Isolated, desperate, and haunted by his coal-stained birthright, Clarence Lockwood continues his daily descent into the accursed Maple mine—even after it has crippled his father and blinded his youngest son. Set in 1907 and based on director Jesse Kreitzer’s own coalmining ancestry, Black Canaries is a powerful meditation on patrimony, loyalty, and love.


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Father - Patrick Towne
Mother - Ananka Kahlmeyer
Boy - Andrew Stewart
Grandfather - John Connet
Child - River Quinn
Photographer - Peter Taft
Narrator - Lawrence Steuer


Writer, Producer, Director - Jesse Kreitzer
Director of Photography - Daniel Cojanu
Editor - Jesse Kreitzer
Assistant Camera - Aaron Riggs, Matt Bressoudt, Joshua Yates
Production Sound - Brian MacQueen
Gaffer - Max Moore
Grip - Ruokun Yi
Original Music - Jose Parody
Sound Supervisor - Austin DeVries
Sound Design - Austin DeVries, Filipe Antunes
PAs - Alina Kulpaviciute, Joseph Mulvania, Chenchen Zou
Additional Camera - Jesse Kreitzer
Costumes - Sasha Hildebrand
Props - Tim Linden
Fiddle - Eric George
Scenic Design - Leslie Delavan, Richard Burke
Visual Effects - Zachary Hayes
Storyboard Illustrator - Benjamin Mackey


We Made Black Canaries


Film Festival Release


Ashland Independent Film Festival
     *Special Jury Recognition for Short Film
White River Independent Film Festival
Green Mountain Film Festival
Woodstock Film Festival
     *Finalist, Best Short Film
Oldenburg International Film Festival
     *Nominee, German Independence Award - Best Short Film
Vermont International Film Festival
    *Winner, James Goldstone Award for Emerging Vermont Filmmaker
    *Winner, Best Cinematography

Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival
     *Vermont Symphony Orchestra Award for Music Integration
HollyShorts Film Festival
     *Grand Jury Award, Best Film
     *Grand Jury Award, Best Cinematography
Provincetown International Film Festival
     *Grand Jury Award, Best New England Short Film
Woods Hole Film Festival
     *Director's Award, Best Cinematography
Rural Route Film Festival
Huesca International Film Festival
Rainier Independent Film Festival
Julien Dubuque International Film Festival
     *Nominee, Best Student Film
Newport Beach Film Festival


Ashland Daily Tidings, AIFF Awards Announced
Little Village, UI Film Grad Wins Back-to-Back Grand Jury Prizes
Iowa Alumni Magazine, Letters to the Editor
Berklee College of Music, Students Create Score...
Iowa Alumni Magazine, Feature: Black Canaries
Little Village, Mining Family History
Little Village, Jesse Kreitzer Unearths the Past
Iowa City Press Citizen, Inspired by Ancestors
Seven Days, Canaries in a Cinematic Coal Mine
Daily Iowan, Mining Cinema
The Commons, Driven to Tell Stories
Boston Globe, Are There Contenders in the Glovebox?
Lanterna, Newsletter Campaign
Kickstarter, Crowdfunding Campaign


My great-grandfather Thomas Clarence Chapman was a coal miner in Maple, Iowa; a small mining town that dried up along with the coal in the 1920s. Growing up, that’s all I knew of my mother's ancestry. In 2013, I relocated to Iowa and spent the next three years unearthing the stories and relics of the Chapman family. For the first time in my life, I met with extended relatives to record oral histories, search state archives and document the stories of those who grew up in Iowa's coal camps.  A culmination of my geneological research, Black Canaries is an ode to my ancestors.  A lyrical meditation on land, labor and fatigue, the film honors not only my own family's history, but a collective cultural heritage formed in the depths of Americana.