Documentary Premiers in What Cheer

Poster for “What Cheer: Coal, Clay, & Community”
Casey Jarmes
The News-Review

WHAT CHEER – A documentary titled “What Cheer: Coal, Clay, & Community” premiered before a packed house at the What Cheer Opera House on Aug. 18. The documentary was directed by Jacob Glandon, of Webster. Noah Lindeaur worked as the Director of Photography and Alex Vazquez worked as the film’s editor. Glandon began work on the documentary in 2021, when he was a student at William Penn. The documentary consists of interviews with locals and historians, detailing the small town’s history, including: its founding and the origin of the name What Cheer, the coal mines, the clay factory, Kate and Jeffy Huffman’s pottery shop, the opera house, the fires in the late 19th century, the town’s churches, the brick school museum, harness horse racing, the flea market, and the freedom rock.

“Kate’s story is really what makes the pottery segment,” Glandon said, after being asked what part of What Cheer’s history he finds most interesting. “I think the coal mining, as well, is really interesting. Just the fact that the town went from being a little village to being a town of 5000, in I think like nine years, all because of coal mining, is just crazy. And then, you know, within three or four years it went back to being really small again, because all the coal miners left. It’s just crazy to think about. I think the pottery and the coal mining are both so interesting, but there’s so much more that is also really great to wanna learn more about and discover.”

Glandon intends to present the documentary at various film festivals and hopes to get an audience outside of Iowa. Glandon and his team plan to continue making films, under the name Black Oak Films; they are currently working on a documentary about the lives of members of a traveling circus.




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