Tag Archives: Penn

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.


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

On Tour: Lancaster, PA

28 Nov

November 21, 2016 | Love Thy Nature | Lancaster, PA

“No pessimist has ever discovered the secrets of the stars, sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a doorway to the human spirit.”


The last stretch of my OSIP journey took me back to PA, this time to Lancaster, for events and classroom visits at Millersville University. Even before I arrived in town, the host, Barry Kornhauser, had already offered several fun events providing the community with nature-connecting experiences even before the screening of Love Thy Nature!

Professor Aaron Haines, Ph.D. guided a bird watching walk, curator Christopher Hardy, Ph.D. offered a tour of the James C. Parks Herbarium, naturalist Carol Welsh led a nature journaling activity, and Lydia Martin, the Director of Education for the Lancaster County Conservancy, invited volunteers who planted 75 trees along a stream. Barry also organized a pre-screening panel discussion with Prof Aaron, Lydia, myself, plus the chair of the sustainability committee Nadine Garner, Ed.D., and Douglas Smith, the City of Lancaster Sustainability Planner.

While several screenings of Love Thy Nature over the last few months have been “watch and do” events, this is the first time we had so many diverse activities connected to a single screening.  Much gratitude goes to Barry and all these amazing sustainability professionals for this nature-loving feast! And thanks to this outstanding level of engagement (plus our own film team outreach effort), the Ware Center was packed with over 300 attendees for Love Thy Nature screening and Q&A. Wow. For an artist/activist like myself who has deep hunger for the highest possible impact at any given event, connecting with this large a crowd (especially for a small town) was pure bliss!


Discussions ranged from the local applications of Biomimicry (Douglas explained how they’re intentionally emulating nature in the City of Lancaster’s water management systems) and the psychological benefits of nature connection for both adults and children, to whether we can have any hope about the future of our planet.

While no doubt we live in critical times – nature’s destruction is so severe that some scientists believe we have passed the “tipping point” of climate change – we can’t afford to be pessimistic or cynical. As Helen Adams Kellert, the first deaf blind person to earn a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, once stated, “No pessimist has ever discovered the secrets of the stars, sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a doorway to the human spirit.”

It’s by opening that doorway that we can transform our relationship to nature. Finding this community of people this vibrant and engaged with city officials committed to biomimetic ingenuity and a university committed to igniting young minds with new sustainable possibilities, I can’t help but to feel optimistic about what our future holds. All we need to do is to keep sharing our individual gifts while walking this path of connection with nature, each other, and ourselves.

I admit that this On Screen/In Person end-of-journey is bittersweet. On one hand, I really didn’t want it to end. But its ending with Millersville University couldn’t have been any sweeter, having connected with an engaged community of educators, scientists, change makers, students, and audience members.  To Barry (a so very effective, dedicated, and kind host) and Millersville University faculty members, bravo and thank you!

And in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m so very grateful to the On Screen/In Person team – Kimberly and Chevaun at the Mid Atlantic Foundation – who have supported me for the last many months with the myriad of logistical details. Special thanks also go to all the other hosts of our 10 screenings not only for choosing Love Thy Nature, but also for their professional and kind support of my own journey and mission to inspire their communities to explore what it means to be human in this oh so very precious and fragile planet of ours.

Wishing you a beautiful, nature-filled Thanksgiving weekend,


Post provided by On Screen/In Person filmmaker Sylvie Rokab

On Tour: Blue Bell, PA

16 Nov

November 8, 2016 | Love Thy Nature | Blue Bell, PA

I felt immediately transported, as an orchestra was playing music of transcendental beauty and magnificence! And that was just the beginning…


It was Tuesday, Nov 8th 2016 – election day. I woke up in a hotel bed in Bloomsburg, PA, bundled up like an Inuit from Northern Canada. It’s 30 degrees Fahrenheit and the heater in my hotel room wasn’t working – so I was freezing!

Still, I pushed myself to do my morning meditation even if all I could be mindful about was my shivering body. It didn’t take long until I jumped out of my sitting posture to go chase a warm breakfast at the hotel, while envisioning that perfect day with an inspired audience for my Love Thy Nature screening event and a historic night in which the first female would be elected president of the United States – and finally shatter the hardest of all glass ceilings into millions of pieces.

My drive to East Norriton was lovely. The weather turned out to be beautiful, the air was crisp and trees were lined up along the road with their autumn leaves punctuating the landscape with colors.

