Getting to Charleston, West Virginia was a wild ride through the mountains where the snow was falling and the wind was blowing with a blizzard like force. It’s a little more than I anticipated, but might be the only snow I see this winter (I am from Philadelphia, where we do wonder now if it will ever snow again) so I’m sort of enjoying the moment.
My arrival in Charleston was met with clear skies and no signs of snow. With the winter wonderland behind me, I made a quick stop at the swanky downtown coffee bar Moxee, grabbed a Cappuccino, and then walked a few blocks in the below freezing temperatures over to the Clay Center.
My wonderful host, Micki Blankenship, took me on a tour and I spent a good bit of time browsing the animal photography exhibit – a really wonderful curation of images spanning from the early 1900’s through to the 21st century.
I then headed down to the screening room for my 5:30 “happy hour” showing of CS&P – I immediately felt right at home. The Director of the Center moved from Philadelphia to Charleston just ten years ago and her son is Artistic Director of the Philadelphia Film Festival. An artist in attendance and I had a mutual connection to a muralist in Philadelphia who had recently been to Charleston. They say there are six degrees of separation between everyone in Philadelphia – and now that also seems true between Philadelphia and Charleston.
I really liked talking to the audience that night. A small group of 15, but most had connections in some way to the topic. One gentleman worked as an Athletic Director and had spent some in prisons. He also worked in the ER where he encountered some of the most tragic cases involving crime victims. A lawyer in attendance had a lot of questions related to questions about juvenile justice. There were ideas about how to use the film locally, with court justices and probation officers.
Thanks to my new friends Paula, Julia and Mary Ann (pictured from left to right, and that’s me in front), I spent the remainder of the evening wining and dining at the Bluegrass Kitchen. It was a great night of film, food, conversation and music – and an encounter with a Kris Kristofferson look-a-like (who also doubles as the restaurant owner). And that’s Paula’s artwork in the background. I don’t think I’ll have any trouble picking up where I left off on my next visit to Charleston. Thanks for a great time!
Post and photos by Cindy Burstein, OSIP touring filmmaker