Using their smartphones, 60 Louisville residents recorded their emotional and unique daily lives during the spring of 2020.

The result is “The Public Record,” a 37-minute documentary about the personal and political lives of Louisvillians in a time of polarization and isolation during a time of a worldwide health crisis and large-scale protests. 

“This film is unique for many reasons,” said Soozie Eastman, president of the Louisville Film Society, which is presenting the film as part of this year’s virtual FlyOver Film Festival. “Not only is the film a citywide view of what life has been like in Louisville over the past months, but the way that it was produced is unique.”

Each individual received coaching from Louisville based director Ben Freedman and executive producers Stephen Kertis and Chelsae Ketchum. The film’s producers coached them over Zoom calls to explain best practices for shooting video on their smartphones and capturing the compelling moments that make up “The Public Record.”   

One of the participants in the film describes the pandemic as “the great magnifier” of economic and racial disparity in America. If the pandemic is a magnifier, then “The Public Record” is a microscope that offers a portrait of how this moment feels for everyone from a front-line nurse and a high school graduate to an elderly couple, an activist, a teacher and others. 

As the lockdown gives way to public protests, the film follows some of its participants out of their home and into the streets to discover that it is in moments of crisis that we become most politically activated.

The world premiere of “The Public Record” continues through Sunday.

The documentary is part of this year’s Louisville Film Society’s virtual FlyOver Film Festival, which also included “River City Drumbeat,” the uplifting story of a Louisville youth drum corp based in the city’s West End neighborhood. 

Tickets for the online screening of “The Public Record,” which is available now until Aug. 30,are $5 for non-members and $3 for Louisville Film Society members. The film is co-presented with the Speed Museum.  

For tickets and more information, visit

“The Public Record” is recommended for all ages, and each showing is followed by a discussion with the film’s director, editor, executive producer and documentary participants Mariel Gardner and Keith McGill.

The Louisville Film Society was established in 2007 to enrich the community by exhibiting independent, classic, experimental and international cinema in the Greater Louisville area. 

Do ghosts haunt Churchill Downs?: Take a step inside the track’s spooky history

Reach Kirby Adams at [email protected] or Twitter @kirbylouisville. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today:

Read or Share this story: