Tag Archives: documentary

On Tour: Reading, PA

7 Nov

November 4, 2016 | Love Thy Nature | Reading, PA

“She shared that she misses having time to play at school – her school administrators eliminated recess – and asked us how she can convince them to bring it back.”

My OSIP journey started with flying from Miami (where I was visiting my 81 year-old mother) to Philly and then driving to Reading, PA. With my brain still on overdrive from the myriad of travel details – airports, shuttles, GPS directions, etc. – I was instantly lured by the multitude of fall colors that bathed the landscape on my trip to the hotel. I said to myself, “Girl, keep your eyes on the road! Fall colors will be here tomorrow.”

And sure enough, the next day after doing the “tech test” at Miller Center for the Arts and before the screening, I had time to kill, so I went exploring the land and discovered a gloriously-fall-colored hiking path alongside Schuylkill river – home to squirrels and playful geese taking their last dips of the day. Ahhh, I started feeling right at home.

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Back at Miller Center, the host, Cathleen Stephen, came to find me during the pre-screening reception for a warm welcome. “Love Thy Nature” screened beautifully thanks to Brett Buckwalter (production manager) and great projection equipment. Audience members and panelists offered delightful feedback on the film, alluding to its cinematic beauty and timely themes. Credit goes to so many talented and generous people; it took a “village” to make this film!

Cathy had a great choice of panelists for the post screening discussion: Sean Gaston, a high school film teacher, who talked about documentaries as a powerful awareness/building tool, and Sudha Allitt, an ashram leader, who discussed mindfulness in nature as a way to promote joy, well being, and play.

After the panel discussion, eleven-year-old Lili was the first audience member to raise her hand. She shared that she misses having time to play at school – her school administrators eliminated recess – and asked us how she can convince them to bring it back.  Wow!  How can schools take play away from childhood?

While we encouraged Lili to mobilize with her peers and turn discontent into action, we also discussed the deeper underlying issue: how our educational system today is locking children into a standardized system, killing their creativity, play, and joy. It’s no wonder that the TED talk from Sir Ken Robinson, who makes the case for an educational system that unleashes kids’ creativity, is the most watched TED ever with nearly 42 million views!

Another audience member brought up the need for schools to integrate nature in their curriculum by teaching natural sciences where they belong (in nature), planting edible schoolyards to replace junk food lunch with organic meals, and encouraging more play outdoors.

We closed the evening with an invitation to all audience members (adults and children) to schedule time in nature and allow themselves to experience peace, wonder and awe— emotions that only the natural world can so masterfully evoke.

As John Muir said, “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings… nature’s peace will flow into you, while cares will fall like autumn leaves.”

Wishing you nature, Sylvie.

Post by On Screen/In Person touring filmmaker, Sylvie Rokab

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On Tour: Lewisburg, WV

24 Oct

October 21, 2016 | You Belong to Me | Lewisburg, WV

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I thoroughly enjoyed the ride from Virginia to West Virginia with the magnificent mountain ranges of both States. The leaves are changing and the weather was changing from warm to cold in an afternoon.

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Carnegie Hall is a beautiful and historic building in a town that is steeped in history and staying at the General Lewis Inn makes me feel like I’ve gone back 100 years to the way it was! Everyone in town is so friendly!

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Lynn Creamer from Carnegie Hall threw a lovely reception prior to the screening for me and my guests – my cousins, Nora and Jack Overath, who live in the area.

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There was a question and answer session following the screening!

Post provided by On Screen/In Person filmmaker Jude Hagin

On Tour: Wilmington, DE

18 Oct

October 16, 2016 | You Belong to Me | Wilmington, DE

“The documentary was well received by an enthusiastic and diverse audience”

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I was so happy to show You Belong To Me at Wilmington, Delaware’s History Museum at the On Screen/In Person screening on Sunday, October 16th, 2016. Tina Betz is the Executive Director of the Light Up The Queen Foundation was most gracious to not only me, but to all of the guests in the newly renovated space in the Foundation.
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The documentary was well received by an enthusiastic and diverse audience followed by a panel discussion of the film where we discussed events which took place in the 1950’s and how those events impact on events today.


The panel discussion was moderated by Jeffrey Spade who is with the Lower School Administrator Rudolf Steiner School in NYC. I was one of the panelists along with Angela Winard, head of the African American Heritage and Diversity Programming at Delaware Historical Society. The audience asked numerous questions regarding the content of the film as related to issues of rape, consent and women’s issues today.

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For me, Light Up The Queen was a thoroughly enjoyable experience with warm and friendly people.

 

Post provided by On Screen/In Person filmmaker Jude Hagin

On Tour: Greenvale, NY

3 Feb

February 2, 2016 | The Winding Stream | Greenvale, NY

Yesterday I flew into JFK from Portland, Oregon to begin screening my film, The Winding Stream – The Carters, the Cashes and the Course of Country Music as one of the selections on the On Screen/In Person tour. The film tells the story of this foundational family at the heart of country music and their influence on generations of musicians.

