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Filmmaker creates series on history of Slatersville

A snapshot from local filmmaker Christian de Rezendes. (breaking Branches Pictures){ }
A snapshot from local filmmaker Christian de Rezendes. (breaking Branches Pictures)
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After 10 years in the making, a local filmmaker's series on the long history of Slatersville premieres Friday night on Rhode Island PBS.

The history of how the town became America's first mill village, with all its twists, turns, drama, and mystery, is now being told for the first time.

Christian de Rezendes didn't know it at the time, but 25 years ago when he was a teenager, shooting images with his first camcorder of Slatersville, that the seeds were then planted for what's now become his epic two-season 11-part series, "Slatersville: America's First Mill Village."

“I like to think of it as a story of America, through the prism of the first mill village,” de Rezendes told NBC 10 News, in front of his production computer, in the lower level of the house formerly owned by his grandparents in the town of Slatersville. “To see how we started as a country, grew, made mistakes, and to see how we respond to that and deal with the repercussions of that today.”

While Pawtucket and Slater Mill here are known historically as the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, Slatersville has its own untold story, until now.

"People were not allowing him [Samuel Slater] to expand in Pawtucket. That's why Slatersville came to be, because they could create a center that would attract families," he explained.

Episode 1, The Mental Smugglers, tells what led up to establishing the town in 1806. De Rezendes, who traveled through five New England states and Old England too, found out "in England, they call him 'Slater the Traitor', because he's not well-liked there."

The northwestern part of Rhode Island at the time was essentially a free for all, covered in Episode 2, “where a lot of gambling and crime happened," he said.

The arc of this history through the decades, and centuries, the good and the bad, roll on each successive Friday night, through mid-October on Rhode Island PBS at 8 p.m.

"There's an old phrase, and it's 'nobody cares about the nine months, they just want to see the baby,'" de Rezendes laughed. “But the truth is the only way I can show you the baby was by getting through the nine months and showing that to you."

It's a story that must be told.

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