Some event cinema distributors and their partners are getting creative in these challenging times. This Thursday, April 2, the Los Angeles-based event cinema distributor Abramorama and The Dollywood Foundation will present an online book-reading series entitled Goodnight with Dolly. Abramorama was originally scheduled to release the documentary The Library That Dolly Built in more than 330 cinemas on April 2. Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, the film will instead open nationally the week of September 21, to commemorate the Library’s 25th anniversary.
All the parties involved with this film were able to pivot quickly and provide not only a solution on when to release the film but a new channel for Dolly Parton to provide comfort and engage directly with fans and families during this chaotic time. Since its inception in 1995, the Imagination Library has gifted more than 135 million books to children and is currently gifting books to 1.5 million children around the world each month.
During the program, which begins each evening at 7:00 pm, and will continue once a week for the next ten weeks, the legendary performer Dolly Parton will be reading a children’s book for bedtime.
The books to be read in the series have all been carefully chosen for their appropriate content at this moment in time. Dolly Parton welcomes the viewers and introduces the title, author and illustrator. Snuggled in bed with her Imagination Library book, she shares stories that are just right for this moment in time. The readings will be a mixture of Dolly Parton and the interior pages of the books. The books will include There’s a Hole in the Log on the Bottom of the Lake by Loren Long, Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney, I Am a Rainbow by Dolly Parton, Pass It On by Sophy Henn, Stand Tall Molly Lou Mellon by Patty Lovell, Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen, Max & The Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper, Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton, and of course, The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper.
The programs are available across the Imagination Library, Dolly Parton, World Choice Investments, and Dollywood channels. The read along is a personal gift from Dolly to all families. Free of charge but not free from obligation as the message will be to pass on the love and keep hope alive because we are all Together, You and I.
Dolly Parton said, “This is something I have been wanting to do for quite a while, but the timing never felt quite right. I think it is pretty clear that now is the time to share a story and to share some love. It is an honor for me to share the incredible talent of these authors and illustrators. They make us smile, they make us laugh and they make us think."
Regarding the film’s release, she added, “Although it was the right thing to do, postponing the screening of our documentary was a disappointment. So many of our Imagination Library affiliates had organized events around the nationwide screenings. However, things do have a way of working out so the documentary will still have its day.”
The Library That Dolly Built was directed and produced by journalism professor and director of Land Grant Films Nick Geidner, and narrated by Danica McKellar. The film goes behind the scenes of Dolly Parton’s literacy-focused non-profit, Imagination Library, to show how one of the most famous and beloved performers in the world has developed an efficient and effective program for spreading the love of reading.
Imagination Library started as a gift for the children in her hometown, Sevierville, Tennessee, and is now active in all 50 states, and five countries, gifting 1.5 million free, age-appropriate books to children every month. The film also provides a glimpse of the profound impact the Imagination Library has on the people through original interviews with authors, policymakers, Imagination Library staff, recipients, and the legend herself, Dolly Parton.
Woven throughout the film is a biographical sketch of Dolly Parton, featuring rare photos and films from her childhood. Unlike most biographies about her, it doesn’t focus on her music. Instead it demonstrates that at every point in her career, any time she has had success, Dolly Parton has come back to Sevierville to give back to her people.
Abramorama spokesman Evan Saxon said, “We are thrilled to collaborate with Dolly Parton and the Imagination Library on the nationwide release this coming fall, and to launch Goodnight with Dolly on the eve of the original theatrical event scheduled for New York City. True to the Library’s mission Dolly and The Imagination Library are making books for children broadly available when they are most needed.”