By JENNIFER COHRON
For the second year in a row, a film by a Walker County native will be screened at the George Lindsey UNA Film Festival.
“Byler Cheatham Roads: The Challenge 200 Years Ago” will be shown Thursday, March 5 at 10 a.m. in Building 124 on the University of North Alabama campus.
The documentary, which was produced by the team behind “Special People and Places with Margaret Lee,” is one of 26 films competing for the Clyde “Sappo” Black Sweet Home Alabama Award.
Black, a Jasper native who died in 2005 at age 78, was a lifelong friend of Lindsey’s. The award is given to the best film made in Alabama. Last year, filmmaker Jamie Jean became possibly the first Walker County native to be eligible for the award when “Wind and Water Balloons” was screened at the festival.
Lee, author of “Memories of Nauvoo,” has hosted “Special People and Places” since 2011. Joel Mize, author of the new book “The Byler Road and Its People,” contacted Lee several years ago after seeing the program.
“He realized we had the same passion — highlighting local history,” Lee said.
Lee and her husband, Larry, accompanied Mize on several tours that he leads along the Byler Road, Alabama’s first public road. Gov. William Wyatt Bibb authorized its construction shortly after Alabama became a state.
It originally stretched 140 miles from Lauderdale to Tuscaloosa counties, and approximately 115 miles of the original roadway still exists today.
Filming for “Byler Cheatham Roads: The Challenge 200 Years Ago” took place at several sites over the past two years. Final editing was done in late 2019, just in time to be released for Alabama’s bicentennial year.
It has been posted on the “Special People and Places” YouTube channel. DVDs of the film were given away recently when Mize was in Jasper to sign copies of his book on the Byler Road.
The documentary has been submitted to four film festivals — the George Lindsey UNA Film Festival, Sidewalk Film Festival and festivals in Columbia Missouri, and Houston, Texas.
Lee is currently working on an update for her book on Nauvoo and plans to produce a documentary to go along with it.