Tag Archives: Queen Theater

On Tour: Wilmington, DE

1 Dec

October 22, 2017 | Oil & Water | Wilmington, DE

Laurel at the Queen

Filmmaker Laurel Spellman Smith at Queen Theater, Wilmington, DE

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been on the road with Oil & Water, we finished the film in 2014 after which we spent more than a year touring film festivals around the world. Now it’s been nearly two years since I actually watched the film. As I sat in the audience of my own film at in downtown Wilmington, a thought caught me by surprise, “wow, I was there!” It’s interesting to think that the making of this film consumed my life for 8 years but as my life has changed, those memories have become more distant. Watching the film again reminded me of what it was like to actually film those scenes: in the village, in the jungle, in the oil muck, in the heat. It all came rushing back to me, I could practically smell the damp foliage and acrid air.

Laurel filming David

Co-director Laurel Spellman Smith filming David Poritz in Ecuador

As the credits rolled my focus snapped back to my chair in The Queen theater – sitting with a small crowd of Delaware residents I was reminded of just how far I had come. Not just across the country to show this film, but in my initial thoughts about tackling this contentious subject, in a country I had never visited, with a prosumer camera and my film partner, Francine, who also had doubts. But the thing is, we did it. And now, 11 years since we took that initial step off the plane in Quito, Ecuador only to board another flight and then an 8-hour canoe trip to the deep Amazonian rainforest… the story hasn’t become less relevant. In fact, it continues to resonate with communities all over the world. And that’s a pretty amazing feeling.

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


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

On Tour: Wilmington, DE

17 Oct

September 28, 2016 | Sweet Dreams | Wilmington, DE

Wrapping up our tour, I arrived in Wilmington Delaware, where we screened Sweet Dreams at the restored Queen Theater – a community arts venue supported by the Light Up the Queen Foundation. After the screening, audience members were invited to gather around café tables for pizza, salad and informal discussion.

Though we have been fortunate that Sweet Dreams has had both a robust festival life as well as a theatrical and semi theatrical roll-out, the On Screen/In Person series brought the film to parts of the country and types of audiences that we had not yet reached. Many thanks to the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation for hosting this remarkable series and  choosing us to be part of it!

Post submitted by On Screen/In Person filmmaker Lisa Fruchtman

On Tour: Wilmington, DE

12 Feb

February 10, 2016 | Winding Stream | Wilmington, DE

The snow in West Virginia went from fluffy and beautiful to a big headache in a matter of 8 hours. My flights that would position me for the next three screenings were cancelled. I rebooked and the next flight out of Lewisburg and then that was delayed. After some discussion with the airline folks and the travel agent, I decided to get a rental car and just drive from West Virginia to Delaware — a six-hour trip!


Big storms were sweeping through the region. I mostly got ahead of the bad weather and arrived in Wilmington with only an hour of slushiness to contend with.  I was tired from driving, relieved to get to the The First State and very much looking forward to the Wilmington screening.


The folks at Wilmington’s Light Up the Queen Foundation did an excellent job getting the word out about The Winding Stream. In advance of the screening they’d lined up an interview for me with DJ Carl Goldstein. (Carl does the Fire On The Mountain roots music radio show on WDUV and we had a great time chatting the previous Saturday morning.)  Plus, the LUQ folks had booked the popular Wilmington-based band Sin City to play a set of Carter and Cash songs at the screening and they really delivered!


The venue was the Film Brothers Co-op, a cool storefront arts center in LoMa (Lower Market Street in Wilmington!)  The place was jumping,  so full we were using sofas and chairs and end tables from the lobby area to make sure there was enough seating for the screening. It was a genial, jovial gathering.  Festive food and beverage. Great conversations. Everyone seemed to have fun. I know I did!


I want to give special thanks to Judy Hickman and Tina Betz of Light Up the Queen for being so welcoming and accommodating.


A little tourist note: the Delaware Art Museum (which I got to visit before the screening) is exceptionally cool. The work of the early 20th century Wilmington artist Howard Pyle (one of my favorites) is a big focus of the collection and it’s worth a visit to learn about the man who had such a huge influence on American magazine and book illustration and influenced artists like Norman Rockwell and N.C. Wyeth.

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

On Tour: Wilmington, DE

11 Nov

November 3, 2015 | Miriam Beerman: Expressing the Chaos | Wilmington, DE

Chaos. That’s the theme of my film. It’s nice to talk about it and discuss it in an art context. But living through it is a different realm.

The drive from suburban DC to Wilmington, Delaware is 1 hour and 40 minutes. For my first screening I leave 2 hours. All good, right?

The main highway corridor running through the nation’s megalopolis from DC to Boston is Interstate 95. It carries millions and millions of cars every year. So when they close it during afternoon rush hour? Chaos.

