Tag Archives: DC

On Tour: Wilmington, DE

18 Oct

September 27 2017 | DEEJ | Wilmington, DE

I had time for a stroll down historic Market Street, and take in a combination of landmarks such as The Queen, the Old Town Hall and 18th century houses, sprinkled among 21st century businesses, coffee houses and restaurants.

Wilmington 02

Wilmington, Delaware: the final stop on the Onscreen/In Person tour!  I have to confess that as a resident of Maryland, I’ve passed through Wilmington many times by train or by car, on my way to New York or other points north.  Screening Deej at The Queen, vintage early 1800’s, was a long-overdue way to connect with downtown Wilmington, past and present.

I arrived early, so I had time for a stroll down historic Market Street, and take in a combination of landmarks such as The Queen, the Old Town Hall and 18th century houses, sprinkled among 21st century businesses, coffee houses and restaurants.  It’s a city center working to reshape itself, fusing old and new, and the Light Up the Queen Foundation is a vital part of that effort.

Thanks to the Foundation’s Tina Betz and Judy Hickman, the Deej screening and discussion similarly drew on local community resources – in the form of advocates in the fields of autism and disability:

  • Annalisa Ekbladh, a parent advocate and leader of Autism Delaware’s family support division, which provides more than 200 social recreational and support events each year;
  • Katina Demetriou, director of Autism Delaware’s POW&R (Productive Opportunities for Work & Recreation), a community-based vocational program working with 85 partner businesses;
  • Brian Freedman, associate director of the University of Delaware’s Center for Disabilities Studies, helping people with disabilities increase their independence and lead productive lives;
  • Cari A. Phillips, special education coordinator for K-5 level children in Delaware’s Red Clay Consolidated School District and PhD candidate at the University of Delaware.
  • Brent Sullivan, 48-year-old nonspeaking Autistic and advocate for neurological difference; ably assisted by Dylan Belnavis-Flexner.

Using a letter board, Brent described what it was like to have no access to communication during his younger years, when his abilities were consistently underestimated – and how his life is markedly different today.

Wilmington 01

I am especially grateful to all the screening hosts who gave nonspeaking Autistics a voice in the discussions connected to the screenings.

  • The Wayne Theatre, Waynesboro, VA – Charlie Taylor
  • The Annenberg Center, Philadelphia, PA – Nick Pentzell
  • Montgomery Community College, Blue Bell, PA – Brian Foti
  • The BlackRock Center for the Arts, Germantown, MD – Gordy Baylinson and Jack Alnutt
  • The Atlas Performing Arts Center, Washington, DC – Benjamin McGann
  • Wilmington, DE – Brent Sullivan

I hasten to add that the few who didn’t, simply couldn’t, because of a lack of viable candidates – an indication of how far we as a society still need to go to grant access to communication to everyone.

I’m grateful for all the work the screening hosts invested in choosing the films for the tour in the first place, and then working to attract an audience and assemble dynamic discussion panels.  I want to thank you all, including Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, for a memorable, deeply fulfilling experience!

Post provided by On Screen/In Person filmmaker Robert Rooy

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On Tour: Washington, DC

18 Oct

September 26, 2017 | DEEJ | Washington, DC

Heading into the final week of the Deej Onscreen/In Person tour, I’m amazed at how time has flown by, and what an inspiring trip it’s been.  Documentary filmmaking is often a solitary pursuit.  Sharing one’s film with an audience, then talking about it with panelists and attendees who often have a tremendous amount at stake in the issues Deej embraces, is a heady experience.

Atlas 03

This was especially true of our screening at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, DC.  For one thing, it was co-sponsored by Docs In Progress, a nonprofit based in Silver Spring, Maryland that creates and fosters a supportive community for documentary filmmakers.  In many ways, it was my “go to” support system during the making of Deej – so to have them involved in this screening was a way to thank them and the greater DC film community for all the support that came my way during a lengthy and sometimes arduous process.  Erica Ginsburg, executive director, served as moderator to the post-screening discussion, keeping it moving and on track.

In addition, in this DC event, we were fortunate to be in the backyard of some leading activists for autistic rights, which allowed them to take part in the discussion.  As in several of our previous events, we were fortunate to have on the panel members of the autistic community, including Benjamin McGann, a nonspeaking self-advocate.  Assisted by Elizabeth Vosseller, he shared, “It is refreshing to hear this kind of discussion.  I am an adult; however, many view me as a child because I cannot speak.  But I can think and learn and love and work.”

Atlas 01

[l-r] Erica Ginsberg, Robert Rooy, Julia Bascom, Jenn Lynn, Elizabeth Vosseller, Benjamin McGann

Julia Bascom introduced herself not only as the executive director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network but also as someone who identifies as an Autistic.  She underscored that this is true of all of ASAN’s staff members – that the nonprofit advocacy organization lives and breathes its motto: “Nothing about us without us.”  She was grateful that Deej is more successful than most films in its depiction of autism by allowing DJ to fully participate in the telling of his story.

