Tag Archives: bloomsburg

On Tour: Bloomsburg, PA

4 Jan

November 6, 2017 | Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw| Bloomsburg, PA

 

I checked into the College Hill B&B (very nice, I recommend it) and then only a short 100 steps to Carver Hall Auditorium on campus.  My hosts, Nancy Chiado and Abby Manns, recruited a very nice turnout (70-80) for a Monday night.  Lindsay Tosh of the local Active Minds chapter joined me on stage after the screening, and was heartfelt and articulate in describing the mental health pressures on students, and how especially important it is to keep on top of your emotional needs when in college.  The weather– balmy when my tour began, turned chilly, with a bit of hail in the morning.  Then off to Reading.

Post provided by On Screen/In Person touring filmmaker Rick Goldsmith.

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On Tour: Washington, DC

2 Dec

October 24, 2017 | Oil & Water | Washington, DC

It was a long, sad, exhilarating and fascinating day in D.C. I woke up at 6:32am to snag online tickets to the African American Museum knowing it would be one of the highlights of a trip to the Capital. Clicking through the time options 10am: Not available. 10:30: Not available. 11am Not Available… finally, 12:30pm 2 tickets available! I felt like I had won the lottery.

When we arrived at the gorgeous bronze laced building, I was full of anticipation. It’s really a jewel on the Mall. With the current and historical racial tension that haunts D.C., this new space on the national lawn feels sacred. The museum does not disappoint. In fact, it over-delivers. It’s so chock-a-block full of information that we only got half way through before I realized we had to run out to get to the sound-check for the Oil & Water screening.

As we raced over to the Atlas Theater, I thought about how this city was built on the backs of African American, who make up 50% of the city’s population, yet this critically important museum was debated for 100 years and only finished last year!

Atlas and new H Street Car

Just outside the Atlas on H Street there was a sign discussing the importance of the theater, a community hub in the vibrant and racially mixed neighborhood. Though it opened as a white-only establishment in the 1930’s, in the 1950’s it became a desegregated venue in a heavily segregated city. After the riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, the Atlas fell into disrepair and closed like many of the businesses in the area. In 2006, the theater was renovated and reopened as part of a larger plan to revitalize the neighborhood.

I’m so glad the theater is back up and running. It’s a beautiful space and an important part of the community. But I realized from my research about the neighborhood that the tensions aren’t over. Current residents now feel the gentrified street is pushing them further and further away from the city. Conflicts arise from what type of businesses are valued on the street and by whom. Rents are going up. And the new street car is a visible sign of the changes being made to this ever-changing city.

Post provided by On Screen/In Person touring filmmaker Laurel Spellman Smith

On Tour: Bloomsburg, PA

21 Nov

October 16, 2017 | Oil & Water | Bloomsburg, PA

The Road to Bloomsburg

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The Road to Bloomsburg, PA is both beautiful and blighted, with breathtaking views of rivers and forests, as well as vivid reminders of an energy industry that is dead, dying, or fraught.

The route winds through Schuylkill County to Ashland, a crumbling coal town that announces itself from a sign on the chain-link fence surrounding a football field. The “Ashland Black Diamonds” won the Pennsylvania state high school football champions back in 1935. I was struck by the sight, as Oil & Water features footage of a similar athletic field in a poor Ecuadorian oil town, only there the sign on the fence says “Bienvenido” (welcome), with a smiling oil drop mascot.

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Grayish buildings and weathered banners bearing the photos of war veterans line the full length of the main road through town. Ashland’s glory days ended with the Great Depression and the coal mine was closed. Just north of Ashland lies Centralia, an abandoned and polluted town where an underground mine fire has burned since 1962.

