New film series starts with Conroy’s The Water is Wide

Published 8:24 pm Wednesday, February 26, 2014


A new film series at the Tryon Fine Arts Center begins on March 4 with the screening of the 2006 movie “The Water is Wide.”

The film will be shown at 7 p.m. (doors will open at 6:30 p.m.)

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The new series, which will continue twice monthly through May, alternates films from the award-winning Hallmark Hall of Fame series with movies that have a connection to the Carolinas.

“The Water is Wide” is chosen as the first in the series because it fits firmly into both of these categories.

“The Water is Wide,” an autobiographical story by an idealistic, young Pat Conroy, describes his life-changing experiences as a school teacher on Daufauskie Island (called Yamacraw in the film) off the coast of South Carolina.

With a population of around 100 in the late 1960s, Daufauskie had seen little of the almost revolutionary changes that most Americans were experiencing at that time. Conroy’s students, who were mostly descended from slaves and spoke the Gullah dialect, while very knowledgeable about their immediate natural surroundings, knew almost nothing about their country or the world beyond their 2-mile long island.  Conroy made it his mission to introduce them to that world.

When the story was first filmed in 1972 under the title “Conrack” (the name Conroy’s students gave him) the social changes of the 60s were still in sharp, often raw, focus but the Hallmark Hall of Fame film, completed in 2006 under the direction of John Kent Harrison, treats the story with a subtlety made possible with the passing of almost 50 years.

With Jeff Hephner as Conroy, Alfre Woodard as the school’s principal (and only other teacher) and veteran actor Frank Langella as the archconservative county superintendent, the movie has a powerful cast, but the island and its children are at the heart of the story.

In an interview with Edwin L. Carpenter, director Harrison said throughout the filming he would frequently remind himself,  “It’s about the kids.”  Originally made for television, the film was nominated for two Emmy Awards.

The Spring 2014 Film Series at Tryon Fine Arts Center will screen the following:


• The Water is Wide:

March 4

• The Color Purple:

March 18

• No Time for Sergeants:

April 8

• A Brush with Fate:

April 22

• Dirty Dancing:

May 6

• The Secret Garden:

May 20.

Tickets are available at the TFAC Box Office or online at

For more information, visit the website or call 828-859-8322.

– article submitted 

by Frances Flynn