Produced and Directed by Robert Aibel, Ben Levin, Chris Musello and Jay Ruby
A Country Auction is a documentary film about an estate auction in a rural community in Pennsylvania. It examines the personal, social and economic processes involved when a family dissolves their homestead.
The estate sold in this film consisted of the last general store in town, the adjoiniing home, and the contents of both. Everything from real estate to pots and pans was placed on view, auctioned off, and the proceeds were divided among the heirs. The film follows the family of the deceased as they clean, sort and prepare for the auction, and as they hold a "preview" the evening before the sale. All of this culminated in the auction itself, where members of the community come to get bargains, buy remembrances, share memories, and take a last look around the home. At the same time, antique dealers move through the event as merchants, transforming household objects into commodities. The aftermath of the auction is depicted by following some objects to their new homes in the local area and others to distant parts of America.
The film portrays the auction process as integral to the social life of the community and as a method for a family and community to deal with the death of one of their members.
A Country Auction is based on the ethnographic research of Robert Aibel, Chris Musello and Jay Ruby. It is part of a larger ethnography of visual communication of a rural North American community.
The Country Auction Film Project was made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional funding provided by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council.