The Hays Arts Council is honored to present the documentary, “A Quiet America” originally produced by Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS) .
In 1976, At the height of the international interest in the bicentennial of the United States, countries around the world demonstrated a fascination for cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. But Swiss television wanted to show another image of America, one of a small town, like thousands of others across the country at that time, where one-third of Americans lived. They explored a number of locations, ultimately selecting Hays, Kansas.
For several weeks in the spring of 76, a Swiss production team led by Jean-Jacques Legrange and Marc Schindler traveled the streets of Hays, discovered its history, met its people, and visited churches, businesses, bingo halls, VFW dinners, livestock auctions and radio and television stations, even spending a little time “dragging Main.”
The production team was impressed by the welcome of kindness and hospitality they received. As the community continued to open its doors to the production team, they attended a traditional wedding dance, a Rotary club meeting, and spent time with local law enforcement. They filmed the average, everyday life of our community 45 years ago.
Their 83-minute film was broadcast in Switzerland in September of 1976.
In August of 2015, nearly 40 years later, Marc Schindler, a member of the original production team, returned to Hays to revisit the city and see if it was still A Quiet America. Thanks to the internet, he was able to connect with some of the people he had met in 1976. For 3 days, he rediscovered Hays, what changed, and what had not. He interviewed some of the witnesses to the past and citizens of the present. The result of that visit, "Back to Hays," provided a new time-capsule for our community and an addendum to A Quiet America.
The documentaries are posted here individually.
In the first video, you’ll meet Marc Schindler and hear the brief message he prepared for the Hays Arts Council’s presentation of "A Quiet America" in the Fall of 2017, the first time the film was shown publicly outside of Switzerland, Germany, and France.
After you've met Marc, we recommend first watching his 30-minute documentary "Back to Hays" - which features his 2015 local interviews and scenes interwoven with footage from "A Quiet America" as it was shown in Europe, including narration and voice overs in French.
Though shown in its entiety, the 1976 "A Quiet America" documentary shared here does not include the French commentary that filled some of the longer scenes and the French translation of the interviews, and without that voice over, you’re able to enjoy all the local interviews.
On behalf of the Hays Arts Council, thank you for watching. We hope you enjoy these video scrapbooks, true time-capsule treasures of life in a small Kansas town almost half century ago.
a brief statement from the 1976 "Quiet America" filmmaker before the debut presentation by the Hays Arts Council in October 2017
August 2015 documentary produced by Marc Schindler
a documentary on Hays, Kansas produced by Radio Télévision Suisse