The final stop on my OSIP tour with my Cafeteria Man documentary was Richmond, Virginia, specifically the Firehouse Theater Project on West Broad Street in ‘The Fan’, adjacent to the Virginia Commonwealth University campus. It was a fantastic way to end my road trip because the screening was a full-house success and the assembly of people was joyful and diverse. The spectacular coordinator of the screening, which included local delicious fresh food and an invited panel of progressive food reform players, was Shannon Hooker from University of Richmond’s Modlin Center for the Arts. This dynamic champion of the arts really knew how to bring out people and make the evening rock. I shared the Q and A with the director of Richmond’s public school food services, an independent farmer/educator, a farm-to-school advocate, and a farm source aggregator, all from the area. I could not have dreamed of a more positive audience response. At least half of the crowd was college-aged, and whose sense of hope and enthusiasm in the discussion around food and child nutrition issues was palpable. Richmond is a small city with a big strong heart and it was obvious to me that engaging in collective change projects here comes naturally these days.
I was touched, surprised and very flattered by the Monday night attendance which filled the 120 seat theater. It was the perfect culmination of the series for which I am personally grateful. Being able to not just see but really socialize with the “end users” of a film that one makes is a profound rush. It is exactly what kicked off my lifelong career as a filmmaker when I was 16 when I was present at a public festival screening of my very first film. The feeling of creative power a maker has in presenting to a group of willing viewers is immense. It may very well be the single common motivator among all productive artists.
On behalf of my co-producers Sheila Kinkade and David Grossbach, and my “Cafeteria Man” friend and subject Tony Geraci, I’d like to sincerely thank the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation for the opportunity to participate in On Screen/In Person.