November 9, 2014 | The Phantom Tollbooth: Beyond Expectations | Erie, PA
The first stop on my On Screen/In Person tour was Erie, PA – a part of the country I have never been to before. It’s beginning to be winter so the sky is low and grey and there are still a couple of orange and yellow trees, but most of them are skeletons.
The tour allowed me to book my own accommodation so I did so through Airbnb, a website where you can stay in people’s homes – it’s a wonderful way to feel a little bit less like an outsider in a new place. I arrived to this incredible house, the second oldest continually inhabited home in Erie, and met my gracious and welcoming hosts, Erika and Mike. Coincidentally they are great friends of Christine, who is the director of the Mercyhurst Institute for Arts & Culture where my documentary would be screening the next day. Before I knew it we were all having dinner together at the house the night of my arrival, and we stayed up late talking about art, Shakespeare, films, scuba diving, and seemingly everything in between. It was the best introduction to this tour that I could have hoped for! Not only did I feel incredibly welcome, but I was privileged to meet a group of artistic, passionate, engaged and genuine people. And that first day and night set the tone for the rest of my stay in Erie.
The following day I had my screening at 2pm. I arrived early and we tested in the film in the beautiful Taylor Little Theater on the campus of Mercyhurst University. The picture looked great, the audio sounded great, and as people started taking their seats we dimmed the lights and began. After the film finished I was grateful to have a chance to talk with the audience and immediately opened it up to questions. We talked about the creative process (both of filmmaking and of the collaboration between author Norton Juster and illustrator Jules Feiffer which the documentary centers around), about different educational approaches, about children’s books, and about people’s own experiences of discovering the book The Phantom Tollbooth, whether it was at age 70 or age 7. It was a great discussion and it’s always gratifying for me when the film inspires people to share their own stories about their connection to the book or more generally to reading, literature, education and the creative process.
Post by OSIP touring filmmaker, Hannah Jayanti.
To listen to a podcast interview with the filmmaker, click here.