Photo by Mark Thomas

If you’ve turned on the TV in the past few days, you’ve probably seen Jeff Bednarz’s work. The Preston Hollow resident directs commercials for major companies such as American Airlines, FedEx and Whataburger. However, his most recent project for the Georgia Historical Society became much more than an advertising campaign. His short documentary “Take Me to the Water” tells the story of a small fishing community off Moon River southeast of Savannah. Founded in 1890 by freed slaves, Pin Point is the last enclave of its kind, untouched by development along the coast. The family-owned oyster factory sustained the area until it closed in 1985. Today, it houses the Pin Point Heritage Museum, which aims to preserve the history and honor the people who still call Pin Point home. “It’s one of the last black-owned properties on the East Coast,” Bednarz says. “It became more than that. It became about family, culture and dignity.” He spent one year interviewing the residents of the unincorporated town on the edge of society. They still speak Gullah, the area’s native Creole language. “All of the family heritage has kept the place secure. [Developers] aren’t even approaching them.” The movie won Best Documentary at the Charleston International Film Festival in South Carolina. That style of storytelling is nothing new to Bednarz, 49. His film “6” screened at Austin’s South by Southwest in 2010, illustrating how a six-man football team shaped a small West Texas town. He plans to explore more unknown communities with powerful stories to tell. “I love people,” Bednarz says. “My job is to create an environment where they feel comfortable. You don’t know where the story is going.”

“Take Me to the Water” is currently on the film festival circuit and not yet available for purchase. To see the trailer and learn more about filmmaker Jeff Bednarz’s work, visit directorz.net.


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