America’s soul shines

Combine cows, climbers, and Cajun musicians and you’ll get “America’s Heart & Soul,” the colorful documentary by Louie Schwartzberg.Produced by Walt Disney Pictures, the film follows the story of quirky, interesting Americans across the country that found and were found by Schwartzberg.  The film will open as a 10-day engagement April 17 at the Palace 9 Theater in South Burlington.The Vermont Cynic: You said that you didn’t shape this film, but it shaped you.  How would you say it shaped you?Louie Schwartzberg: I had the chance to meet real people across the country without having a preconceived notion of what to expect.It changed me because I learned a lot of things that I think I discovered that I didn’t know about or think about before I started my trip. Were there any quirky or crazy experiences that occurred with eight people traveling across the country in a van, Little Miss Sunshine style?Minnie Yancey, an Appalachian woman, was really engaging and she found me. I was at a gas station somewhere near Hazard County about to go up in the hills and do a story on the coal miner. It ended up being one of the best stories in the whole movie.Who was your favorite person to film?That’s hard to say. I would say one of my top favorites was probably George Woodard who lives in Williston, Vt. because he is a dairy farmer — but he’s also carved out a nice little life for himself as a film maker.How did you decide to include both Woodard, who is not particularly renowned, and Ben Cohen, co-founder of the famous Ben & Jerry’s?Well, I think they are both perfect examples of the American entrepreneurial spirit. Ben Cohen’s goal wasn’t to make a lot of money. You will see first off he got fired from being a baker’s helper, fired from being a guard and then eventually he and his partner decided to do something he really enjoyed, which was eating — eating ice cream.Were there any particular people or films that influenced you in the making of “America’s Heart and Soul?”I would say growing up I watched a lot of Charles Caralt.He would just travel the back     roads of America and make great stories about remarkable, quirky people and I love them. When did you start making the film?A lot of the beauty shots and aerials of America I have been shooting for almost 20 years. It’s been a slow mosaic of putting together the most magical moments from a long time of being on the road and trying to capture the beauty of America.