Friday, November 30, 2012

Filmmaker Thomas Florek: Why I Love Open Screen

By Erin Korth, BMFI Intern

On Monday, Bryn Mawr Film Institute celebrates local filmmakers at the first Open Screen Showcase, a compilation of some of the most interesting work from our Open Screen Mondays program. The free event, which includes food and drink, will be emceed by actor/comedian and former MST3K host Joel Hodgson, and is curated by BMFI Lead Manager Mike McCracken.
Open Screen Monday regular contributor Thomas Florek is an award-winning videographer, documentary filmmaker, audio recording engineer/producer, composer, and software designer. He has an impressive list of writing and directing credentials to his name, including his most recent Particle Board and Cherry Veneer”, a short film examining the “our culture’s glorification of phoniness.” He also co-hosts the weekly radio program The Tom and Doug Show.

Filmmaker Thomas Florek always appreciates the feedback
he receives at Open Screen Monday events. His work is
featured in Monday's Open Screen Showcase.
Mike McCracken interviewed the filmmaker via email about the importance of the Open Screen Monday program.
Why is an Open Screen outlet important for the filmmaking community? 
Open Screen is a fantastic place to get to meet people who are actively interested in the process of creating film. It’s a supportive environment for people to show their work and learn.
How is the Open Screen format different than a selective format? 
It means that all sorts of levels of work can be shown. Working professionals show their work, but semi-professionals and newbies are also welcome to show their work. BMFI is great about facilitating discussion about every single thing that is shown. As a viewer we get to understand who the person is who made the film, and what they were trying to communicate. At a selective festival, films are more or less complete; here, many films are still works in progress, so as viewers, when we share our reactions, we are part of the process of making the films.
How does this format benefit you as a filmmaker? 
There is no better or more effective way for me to find out if the film I am working on is creating the things that I am hoping to communicate. BMFI Open Screen functions as a great and relaxed test audience for anything I might want to try to make. I have found out a wealth of information about my own work that allowed me to create better and more effective films. 
What did you learn about your work through Open Screen? 
Sometimes I learn that a particular segment I am working on does not really work, or is too long. Sometimes I learn that something in my film really is entertaining in a way that I had hoped it would be. BMFI Open Screen audiences are open to watching a lot of different kinds of work. I've gotten great feedback about commercials, and I've gotten great feedback about experimental work, as well as narrative pieces. One time I showed a few pieces that were made to appear as part of a multimedia kiosk presentation, and I received a whole lot of great feedback that made it possible for me to make the final product much more effective. I can get useful and honest reactions from people at the Open Screen events that allow me to go back and make my work better. 
What’s the best thing you've ever seen at Open Screen? 
Almost every time I attend, there is something there that is surprising and wonderful. I love to see the works of Kevin Corcoran, and of course I’m proud to have been able to see an early segment of Jon Foy’s Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles years before its celebrated release. I was so excited that I bored and annoyed Jon encouraging him to complete the film. Recently there have been some excellent young filmmakers (who work at the theater) who are doing really well done formalist film. Then there was Maurice Paramore’s film. All of those are just from the past few months. In the past several years attending BMFI Open Screen Mondays, I have seen a multitude of great work.
Thank you, Thomas! See some of Thomas Florek’s short films, "Decapitation" and "People are Mean", at BMFI's Open Screen Showcase on Monday, December 3 at 7:00 pm.

Erin Korth is a senior at Bryn Mawr College currently interning at BMFI.

Filmmaker Grant Shaud: Why I Love Open Screen

By Devin Wachs, Public Relations Manager, BMFI

On Monday, Bryn Mawr Film Institute celebrates local filmmakers at the first Open Screen Showcase, a compilation of some of the most interesting work from our Open Screen Mondays program. The free event, which includes food and drink, will be emceed by actor/comedian and former MST3K host Joel Hodgson, and is curated by BMFI Lead Manager Mike McCracken.

You may recognize Open Screen Monday contributor Grant Shaud from his role as Miles Silverberg on the long-running TV series Murphy Brown. In the years since, he's been a frequent guest star on such TV series as Law and Order, Pushing Daisies, and Louie. But he comes to Open Screen as a budding filmmaker, and his short "A Five Minute Epic Love Story" is featured in Open Screen Showcase.