It was hard to believe when the overhead digital sign said “Interstate 95 NB closed after exit 67.” A fatal car accident. In the more mundane world, my under 2-hour drive now became a 4+ hour drive. The frustration was compounded by the fact that I was going to miss my Q & A after the film screening. If I couldn’t get there by 7, then it would be over.

So as I’m literally driving in circles and the Waze app tells me 7:53 for an arrival time, I call Judy who is running things at Light Up the Queen Foundation. More chaos! She tells me the bulb in the projector has burned out, they had to delay the screening, and that they won’t be finished showing the film until 7:30.

Still not looking good for me. I realize that my only hope, as I’m still 60 miles away, is to get back on 95 and hope it clears. I get on the entrance ramp and it is smooth sailing until I round the first corner. Then it’s a dead stop. Now I’m really trapped.

I exhale deeply and accept my fate. Inching along is silly at this point. All of a sudden, Waze recalculates that I will now get to Wilmington at 7:22. What? All the cars are going to vanish? 7:24. 7:26. 7:35. 7:38.

And then the road literally opens up. Like a blind person recovering their vision, we slowly grope forward, unable to comprehend what was agita, frustration, and man’s limited ability to comprehend the state of the world into something fluid, familiar, and reassuring.

As the miles get gobbled up at a very high rate of speed, I calculate there will be an eight-minute gap between when the film ends and I arrive. Judy is certainly surprised to hear that I am 13 minutes away when she calls to say the film is almost done.

When I walk into Film Brothers Co-op, an airy place with a screening area at the far end, there are a handful of people remaining who are enjoying some food. We have a nice talk about the film, and Miriam, and traffic. Some local art students and their teacher have just left, so I will make it a point to do a Skype talk with them. Tomorrow is the screening at Long Island University—and I will be there early. RIP Clifton Whaling.

Post by OSIP touring filmmaker, Jonathan Gruber.

On Tour: Wilmington, DE

2 Nov

October 13, 2015  | Small, Small Thing | Wilmington, DE

Tonight was a great start to my OSIP tour with “Small Small Thing” in adorable downtown Wilmington, DE. Hosted by the Light Up the Queen Foundation, we screened to a lovely and engaged audience at the Film Brothers Co-op. Film Brothers is a screening room, but also a gallery. Such a cute and warm environment.

10.13.15 photo

I loved the audience! We sat down informally after the screening, drinking wine, eating cheese and the best grapes any of us had ever had.

We discussed the complex issues in the film, from the role of family in tribal Liberia, to accountability of NGOs when working abroad.  I am always interested in how audiences respond to Bendu’s decisions in the film. She makes difficult choices as a mother, torn between her daughters care, and that of herself and other children.

I find many people ponder how they would react themselves if faced with such tough choices. It makes for great conversation.

A nice touch was an audience member from who’d spent a year in Liberia, and offered additional experiences.

I was touched by the reception, and the thoughtful questions. My film sparks a range of emotions, from anger and sadness, to hope. I love it when I can engage an audience and discuss ways to raise awareness of difficult issues. The ladies at LUQ did a stellar job at hosting! I’m looking forward to the rest of the journey.

Post by OSIP touring filmmaker, Jessica Vale.

On Tour: Wilmington, DE

9 Mar

March 7, 2015  | Still Dreaming | Wilmington, DE


Last night’s screening in Wilmington Delaware was truly special. The Light Up The Queen Foundation, which hosted the screening, is dedicated to the revival of the Queen Theater in Wilmington, DE, and to assuring that the Queen becomes a catalyst for building community through high-quality programs in arts, music, education, workforce development and mentoring. Tina Betz, Executive Director of LUQ, and her staff really made an impression on me. They care deeply about the connections within the community that art can foster. They brought together the Alzheimer’s Association and the Delaware Shakespeare Festival to co-present the film, which made for a lively post film discussion.

3-7_TinaBetzFor me, it was the first screening where we’ve really had community partners present who represent the divergent themes in the film. There was a lot at stake for me personally, hoping that these two important groups would like the film. As we craft the story in relative obscurity, we can only hope that it will resonate strongly with our intended core audiences. It’s not until a screening such as this that we get our answer.

It was a thrilling moment to have Katie Maklin, the ED of the Delaware Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and David Stradley, the Artistic Director of Delaware Shakespeare Festival, speak highly and passionately of the film and its story and characters. They both come at the subject from such different places, and it was wonderful to see them connect through the story of the film. It feels like these kind of connections are the seeds to future collaborations. I hope the fruit of these are more arts programs and more meaningful community connections for our dear, invaluable elders.

And there was one last highlight. A young woman named Besta from Istanbul, Turkey loved the film. She said “I thought it maybe would be a little boring, but I loved every minute of it! I was so absorbed in the characters. I hope you know, that young people will love this film too!”. That really made my day just absolutely perfect. Thank you LUQ and Wilmington DE for a fabulous and memorable experience!

Post by OSIP touring filmmaker, Jilann Spitzmiller.
To listen to a podcast interview with the filmmaker, click here.




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