Sons & Daughters

SANDY SAGERS AND CAROLINE BREDEKAMP (at right) join another extra as prepared to be part of the crowd scene in “Sons and Daughters of Thunder,” which will be shown at Preston Town Hall Sunday, Jan. 19 at 2 p.m. The event is free and open to the public

A special screening of Sons & Daughters of Thunder, a new film by Mid-America Emmy-nominated filmmakers Kelly and Tammy Rundle of Fourth Wall Films, will be showcased at the Preston Town Hall on Sunday, January 19 at 2 p.m. The event is free to the public and sponsored by The Friends of the Preston Public Library, The City of Preston and the Jackson County Historical Society.

The film tells the true story of the awakening of Harriet Beecher Stowe to the horrors of slavery.   Several Jackson County residents appear in the film as extras. A Q&A with the filmmakers will follow the PG-13-rated film.

“Sons & Daughters of Thunder is a fascinating, inspiring slice of influential U.S. history told with characteristic grace, intelligence and emotional power…” wrote Jonathan Turner, film reviewer from the Dispatch-Argus.

Discussing the abolition of slavery in 1834 was considered radical, even in the North. Organized by firebrand abolitionist Theodore Weld, the nation’s first public debates at Lane Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio led to near riot conditions in the city. The shocking oratory sparked intense controversy and awakened a young Harriet Beecher (Stowe) to the horrors of slavery. Harriet was captivated by Weld’s charismatic leadership at a time when Calvin Stowe was trying to win her heart. When school trustees slapped a gag order on the "Lane Rebels" most of the students left in a collective free speech protest. Inspired by Weld and the debates, Harriet later distilled her Cincinnati experiences into the world-wide best-selling novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. This forgotten true story from award-winning filmmakers Kelly Rundle and Tammy Rundle was a prelude to America’s Civil War.

Sons & Daughters of Thunder is based on the play by Earlene Hawley and Curtis Heeter, and tells the unforgettable true story of the beginning of the end of slavery in America.  The film was shot by award-winning director of photography Kevin Railsback and features an original score by William Campbell, the composer behind the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Lifeboat”.

“It is exciting to screen Sons & Daughters of Thunder for this special screening event in Jackson County,” said director Kelly Rundle.  2020 marks the 186th anniversary of the nation’s first public debates regarding the abolition of slavery.

“It is fitting to screen Sons & Daughters of Thunder in Jackson County, since we had so many wonderful locals take part in filming an important scene featuring a historic speech given by Frederick Douglass in 1852,” said producer Tammy Rundle. “Many came in period dress, or were dressed by our costume designer, had their hair done and make-up applied to sit in the crowd. It was great fun and they were superb!”

The producers note that the film is not for young children, and the 96-minute film’s detailed discussions of slavery might suggest a PG-13 rating.

The Preston Town Hall is located at 52 W. Gillet Street, Preston, Iowa.  For more information, contact Caroline M. Bredekamp at the Preston Public Library at 563-689-3581.

Sons & Daughters of Thunder continues to screen in independent theaters, at historic sites, museums, film festivals, and was released on DVD nationally on December 19th.

Sons & Daughters of Thunder was partially funded by a grant from the Quad City Arts, provided by the Illinois Arts Council Agency, Hubbell-Waterman Foundation and John Deere; and a grant from the Illinois Arts Council. The Moline Foundation and the Shell Rock Community Historical Society served as the fiscal sponsors for the project. For more information about Sons & Daughters of Thunder, visit

The Rundles are the producers of the Emmy® nominated documentaries Good Earth: Awakening the Silent City, Letters Home to Hero Street (with WQPT-PBS), and Country School: One Room – One Nation. Other award-winning productions include Movie Star: The Secret Lives of Jean Seberg, Lost Nation: The Ioway, and The Barn Raisers.