EWTN to Air Br. Joseph Documentary in Late February

A documentary on the life and work of Ave Maria Grotto creator Br. Joseph Zoettl will air again on a global Catholic network later this month.

“Brother Joseph and the Grotto,” a feature documentary from Red Clay Pictures, will be broadcast on EWTN on Feb. 28.

The documentary is a “creative chronicle” of the life and work of Br. Joseph, who spent his life building miniatures of concrete and recycled materials on the grounds of Saint Bernard Abbey in Cullman, where he arrived in 1892 as a 14-year-old boy named Michael from Bavaria.

The miniatures now surround a large, man-made grotto on the abbey grounds. The entire park, known as Ave Maria Grotto, is a top tourist attraction for the state.

The documentary, produced by native Alabamians Carol Ann Vaughn Cross and Cliff Vaughn, uses voluminous archival material, interviews, re-enactments and original illustrations to tell the story of Br. Joseph in the style of a fairy tale. The man himself died in 1961.

Interviewees include Abbot Cletus Meagher and Fr. Marcus Voss of Saint Bernard Abbey, historian and Pulitzer-Prize nominee Wayne Flynt, and singer-songwriter Kate Campbell.

The film airs on EWTN Saturday, Feb. 28 at 8:00 p.m. EST.

EWTN stands for Eternal Word Television Network and was founded in 1981 by Mother Angelica. It sends programming 24 hours a day into more than 230 million homes in nearly 150 countries and territories. (Click here to find out how you can access EWTN programming.) The network is headquartered in Irondale, Ala., a suburb of Birmingham.

The film had its public premiere at Saint Bernard Abbey in October 2013. It has since screened in locations across Alabama and been purchased by individuals and libraries across the country and in Germany. EWTN first broadcast the documentary in November 2014.

For more information about the film and to order it on DVD, visit www.brotherjosephmovie.com

Documentary on Ave Maria Grotto creator to be broadcast

A documentary on the life and work of Ave Maria Grotto creator Br. Joseph Zoettl will air on a global Catholic network this fall.

“Brother Joseph and the Grotto,” a feature documentary from Red Clay Pictures, will be broadcast on EWTN this November.

The documentary is a “creative chronicle” of the life and work of Br. Joseph, who spent his life building miniatures of concrete and recycled materials on the grounds of Saint Bernard Abbey in Cullman, where he arrived in 1892 as a 14-year-old boy named Michael from Bavaria.

The miniatures now surround a large, man-made grotto on the abbey grounds. The entire park, known as Ave Maria Grotto, is a top tourist attraction for the state.

The documentary, produced by native Alabamians Carol Ann Vaughn Cross and Cliff Vaughn, uses voluminous archival material, interviews, re-enactments and original illustrations to tell the story of Br. Joseph in the style of a fairy tale. The man himself died in 1961.

Interviewees include Abbot Cletus Meagher and Fr. Marcus Voss of Saint Bernard Abbey, historian and Pulitzer-Prize nominee Wayne Flynt, and singer-songwriter Kate Campbell.

The film premieres on EWTN Saturday, Nov. 15 at 8:00 p.m. EST. It will also air on EWTN’s UK-Ireland satellite on Dec. 6 at 2:00 pm EST.

EWTN stands for Eternal Word Television Network and was founded in 1981 by Mother Angelica. It sends programming 24 hours a day into more than 230 million homes in nearly 150 countries and territories. (Click here to find out how you can access EWTN programming.) The network is headquartered in Irondale, Ala., a suburb of Birmingham.

The film had its public premiere at Saint Bernard Abbey in October 2013. It has since screened in locations across Alabama and been purchased by individuals and libraries across the country and in Germany.

For more information about the film and to order it on DVD, visit www.brotherjosephmovie.com

“Brother Joseph and the Grotto” soundtrack now available

We’re pleased to announce that the soundtrack to “Brother Joseph and the Grotto” is now available as a digital download.

The original score by Brad J. Halverson may be downloaded for less than $6 from iTunes.

Tracks include:

Divinity
Sanctuary
Ave Maria
Enlightenment
The Spirit & the Sound
Exaltation

Halverson is a talented composer based in San Francisco. His work has appeared on most major networks.

Press release on ‘Brother Joseph’ screening at Wallace State

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

CONTACT: Gail Crutchfield, Communications and Marketing, Wallace State Community College, (256) 352-8064, gail.crutchfield@wallacestate.edu

Brother Joseph film to show at Wallace State

HANCEVILLE, Ala. — A documentary about the diminutive Bro. Joseph Zoettl and his miniature creations at Ave Maria Grotto will be shown larger than life at Wallace State Community College’s Burrow Center for Fine and Performing Arts at 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 12.

