WATCH: UT students’ Dolly Parton documentary releases trailer; premiere set for April 2

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A premiere date has been set and a new movie trailer has been released for the University of Tennessee documentary on Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

“The Library That Dolly Built” will premiere April 2 in New York. The documentary about Parton’s nonprofit that provides each child in the program with one free book each month from birth to age 5 was created by Land Grant Films.

Land Grant Films is the documentary production program housed in UT’s School of Journalism and Electronic Media. Fifteen students have worked on “The Library That Dolly Built” since the fall of 2017. Associate Professor of Journalism and Electronic Media Nick Geidner is the director and producer of the film.

“I can’t speak highly enough about this group of students,” Geidner said. “They got thrown into the fire and rose to the level we needed. This setting turned into something much more real-world than I could have imagined for them.”

Parton will attend the premiere along with Geidner and his students. Tickets to screenings around the country are available at the Imagination Library website.

When the project began, the initial plan was to create an hourlong show that could air on television stations across the state, but the scope of the documentary grew into a 72-minute film as the crew interviewed people around the country working for the Imagination Library. Two months into filming, the team flew to Washington to chronicle Parton and the Imagination Library presenting their 100 millionth book to the U.S. Library of Congress.

Headquartered in Pigeon Forge, the Imagination Library is one of the largest literacy-focused nonprofit programs in the world. It has distributed more than 1.5 million age-appropriate books to children in all 50 states and five countries.

“The Imagination Library has grown a lot since we started, and Dolly’s popularity has grown even more,” Geidner said. “I don’t think we ever expected it to get this big.”

Geidner was inspired by Imagination Library when his first-born son, Henry, started receiving the books as an infant. Henry just celebrated his seventh birthday and continues to be a reader, including to his younger brother Sam.

“We recently read the first Harry Potter book together,” Geidner said of Henry. “I’m sure I’m going to be sobbing in the theaters watching the film. There are a number of shots of Henry and Sam in the film.”


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