Monday, June 1, 2009

Screening of Kung Pow Wow

The Berkshire Film Festival was abuzz with activity as it took over the Triplex and Mahaiwe theaters in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The whole community came out to support the event. This year marked their third annual Student Film Festival. Over thirty shorts were submitted by five Berkshire schools. It's amazing how much technology has improved and allowed access to people at a much younger age. Most of these films shared director credits, but isn't that what it's about when you're starting out? There's so much to learn from each other.

Over the years, the Berkshires have become a hot bed for the arts. Mass MoCA is considered one of the premiere museums of contemporary art in the country. They're featuring a major exhibit on Sol LeWitt until 2033, so that gives you some time to get there. Sol LeWitt is an artist best known for his giant works that take over a room - you can see one of his rooms at MOMA if you're in New York.

Jacob's Pillow is a dance company started in 1933 by Ted Shaw and is the only dance entity in the US to be declared a National Historic landmark for its significance and its contribution to America's culture.

The Berkshires features many play festivals including the best known -Williamstown. This summer they're putting on some tremendous works including: Sam Shepard's True West starring Rob Corddry and his brother Nate directed by OTL friend Danny Goldstein; Quatermaine's Terms by Simon Gray, starring Tony Award - winner Jefferson Mays and The Torch-Bearers by George Kelly directed by Dylan Baker.

It was great showing Kung Pow Wow in my home state. I do miss Massachusetts and consider myself a New Englander through and through. Getting to screen on the home front allows for your family to be in attendance. Friday night, I attended with my Godmother, Robbie Burr and on Sunday my cousin Libby Bolognia and our dear friend Leanne Jolin joined us.

We were in a solid block of films. Julie wrote in about a few films perviously so, I will just touch on a few more.

Local filmmaker Sanjiban filmed a documentary of sorts called Animal Tricks. Over the course of his summer, he filmed himself teaching a variety of tricks in his backyard with chipmunks. It was hilarious in it's simplicity and the best part - Sanjiban was in attendance carrying a stuffed chipmunk on his shoulder.

Another notable film was called The Last Page. One of the longer of the shorts, clocking in at 21 minutes - The Last Page is the story of a tortured writer struggling to find the perfect ending to his latest story. While taking a break from writing, he is catapulted into a bizarre series of events; each event pushing him further away from finishing the last page. Written by Kevin Acevedo and Matt Akey and Directed by Kevin Acevdeo, The Last Page offered a clever formula that began with the audience watching the last moment in the script and then realizing, as it moved backwards and things were erased, that the writer was deleting the story from his computer in the hopes of finding the perfect ending.

Writer/Director Jack Herbert's The Hero's Journey was a genius use of a gimmick to allow for a very low budget film. The story focuses on Sam as he's looking for enemies in his home. He documents his search with his home video camera. What he captures on the camera is more than he or his mother planned. I was really taken with the idea of making a low budget work to your advantage. This film could not have been shot on a higher end camera.

The last film I'd like to mention is Monty Diamond's The World Trade Center in the Movies. The World Trade Center appeared in over 60 films of all shapes and sizes during their 27 year history They played starring roles in films like The Wiz and Trading Places or served as background - a recognizable part of the Manhattan landscape - in many others. Monty Diamond was a location scout in New York who worked with the Trade Center frequently. He put together a musical reminiscence of the Towers in a short film. It was a very moving tribute.

Thanks to Lauren and everyone at the festival! We hope to see you next year!

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