Actor and filmmaker Grant Shaud's loves the supportive environment of Open Screen Mondays. His short film is featured as part of Open Screen Showcase on Monday, December 3. (image via)

Mike McCracken interviewed the actor and filmmaker via email about the importance of the Open Screen Monday program.
Why is an Open Screen outlet important for the filmmaking community?
Open Screen is a fantastic place to get to meet people who are actively interested in the process of creating film. It’s a supportive environment for people to show their work and learn.

How is the Open Screen format different than a selective format? 
It's just friendlier and more relaxed. Everything in this country is now about a competition. At the Open Screen, people bring in work that is still in development and not finished. That's how supportive it is. And because of the nurturing environment, some of these projects have gone on to great success at festivals such as Sundance. But they were able to breathe and grow at BMFI. BMFI has tapped into a great source of talent in the Main Line area, but they didn't seem to do it for that purpose. Again, they did it just by encouraging people to come on by and bring their films.

How does this format benefit you as a filmmaker?
It takes the pressure off by not being so results-oriented. If you're not so worried about being "good", you can stumble on to "great".

What did you learn about your work through Open Screen?
I've learned that if you're motivated to actually make a film, it's beneficial to let people see it. I mean, nobody threw me out. They were actually quite effusive in encouraging me to continue to make films. Again, it's an incredibly kind environment. I like being in it whether I have a film to show or not.

Thank you, Grant! See Grant Shaud's short film, "A Five Minute Epic Love Story", at BMFI's Open Screen Showcase on Monday, December 3 at 7:00 pm.

Devin Wachs is the Public Relations Manager for Bryn Mawr Film Institute. She joined BMFI in 2005, following her graduation from Bryn Mawr College. If you send BMFI a message on Facebook or Twitter or are interested in onscreen sponsorships, she's the one who'll be in touch!

Abracadabra in Bryn Mawr: An Interview with MAGIC CAMP Filmmaker Judd Ehrlich

By Devin Wachs, Public Relations Manager, BMFI

When I think of summer camp, I think of swimming, weird craft projects, and long hikes. But to the budding magicians who make the pilgrimage to Bryn Mawr College for Tannen’s Magic Camp, camp teaches them sleight-of-hand and showmanship, and gives them a place to be themselves. For one glorious week each year, they learn from top illusionists like Criss Angel and David Copperfield as the “magician’s code” of secrecy is lifted.

Emmy-nominated director Judd Ehrlich, a former camper himself, decided to revisit this oasis of alchemy for his latest documentary, Magic Camp, which will have its Pennsylvania Premiere at Bryn Mawr Film Institute on Tuesday, December 4, followed by a Q&A with Judd and a magic performance by campers and counselors.

A magic performance by campers and counselors will follow
BMFI's screening of Magic Camp on Tuesday, December 4
In advance of the premiere event, Judd answered some questions over the phone from his office in New York. Keep reading for his advice to aspiring filmmakers, the challenges of documentary production, and which filmmakers inspire him.
What drew you to this project? How did you discover Tannen’s Magic Camp?
I went to it as a camper. I grew up a couple of blocks away from Tannen’s Magic Shop, which is the oldest magic store in New York. I would hang out there and learned about the camp. When I arrived, I found this completely unique place where people from all over the country could share their passion for something that not everyone understands. This group of about a hundred kids were obsessed with the same thing. It was 24/7 magic with a staff of professional magicians who volunteered their time. There were no secrets; you could ask anyone how anything was done. I think that feeling extended beyond magic. It was a safe environment for kids who were not the captains of the football team, where they were free to be themselves and be accepted.
At Tannen's Magic Camp, loving magic is always in style.
Later when I became a filmmaker, I knew I wanted to do something about magic. The camp had been approached to do different projects—reality show type things—but it was important to them to work with somebody they could trust and that they knew understood the kids, the camp, and magic. They had to trust [the filmmaker] not to reveal too much about the secrets of magic, but also not take advantage of the campers and the special environment at camp. It was an honor and responsibility, and important as a filmmaker, because so much of making a documentary comes down to access and trust.

