Emerson College Professor, Daniel Gaucher's film "Written in Stone" premiered to a small but enthusiast crowd at the Boston International Film Festival last evening (Thursday April 22). This film chronicles the acrimonious debate between academia and amateur research organizations like NEARA over the many stone structures found throughout the northeast. In delves into how academic infighting and politics along with competing egos within amateur ranks came close to completely derailing all scientific research into the subject. At moments, you realize how close the field came to completely imploding upon itself and losing all creditable. The film also highlights the pioneering work of Mavor & Dix, and the work of current researchers (inside and outside of academia) who continue to push for scientific standards of research for the field, reestablish the creditability of stone structure studies, and seek the preservation of these sites. The film showcases, how against all odds, that a paradigm shift is truly underway.
The film puts the history of stone structures research into perspective. It shows where the field has been and its triumphs and failures along the way. It summarizes where the field is currently at including the impact of the Turner Falls Airport decision. It offers an optimist view of the future but emphasizes the need for NEARA, academia, and amateur researchers to capitalize on the shifting paradigm to preserve these sites, place the field on a solid scientific footing, engage in cooperation with each other, and give serious consideration to all the theories about these structures especially the Native American theory.
The film's producer Daniel Gaucher does a brilliant job of explaining the complexities of stone structure research and the competing theories about them. Gaucher offers a very balanced review of the history of the field and the many theories which have come and gone over the years. He does so in manner that is understandable to an audience not familiar with the subject. The real testament to the power of this documentary is that the audience "got it", they grasp the issues and came away with a solid understanding of the subject. For many of us who have spend many hours trying to explain what we do to the general public, we know from experience just how difficult a task it is to explain rock piles so that people understand them.
There will be a free public viewing of the film on Sunday May 16 @ 11am in Stuart Street Theater in Boston. See the website for details http://www.writteninstonedoc.