Tag Archives: women in film

On Tour: Lancaster, PA

4 Jan

November 9, 2017 | Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw | Lancaster, PA

Host Barry Kornhauser really went to bat for this screening, with able assistance from Amy Banks, Arts Communication Manager of Lancaster’s Ware Center, where Mind/Game was screened in a beautiful 300+ -seat theater.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

In Lancaster, I was busy for the good part of two days!  An interview with a student named Alex, for an article in the local paper, the first day.  The next morning Chamique Holdsclaw herself showed up (yes, it was expected, Barry went the extra mile to make it happen), and ‘Mique and I did a podcast with John Walk, which can be heard here: http://lancasteronline.com/sports/wnba-star-chamique-holdsclaw-talks-with-john-walk-for-inspirational/article_0f24abea-c587-11e7-b510-bb59b923df8f.html

Then Chamique and I did a couple of sessions with students and faculty during Millersville’s “common hour.”  A shout-out especially to Beth Powers-Costello and Tiffany Wright for making that happen, inspiring their students and asking great questions.

Then off to Wanja Oganji’s social work class; and from there Chamique to an African-American studies class while I was whisked off to a filmmaking class at nearby Franklin & Marshall College– very sharp and creative students working on their own short films– I hope my insights helped them.

In the evening, the Mind/Game screening was preceded by an excellent panel with mental health professionals and educators (who had pre-screened the film) preparing the audience with background on some key mental health issues that would come up in the film they were about to see.

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A crowd of 328 (!) packed the sold-out Ware Center Theatre.  A very live crowd watched the film and then Chamique and I did our thing with a long and spirited Q&A.  Chamique was subsequently mobbed by admirers and entire high school and college sports teams, for photo ops.  A reception followed, Chamique and I autographed Mind/Game DVDs that were purchased, conversations ensued well into the evening.  It was a visit to remember!

One last note: Barry Kornhauser– though he was too modest to mention to me during the visit– had just two weeks earlier been awarded the Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Pennsylvania “Artist of the Year” award!  Read about it here.

An honor to have spent a couple of days in your company, Barry!

Post provided by On Screen/In Person touring filmmaker Rick Goldsmith.

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On Tour: Reading, PA

4 Jan

November 7, 2017 | Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw| Reading, PA

On to the Reading Area Community College.  Pre-screening, I was joined on-stage by Brian Richardson, Director of Advocacy & Community Outreach at the Greater Reading Mental Health Alliance (GRMHA), a terrific group that does peer counseling and provides other resources for those on mental health journeys. The discussion and Q&A was heartfelt, poignant and illuminating– and the audience hadn’t even seen the film yet!  The screening was well-attended and my co-panelists, Dr. David Brant, psychologist who also teaches at RACC, and Tom McCarthy, who coached Olympic gymnists, both added real-world insight, during the Q&A, to the mental health issues, and particularly the pressures on young athletes to be perfect.

Great discussions with audience members, including afterwards with Connie Mitchell-Bates, who spoke about her own son, a veteran who is dealing with PTSD and related mental health issues.  Thanks, too, to Gary Hawkins Executive Director GRMHA, and Cathleen Stephen, the Director of the Miller Center at RACC.

Post provided by On Screen/In Person touring filmmaker Rick Goldsmith.

On Tour: Washington, DC

4 Jan

November 5, 2017 | Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw | Washington, DC

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[photo, l to r: Goldsmith, Amdursky, Page-Kirby; credit: Doug Yeuell]

The Atlas Performing Arts Center has become the center of the recently-renovated Near Northeast neighborhood of Washington, DC.  Thanks to my host Doug Yeuell, an assembled diverse crowd of 40 or so packed into their small “black box” theatre for stop #2 on my tour.  It was a “live” crowd, with audience reaction indicating basketball afficionados as well as therapists, a family with 3 pre-teens and others.  Q&A moderator Kristen Page-Kirby of the Washington Post-Express began with provocative questions about the filmmaking process, and I delved into how Chamique and I worked together, especially at key crisis points during production, including one episode that almost shut the film down mid-production.  I was joined on stage by Loren Amdursky, MD, an adult, child and adolescent psychiatrist, who added insight and elaboration to the mental health journey that I depicted on-screen.  The feeling in the room, filled with educators, mental health professionals and who knows who else, spurred an energetic discussion among audience and panel-members alike about the need to de-stigmatize mental illness, and also how we should look at “mental health” as something that applies to everyone, and should be viewed as such, much like we view “physical health” as important to all, and not just the “absence of illness.”  A young African-American woman came up to me after the Q&A and shared her own mental health journey with me and related how much the film and Chamique’s story resonated with her experience.  It was the kind of screening that makes one feel validated in putting 3 years into production and another 2-1/2 (thus far) into distribution.  I felt like I was indeed reaching my intended audience and indeed making a difference in people’s lives.

Post provided by On Screen/In Person touring filmmaker Rick Goldsmith.

On Tour: Germantown, MD

28 Nov

November 20, 2016 | Love Thy Nature | Germantown, MD

“Certainly anyone can spend time outside, but joining a group like the Montgomery County Parks and Recreations offers opportunities for community connections, educational activities, and nature play.”

On my ride from West Virginia to Maryland, I couldn’t resist but to drive through one of my favorite U.S. parks – Shenandoah National Forest. I took a little hike up a mountain that got me dodging rocks for a little bouldering experience. How fun!

Germantown was my new On Screen/In Person destination where I was to present Love Thy Nature at BlackRock Center, a vibrant arts organization. Our host, Krista Bradley, planned a pre-screening tour of the beautiful (and very artistic!) new park adjacent to BlackRock, where naturalist Jenn Scully from the Montgomery County Parks and Recreations took a small group of us on a discovery tour of local flora and fauna.

