Four years of filming a retired teacher and his century-old films from the Brinton collection has been developed into an 87-minute documentary called Saving Brinton.
The film follows the story of Michael Zahs as he shares the history of Frank and Indiana Brinton. Saving Brinton was made by filmmakers Tommy Haines, John Richard and Andrew Sherburne. Haines shares his favorite moment in the film is when Zahs is using Frank Brinton’s hand crank projector at the Brinton Extravaganza, the day Guinness Book of World Records deemed it the oldest continuously operating cinema in the world.
Sherburne says the film doesn’t only show Zahs and Brinton, but showcases Washington County with many local people in it, “Part of the goal that we had all along was to show Mike’s life and Mike’s Iowa, and Washington County is very much the place where he lives. He told us, I think, the first week we met him that history is half geography. It was always important to show off Washington County as part of the film, and there’s plenty of it.” He adds, “I think people will be pleasantly surprised. Too often, I think, the imagery of the Midwest that people on the coasts get maybe pokes a little fun at Iowa, or maybe shows cities in decay, but I think this film will present something much different. It’s a vibrant place, culture is still very much alive here, and the community is very much alive. And a lot of that has to do with people like Mike and the many other people in this community who really care about their community and their history.”
Saving Brinton premiered at two sold-out shows at American Film Institute Film Festival in Washington, D.C., in June. The first stop of Saving Brinton on its Iowa tour is the State Theater. Tickets for the Washington shows on September 17th and 18th can be purchased at the State Theater or on the theater’s website.