Friday, February 25, 2011

Behind the ‘Oscar’ of the Salem Film Festival

Salem artist Mik Augustin with his original
prizes at CinemaSalem.
(photo by Christian Brink)
By Christian Brink
Gordon College News Service
February 23, 2011
(This article appeared February 25 in The Boston Globeand March 4 in The Salem News.)

Salem, MA – Think of it as the Oscar of the Salem Film Festival. But unlike the same golden statue that appears on stage every year for a night of red carpet glamour and lengthy acceptance speeches, the winning filmmakers at Salem get to take home a more organic alternative – the work of local artist, Mik Augustin.

In 2009, Dinah Cardin of Art Throb, an online North Shore art magazine, approached Augustin, 38, to see if he was interested in making the awards for the documentary film festival. At the time, Cardin was writing for the festival’s blog. Augustin agreed and then met with Joe Cultrera, an award-winning Salem filmmaker and co-founder of the film festival with Paul Van Ness, to look at the awards from the previous year when the festival began in 2008.

“The first year (of making the awards) was nerve wracking,” said Augustin. Having discussed the design of the prizes with Cultrera and Van Ness, owner of CinemaSalem, Augustin realized he had the freedom to make whatever he wanted.

This year, the film festival runs from March 4th –10th, and is comprised of international documentaries that tell a wide range of stories from people all over the world. While the main venue for the festival is CinemaSalem, an independent theater, films will also be shown at the Peabody Essex Museum and the National Park Service Visiting Center. And the winners of the festival will take home a piece of Salem with Augustin’s prize.

“Basically we didn’t give him any instructions,” said Van Ness. The only thing Augustin had to keep in mind was that the filmmaker needed to be able to physically carry the award off stage. “We told him, just use your imagination and we’ll be happy to present that as the award each year,” said Van Ness.

Now in his third year of making the awards, Augustin tries to incorporate aspects of both the city and the festival in his art.

Sixth Graders Provide Live Music for Beverly Seniors

By Alyssa M. Baxter
(courtesy photo)
Gordon College News Service
February 23, 2011
(This story appeared March 4 in The Salem News, and March 7 in The Boston Globe, Beverly site.)

BEVERLY, MA—About 100 sixth graders are giving 100 senior citizens something to sing about. On March 10th—just in time for St. Patrick’s Day—the children of Beverly’s Briscoe Middle School band and chorus will perform a free concert for seniors at the Beverly Council on Aging at 90 Colon Street.

“We are the post-lunch entertainment,” said Mr. Adam Costa, 29, and Briscoe’s band director for the past seven years. “There will be a broad range of styles for the audience to enjoy.”

The seniors will hear songs such as Hot Fudge Sundae, a 1950’s throwback with a retro feel, which the kids love because of the name, according to Costa. They’ll also perform Incantation and Ritual, a serious epic piece, among others, said Costa.

“The music uplifts the spirits of seniors; it is a bright spot in their day,” said Mary Ann Holak, ’72 graduate of Beverly High School and director of Beverly Council on Aging, whose seventh-grade daughter performed last year. “To see the young people triggers memories for them.”

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rwandans Travel to North Shore via Oral History Film

The Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Rwanda
Photo by Jesse Poole (2009)
By Jesse Poole
Gordon College News Service
(This story appeared February 23 in The Salem News.)
Beverly, MA—Sandra Gasana, project manager of the Montreal Life Stories Project of Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, is on her way to Endicott College this week. Her purpose? To reveal the importance of the present-day stories of Rwandans, those of the nation overtaken by genocide in 1994. 
Gasana said the event’s topic would be based on the Rwandan community of Montreal, but that everyone can learn from what they have to share. “It’s always important and crucial to know what is happening in our world,” said Gasana.

Her illustrated lecture and film presentation will explore the significance of oral history to the Rwandan community of Montreal. Gasana’s talk and the screening of her film, “We will not forget: Oral history as community building in the Rwandan diaspora” will take place Thursday, February 24 from 4:30-6:00 pm in the Rose Performance Hall, Center for the Arts at Endicott College, 376 Hale Street in Beverly. It’s free and open to the public.

