Department of Tourism
Swiss TV Crew Wraps Taping of Program Featuring Kentucky
FRANKFORT, Ky. – A potential audience of some 300 million French-speaking viewers will get glimpses of Kentucky when a Swiss-produced television program on the issues surrounding surgical face transplants airs in September.
A four-member crew from the French-language network Television Suisse Romande in Geneva, Switzerland taped footage for the segment while in Kentucky the week of June 4-11. Although the 20-minute documentary focuses on the revolutionary medical procedure developed by a team of physicians led by Dr. John Barker of the University of Louisville, the crew also filmed some of the area’s characteristic sites, including Churchill Downs, horse farms, the Falls of the Ohio, Glassworks, a Louisville sculptor’s studio and a Native American pow-wow in Shepherdsville, according to director Peter Greenwood.
He said the crew was very favorably impressed with the cooperation of all participants in the project, which was facilitated by the Kentucky Film Office. Personnel at U of L and the Downs “bent over backwards,” he said, to help the crew get the information and footage it needed for the segment, which will be part of a series called “Territories 21.” The monthly hour-long program focuses on medical, scientific and environmental topics.
“We wouldn’t get the same treatment from similar places in Europe,” said the English-born Greenwood, who has 25 years of TV experience in Switzerland.
The Film Office made all the arrangements for the crew to obtain access to tape at Churchill Downs and Glassworks, and found a local sculptor whose bust works exemplified the program’s theme of the human face, said Director Todd Cassidy.
While Switzerland is a small country with only 1.2 million people who also speak German and Italian, the “Territories 21” program will also be broadcast on TV 5, a global French-language network that reaches viewers in France, Canada and several African countries, Greenwood said.
Barker’s team of more than 15 practitioners is one of several around the world preparing to perform a face transplant. Barker, who also pioneered hand transplants, has emphasized that there is no race to be the first to perform the surgery, Greenwood said. Although the technical procedures are ready to do a face transplant, the Barker team’s plan is under review by an ethics panel at the U of L School of Medicine.
The Film Office, a state agency that is part of the Department of Tourism, works to promote the commonwealth as a site to produce feature films, documentaries, television programs, and commercials. The goal is to provide producers with as smooth a shoot as possible, while insuring that Kentuckians reap the benefits of the production, Cassidy said.
“When filming crews come to town, they put money into local communities by spending it on such things as supplies, hotels, restaurants and local retail shops,” he said.
Recent productions shot in the state include the Paramount Pictures film Elizabethtown, set for release later this year. Cable TV’s The Learning Channel has visited Kentucky multiple times over the past two years to film episodes for three of its series. Several other TV and film projects are also currently in the works for production in Kentucky.
The Kentucky Department of Tourism, an agency of the Kentucky Commerce cabinet, exists to promote The Commonwealth as a travel destination, generate revenue and create jobs for Kentucky’s economy.