If you missed the film “Barge” at an independent movie theater last year or at the WorkBoat Maintenance & Repair Conference and Expo in April, you’ll soon be able to watch it on your smartphone or tablet.
May 31 is the launch date for the digital version of the film on iTunes.
"We're really thrilled that members of the workboat community and industry nationwide will now have the opportunity to enjoy the film,” Ben Powell, the producer/director, told me in an email announcing this new milestone for the documentary.
The film chronicles life on the Mary Parker, a Jantran towboat based in Rosedale, Miss. Powell spent 15 days on the vessel over three years and four trips along the Lower Mississippi River from Rosedale to the Port of New Orleans and back.
The film follows no set script, and there are no actors. The dialogue evolves as crewmembers talk frankly about their life on a workboat, and how they view their jobs on the vessel and how it affects the broader economy of moving commodities on the nation’s waterways.
Some deckhands said they followed relatives into the industry, others were looking for ways to turn their lives around after some bad luck, including one who had served time in prison. All shared the belief that barge work offers good pay, camaraderie and friendship, and also a second chance at life.
The film serves up some stunning cinematography of the Mississippi River and the manual work on a barge. And although the pace is slow — reflecting the movement of the barge and the tediousness of the work — it is never boring thanks to storytelling by the crew.
“Barge” has received excellent reviews since launching last March, screening at events and independent theaters and winning the Grand Jury Prize for documentaries at the Dallas International Film Festival. Many have suggested that Powell produce a sequel. We'll keep an eye on it and let you know if that's in the works anytime soon.
In the meantime, don't miss the original on iTunes.