MERRILLVILLE — Lakeshore PBS is scheduled to debut two new, locally produced documentaries in the month of October starting with “From Sundown to Sunrise” on October 7 at 8 p.m. and “Selling Happiness” October 12 at 7:30 p.m. Both films are produced by local filmmakers Pat Wisniewski and Tom Desch, and Lakeshore Public Media is also planning to host a screening of “From Sundown to Sunrise” at Valparaiso University in early November.
“Lakeshore Public Media is proud to share inspirational stories about members of our community as part of our mission to celebrate diversity, which in turn enriches the lives of those we serve,” Lakeshore Public Media’s Interim CEO Nancy Clifford said. “When we share stories about those with long term commitments to creating services, opportunities, and progress within our Region it fosters an appreciation for their dedication and an understanding of the influences that have built and shaped our neighborhoods and communities.”
“From Sundown to Sunrise” shares the journey of Robert Cotton and his family as they integrated into the all-white city of Valparaiso, Ind. in 1968.
“I came across this story when I met members of the Cotton and Reiner families in my hometown of Valparaiso. After hearing about their incredible courage and humanity I knew I wanted to help them tell this story,” Director Pat Wisniewski said.
The term “sundown,” presented in this film, refers to racial segregation implemented by all-white municipalities, that excluded non-whites – most frequently African Americans – from remaining in town after sunset. By breaking the color barrier, Robert Cotton and his family helped transform the town and place it on a trajectory of inclusion. “From Sundown to Sunrise” airs on Lakeshore PBS on October 7 at 8 p.m., October 9 at 8 a.m. and October 11 at 11 a.m.
The film’s subject, Robert Cotton, now a City Councilman in Valparaiso, hopes this documentary will help inspire others to stifle racial divisions and collectively heal.
“My hope in sharing momentous events I’ve experienced, on the fault lines of our black- white racial divide, will somehow provide a fresh perspective for how to heal via taking the road less traveled,” Cotton said.
“Selling Happiness” follows the risks taken by the Hofweber-Hammes family through three generations in the automotive business near South Bend, Ind. It will air on Lakeshore PBS on October 12 at 7:30 p.m., October 16 at 8 a.m. and October 20 at 4:30 p.m. While making the film, Director Tom Desch was drawn to the transformative history found near his hometown.
“In working on this film, I was amazed to learn how much of an impact the local car dealer had in transforming our world, especially one that was so close to my hometown in Kankakee County, Illinois,” Desch said.
The Hofweber-Hammes family navigated many societal changes circulating the automotive industry throughout the 20th century, but say the driving force behind the family dealership was the smiles on their customers’ faces. Director Pat Wisniewski sees the documentary as an inspiring story of innovation and adaptation.
“It’s an incredible entrepreneurial story. I was inspired by how three generations of car dealers were able to adapt to changing times and rise to the top of their field,” Wisniewski said.
Lakeshore Public Media has been a public broadcasting entity based in Northwest Indiana for nearly 35 years. The public broadcaster operates both Lakeshore PBS and Lakeshore Public Radio with a mission to enrich the lives of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana residents through lifelong learning, the celebration of human diversity, and engagement in civic concerns.
Lakeshore PBS broadcasts on channel 56 over the air as well as on DirecTV, Dish Network and AT&T U-verse. Comcast Xfinity viewers can find Lakeshore PBS on channel 17 or 21 while RCN viewers can tune to channel 44. The live broadcast can also be streamed online at LakeshorePBS.org or via the free PBS Video App on popular digital platforms.
More information including Lakeshore PBS’ full schedule can be found online at LakeshorePBS.org.