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Long Island University’s Tilles Center for the Performing Arts was the first stop on the tour and it is a gorgeous venue. A gallery of black and white photos on the Center’s perimeter suggests its prestigious history: everyone from Wynton Marsalis to Lily Tomlin to Bernadette Peters to Zubin Mehta to Natalie Cole to Yo-Yo Ma to James Taylor have played here. Perhaps not coincidentally in a few weeks the Center will welcome Rosanne Cash who figures prominently in The Winding Stream.

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It’s a thrill to know your film will cosmically rub shoulders with the greats.

The audience tonight was engaged and inquisitive. People asked about the genesis of the project (answer: I had made a previous music documentary about women rockabilly singers that lead me down the path to the Carter Family as a topic), about why it took so long to make the film (short answer: extreme challenges finding the necessary funding), and whether I was going to make more music documentaries (short answer: I’d like to. Except for the part about raising money).

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But the most interesting question of the night was one that spurred an interesting discussion: “Why couldn’t members of the family – presumably people with some resources – fund the film?”  And I explained something that is often lost in our market-driven entertainment field. Documentaries are journalism and accepting money from our subjects is a conflict of interest.

This came as a surprise for some folks and I was glad for the opportunity to underscore this tenet of documentary ethics.

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Tomorrow I fly to Newport News, Virginia in advance of our next screening Thursday, February 4 at Christopher Newport University’s Ferguson Center for the Arts.

Post by On Screen/In Person touring filmmaker Beth Harrington.

On Tour: Bethlehem, PA

24 Nov

November 15, 2015 | Miriam Beerman: Expressing the Chaos | Bethlehem, PA

A Sunday drive up I-95 was much more successful today. I’ve never been to Bethlehem, but I do have some memories of nearby Allentown—I did an interview at the Masonic Hall for a History Channel show, and I also once brought home a live lobster from a restaurant. The sign said, “Lobster—any way you like it.” So my college roommate and I thought it would be great to take Lucifer—our name for him—home as a pet. He didn’t last long in the hotel.

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I pulled onto the Lehigh University campus just before sunset and was struck by the Alumni Memorial Building in the fading light. 2015 is Lehigh’s sesquicentennial—I don’t get to use that word very often. I was taken to dinner by Deborah Sacarakis, who was part of the selection committee for the film. She invited some interesting folks, including an art professor named Berrisford Boothe.

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The Zoellner Center for the Arts is a modern multi-purpose building whose theatre was a great space for the film. A small but enthusiastic crowd was enthralled with Miriam and her work. It’s always a wonder to me how visual artists of significant success like Miriam still toil in the shadows. Makes being a documentary filmmaker look like a breeze!

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Post by OSIP touring filmmaker, Jonathan Gruber.

On Tour: Just Do It

8 Mar

That’s me telling her to make documentary films. Do you see how serious I am?

Want to make a documentary, but don’t know where to start? Stop stalling and just start. Do a google search, buy a book, talk to a friend or a therapist (they’re very supportive, aren’t they?)

Anyone and everyone could be a documentary filmmaker if they just found a story that they loved, felt passionate about, and had the stamina to stick with it for the long run. But if you want to make a documentary that really connects with an audience, you have to pick a great subject or a great way to visually tell your subject’s story.

Some documentaries that I feel have done this and done this to the point of mastery are the following: Grizzly Man, The White Diamond, Burden of Dreams, Standard Operating Procedure, A State of Mind (this is a MUST SEE documentary about the North Korean equivalent of the Olympics. Brilliant.), When the Levees Broke, Gray Gardens, and Bus 174 which blew my freaking mind in the mastery of telling this story. There are many many more incredible documentaries, but these are the ones I think of immediately when rattling off a list of my favorites.

I hope to some day reach the same level of storytelling mastery and visual language excellence as these documentary films, but I will never get there if I don’t just start making documentary films myself.

Original DVD cover of Proceed and Be Bold!

When I first decided to try making Proceed and Be Bold! (the film I am touring around for the On Screen/ In Person Grant) it was 2008, I was an Associate Producer making hour long documentaries for a public access station and just wanted to gain some more practice, so I could do my job better. So I started with a short documentary about Amos that I posted to Youtube which was in its infancy at the time-it was a freaking baby! No one had any idea that Youtube would become the #1 online location for video consumption. (Watch out though, Youtube, Facebook is hot on your trail and wants your #1 spot.)

It was so new, that I only thought to even post up the short video in order to show it to Amos quickly before mailing a DVD of the documentary to a short college film festival near him that he wanted to screen it at. In one week, the video got 800 views (which was a much bigger deal back then than it is now), because Amos had sent it to Letterpress listservs and emailed it to all of the printers he knew.

