Diamond John, a comedic short film ( 15 minutes) based on Arkansan John Wesley Huddleston and the discovery of diamonds in Arkansas, is being screened tomorrow ( May 17 at 4 p.m. at the Argenta Community Theatre in North Little Rock) and Sunday ( May 19 at 5 p.m. at the Arkansas Repertory Theater) at the Little Rock Film Festival in the Made in Arkansas category.
Diamond John was presented by the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) Digital Filmmaking department, and written and directed by Travis Mosler as a student project. Mosler, son of KARK anchor Matt Mosler, spent the past year working on the film. The recent University of Central Arkansas Honors College grad is owner of Mosler Media in North Little Rock.
John Wesley Huddleston (1862-1941) is best known as the farmer who found two diamonds on the surface of his field near Murfreesboro in 1906. Soon after the discovery, he was recognized as the first person outside South Africa to find diamonds at an original volcanic source. Early in 1906, Huddleston had purchased the 160-acre McBrayer farm to make a home for his family, a decision that would etch him into history. Huddleston sold his diamond-bearing land for $36,000 to a commercial diamond company. Many years later, in 1972, the land became part of Crater of Diamonds State Park. Huddleston was known as the “Diamond King,” though later met with some misfortunes and died a pauper, but was said to have had no regrets. He is buried in Japany Cemetery, about three miles east of the diamond mine.
As to a synopsis of the film from the festival’s website:
Diamond John is a period-comedy about the crazy, but true story surrounding the discovery of diamonds in Arkansas. A gun totin’ farmer by the name of John Wesley Huddleston tries to support his wife and five daughters by diggin’ for gold and precious minerals. But the ground has consistently turned up dry. When given the news that his family’s home is facing imminent foreclosure, John is forced to decide between getting a respectable job, or continuing his passionate diggin’ with unlikely hopes of striking it rich. With his wife threatening to take their five daughters and leave, the stakes are high. But who knows? Maybe he’ll discover one of the largest naturally occurring diamond sites in the world…
The Argenta Theatre is located at 205 Main Street in North Little Rock and the Arkansas Repertory Theatre on the corner of 6th Street and Main Street in Little Rock. More details can be found at: www.littlerockfilmfestival.org/