WAXHAW – Residents will have the opportunity to see their history on the silver screen in the near future. They may even get to see themselves, too.
Gene Stowe, a former reporter from Monroe, wrote a series of newspaper articles detailing the historical events that brought all races from the Village of Marvin together to live in peaceful, happy unity. He furthered his research on the matter and published “Inherit the Land” in 2006.
Union County Weekly previously reported Stowe’s work with filmmakers Cylk Cozart and Jim Johnson to convert the film into a documentary, complete with interviews from descendants of historical figures and reenactments of historical scenes detailed in the book.
Cozart and Johnson will be in Union County from Feb. 21 to 23 to talk to as many residents as possible. They hope to find people to cast in the reenactment scenes or contribute donations and invest in the film.
Cozart, the film’s director, was drawn to the story of “Inherit the Land” after Johnson, the film’s producer, brought it to his attention. Stowe visited the two in Knoxville, Tenn., where they spoke for hours about how they could convert the film into a documentary. In 2019, Cozart and Johnson visited Marvin for the first time and were amazed by the love and unity between people of all colors, as Stowe described in the book.
Growing up in the South in the 1970s, Cozart said he experienced a lot of racism. He said when he was 12 years old, people hung his dog because Cozart had danced with a white woman. Cozart also experienced racism when he moved to Hollywood to pursue directing.
“I’ve seen some pretty horrible things,” Cozart said. “But in Marvin, everyone loves each other. They eat together. They go to church together. It was the way things are supposed to be.”
With recent events that have happened in the country, Cozart said he believes releasing this documentary is more important than ever. He hopes to show audiences that people can coexist peacefully and lovingly.
An important part of the documentary will be the reenactment scenes. Cozart said when he is in Union County, he plans to look for both professional actors and locals to participate in the reenactment of significant events as told in the book, such as the courthouse scene.
“I think the look and the feel of the movie is the people that are from there,” Cozart said. “I think the community and the people there would be good for the film, and that’s why I want to meet as many people when we’re there that could be a part of this and be in action scenes.”
Though the documentary does not have a website yet, more information on the film, including the trailer, can be found on its Facebook page, “Inherit the Land.”
Those interested in meeting with Cozart and Johnson about donating to the film can attend the event at 5 p.m. Feb. 21 at 120 S. Main St. in Monroe. Those interested in participating in the film’s reenactment scenes can attend the event at 5 p.m. Feb. 23 at 300 N. Main St. in Monroe.