Tag Archives: Modlin Center for the Arts

On Tour: Richmond, VA

30 Apr

April 24, 2013  |  What We Need is the Impossible!  |  Richmond, VA

The screening at the Firehouse theater in Richmond was a highlight of the tour. Shannon Hooker, the assistant director of the Modlin Center for the Arts, and James Parrish of the James River Film Society both did fantastic jobs putting together a lovely event and insuring a good turnout.



I’ve done so many Q&As that sometimes it feels like there are no new questions – I’ve answered them all. But then, every once in a while, someone will come up with something that’s fresh and provocative and really forces me to think. After the Firehouse show, a fellow asked “why exactly are you making all these films – what’s your purpose with this?”

That’s a huge question! It’s basically, “why are you doing what you do????” A great question indeed. And a valuable one, too. I paused to try to come up with a decent answer. “That’s a big question . . .” I said – stalling while I put my thoughts together. “And it’s hard not to sound like a jerk sometimes talking about this kind of stuff,” which is true. I then went on to say something about it being possible through art to make powerful human connections – I know that through art and music and films, I have experienced powerful and profound moments of human connection and that those experiences have lingered with me – sometimes for years. I said that in the world today, that kind of connection can be – is – especially important and valuable, and so I hope with my work to achieve that. I said that I’m not sure I’m successful in that or not, but that’s what I aspire towards.

It was an OK answer. It was spontaneous and actually heartfelt, so I hope that it resonated with people, but mulling it over later that evening, I thought of many other things that I would have liked to have added. One further thought that I’ll add here is that I see art, and the human connection it can create, as being political in a very fundamental way. We are living at a time when the market and the culture it creates feeds our individuality and narcissism and hunger for instant gratification. Empathy and the imagination are not valued or fostered. And so for me my work fits into a struggle for humanist values. I’m reminded of a verse from Diane Di Prima. “the only war that matters is the/war against the imagination/ all other wars are subsumed/ in it”

Revolutionary Letters Book

On a much lighter note, it was lovely to see several friends who live in Richmond at the screening:

Group Photo

(left to right) Bob Paris, Sasha Waters, Ester Partegas, A.K. Burns, at the Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, VA.

Post by OSIP Touring Filmmaker, Sam Green

On Tour: Abel Raises Cain Drives into Richmond

11 Mar

March 6th, 2013  |  ABEL RAISES CAIN  |  Richmond, VA

We really had to hustle to leave at 5:30 a.m. this morning in order to make it to Richmond, VA in time for our screening that night. I’m realizing that it’s very dangerous for me to make comparisons between the Abels and the Griswolds from ‘Vacation.’ The moment we pulled out of the driveway at the Serendipity B&B, half of our suitcases toppled out onto the road from the back of the van. In the movie, it was hilarious. In real life, it was scary. It was still dark out when we left. Luckily, Jeff was able to hop out and collect all of our belongings strewn about the road before getting run over by another car!

It’s a fairly ambitious drive to do in one day, even without the threat of a storm. Nine hours from the top of NY State to the center of Virginia, we were set to travel right through the wrath of Saturn, the newest most vicious snow storm of the century. Reports were indicating that over a foot would fall on some states, including southern Pennsylvania and northern Virginia. Jeff hasn’t done much snow driving, seeing as how he was born and raised in Florida, so this was his first hard lesson. I was nervous for him navigating the slippery weather. He had three backseat drivers all shouting out what to do at once. While there were a few hair-raising patches, he did a stellar job and we made it to Richmond with a little more than an hour to spare.

I kept in touch with Shannon Hooker, Assistant Director of Modlin Center for the Arts, as we journeyed south. She was concerned that Saturn would negatively impact our audience turnout. It was disheartening, because we received a really positive review in RVANews <http://rvanews.com/entertainment/abel-raises-cain-parents-totally-do-understand/85434> and I was confident that the place would be hopping that evening. We wondered together whether or not we should proceed with the screening. University of Richmond had canceled all of their evening classes. The Firehouse Theatre itself had shut down that day because of the storm! But we decided collectively to carry on with the show.


When we arrived at the theatre, we were warmly greeted by another one of our OSIP co-hosts, James Parrish. He heads the James River Film Society and his mission is bringing independent film to the community of Richmond. James is a kindred spirit to Jacob Dodd in Oswego, NY. Both extreme and dedicated film lovers, it wasn’t a surprise that they are, in fact, friends. James brought a giant digital projector setup with screen and all to the Firehouse Theatre. It was quite impressive.

Shannon wore a cheery demeanor, making sure that all went smoothly despite the unfortunate weather situation. It turned into a nasty rainy, windy night. I must say that listening to everyone panicking over the storm reminded me of living in Los Angeles. If there was even just the slightest bit of rainfall, the entire city would shut down and traffic would come to a grinding halt. Richmond NEVER gets snowfall like this…ever, I was told. So it was a big deal. The funny thing was that, by the time we got there that night, most, if not all, of the snow had melted!

We were so grateful that some people braved the storm. A small dedicated group of folks with an immense sense of humor, the audience seemed to really appreciate my father’s antics. It was by far my favorite Q&A ever. On stage was a living room set that reminded me of ‘All in the Family.’ My dad sat in Archie’s chair and my mom and I shared the adjacent couch. It was intimate and fun, like having our own talk show!

I wish that we had time to explore Richmond, but we are in town for only one night. The great thing about Oswego was that we had time to get to know our host and relax a bit. We had to rush to our second destination. Factoring in the storm, it was even more of a whirlwind trip! Let’s just say that when the sun was shining the next morning and we could hear birds chirping, it came as quite a relief. I’m a hearty New Englander, but even I look forward to spring!


Post by OSIP Touring Filmmaker, Jenny Abel


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