When I got to Montgomery County Community College (MC3), the Senior Director of Cultural Affairs, Brent Woods, offered me a warm welcome and a tour of their arts building, including the large room where the film was to be projected. When I entered that auditorium, I felt immediately transported, as an orchestra was playing music of transcendental beauty and magnificence! And that was just the beginning…

Brent introduced me to Senior Producer Matt Porter. By the way, both men are delightful beings in their professionalism, kindness, and expressions of joy. Matt continued to show me around. We went to visit rooms with state of the arts camera, video and editing equipment for students to use for their media projects. The college also had sculptures from local artists on display on their walls. I was really impressed with MC3’s facilities, both for their abundance of resources for students and their commitment to promoting the arts in all its forms – including film!


The Love Thy Nature screening went really well, the setting was intimate, and audience members were engaged in the Q&A with questions as varied as favorite scenes to shoot to the healing power of nature. At the end, a viewer shared her anxiety over the presidential election and said she planned to watch the results in the company of a bottle of wine. I didn’t feel as concerned as she was at that moment. But at early morning hours when the results of the election were clear – forget the glass ceiling – my whole world felt like it broke down into millions of pieces, and turned into ice. Hate trumped love. Can this be real?

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

On Tour: Reading, PA

17 Oct

September 27, 2016 | Sweet Dreams | Reading, PA

At my next stop in Reading PA, Cathleen Stephen, Director of The Miller Center and Outreach Coordinator Natalie Baab chose to organize an extra outreach screening at Women in Crisis – a safe haven for women facing abuse and violence. The center provided an art activity for the children so the women had the rare chance of a couple of hours just for themselves. And it was very gratifying for me to see how the film affected them and how we were able to talk afterwards about the ways it inspired them to think about how they could change things in their own lives. They were also particularly touched by the special effort that was made to bring the film to them. The cap on the evening was ice cream for all – provided by Cathleen and Natalie.


The next evening was our primary screening at the beautiful Miller Center and since this was both their 10th anniversary and the first year they have hosted the On Screen In Person series, we were featured prominently in their beautiful calendar. A reception preceded the film, hosted by a local woman owned business called Mi Casa Su Casa, and an ice cream bike cart (Sweet Rides) provided dessert. The event was co- sponsored by Women 2 Women and again we had a large and diverse audience including RACC Students and faculty, members of the Olivets Boys and Girls Drumming Club and the general public.


Afterwards I was joined onstage by Johanny Cepeda proprietor of Mi Casa Su Casa and Dr. Danielle Bower, Assoc. Professor of Social Work at RACC. who talked about the ways the film affected them and connected to their own lives and work.

Post submitted by On Screen/In Person filmmaker Lisa Fruchtman

On Tour: Blue Bell, PA

7 Oct

September 21, 2016 | Sweet Dreams | Blue Bell, PA

The next day I drove to Blue Bell PA, where Montgomery County Community College hosted the Sweet Dreams screening. Brent Woods, Director of Cultural Affairs greeted me warmly and explained that our screening was part of the “Lively Arts Series” run out of the college. While he hoped that students would attend (it was the first two weeks of semester) their mandate was to reach out into the larger community as well.  So, in fact, it was older community members who made up the majority of our audience.

The screening room was small and cozy and we had a great discussion after the  film.

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

On Tour: Lancaster, PA

15 Sep

September 13, 2016 | Sweet Dreams | Lancaster, PA

Two hours south of Bloomsburg, I cruised into the picturesque city of Lancaster, PA in the heart of Amish country, where I was met by Barry Kornhauser, Millersville University’s director of student engagement. Barry heavily advertised the film and invited professors to bring their students to the film, offering them free ice cream as a bonus (the film tells the story of a group of Rwandan women who open their country’s first ice cream shop). That evening at the Ware Center, their state of the art Arts Center, over 300 people filled the seats for a panel discussion about the roots of Rwanda’s genocide, followed by a screening of the film and a long talk back with many questions and lots of discussion. We’ve shown Sweet Dreams all over the country, and this was one of the best audiences we’ve encountered. They loved the film and wanted to know more, about the women, Rwanda and even about how to siblings can work together to make a film!

Before the screening, I spoke to two classes. One was African American studies and the other was about intercultural communication. Many students were interested and as a result, came to the screening. The following morning I spoke to two other classes – encounters with diversity and art and entrepreneurship. Both were excellent, but the entrepreneurship students were particularly interested in a story of Rwandan women with no previous business experience setting out to introduce community t a brand new product – and succeeding. It was rewarding for me as a filmmaker, and I believe it was rewarding for them.

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

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