From there, the road winds through lushly forest hills to Bloomsburg on the banks of the Susquehanna River. Bloomsburg is an oasis made up of tidy homes and businesses in a valley that looks up the hill to stately Bloomsburg University. Here I was welcomed by Civic Engagement Coordinator Tim Pelton. Tim is the affable former editor of a leading scuba diving magazine, who has stories to tell about working with Jacque Cousteau as well as film crews from the James Bond franchise. Before the screening we chatted about the state of the journalism profession (I’m a former newspaper reporter) and the other environmental films he brings to the university.

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Tim Pelton (left) and Francine Strickwerda

Tim facilitated an engaging discussion with Bloomsburg students and local community members who asked smart, heartfelt questions following the screening of Oil & Water. One audience member wanted to know what I got personally from my experience directing Oil & Water. Filmmaking allows me to explore and find meaning, especially in dark places. With Hugo and David’s story we shined a light on a terrible injustice and saw hope for the future; something we all need. Further, sharing that story in person with communities like Bloomsburg increases the impact and grows connections, and that is awesome.

While my trip to the university was too brief, Tim’s warmth and the earnest interest showed by audience members left an impression. I was buoyed by the people I met and their concern for the world around them, from their own backyard, all the way to Ecuador. As I drove away from the town, toward my next stop on the tour, I wound back past Ashland, the rivers, and the trees.

Post provided by On Screen/In Person touring filmmaker Francine Strickwerda

On Tour: Blue Bell, PA

27 Sep

September 19, 2017 | DEEJ | Blue Bell, PA

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If I have a chance to come back in another life, I’d strongly consider becoming a student at the Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, PA.  It’s a two-year college that provides an entree into the many four-year colleges and universities in the Philadelphia area and beyond.  But many community colleges offer that; what’s especially attractive is the level of exposure to state-of-the-art training and tools – including a web-based radio station, an expansive selection of film production equipment, a sophisticated audio mixing and design studio, and more.

But since that’s not likely to happen, I settled for interactions with some very bright, resourceful filmmaking students, who in their questions quickly moved beyond pure technical questions into the deeper aesthetics involved in documentary filmmaking.

And that was just the beginning of an incredibly stimulating, satisfying day.  The panel discussion that followed the screening of Deej offered an insightful array of personal and professional perspectives.  We were honored to have Brian Foti, a young nonspeaking autistic and self-advocate, share his views via letter board as to what access to communication and inclusion has meant to him.  His aides, Emily and Tom, and his mother, Colleen, added their perspectives.  Alicia Weiss, Director of Disability Services at the College, spoke of the challenges of a diverse group of autistics on the college level; Jean Woods, PhD and RN, gently but persistently brought the conversation back to educators’ responsibilities to make sure inclusion truly and fully happens.

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From a purely personal, even selfish perspective, may I say that I was treated like royalty? I was squired attentively around campus and plied with food and drink in my own private greenroom.  A documentary filmmaker could get used to this treatment! Thanks especially to Brent Woods, Senior Director of Cultural Affairs, and Iain Campbell, Cultural Affairs Program Coordinator for a lovely experience and successful screening.

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(standing): Brian Foti, Dr. Jean Woods, Alicia Weiss, Robert Rooy

Post provided by On Screen/In Person filmmaker Robert Rooy

On Tour: Bloomsburg, PA

27 Sep

September 18, 2017 | DEEJ | Bloomsburg, PA

Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania is an institution that’s been around for a very long time.  Founded in 1839 as the Bloomsburg Literary Institute, it currently enrolls more than 9,000 students.

The University is located along the Susquehanna River in a mountainous region of north central Pennsylvania.  I’m envious of Francine Strickwerda and Laurel Spellman Smith, the producers and directors of Oil and Water, the next On screen/In Person film to visit Bloomsburg.  When they visit in October, the fall colors should be spectacular!

Carver Hall, built in 1867, is the historic flagship of the campus, and houses the Kenneth S. Gross Auditorium, a wonderful space, evocative of the Victorian era. Randall Presswood, Director of Bloomsburg Performing Arts facilities, who organized my visit, was instrumental in giving the auditorium a facelift a few years back, and the space is an aesthetic delight.

Aided by the administrative and technical skills of a half-dozen students, the screening came off without a hitch and segued into an intimate Q & A session centering on the overall theme of inclusion.

Post provided by On Screen/In Person filmmaker Robert Rooy

On Tour: Blue Bell, PA

2 May

April 13, 2017 | States of Grace | Blue Bell, PA

There has been a lot of planning around this visit and I have received a detailed schedule from Brent Woods, senior director of cultural affairs that includes a tour of their communications facility with Gerry Collom who teaches filmmaking there. It’s well equipped and I enjoy getting to know Gerry a bit and hearing about the program and how it serves a very broad range of students.

Events conspire to bring us a small audience and I use that as an opportunity to turn the Q&A into more of a conversation, asking folks about their reactions to the film and anything that stood out for them.  A young man leads off by commenting how an accident like this could happen to anyone at any time and it’s clear that he can relate to  the experience of someone who is quite different from himself.

A retired occupational therapist comments on Grace’s tremendous motivation and how rare it is to see a patient like this.  I let her know how much Grace’s therapists enjoyed working with her and how much her attitude impacted the quality of care she received.  Before making the film, I hadn’t understood how much reciprocity there is between caregiver and care receiver and how much the patient’s attitude impacts the therapist.

We have an interesting conversation about Fu’s 5-year commitment to caring for Grace, something that has come up in other screenings.  One person sees Fu as being cold and withholding while most others see this as an act of generosity and good boundary setting, especially since Grace and Fu aren’t intimate partners in a traditional (or non-traditional) marriage.  This leads us to talk about the types of expectations that accompany relationships and how, in any type of relationship, it’s important to articulate and negotiate those expectations.

Toward the end of the discussion a woman expresses a view of Grace’s story that I haven’t heard before – that you can see a divine plan behind all of this.  Grace becoming a doctor, Grace and Fu becoming partners and adopting Sabina, the two of them being Buddhists and living in community all create the circumstances for Grace to survive the accident, be well cared for, and heal sufficiently to create an innovative pain clinic that continues to help people.

Post provided by On Screen/In Person filmmaker Mark Lipman

On Tour: Reading, PA

2 May

April 12, 2017 | States of Grace | Reading, PA

It’s almost 400 miles to Reading and I can’t believe I’ve logged close to 1700 miles already.  I’m finding endurance I didn’t know I had and am enjoying seeing the countryside in such a variety of locales.

The Miller Center is a great venue in the midst of a community that is almost 60% Latino.  An ESL class in civics makes up a significant part of the audience and I’m happy to be able to offer Spanish subtitles which a couple of the students need.  Brett, the technical director, is able to make this change at the last minute and we do a final sound check while people already seated in the theatre look on.

Watching the film with these subtitles is a first for me.  We’ve shown it with English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired and with audio description for the blind and visually prepared, but not in Spanish.  I’m very glad we can accommodate so many different types of audiences.

Talking with Brett earlier, I realize that I need to rethink my notion of audience and how to gauge the impact of the film. It turns out that Brett was on the review committee that helped select the films for OSIP and has a son with Cerebral Palsy, which Sabrina also has.  He brought the film home to show his wife and we talk a bit about raising a child with a disability and some of the life decisions he’s made to accommodate his son.

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For Q&A Cathleen Stephen, the director of the Miller Center, has invited Cynthia Huls, director of Visiting Angels, a home care service, and Zuleyka Lopez, one of her home care providers, to participate.  Cynthia notes that in her experience, the level of support Grace has through her many networks of friends and colleagues is unusual and that many of the people they care for are far more isolated. Everyone agrees that emotional support plays a critical part in caregiving and Zuleyka notes that there are times she just sits with her patients keeping them company.

Post provided by On Screen/In Person filmmaker Mark Lipman

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