“The Rwandan community is involved in a very unique project that talks about important issues such as oral history, the narrative of violence, and human rights violations, which are all universal themes,” said Gasana.

Friday, February 18, 2011

For School Break, Marblehead’s Little Theater For Children By Children

By Christian Brink
Courtesy photo

Gordon College News Service
(This article appeared February 21 in The Salem News.)

Marblehead, MA – From scary monsters to swashbuckling pirates, the Marblehead Little Theater’s upcoming children’s workshop offers a creative alternative for next week’s school break. The program is for children by children, where the kids get to write their own adventure. 

From February 22 to the 24th, the Marblehead Little Theater will host the four-day workshop for children ages 6-12. They’ll be working on different aspects of theater including playwrighting, character development, singing, dancing, and acting.

“It’s a pretty intensive theater workshop,” said Lynda Johnson, 54, of Lexington, MA, the artistic director who’s been with Marblehead Little Theater for the past five years. Johnson also said that by the end of the four days, the children will perform a play they’ll have written for their parents, work with set design, make their own props and learn what happens backstage.

While it only started last year, this is the fifth session of the “Let Your Imagination Run Wild” workshop. Ginny Morton, 68, program director, said they realized children needed something to do during school vacation.

The main focus of the workshop is to provide a glimpse of what theater involves, but it also builds teamwork skills. For many of these children, it’s the first time they’ve worked as part of an ensemble.

North Shore Mall to Host Seventh Annual Health and Wellness Fair Expo

Beverly Hospital is one of many area
businesses that will participate in the Expo.
Photo by Alyssa M. Baxter
By Alyssa M. Baxter
Gordon College News Service
(This article appeared February 22 in The Salem News.)

PEABODY, MA- Some claim there is healing in shopping, but a trip to the North Shore Mall in Peabody on Saturday, March 5, may just save your life.

From 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., the 7th Annual Health and Wellness Expo with over forty booths strung throughout the mall will provide free screenings, fun giveaways and an array of crucial—and free—information for the public, said Ben Bouchard, 30, assistant director of the Salem Chamber of Commerce.

The event—hosted by the Beverly, Peabody and Salem Chambers of Commerce—will feature member businesses from all three Chambers. The Chambers joined together to bring the broadest range of traditional and non-traditional health and wellness opportunities to best serve their communities. Booths will include everything from massage therapy and Reiki healing to MetLife and Dragon Within, a martial arts studio in Salem, according to Chamber representatives.

“North Shore Dentistry of Beverly will be taking pictures of teeth and Eyephoria Optical will have a display of varying frames and lenses,” Cathy Julien, 52, the member associate of Beverly Chamber of Commerce.

Beverly Hospital, the Expo’s largest sponsor, will offer free screenings.

Food Pantries Face New Challenges—and Come Together

By Jesse Poole
Ann Smith volunteers at the Acord Food Pantry.
Photo by Jesse Poole.

Gordon College News Service
(This article appeared February 22 in The Salem News and in the Gloucester Times)

Acord Food Pantry of South Hamilton, Massachusetts, may be losing some storage room and workspace but not their spirit of serving the North Shore community.

After the death of the former building owner, Harbor Light Community Partners (HLCP) of Beverly purchased the building where Acord now operates. It plans to install four affordable apartments, one of which will be handicapped accessible.

The change, however, will cramp the storefront size space but will not affect the number of people Acord is serving, according to Deby Baker, who has worked as its part time managing director since May 2010 and is Acord’s only paid employee. Acord currently provides food for an average of 300 households per week from Hamilton, Wenham, Ipswich, Essex, Manchester, and Topsfield, according to Baker.

“We will still serve the people, no matter what,” said Baker.

Acord is one of dozens of pantries on the North Shore surviving to support others in spite of economic or real estate setbacks.