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Jack Hill’s last film, 'War in the ’60s,’ to air on AETN May 15

War in the ’60s” − the last film produced by Jack Hill, who is considered one of the most prolific documentarians of Arkansas history − will air on the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) Thursday, May 15, at 7 p.m. Photographed in locations across the state, “War in the ’60s” is the first full-length piece about Civil War Arkansas in the past 20 years.

'War in the ’60s’ covers Arkansas’s entire Civil War experience, from the major battles to the experiences of civilians, and from the depredations of bushwhackers to the travails of soldiers in the field,” Mark Christ, community outreach director for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, said. “Jack Hill’s final documentary is a testament to the men and women of Arkansas and the troops from around the country who experienced the Civil War in Arkansas.

When Arkansas seceded from the Union on May 6, 1861, it was a divided state, politically and economically. During the war, it was the site of major military engagements such as the Battle of Pea Ridge, which effectively saved Missouri for the Union, and the Battle of Prairie Grove, the bloodiest conflict west of the Mississippi River. It was also one of the most difficult places for civilians to live as both armies devoured or destroyed everything in their paths.

“War in the ’60s” tells the story of what happened during the Civil War in Arkansas, a confederate state in which more than 700 battles were fought. The program recounts some of the most important battles and describes the hardships inflicted by both Union and Confederate armies and endured by the civilian population.

Through interviews with historians and the words of soldiers and Arkansas citizens who experienced the war, the documentary helps viewers understand what it was like to live in Arkansas during this tragic time in America’s history, and how the war changed the state forever.

Dale Carpenter, chair of the Lemke Department of Journalism at the University of Arkansas, finished the film following Hill’s death in July 2012.

“The Civil War in Arkansas was always a subject close to Jack Hill's heart, and it's fitting that it was the last story he told,” Carpenter said. “'War in the ’60s’ was a work in progress when Jack died – the script was finished, the video was shot, and Jack had recorded all of the narration.

“He was about halfway through the editing of the film. Completing the work was simply a matter of following Jack’s script and putting the rest of the pieces together. 'War in the ’60s’ is Jack Hill’s film. It was a privilege for me to help him finish it.”

Hill worked as a television reporter in Denver, Colorado; Jackson, Mississippi; and Dallas, Texas, prior to coming home to Arkansas in 1975 and working as the news anchor and investigative reporter at KAIT-TV in Jonesboro. During those years at KAIT, Hill wrote, produced and reported for documentaries dealing with issues affecting Arkansans. These documentaries brought numerous local and national awards both to Hill and to KAIT, including two awards from the duPont-Columbia University Journalism Program; two nominations for a national Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences; a citation from the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards competition; a certificate of merit from the American Bar Association; third place in public service reporting at the national awards competition of the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi; the Broadcast Media Award from San Francisco University; a certificate of merit in the 14th annual Gabriel Awards Competition; and the investigative journalism award for TV stations under top 75 markets from Investigative Reporters and Editors.

After leaving KAIT, Hill moved to Little Rock and formed his own company, TeleVision of Arkansas, through which he produced nearly 60 documentaries shown on statewide television. Hill was a graduate of Rogers High School and received his bachelor’s degree in speech from the University of Arkansas. After serving as an officer in the Army for two years while stationed in Germany, Hill earned his master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri.

Funding for “War in the ’60s” was provided by the Arkansas Department of Heritage and the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) is Arkansas’s statewide public television network that enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. For more information, visit aetn.org, or follow the AETN blog at aetn.org/engage. AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), and KETZ (El Dorado).

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