I was also thrilled that Tannen’s is now at Bryn Mawr College. When I went to the camp it was at a military academy on Long Island, but Bryn Mawr has a magical quality. I loved having the campus as a backdrop for these kids’ stories; it almost became another character in the film.
Tucked away just off the Main Line, Bryn Mawr College serves
as the campers' "real life Hogwarts".
This is your third documentary. What is your favorite aspect of documentary film production? The most challenging?
I love the whole process. In documentary you’re working with a very small crew so you have to be involved in every piece of it along the way. I come from an editing background, and a film really does get made in editing, especially a film like this that is a verite documentary. You go in with an idea of the story you’d like to tell but it’s dependent on what you capture. It can be very exciting but also daunting when you get back to the editing room with hundreds of hours shot. So many different films could be cut from the same footage; you have to find the best story.

What were some of the unexpected challenges of working with the film’s younger subjects?
When you make a documentary, you spend a lot of time trying to get your subjects to be comfortable in front of the camera and opening up. With camp being only a week long, we didn’t have the time to develop the kind of trust that we would if we were filming over a year or several months. I was worried that given the time constraints, some might not develop that trust and let us into their lives. But what I found time after time was that these kids were comfortable being themselves and talking about everything. Almost from the beginning, campers and staff gave themselves over to the process.
Ehrlich found the young magicians far from camera-shy.
You’re active in educating young filmmakers about documentary production. What is the #1 piece of advice you would give to an aspiring filmmaker?
Try to watch as many films as you can and draw inspiration from them. In a way, it comes back to the purpose of magic camp. It’s all about finding your voice and finding who you are. That is the project of adolescence in general, but it is also the challenge for the filmmaker, to find out who you are as an artist.

One thing that is unique about the film industry is that it’s still about apprenticeship. If you have a good work ethic and are passionate about what you are doing, you can start at the bottom and work your way up. I’ve seen a lot of people do this successfully. If you’re in a position to start interning, it’s a great way to prove yourself to be someone who is invaluable and it can lead to a job and you can work your way up. There are so many specialties in film—post-production, lighting, cinematography—where you can join a union and make a living doing something you love.
"[Magic Camp] is about finding your voice and finding who you are."
Speaking of inspiration, what are some of the films and documentaries that inspire you?
I took film classes in college, but I wasn’t a film major. For about four years after graduating I worked in social work and was in graduate school for counseling. It was a big change to make the leap into film, and documentary in particular. No small part of the decision was because my first apartment was half a block from the Film Forum. I would go to films constantly. These weren’t the movies playing at a multiplex; it was like my film school in a way. The filmmakers would be there and you could talk to them. I’d go to see Frederick Wiseman, Errol Morris, Werner Herzog, all these luminaries that have such a unique way of approaching documentary. When you see a lot of films outside of the mainstream you gain an appreciation for what the medium can do and how far it can be pushed.
I hope that our local aspiring filmmakers take the same kind of inspiration from Magic Camp and Judd’s Q&A at Tuesday’s Pennsylvania Premiere of the film.

Devin Wachs is the Public Relations Manager for Bryn Mawr Film Institute. She joined BMFI in 2005, following her graduation from Bryn Mawr College. If you send BMFI a message on Facebook or Twitter or are interested in onscreen sponsorships, she's the one who'll be in touch!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sundance-winning Director Jon Foy on Why Open Screen is Important

By Erin Korth, BMFI Intern

Open Screen alum Jon Foy at BMFI's screening
of his Sundance-winning documentary,
Resurrect Dead
On Monday, Bryn Mawr Film Institute celebrates aspiring local filmmakers at the first Open Screen Showcase, a compilation of the best of Open Screen Mondays. The event, which includes food and drink, will be emceed by actor/comedian and former MST3K host Joel Hodgson, and is curated by BMFI Lead Manager Mike McCracken.

Jon Foy, a documentary filmmaker and Philadelphia native, made headlines with his critically acclaimed debut film, Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles. Foy screened his unfinished work for BMFI Open Screen audiences several years ago, and returned this past January as a visiting filmmaker to hold a Q&A session following the screening of his completed documentary, which had recently won a Best Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival.

