,” “Nothing Like Dreaming”). Sponsors include the Vermont Arts Council, Vermont Community Foundation, Vermont Humanities Council, Bay and Paul Foundation, John M. Bissell Foundation, Green Valley Media, National Life of Vermont Foundation, and the Vermont Country Store. Our advisors are well-known historians, educators, curators, authors, artists, politicians, and activists.
Since declaring its own independence in 1777, Vermont has been a beacon, a haven, a refuge, an idea, a symbol, a state shaped by independent and courageous decision-makers, thinkers, political leaders, workers, artists, immigrants and innovators. It was the first state to outlaw slavery, to allow same sex civil unions, to call for the impeachment of President Nixon, and to protect the environment with Act 250. This is a state in which conservatives and liberals are not only neighbors—they frequently depend on each other for survival.
And yet, as we see in town meetings and legislative debates, the pursuit of freedom has, on occasion, threatened the state’s unity. Civil liberties, civil rights, and civil unions have divided neighbors; land use, development and energy policies raise difficult questions; forgotten chapters in the state’s history demand explanations generations later. In Freedom & Unity: The Vermont Movie, filmmakers and historians set out to understand Vermon’s iconoclastic spirit: where it comes from, how it shapes our present, and how it lays the groundwork for the future.
The film is thematic, not chronological. Part One, “A Very New Idea,” Part Two, “Under the Surface,” Part Three, “Refuge, Reinvention, and Revolution, Part Four, “Doers and Shapers,” Part Five, “Ceres’ Children,” and Part Six, “People’s Power,” explore themes in the state’s history that recur and circle back, from 1777 to the present.
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“Civility tends to rule the day [in Vermont], and it is this quality perhaps above all others that endears our small republic to me, precisely, above all others, a quality that could also greatly benefit our greatly vexed national dialogue, which usually seems no dialogue at all. I am no sociologist, but I suspect this habit of mind derives from the commonwealth’s earliest days, when neighbor treated neighbor with decency because he or she knew that one day that neighbor might be a crucial friend in need.” — Sydney Lea, Poet Laureate of Vermont