There was so little representation of letterpress printers, that the community went wild, and I immediately knew that there needed to be a documentary about Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. and his work. I had no plan and I had no clue, and I honestly think that those are two major requirements for making your first film or documentary.  I know that there are people out there that will fight me about my opinion on this, but I don’t care. Screw film school, screw people telling you that you can’t do it and just do it. Just do it to show yourself you can do it. Show your friends, family, the world. Hell, do it to show Nike you can do it. Honestly, if I can do it, you can do it. And so can you and so can you too. And if you fail, you can write me an email and cry to me about it, and I’ll let you know that it’s okay to fail and after you cry awhile, I’ll tell you to shut up and go do it again.  If you love it, do it. What’s the alternative? To always wonder? Why torture yourself?

Still not convinced? Well, the last 3 years I have spent promoting and screening Proceed and Be Bold! all over the US and parts of the world, and it has been the most incredible experience of my life. Getting to know Amos as an artist and a person has been incredible, and getting to meet so many viewers and get to discuss the film with them has made me see what the intrinsic value of TRUE independent cinema is, and that’s standing in front of anywhere from 1-50 people, saying hi, thank you for coming to watch my film, then getting to sit in the back row and watch your film that you’ve probably watched over 100 times at this point, again with a new audience and with their new eyes. Then after the screening, getting to thank them again for coming and answer any questions they have.

My favorite part of attending screenings was getting to hear and see the audience’s reaction and questions to Amos Paul Kennedy Jr, and getting to see and hear him react in person back to them. At the San Francisco Documentary Film Festival, someone asked him about his thoughts on the term “post-racial.” He replied, “When race doesn’t exist, America doesn’t exit.”  Who talks like this that you personally know? He’s fearless, honest, and telling the truth I think. A truth that not many people want to discuss or even talk about. But Amos is not the person you want to be talking to if these issues make you cringe. But then again, he’s exactly the person you should be talking to if these issues you make you cringe, because facing the things that make you cringe and working them out in some fashion so that you can grow as a person is the whole point of being human, I think, and what better way to approach cringe worthy topics that in a group of 10-50 people watching a documentary that can hopefully help you shape new ideas and opinions which you can then discuss afterwards with the person who the documentary was about. That is what life is about, right?! That’s what independent film is about.

Me stalking Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. Thanks for keeping me around, Kennedy.

I consider myself extremely lucky everyday since I met Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. that he was whose story I chose to tell, even if my true intentions for choosing him were that he was incredibly nice and generous to me, which in turn served to protect my own feelings and attempt to escape out of the filmmaking process unscathed. He also never turned me in for stalking him, although at some points, I’m sure he really wanted to.

I have learned more from Amos about race and art in America because of the making of this film and the conversations that I have had with him than I have learned in my entire education, the films I watched during my life and my life experiences themselves. Maybe we should all just save ourselves $50,000+ dollars and make films instead of going to college?

I hope that Proceed and Be Bold! does that for more audiences in true independent fashion one on one, On Screen and In Person than any Masters Degree would in Art or Identity Politics. The On Screen and In-Person Grant I have received from the amazing Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation is allowing me to do over the course of the next month in St John, Wilmington DE, Vineland, NJ, Oswego, NY, Charleston, WV, Lynchburg, VA, and Norfolk, VA.

Thank you Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation! I greatly appreciate this honor, and Kennedy, I am so sorry that you are not here with me in person in St. John to speak again about the importance of practicing your craft and about the fallacy of a post-racial America.

Post by OSIP Touring Filmmaker, Laura Zinger

On Tour: Jim Hanon at the Weinberg Center in Frederick, MD

13 Oct

The Weinberg Center in Frederick, Maryland was built in the early 1900’s and has been restored. It is a great performance hall and I was impressed with the number of volunteers and their friendliness. John Healey, the center’s director, gave a gracious introduction to the film and explained the On Screen/In Person program.

Normally a few people leave after the film before the discussion starts, but not this time. The questions were about the young people in the region and what is being done so that they are not indoctrinated into the conflict. The audience understood that the older generations tended to hold on to the conflict because of their trauma, but the younger generations tended to be more open to knowing the other side, and were inclined to believe that it could be different.

How much of our fear and trauma do we pass on to our children? How much is appropriate? How much enslaves them to the same cycle? In terms of the Jewish trauma of being marked for extinction in World War II, they never want the younger generations to forget what happened so that it can never repeated.

Remembering the holocaust essential, and I devoted a good portion of the film to it. But there are two ways to remember it. One that creates fear and self survival, and one that creates compassion for others whose survival is also threatened. How much of each way do we pass on to our children? This isn’t a question for just Israelis and Palestinians. It is a question for us all. The audience in Frederick, Maryland knew that.

Post by Jim Hanon, OSIP Touring Filmmaker

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