Locals working on documentary focused on Portsmouth

By: Kimberly Jenkins


An image that is being used to promote the documentary film, ‘Peerless City’

One of the slogans that the city of Portsmouth was known by in the ’60s, ‘Where Southern Hospitality Begins’

PORTSMOUTH — Throughout the years, the City of Portsmouth has had several phrases as their slogans, like Peerless City, Where Southern Hospitality Begins during the 60s and now the Comeback City.

Amanda Page, who grew up and graduated in New Boston, and is the Founding Director of Scioto Literary, has been working hard to bring Portsmouth out as a city that people are proud of, and look back on the history of the town by making a documentary film called, ‘Peerless City.’

“I was at Shawnee State in the fall of 2019 for the Recovering Appalachia Symposium and was talking to some people about how it would be fun to have a literary festival in Scioto County and that is what sparked my idea for Scioto Literary, a nonprofit that would post an annual or biannual literary festival,” Page said. “Then…hello pandemic, no one is meeting in person,”

Page shared she saw a documentary called ‘Moundsville’ which was about a town like Portsmouth and some of the problems that Portsmouth has seen. After watching it, she was inspired and made friends with the guys who made it on Twitter and started to develop her film from there.

“One of the co-directors of Moundsville is now a co-director of ‘Peerless City.’ We received a media planning grant through Ohio Humanities, which involves myself as the founding director of Scioto Literary and co-director of the film,” Page said. “The co-director of the film is David Bernabo from Pittsburg, who co-directed Moundsville with John Miller and the humanities consultants are: David Page, Independent Humanities Consultant, Andrew Feight, Ph.D., professor of History at Shawnee State University and Maureen Cadogan, Executive Director of Scioto County Homeless Shelter and the Mobile Black History Museum.”

Page, along with the other members, met in October through Zoom and decided on who they needed to talk to and from there, the film came about.

“It’s also grown into a professional development opportunity for students,” Page said. “We are going to have five Summer Fellows from Scioto County, so they can have some hands-on work experience and a professional development opportunity through making the film.”

Page talked about how it was inspired as well during that symposium, where there was a lot of talk about Portsmouth and how there are no cities like it.

“My brother David Page said that one of the original slogans for the city of Portsmouth was Peerless City and in the 30s and 40s, we had Peerless City Motors, Peerless City baking powder, which shows that all these businesses really latched on to that identity,” Page said. “I want to see some things like the floodwall mural and the bench across from it. Of course, it depends on who we get to talk to on some of the things, but I’m sure we’ll be in front of Dale King’s CrossFit Gym because he is one of the guys who really talks about Portsmouth being the Comeback City a lot.”

Page said that they might be doing a lot of the filming outside versus inside with landmarks like Greenlawn Cemetery, Alexander Point and those types of things because of the pandemic. She also mentioned the city building and was excited about Martin Luther King Jr. Way’s new sign.

For now, the timeline is fundraising and then start shooting in May – July with any follow-up shooting need to do through the fall. Page shared some talk has been circulating about meeting in person to do a 2021 Recovery Symposium at Shawnee, showing a rough cut, to get feedback. and then a spring literary festival in the Spring of 2022.

Scioto Literary is looking for corporate sponsors for the film. Donations can be made to Page or Scioto Literary via the Facebook page or mailed to Tracy Shearer at the City of Portsmouth address or on the GoFundMe page on Facebook, “Let’s Make a Movie, Portsmouth.”

Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928© 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights