Winner 1997

The American Experience: Troublesome Creek—A Midwestern


Like so many other families, in recent years Iowa farmers Russ and Mary Jane Jordan faced a burgeoning debt and an increasingly “bottom-line” oriented bank. Unlike the others, they had a sensitive filmmaker and gifted storyteller for a daughter, who chronicled their struggle in this poignant and heartfelt film. In Troublesome Creek—A Midwestern, Jeanne Jordan and partner Steven Ascher use the intimate story of one family’s struggle to maintain the farm life to craft an extraordinary visual metaphor for major changes afflicting rural America. Rarely has a series title been so apt, for this is truly an “American experience,” told first-hand with humor, sorrow, compassion, and love. A particularly nice touch is the inclusion of moments from classic western movies, such as Dodge City, The Gunfighter, Red River, and High Noon, which provides dramatic irony to the events which transpire as the Jordans struggle to maintain their homestead. Jeanne Jordan and Steven Ascher have dedicated this film “to all the Russ and Mary Janes,” America’s disappearing family farmers. It is to them that this film bears witness, and it is they who share this Peabody Award.