The Trial of Horatio Hough, a film by Clarkson University Professor of Communication & Media Stephen Farina, will be screened at the 15th Annual Underground Railroad Public History Conference at Russell Sage College in Troy, N.Y., in April 2016.
The documentary follows a group of cavers in 2014 as they search for Hough’s Cave, a purported stop on the Underground Railroad in rural upstate New York. Intercut with their search is the story of Horatio Hough, a farmer and resolute abolitionist who defied the status quo of his church, his community, and a nation under slavery in 1840s America.
Two Clarkson undergraduates played significant roles in the development of the film. Senior Communication major Kat Tamburro served as the film’s primary editor while Digital Arts & Sciences major Katie Hadgis ’15 developed extensive motion graphics that appear throughout the film.
“It was a privilege to be involved in the creative process from start to finish,” said Tamburro. “I thoroughly enjoyed weaving together pieces of an untold story into a finished film.”
Much of the motion graphics work was devoted to making handwritten documents from the 1840s come alive on the screen. “I really loved working with the old manuscripts,” said Hadgis. “They’re incredibly beautiful, and say a lot about Horatio Hough’s world in aesthetics alone. It was my goal to embrace these visual qualities in a way that would appear as if the viewers were flipping through the delicate pages themselves.”
The project was completed with support from the New York State Library’s Cunningham Research Residency and was undertaken in conjunction with two northern New York historical societies that sought to preserve this story before all physical evidence of the cave and its significance is lost. The Lewis County Historical Society and the Martinsburg Historical Society both realized that the local legend of Hough’s Cave will soon be forgotten as the area of the cave is overtaken with large-scale agricultural development.
Earlier this year, the film was screened at a social justice film festival in San Francisco, a caving convention in Massachusetts, and at two New York historical societies.
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Photo caption: The Trial of Horatio Hough, a film by Clarkson University Professor Stephen Farina, will be screened at the 15th Annual Underground Railroad Public History Conference in April. Above, the movie’s poster.
[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/hh-film-poster.jpg.]