Mike McCracken interviewed the acclaimed Open Screen alum via email about the importance of Open Screen:
Why is Open Screen important for the filmmaking community?
Competitions can sometimes take the fun out of filmmaking, so it’s nice to have a space where you can experiment and be playful in a setting where no one’s expecting polished pieces from you. 
How is the Open Screen format different from a selective format? How does this format benefit you as a filmmaker? 
You learn different things when you watch a film without a filter. You can learn common pitfalls of first-time filmmakers (sound issues, for instance) that would normally get filtered out before they reach a film festival audience, and that’s valuable.
What did you learn about your work through the Open Screen experience?
The theater sound was so much better than my home setup, so I actually learned a bit about sound editing by listening closely to see if I’d masked my interview splices well enough. I know that doesn't sound exciting to people (sound issues rarely do), but my understanding of sound editing took a big leap forward the day I showed a sample of my film. I think it’s a good idea to take your film-in-progress for a test drive early rather than wait until the premiere to hear what it sounds like in a theater.
What’s the best thing you've ever seen at Open Screen?
I don’t know about “best”, since it’s pretty apples and oranges, but Yoon Jung Lee’s Remember O Goddess stunned me with production values I’d typically expect from a theatrically released film. But I think “best” isn't the right word to use in this situation. Everyone knows that you can just go to a theater to see something professionally produced, so that’s not really the point. The value of Open Screen Night is that you see things that are different, some of them quite out there, that you simply couldn't catch in a normal theater setting. Unpolished work has its own charm.
Thank you, Jon! You can find out more information about Resurrect Dead here. The documentary investigates the mysterious Toynbee tiles, anonymous messages found embedded in the streets of over twenty major cities across the world. The tiles’ inscriptions are thought to reference a science-fiction short story by Ray Bradbury, and their origin is often traced back to Philadelphia in the 1980s.

Check out a selection of work from Open Screen Mondays for yourself at Open Screen Showcase on Monday, December 3 at 7:00 pm.

Erin Korth is a senior at Bryn Mawr College currently interning at BMFI.

A Children's Book-to-Screen Primer

By Erin Korth, BMFI Intern

There is something both heart-racing and heart-wrenching in seeing a beloved book adapted for the silver screen. On one hand, how wonderful it is to experience the physical manifestations of the characters that only existed as wisps of imagination; on the other, how terrifying is the prospect that not even the most beautifully adapted film could do those long-cherished literary heroes justice.

According to PBS Masterpiece Theatre, nearly one third of all films ever produced are based off of a novel. Some stories have had extraordinary adaptations, while others have not been so lucky. In a salute to BMFI’s December Kids Matinees theme, Good Book/Great Movie, which celebrates movie adaptations of beloved children's stories, check out these five films that made excellent page-to-screen transitions.

The Phantom Tollbooth
Written by Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth tells the story of a bored young boy named Milo, who arrives home from school one day to find a mysterious tollbooth in his bedroom. A peek through the magical portal finds him in the Kingdom of Wisdom, where he and his companion Tock, the “watchdog”, must journey through the whimsical land to rescue the princesses Rhyme and Reason, and restore harmony to the kingdom. Along the way they “eat their words” at a banquet in the city of Dictionopolis, defeat the Senses Taker in the Mountains of Ignorance, and venture into the number mines to haggle with the Mathemagician.

Directed by Chuck Jones, the master animator behind Looney Tunes and How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, the film is a visual delight, and stays true enough to the original story that fans of the book will quickly find themselves as immersed in Milo’s on-screen adventures as they were in his in-print exploits. 
Milo and Tock on the Road to Expectations in The Phantom Tollbooth
Good book, great movie? Decide for yourself at BMFI’s showing of The PhantomTollbooth, Saturday, December 1 at 11:00 am.
Mary Poppins
The iconic Disney classic is an adaptation of a book series by P. L. Travers. Jane and Michael Banks, along with their baby siblings John and Barbara, spend eight books gallivanting off on spectacular adventures with the fantastic, though intimidating, Mary Poppins. The 1964 film Mary Poppins condenses the escapades of the Banks children, told over several books in the series, into one story, and Julie Andrews’s character is a much kinder and lovelier version of the British nanny, whose literary counterpart--though likewise magical and mischievous--can be a hard-nosed, vain, and irritable woman. The Disney film is just as much fun as the book series, and will not instill in children a fear of sour British nannies.
Burt and Mary have a jolly holiday in Disney's Mary Poppins
A Little Princess (1995)
A Little Princess was written by Frances Hodgson Burnett in 1905, and adapted for film several times in the succeeding century. When her father invests in an Indian diamond mine, wealthy young Sara Crewe is enrolled in Miss Minchin’s boarding school for girls. Her belief that “every girl is a princess” is put to the test when the news arrives that Sara’s father has died of jungle fever. Penniless, she is forced to live in squalor and work as a servant, but her misery is abated by the arrival of a mysterious Indian gentleman to the house next door.