Even though the wind was blowing hard and the air was quite chilly, that didn’t stop our group from having the best of times! I was delighted to get to know Krista and her rich background supporting the arts, as well as Jason, who brings his love of nature (he studied global ecology) to his work as an education program manager at BlackRock. Ultimately, Jenn got us all giggling with natural stories and park discoveries. She pulled out from her bag remains of some local critters— rattle snakes’ skins and the fur of a red fox!

The screening ignited curiosity among audience members who wanted to know the best ways to be active locally and how to get kids involved in nature activities. Many of the questions went to Jenn who offered details on the many ways the community can get involved and join nature-connecting and nature-restoring activities.

I’m always excited to see when a screening of Love Thy Nature provides an opportunity for audience members to connect with their local groups for outdoor fun. Certainly anyone can spend time outside, but joining a group like the Montgomery County Parks and Recreations offers opportunities for community connections, educational activities, and nature play.

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Special thanks to Krista, Jason, and Jenn for hosting Love Thy Nature at your beautiful center, sharing your fun and artsy park, and joining forces to inspire Germantown folks to get outdoors!

Sylvie

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

On Tour: Lewisburg, WV

28 Nov

November 17, 2016 | Love Thy Nature | Lewisburg, WV

“Water is such a critical element to support our fragile lives and yet we take it for granted…”

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My trip from Waynesboro, VA to Lewisburg, WV was a peaceful ride through golden hills and when I arrived at my hotel room, I opened the curtains only to discover it was facing a vast cemetery – setting me in a special kind of tone. As a nature gal, the first thing I do every morning (or when I arrive at a new hotel room) is to open my window, take a whiff of fresh air and look out to trees, the sky and a horizon – if I’m lucky enough to be in a room with a view to infinity.

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In this case, it also offered me a view to the beyond. All those tombstones made me wonder: who were these souls, whether their lives were fulfilling, and who grieves their loss? According to my mother, my dad avoided cemeteries like the plague. And yet, here I stand in my early 50s thinking of him and all the other humans who left our plane to who knows where. To me, cemeteries evoke a profound sense of gratitude for inhabiting a healthy body and having this human experience in this oh, so very precious, yet short lifespan Mother Nature has given us.

And how amazing that I get to do this work of inspiring others to cherish their relationship with Nature and each other in the hopes that they too will find meaning and purpose in their lives.

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When I arrived at Carnegie Hall, my host Lynn introduced me to Autumn, the program director at West Virginia Rivers Coalition. Autumn and I shared the stage during Q&A and discussed the extraordinary importance of water— water for swimming, fishing, bathing, drinking, and overall healthy living. Water is such a critical element to support our fragile lives and yet we take it for granted despite all its current threats from drought and pollution to privatization by companies eager to contain it within plastic bottles for profits.

But we can resist. While I’m offered bottled water in many places I go, more often than not, I refuse and fill up my reusable water container with fountain, tap, or -if I’m lucky enough – spring water from some local source.

We ended our conversation with the audience at Carnegie Hall offering an homage to rivers and streams, while encouraging audience members to be involved in their local rivers coalition so that this beautiful little community in West Virginia remains healthy, vibrant, and yes, full of life.

Wishing you water,

Sylvie

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

On Tour: Brookville, NY

16 Nov

November 10, 2016 | Love Thy Nature | Brookville, NY

The gift of a small audience is the rare intimacy that happens between presenter and participants. It often becomes a deeper and more authentic conversation…

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My visit to Long Island University (LIU) was delightful and engaging. Dr. Scott Carlin, Associate Professor of Geography, invited me to a pre-screening reception with sustainability-focused students and faculty. The group is clearly committed and excited to strengthen environmental awareness within the university. Erica and Chris are new students starting a campus sustainability group and have a number of great ideas – from starting an organic farm, educating other students on eco-conscious living, and getting people to enjoy the outdoors. These young people are creating change from the ground up!

Dr. Carlin also shared great news from the top down: LIU’s top executives just decided to launch a university degree on sustainability studies!

The state of the art Tilles Center for the Performing Arts played Love Thy Nature in its full splendor. And while it’s a massive auditorium, only about 20 viewers came to our screening event. So, during Q&A, an audience member asked, “How is it possible that such a beautiful and important film only attracted a few of us?”

Frankly, I too was surprised that we had such a timid turnout at a university in New York. After all, my outreach team for the film sent out blast emails to 17 groups in the area and LIU organizers themselves also did their own outreach. And while it’s impossible to know why we didn’t have more people at the screening last night, I was told there was another event on campus; plus, we can’t ignore that many in our country are still very focused on post-election politics – further ignited by the dramatic images of protests and riots in major cities over Donald Trump having been elected president 3 days ago.

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Whatever the reasons, I learned to never discount the impact Love Thy Nature might have on a small group of people. The gift of a small audience is the rare intimacy that happens between presenter and participants. It often becomes a deeper and more authentic conversation (viewers lose their fear of speaking in small groups) and I’m able to perceive what folks need the most.  I feel deeply honored to do this work, as I get to assist people in turning their despair into inspiration, cynicism into insight, and anger into conscious activism, for a brighter nature-filled-and-connected future.

I’m confident that our screening event might have ignited a fire in that small but engaged LIU group last night. May it have further fueled Erica and Chris’ determination to make a sustainability movement blossom in campus and may it have offered Dr. Carlin and his colleagues more ideas for the new LIU sustainability program. And I trust that other seeds we planted will somehow sprout in beautiful ways even if we might never know how they manifested.
So I’m grateful for the opportunity to have come to New York to connect with such a great group of passionate visionaries. I look forward to crossing paths with them again.

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

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.

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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

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