Completing the panel were other autism and disability professionals.  Besides serving as Benjamin’s communication aide, Elizabeth Vosseller spoke as the director of the Growing Kids Therapy Center, a DC-based organization that specializes in supporting the communication challenges of children in the autism spectrum, including those who don’t speak.

Atlas 04

[l-r] Erica Ginsberg, Robert Rooy, Julia Bascom, Jenn Lynn, Elizabeth Vosseller, Benjamin McGann

And, Jenn Lynn contributed as author, speaker, and executive director of Upcounty Community Resources, a nonprofit that serves fitness, social and therapeutic needs of adults with special needs.  She also publishes, along with her 14-year-old son Jake, a blog: TheWorldAccoringtoJake.com.

My thanks goes to Doug Yeuell, executive director of the Atlas, and the rest of his staff for their hospitality, and for bringing not just Deej, but an impressive array overall of performing arts to the H Street neighborhood in DC!

 

Post provided by On Screen/In Person filmmaker Robert Rooy

On Tour: Germantown, MD

21 Sep

September 18, 2016 | Sweet Dreams | Germantown, MD

“People watched the film while sitting at cafe tables cabaret-style, which seemed to add to the intimacy.”

image-1In the leafy outskirts of Washington D.C., the BlackRock Center for the Arts hosted Sweet Dreams and paired the film with an ice cream social and drumming performance from the fabulous D.C. based women’s drum troupe, Bele Bele. People watched the film while sitting at cafe tables cabaret-style, which seemed to add to the intimacy. During the Q&A, a young woman from Rwanda got up to thank us for making a film that shows the positive side of her country and widens the discussion about the country’s history and progress. “When I tell people that I am from Rwanda, people shake their heads and tell me how tragic it must be coming from there. I tell them ‘No, our country is beautiful and doing well.’ ” Claudine, 9 months pregnant, joined the drummers after the film, thinking they might help her hasten her delivery! Bele Bele brought extra drums and invited the audience to drum with them, and suddenly Rwanda and the women drummers of Butare felt much closer.

 

Post by On Screen/In Person touring filmmaker Rob Fruchtman.

On Tour: Furlough in Our Nation’s Capital

30 Apr

FURLOUGH IN OUR NATION’S CAPITAL PRIOR TO NORFOLK

I had a couple days off between my screening in Vineland NJ and the next one in Norfolk, VA. I elected to spend the bulk of it in our nation’s capital. I’d been to DC on half a dozen documentary shoots over the years but had NEVER been a tourist; so the main item on my agenda was to visit museums on the mall. The fact of a couple dozen museums lined up over a couple square miles, all FREE to the public (compliments of your tax dollars and mine plus the largess of the Smithsonian Institution) is a glorious thing! Unfortunately it rained the entire time I was there….which would seem to be fine and dandy for museum-going; but I also love to see a city by walking. The 3 mile round trip between my Inn and the mall, and the treks between museums, got a little soggy, but couldn’t dampen my enjoyment.

Highlights for me were portions of the Hirshhorn Museum of Art, the Natural history Museum, and the U.S. Holocaust Museum. I also caught a classical music concert at the National Gallery of Art that featured works by three Japanese composers, including the world premiere of a stunning piece by a young Japanese-American born in Montana, named Korine Fujiwara. The concert was performed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Japan giving 3000 cherry blossom trees to Washington DC. Yes, that’s where they came from.  In theory, my visit should have coincided with the blossoms hitting their peak. But thanks to a bizarrely mild winter and spring (courtesy of climate change?) they had burst and fallen weeks ago.

The morning I left DC was crystal clear, of course. The ride to Norfolk got better when I abandoned the freeway for two-laners. I had to fight my GPS a bit, but I’ve figured out how to re-program it so that it doesn’t keep trying to steer me back to the interstate. And when all else fails, go back to that ancient art of map reading.

In Norfolk I stayed in a grand old B&B that was all of 100 yards from the Chrysler Museum of Art, which held the screening. The stay and the screening were pleasant but fairly non-descript. So I’m going to cut this blog short and leave you with some pics from this part of the tour.  Next stop: Lynchburg!

The Smithsonian milks the rhino

More wildlife in our nation’s capital

Word spreading on the street that RHINO is the hottest ticket in town.

A bummed guy who didn’t have a ticket.

Virginia is peanut country!

Where the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation put me up. Can you believe it !?

Post by David E. Simpson, OSIP touring filmmaker

To read more posts by this filmmaker, please click here.

 

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