Most recently, director Alfonso CuarĂ³n tackled the classic tale in his 1995 film adaptation, A Little Princess. His adaptation makes several major changes, moving the story from London to New York, sending Sara’s father off to World War I, and tweaking the ending. It is, however, as equally enchanting and immersing as the book, and received wide critical acclaim and two Academy Award nominations.
Sara tells stories to keep her spirits high in A Little Princess
Decide which film version of the heartwarming story is your favorite. BMFI is screening the 1939 adaptation of A Little Princess, starring Shirley Temple, on Saturday, February 23 at 11:00 am as part of a month-long tribute to the pint-sized superstar.

Alice in Wonderland
Like many Disney adaptations, the Alice in Wonderland cherry-picked the best bits from its literary source and transformed them into mind-boggling animation. Based almost entirely on Lewis Carroll’s novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Disney does borrow sequences from Carroll's sequel Through the Looking Glass. Nearly all of Alice’s on-screen adventures are faithful adaptations of the book, including her tea party with the Mad Hatter, and head-spinning haggling with the Cheshire Cat. Lewis’s book, a famous example of the literary nonsense genre, translates spectacularly to the zany animation talents of 1950s Disney.
Alice crosses paths with the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland
One Hundred and One Dalmatians
The 1961 Disney film One Hundred and One Dalmatians is based on a story by Dodie Smith, published five years before the movie’s release. In Smith’s novel, Pongo and Missis enlist the help of animals across England to hunt down Cruella de Vil and rescue their kidnapped puppies. True to happy-ending form, Pongo's friend, a dog named Perdita, reunites with her long lost love, Prince, who becomes the family’s 101st Dalmatian. Fans of the book will note changes made in the name of story simplification, such as combining Perdita and Missis into a single canine hero. Many characters skip from book to screen intact, however, including Colonel, the Old English Sheepdog, and Cruella de Vil in all of her prancing, smoking, cartoon glory.
Pongo and Roger are unimpressed with Cruella de Vil
in One Hundred and One Dalmatians
Was your favorite book ever made into a movie? How do you think it turned out?

Experience wonderful children's stories on the big screen throughout December with BMFI's Kids Matinees: Good Book/Great Movie, including The Phantom Tollbooth, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Where the Wild Things Are, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and the 2011 version of Winnie the Pooh.   

Erin Korth is a senior at Bryn Mawr College currently interning at BMFI. With a few exceptions, she is horribly possessive of her favorite childhood books, and won't go near their film adaptations with a ten-foot pole.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Alan Webber: Ingmar Bergman Resurrected

Film fan Alan Webber discusses the perceptions about Ingmar Bergman's work in honor of BMFI's two upcoming classes about the Swedish auteur and our screening of Bergman's Wild Strawberries.

Ingmar Bergman Resurrected
By Alan Webber, BMFI Patron and Film Fan

When I was a young adult in the late ‘60s and thought seriously about movies for the first time, Ingmar Bergman was a God. He was always part of the conversation when serious cinema was discussed and he even became part of the language of movies. A film was “Bergmanesque” if it was in black and white, had subtitles, had pretensions to high art, and was incomprehensible. But, unknown to me, there were always serious reservations in intellectual and critical circles about his value and importance as a filmmaker.

Ingmar Bergman is the subject of two upcoming film classes at Bryn Mawr Film Institute
This is humorously dealt with in a scene from Woody Allen’s Manhattan (1979). Isaac (Woody), a 44-year-old television writer, has just been introduced to Mary (Diane Keaton), who is the current mistress of Isaac’s best friend, Yale (Michael Murphy). Isaac is walking with the two after accidentally meeting them at a gallery with his current flame, 17-year-old Tracy (Mariel Hemingway). While strolling, Yale and Mary have been discussing new additions to their personal “Academy of the Overrated,” which currently includes such notables as Isak Dinesen, Carl Jung, Gustav Mahler, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Walt Whitman. The conversation proceeds with further additions to the Academy:
Mary: Ah, well, how about Vincent van Gogh?

