On Wednesday, Nov. 14, at the Chester County Historical Society in West Chester, the documentary film, “Goodnight Ladies” will premiere, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Fox Hounds. There will be two screenings, 5 p.m. and 7 p.m, with a question and answer session following each film with the Director, Christianna Hannum Miller and award-winning cinematographer David W. Leitner.
Goodnight Ladies is a 35-minute documentary film, shot on super 16 mm film. It began as a larger feature, entitled “Keeping Sound,” in 1998. The filmmaker, Chester County resident Christianna Hannum Miller began “Keeping Sound” as a film about her legendary grandmother, Nancy Penn Smith Hannum and it evolved into a 90-minute film, interspersed with animation. A portion of the film's footage includes never before published footage from the Chester County Historical Society's film archives, as well as still photographs.
Hannum began to edit “Keeping Sound” when plans for the 100th anniversary of Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Fox Hounds began. What emerged was “Goodnight Ladies,” titled in honor of the famous “Cheshire Beauties," the pack of foxhounds bred by her grandmother and in honor of a song featured in the film.
“With ‘Goodnight Ladies,’ I was able to condense and shape a very personal film into a more traditional picture of my grandmother. This shorter film is about the joy of the human spirit and a woman who never stopped believing in what she stood for. In ‘Goodnight Ladies,’ I show the grandmother I remember, speeding down country roads in her battered Jeep. Gran was passionate about her grandchildren, and this film is for them, and for their children.”
The film begins with Christy’s grandmother reading her own prematurely published obituary – “Wasn’t that worth for not dying for to be able to read that,” Gran says with a chuckle. Nancy Hannum died in 2008 but her legend lives on and the anniversary, held in November will present a series of lectures, the premiere of the film, and a Gala Ball at Longwood Gardens. Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds was founded in 1912 by Nancy Hannum’s stepfather Plunket Stewart who married Hannum’s mother, Carol Harriman, after Hannum’s father died of pneumonia at 35.
“Keeping Sound,” the original project, was awarded a grant from the Eastman Kodak Company in order to shoot the project on 16 mm film. “Goodnight Ladies” is intended for film festivals, public television and classrooms nationwide. “Goodnight Ladies” was made through the support of individual donors and the New York Foundation For the Arts. Copies of the film will be available for sale at the premier and in an ongoing basis at the Chester County Historical Society gift shop. A $5 suggested donation supports the collections preservation and educational activities of the Historical Society.