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tempestas et caelum productions » films » nature's fury and the human spirit (2017)

Nature's Fury and the Human Spirit

Nature's Fury and the Human Spirit :: The Charleston and Mattoon Tornado 26 May 1917 (2017) from Tempestas et Caelum Films on Vimeo.

EIU Duo Present New Documentary to Commemorate 100th Anniversary

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At 3:45 P.M. on the 26th day of May 1917, a ominous cloud appeared on the western fringes of Mattoon, Illinois. The cloud had a black with green appearance throwing debris into the air. Within a very short time, a portion of the two prairie cities were leveled. After the storm blew through, the sun began to shine on the quiet cities as people who sought shelter began to appear to assess the damage. It was on this day that God showed his will to protect or his desire to destroy.

Using historical documents and letters and descendents of those witnesses, the story of one of America's worst natural disasters is presented. NATURE'S FURY AND THE HUMAN SPIRIT presents the many stories from those who witnessed the wrath of God through letters and accounts.

The film is a co-production of Eastern Illinois University and TCPFilms. Co-producers, William Lovekamp and Cameron Craig, worked together to develop the new half-hour production to demonstrate the human spirit when a single tornado changed the lives of Charleston and Mattoon residents.

Disaster response researcher and sociology professor at Eastern Illinois University, William Lovekamp, found the event extremely interesting and began to research the historical documents held by the Coles Country Genealogical Society, the Historical Society and the personal postcard archive of Gary Brinkmeyer. Over time, he presented his preliminary findings to the public at the 5 Mile House and other venues. Attendee's approached Dr. Lovekamp and explained to him that their particular ancestor was affected by the event on 26 May 1917. From these short presentations, Dr. Lovekamp began to piece together a story that became the basis for the documentary film.

In the spring of 2016, Lovekamp approached geographer and documentarian, Cameron Craig, if the story Lovekamp researched over the last two years could be the basis of a documentary film for a larger audience. The answer Craig gave Lovekamp culminated into the film that has appealed to many in the region and around the world.

When Craig was asked why the film does not focus on the tornado itself, his response was simple. "The story is not about the tornado," Craig responded, "it is the story of those who lost loved-ones during one of the nations most tragic events in environmental history." The story is one that describes the resilience of humanity in the face of tradgedy.