Isaac: Van Goch? She said Van Goch? Van Goch...

Mary: Or Ingmar Bergman?

Isaac: Bergman? Bergman is the only genius in cinema today, I think.

Yale: He's a big Bergman fan.

Mary: God, you're so the opposite, I mean you write that absolutely fabulous television show, it's really, really funny, and his view is so Scandinavian, it's bleak, my God, I mean, all that Kierkegaard, right? Real adolescent, you know, fashionable pessimism, I mean, the silence, "God's silence": OK, OK, OK, I mean, I loved it when I was at Radcliffe, but I mean, all right, you outgrow it, you absolutely outgrow it.

Isaac [aside]: Get her away from me, I don’t think I can take much more.
Ingmar Bergman makes the "Academy of the Overrated" in Woody Allen's Manhattan.
In this scene, Keaton confirmed all my beliefs about Ingmar Bergman at the time; I had probably not even seen one of his films yet, though I was an avid movie fan.

At the time of Manhattan’s 1979 release, Ingmar Bergman had been part of the psyche of serious American moviegoers for nearly 25 years and he had been making films in Sweden since 1946. Beginning with a series of films in the mid-50s which included Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), The Seventh Seal (1957), Wild Strawberries (1957) and The Magician (1958), Bergman introduced a new seriousness to cinema which critics and audiences around the world relished with abandon. As Stephen Holden has noted: “Attendance at Mr. Bergman’s films was a lot like going to church... (he) was an intellectual god whose work could reward a lifetime of intellectual study.” The doctrine of this church was that film was art of the highest order and many young people in the '50s who saw a Bergman film for the first time were overwhelmed with an almost religious conversion. For a young Woody Allen it was primarily Wild Strawberries that struck him the most profoundly and told him Bergman was a magical filmmaker. He noted: “There had never been anything like it, this combination of intellectual artist and film technician. His technique was sensational.”

The Seventh Seal - Art or “Fashionable Pessimism”?
But, as Mary reflected in her wonderful and funny response to Isaac above, there were dissenters in the ranks. Many critics lashed out at his films as obscure, meaningless, and perhaps, as Mary says “adolescent fashionable pessimism.” But he would often win back critics and audiences alike with films like Persona in 1966. Yet in 1968, Pauline Kael of The New Yorker thought that Bergman was "a tiresome deep thinker of second-rate thoughts…absurdly gloomy and self-absorbed – a man living in alone in the world and stewing in his own intellectual juice." She felt that a “pall of profundity” had come to signify his work and many people had unfortunately “come to believe that this pall was art.” Ouch! That’s a pretty devastating commentary from an important thinker. Ironically, it came in a glowing review of Bergman’s Shame (1968), which she called a masterpiece. But it was the “pall” that kept me and many others from looking at his films with any seriousness and attention. I took it for granted that they were beyond my capacity for understanding. In the late ‘60s, I was more interested in the charms and sentimentality of Frank Capra and the seriousness of George Stevens. In the ‘70s, during a great golden era of American film, my interest then turned to Terrence Malick, Sidney Lumet, Francis Ford Coppola and Woody Allen.

Times changed and for many it appeared by the early ‘70s that the religion of high art that dominated the 1950s and ‘60s was increasingly quaint and provincial and Bergman’s reputation began to slide. And today, as Richard Corliss has noted, “not many artists worry about God’s silence” at all and there are “few tortured agnostics.”

April 1966 - A Bergman Obsession
Even upon Bergman’s death in 2007, in spite of the glowing accolades, some voices were heard commenting on OP-ED pages of his relative unimportance to current cinema studies and maintained that Bergman truly was “overrated” and that his star had rightly faded as evidenced by the fact that he was not being studied in film schools or debated among film buffs with the same intensity that accrued to Alfred Hitchcock or Orson Welles.

