Let There Be Light

Let There Be Light

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 9:00pm - 10:00pm

Pictured: Rowan LeCompte painting on glass.

Photo credit: Peter Swanson

Narrated by author and radio personality Garrison Keillor, this documentary follows grand masters of stained glass as they labor to complete a masterpiece: their last window for the Washington National Cathedral.

Let There Be Light – winner of the Best of Festival award at Washington, D.C.’s 2013 Independent Film Festival now comes to WXXI-TV on Friday, May 12, 2017 at 9 p.m. 

Six years in the making, Let There Be Light showcases Rowan LeCompte and Dieter Goldkuhle, both of whom have passed away since work on the film began. LeCompte was a stained glass artist best known for creating 45 stained glass windows and six mosaic murals in the Washington National Cathedral. In fact, he designed his first window for the cathedral at the age of 16. Goldkuhle, who was born into a family of glass makers from the Bavarian region of Germany, was both a master craftsman and a philosopher.

The film documents their work on a window initially intended to take one year and be ready for the 2007 centennial celebration of the Washington National Cathedral’s founding. The project takes longer than expected, however, and tension develops between the two men, and later, a major conflict erupts between LeCompte and the cathedral administration. Another grand master of glass, Mary Clerkin Higgins, is brought in to try and overcome these obstacles in order for this massive work of art to be completed.

For filmmaker Peter Swanson, the public television broadcast is the culmination of a ten-year saga, in which he followed the twists and turns of the story development.  His inspiration for the film dates back to his high school days in the early ‘70s when he carried the mail around the cathedral grounds as a summer job.  This long-standing relationship with the institution put him in an awkward position when controversy erupts between the artist and the cathedral.  He kept saying to the Executive Producer, Christine Swanson,  “I can’t take sides, my job is just to follow the story.”

Told with stunning images, this story of passion and creation celebrates the power and beauty of light, and aims to inspire and ignite the inner creative light within everyone.