“Brother Joseph and the Grotto” is described as a “true fairytale” about the Bavarian native, who built a miniature city of famous landmarks out of recycled materials on the grounds of St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman. “Brother Joseph had a stepmother, took a long journey, got a new name, conducted a superhuman feat, lived in the woods, was “protected” by a godmother, and more – all features of classic fairy tales,” according to a synopsis of the film.

The film was written and directed by veteran documentary-filmmaker Cliff Vaughn of Red Clay Pictures out of Nashville, Tenn. Vaughn was inspired to do the film from Kate Campbell’s song “Ave Maria Grotto.” He also has a background in history and cultural studies. His sister, Carol Ann Vaughn Cross, served as the producer on the film and is the head of Red Clay Pictures’ Birmingham office.

“One of our first screenings was at Samford University,” said Vaughn. “We had a packed house with more than 100 in attendance. It was lots of fun.” The film’s premiere screening was held at St. Bernard Abbey.

Vaughn’s research for the film began in 2011, when he traced Brother Joseph’s entry into the United States through Ellis Island in 1892. He also uncovered a 1946 newsreels segment by Paramount Pictures, unpublished manuscripts by monks at St. Bernard Abbey, and Brother Joseph’s personal album of more than 300 postcards from his family members in Germany. The Abbey provided Vaughn with extensive access to its archives for research and access to the Abbey’s grounds for shooting scenes of the film.

Among those interviewed for the film is Campbell, whose song inspired the film; Bro. Augustine Campion, Abbot Cletus Meagher and Father Marcus Voss, all of St. Bernard Abbey; Leo Schwaiger, who took over care of the Grotto after Brother Joseph’s death; Julie Sears, widow of longtime Ave Maria Grotto staffer Monroe Sears; author Ruth Beaumont Cook; and professor Wayne Flynt.

Through interviews, re-enactments and illustrations, the film chronicles Brother Joseph’s life, from his beginnings in Bavaria as a boy named Michael, to his arrival in the United States as a teen after the death of his mother, his service to the monastery as a brother, and to his building of a small stone grotto to honor the Virgin Mary in which he placed miniature buildings he made out of concrete and recycled materials. That paved the way for a larger grotto in the Abbey’s old stone quarry and more miniatures.

The grotto was opened to the public in 1934, with Brother Joseph working the next 25 years to add more miniatures that became known as the “sermons in stone.” Today, Ave Maria Grotto is one of the state’s leading tourist attractions.

The viewing of the film is free and open to the public. Vaughn will be in attendance and will have copies of the film and other materials on hand for purchase. For more information about the movie, visit www.brotherjosephmovie.com . For more information about Wallace State, visit www.wallacestate.edu or call 256.352.8000.

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The film will be shown at 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 12, in the Recital Hall of the Burrown Center for Fine and Performing Arts on the campus of Wallace State Community College, Hanceville.

Red Clay Pictures makes goal on Indiegogo

Red Clay Pictures met — and surpassed — its fundraising goal on Indiegogo of $10,000 for “Brother Joseph and the Grotto,” a feature-length documentary about Brother Joseph Zoettl, creator of Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Ala.

Red Clay Pictures raised $10,365 during the 45-day campaign on Indiegogo, a crowdfunding platform that has been available to filmmakers since 2008. The campaign, still archived at http://igg.me/at/brotherjosephandthegrotto/x/3219866, pulled 82 funders and garnered 652 Facebook “likes” of the Indiegogo campaign page. Indiegogo statistics also show the campaign accumulated more than 2,500 views of the campaign page.

Donors had perk options that included t-shirts, original illustrations that will be featured in the documentary, a CD album by Kate Campbell featuring the song “Ave Maria Grotto,” and more.

Donations, less fair market value of any perks claimed, were and are tax-deductible because “Brother Joseph and the Grotto” is a fiscally sponsored project of the Southern Documentary Fund, based in Durham, N.C.

The campaign ended Friday, July 12.

The filmmakers will spend the funds on post-production services (including color and sound, and archival footage purchasing).

Non-Indiegogo contributions are accepted and still tax-deductible

Several people have asked if they can contribute to “Brother Joseph and the Grotto” on platforms other than Indiegogo. The answer is yes!

This project is fiscally sponsored by the Southern Documentary Fund, based in Durham, N.C. That means SDF can accept project contributions on our behalf, and the donations are tax-deductible. (You can see our project page at SDF here.)

If you would like to support “Brother Joseph and the Grotto” by sending a check, you can do so. Please make your check payable to “Southern Documentary Fund” and write “Brother Joseph and the Grotto” in the memo line. Mail it to:

The Southern Documentary Fund
762 Ninth St. #574
Durham, NC 27705