Winesburg, Ohio and Lost in Winesburg were funded by an Ohio University 1804 Foundation Award and the Ohio Humanities Council. Filmed entirely on location in Athens, Nelsonville, Logan and Pomeroy, the films are a unique collaboration between the local community and Ohio University students, alumni, staff and faculty.

Winesburg, Ohio is an experimental narrative, freely adapted from the classic novel by Sherwood Anderson, mentor to Faulkner and Hemingway, and inspired by 'the hunger to see below the surface of lives'. In the film, as in the book, a young reporter in small town Ohio circa1919, moves through a mysterious, labyrinthine world, glimpsing the dreams and disappointments of local inhabitants, as they relive the moments that renders them grotesque.

Lost in Winesburg is a documentary that examines both the enduring legacy of Anderson's book, by examining present day small-town Ohio, and the attempt to adapt Winesburg, Ohio for the screen. The film follows the creative process of the actors and crew as they immerse themselves in the suprisingly controversial production. Whilst the production takes some unfortunate twists and turns, the residents of Clyde grapple with their hometown hero and his portrait of their way of life. Ultimately, Lost in Winesburg confronts the possibility that some stories are best left untold.

Screenplay Notes

They're not really stories. They're just people. I myself remember with what shock I heard people say that Winesburg was an exact picture of Ohio village life. The book was written in a crowded tenement district of Chicago. The hint for almost every character was taken from my fellow lodgers in a crowded rooming house.

At times there comes over me a terrible conviction that I am living in a city of the dead. Life is a loose flowing thing. There are no plot stories in life. I had begun writing of the little lives I knew, the people I had lived, walked and talked with…

I have come to think that the true history of life is but a series of moments. It is only at rare moments that we live. Sherwood Anderson

Winesburg is a book largely set in twilight and darkness, its backgrounds heavily shade with gloomy blacks and marshy greys - as if proper for a world of withered men who, sheltered by the night, reach out for the sentient life they dimly recall…Like most fiction, Winesburg is a variation on the theme of reality and appearance, in which deformations caused by day (public life) are intensified at night and, in their very extremity, become an entry to reality. Winesburg, Ohio as a Dance of Death, David Stouck

In its fundamental quality Winesburg is non realistic; it does not seek to gratify the eye with a verisimilitude to social forms…In rather shy lyrical outbursts the book conveys a vision of American life as a depressed landscape cluttered with dead stumps, twisted oddities, grotesque and pitiful wrecks; a landscape where ghosts fumble erratically and romance is reduced to mere fugitive brushings in the night; a landscape eerie with the cracked echoes of village queers rambling in their lonely eccentricity. Again and again Winesburg suggests that beneath the exteriors of our life the deformed exert dominion, that the seeming wealth of our state derives from a deep malignancy. And Winesburg echoes with American loneliness.

Only when man gives precedence to his spirit over material things will he wear his suffering lightly.

Decay is an image that recurs: Winesburg is “a wasteland ruled by dull, conventional people…Rubbish and broken glass clutter the alleys and the streets of the village.”

The figures of Winesburg usually personify to fantastic excess a condition of psychic deformity which is the consequence of some crucial failure in their lives, some aborted effort to extend their personalities or proffer their love.

Whenever Anderson's characters…imprisoned by their frustrations born of abortive attempts to communicate with their fellow human beings make a final attempt to express their love or helplessness, it is done through hands. This is why…'nothing happens' in Winesburg. For most of its figures it is too late for anything to happen, they can only muse over the traumas which have so harshly limited their spontaneity. Stripped of their animate wholeness and twisted into frozen postures of defence, they are indeed what Anderson called them: grotesques. Merrill Studies in Winesburg, Ohio

The most important symbol is that of the room, frequently used to suggest isolation and confinement. Winesburg, Ohio edited by John H. Ferres

The book's central strand of action…is the effort of the grotesques to establish intimate relations with George Willard. At night, when they need not fear the mockery of public detection, they hesitantly approach him, almost in supplication, to tell him of their afflictions and perhaps find health in his voice. Sherwood Anderson: A Study of the Short Fiction, Robert Allen Papinchak

A panorama, with souls instead of trees, with minds in place of houses. Chicago Daily News, 1919