So is Ingmar Bergman still relevant today? Does he remain an important filmmaker? Woody Allen appears to think so:
"I think his films have eternal relevance, because they deal with the difficulty of personal relationships, lack of communication between people and religious aspirations and mortality, existential themes that will be relevant a thousand years from now. When many of the things that are successful and trendy today will have been long regulated to musty-looking antiques, his stuff will still be great."
I know I’m going to give him another look. I must. Bergman is a towering figure in the history of film.

Alan Webber is a BMFI patron and film fan.

Through a Lens Darkly: The Films of Ingmar Bergman, Part I begins November 28 at BMFI, taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., of the Intellectual Heritage Program at Temple University. The class is sold out, but a second class continuing the discussion of Bergman and his work will be taught in January. Details will be posted soon on BMFI will also be showing Wild Strawberries on the big screen on Wednesday, December 12.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Six MAGIC Films Shot at Bryn Mawr College

By Erin Korth, BMFI Intern

“Welcome to the real Hogwarts,” Magic Camp’s tagline boasts. This award-winning documentary chronicles the lives of campers at Tannen’s Magic Camp, a prestigious convention for young magicians held annually at local Bryn Mawr College. Magic Camp documents the campers as they compete to become the next Houdini, hoping to follow in the footsteps of famous camp graduates like David Blaine. This heart-warming film sees each young magician struggle with his or her own demons as the campers blossom into self-confident professionals.

An aspiring young magician pulls tricks with flair in Magic Camp
In honor of Bryn Mawr Film Institute’s screening of Magic Camp, check out these five other films shot at Bryn Mawr College.

Wide Awake (1998) 
Philadelphia-area native M. Night Shyamalan wrote and directed this 1998 drama-comedy, which tells the story of a schoolboy’s search for God at a Catholic boys’ school. Bryn Mawr College’s sweeping architecture served as a double for Waldon Mercy Academy in Lower Merion, where much of Shyamalan’s filming was done. Wide Awake follows a ten-year-old boy, who, in dealing with the death of his grandfather, seeks the answers to life and death.
Joseph Cross gets advice from baseball-loving nun Rosie O'Donnell in Wide Awake
The Sterling Chase (1999)
Double-cast with Rosemont College, Bryn Mawr played the part of the fictional Chadley University. The Sterling Chase revolves around three highly competitive college seniors, their pursuit of the coveted Sterling Chase Award, and the sacrifices required as each makes serious decisions about the type of person they want to become as they graduate.

The Paradigm Shift (2008)
Bryn Mawr College's signature stone architecture and old wooden staircases act as the backdrop to indie short The Paradigm Shift, the story of a frustrated history professor who asks his students to design a plan to assassinate the President of the United States.

Dare (2009)
Dare was written by BMFI Advisory Council member David Brind and stars top-billed performers Alan Cumming, Emmy Rossum, Rooney Mara, and Sandra Bernhard. The drama follows three graduating high school seniors as they wrestle with issues of identity and sexuality in the months preceding their graduation. Dare premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and received critical acclaim, with New York Magazine hailing it as “surprising and dangerous.”
Dare shoots inside Bryn Mawr College's Taylor Hall
Tenure (2009)
In Tenure, Bryn Mawr College snagged the role of Grey College, a fictional east coast liberal arts school. The quirky indie comedy traces the exploits of down-and-out English professor Charlie Thurber (played by Luke Wilson), whose only aspiration is to be a published, tenured professor. His life gets complicated when the college brings on Professor Elaine Grasso (Gretchen Mol), an impressive new hire whose credentials unwittingly threaten Charlie’s future at the school. Funny-man David Koechner joins Wilson and Mol as Charlie’s best friend and a Bigfoot-obsessed Anthropology professor, who convinces Charlie that the only logical course of action is to sabotage the endearing Professor Grasso’s career.
David Koechner and Luke Wilson prank the new professor in Tenure
Bryn Mawr College’s foray into the film industry has been brief but notable. Experience the fun of seeing this local Hollywood hot-spot on the big screen in Magic Camp, showing at Bryn Mawr Film Institute on December 4. The event will conclude with an appearance by director Judd Ehrlich, and performances by talented young magicians from the camp.

What are your favorite movies shot at local spots?

Erin Korth is a senior at Bryn Mawr College currently interning at Bryn Mawr Film Institute.