CAMBRIDGE — Many films have brought to life the valiant story of Harriet Tubman, but few are filmed in Dorchester County on the lands where Tubman lived, labored and sought freedom.
“Harriet Tubman: Soldier of Freedom,” a short film shot and shown exclusively on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, will debut at 2 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center in Church Creek, Maryland.
“Soldier of Freedom” explores Tubman’s real-life story, and the “decisions that shaped her life as a patriot, leader, liberator and humanitarian,” according to the Dorchester County Tourism Office.
The 15-minute film, starring B. Cherie Patterson as Tubman, and featuring acclaimed actor and narrator Keith David, will be shown daily, three times an hour, to visitor center guests.
In keeping with its homemade production theme, “Soldier of Freedom” features appearances from Dorchester residents Hershel Johnson, Keith Cornish, Mary Dennard and Jenny Baltimore.
The film also acts as a captivating introduction to the exhibits featured within the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Church Creek, which houses permanent informative displays, a research library, an information desk and a museum shop.
Maryland Park Service Manager Dana Paterra said the park service is “thrilled to premiere this tribute to a great American heroine.”
“‘Harriet Tubman: Soldier of Freedom’ was filmed locally in the region that shaped her early years and included local actors and businesses when possible,” Paterra said. “The movie provides a solid foundation for the visitor’s experience here at the Visitor Center and adds another opportunity to create a meaningful connection with guests and Tubman’s inspiring life.”
The film was commissioned in a partnership among the National Park Service, Maryland Park Service, State of Maryland, Eastern National and America’s Byway. It was produced by Aperture Films and directed by Joshua Colover, who has won 18 international film festival awards.
The short documentary’s release date complements that of the Hollywood-produced film about Tubman, titled “Harriet,” which is set to debut the same week at the Toronto Film Festival.
“Harriet” stars Emmy, Tony and Grammy award-winning actress and singer Cynthia Erivo. The movie will be available to view in theaters across the U.S., including in Cambridge Premiere Cinemas, on Nov. 1.
The “Soldier of Freedom” premiere showing at the Visitor Center in Dorchester County will be preceded by special events, programs and a 1 p.m. musical ceremony by Renna McKinney.
Following the showing, a presentation will be given by Dr. Kate Clifford Larson, a Massachusetts-based historian and author of the biography, “Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero.”
Larson was a consultant for the short film, as well as for other Tubman movies, including a recently announced MPT/Firelight Films Tubman documentary, which is currently in production.
Larson described the film as a “heart-wrenching yet triumphant story of Harriet Tubman.”
“Filmed on location here on the Eastern Shore, the film briefly shares the dramatic, difficult story of Tubman’s life as an enslaved child and adult, her pursuit of freedom on the Underground Railroad, and her determination to end slavery and bring liberty and justice to others,” Larson said.
Dorchester County Director of Tourism Amanda Fenstermaker called the film a “significant and powerful addition to the engaging multimedia exhibitory that has made the Visitor Center one of the mid-Atlantic’s top tourism destinations.”
“More than 200,000 have come to the Visitor Center since its spring 2017 opening to learn about Harriet Tubman’s remarkable life and see how they can experience the landscapes where she lived and toiled,” Fenstermaker said, highlighting the Center’s role as a starting point along the Harriet Tubman UGRR Byway.
The Visitor Center is free and open to the public seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the upcoming short film premiere, visit http://harriettubmanbyway.org/visitor-center/.