Tag Archives: wilmington

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

16 Nov

November 13, 2016 | Love Thy Nature | Wilmington, DE

“A man in his 50s said that for 20 years his adult son had been struggling with trauma and later addiction. But when his son got a job planting gardens for a landscaping business, the experience of touching soil, caring for plants, and just being outdoors every day was “more healing than any other therapy.”

My ride from Long Island to Delaware had me cross a number of tunnels and bridges, making it a visually appealing trip. I had never been to Wilmington, so once I got in town I decided to leave my rental car in the hotel garage and walk downtown to the screening location – The Queen Theater. Most of downtown Wilmington is historic and buildings are filled with red brick charm and character.

Our hosts from Light Up the Queen Foundation – Tina Betz and Judy Hickman – did a fabulous job at organizing the event. They offered a reception and invited leaders of local nature organizations to join me in the post screening panel discussion, in a room with an audience of nearly 50 people.

The panelists included Stephanie Herron (Delaware Sierra Club), Richard Jones Jr. (Delaware Nature Conservancy), and Helen Fischel (Delaware Nature Society). After they offered a brief description of their organizations, we encouraged audience members to get involved with their groups – both by enjoying their outdoor programs and participating in their nature protection initiatives. We also focused our attention on kids since, in our digital age, parents and educators have to play a critical role at encouraging children to spend time outdoors and experience nature with their peers.


In my conversations with individuals after the screening, I’m always touched to hear people express their gratitude for the film and share their personal stories about the power of nature. A man in his 50s said that for 20 years his adult son had been struggling with trauma and later addiction. But when his son got a job planting gardens for a landscaping business, the experience of touching soil, caring for plants, and just being outdoors every day was “more healing than any other therapy.” Garden planting transformed his son, who now looks forward to his work every day.

At the end of the event, Tina and I had a great conversation over a glass of wine about business and politics.  The sun had already set when I walked back to my hotel room, carrying a left over platter of fruit Tina was kind enough to offer me. Downtown Wilmington was now quiet and chilly – but I felt warm hearted after sharing Love Thy Nature and meeting such a great group of people in this history town in Delaware.

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

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”


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.
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.

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: 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

20 Apr

April 10, 2016 | Deaf Jam | Wilmington, DE

DE to NJ

Coincidences? Serendipity? However you might look at chance encounters, my visit to Light UP the Queen began with a wonderful surprise.

After a leisurely train ride from New York City, I walked to the theater and ran right into Mary Hicks – a Bilingual Literacy Specialist from Delaware School for the Deaf who I had been corresponding with on and off over the past year. We had never officially met each other. Yet when we both arrived at the wrong location at exactly the same time, we had instant recognition of each other!

From there, Mary and I, along with a few others, proceeded to the correct location just a couple of blocks away – Film Brothers Movie Co-op.



Tina Betz and Judy Hickman, producers of the events for Light Up the Queen, created an afternoon living room salon where refreshments are shared along with stimulating conversation. Dr. Guillermina Gonzalez, Executive Director of the Delaware Arts Alliance, led the post screening discussion.

It was a diverse audience of deaf and hearing, and representatives of DeLNato (http://www.delnato.org) and Students from the University of Delaware’s “Justice for Palestine” organization. Dr. Gonzalez presented the question “What does it mean to be deaf figuratively speaking?” This perceptive and poetic topic led to discussions about communication socially and politically in relationship to the film. The director of DelNato made a beautiful statement about the closing poem in Deaf Jam: “the strength of the poem is in the components together. Isolated – Tahani’s spoken word component and Aneta’s ASL component would not have had the same impact.” This example of the strength in collaboration is at the heart of the film and one that I hope will be an inspiration to many.


The following morning, Tina Betz and I visited Delaware School for the Deaf viewed student work created by some of Mary Hick’s students and students studying with Graphic Design teacher, Matthew Bezaire.  We had a very fun discussion about their work and filmmaking techniques. Check out dsdeaf.org and their DSDTV youtube channel to see what they are up.

Discussions around an ASL and spoken word poetry event for next year began among Tina, Mary, and I. The discussion was a dream come true and a wonderful culmination to the trip.

Post by On Screen/In Person touring filmmaker Judy Lieff.

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.

%d bloggers like this: