The thirteenth annual Williamstown Film Festival kicks off on Friday, October 21, 2011, and continues over two weekends with an exciting roster of narrative features, feature-length documentaries, special events, and two provocative programs of short films. The festival continues to innovate while staying true to its tradition of presenting a single-track program of new film in an intimate environment, featuring the personal involvement of artists integral to the making of each film. Screenings and other events take place at Images Cinema, Hops & Vines, and The Clark in Williamstown, and at MASS MoCA and Gramercy Bistro in North Adams.
The festival opens on Friday, October 21, with The Lie, a rueful comedy directed by Joshua Leonard, who also stars in the film; he and his co-star, Jess Weixler, will be in attendance for the post-screening Q&A. It culminates on Saturday, October 29, with a tribute to the legendary director Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, The Verdict), who died earlier this year. Lumet’s daughter, screenwriter Jenny Lumet, and Emmy Award-winning writer/producer Tom Fontana will screen clips from Lumet’s films; producer Lilith Jacobs, writer David Black, and other guest artists will join them to share stories and take questions about Lumet’s luminous half-century career. Following the announcement of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Award for top short of the season, the festival concludes with the annual champagne and dessert party at The Clark.
David Sedaris, NPR humorist and bestselling author of Naked, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim and Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, will speak at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield tonight, Wednesday, October 19, 2011, at 7:30pm. With sardonic wit and incisive social critiques, David Sedaris has become one of America’s preeminent humorists. The great skill with which he slices through cultural euphemisms and political correctness proves that Sedaris is a master of satire and one of the most observant writers addressing the human condition today.
Berkshire Bach Society kicks off its 2011-2012 season with Venus Flytrap, a program dedicated to lyrical and botanical properties of music via the collaboration of flute and harpsichord, on Saturday, October 22, at 8 pm at the First Congregational Church in Great Barrington. Performers include Carol Wincenc, flute; Kenneth Cooper, harpsichord; and Victoria Bond, composer-narrator.
Tony Award-winning musical writer Stew, of the Broadway hit jazz-rock musical Passing Strange, and his artistic partner Heidi Rodewald of Stew and The Negro Problem, will perform in the MCLA Church Street Center Auditorium as part of the College’s MCLA Presents! performance series on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 8 p.m. They will be joined by Broadway veteran Jon Spurney. All proceeds will benefit the Margaret A. Hart ’35 Scholarship.
Stew and Rodewald will perform hits from their Broadway musical Passing Strange, which combines jazz, rock and rap in a coming-of-age tale of a young, African-American man, as well as some of the seminal work of Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht.
In conjunction with its exhibition ‘Ice Age’ to the Digital Age: The 3D Animation Art of Blue Sky Studios, Norman Rockwell Museum will present an animation career day on Saturday, October 22, 2011, from 1 to 4 pm. The program will offer the rare opportunity to meet with staff from Blue Sky Studios, creators of such acclaimed feature length films as Robots, the Ice Age series, and Rio.
Working professionals will discuss the narrative, artistic, and technical skills that make modern animation possible, and explore the range of opportunities available to aspiring creators. Talks and tours of ’Ice Age’ to the Digital Age will provide a rare chance to network with an accomplished team of artists working in diverse aspects of the field.
Pieta Brown, whose father, Greg Brown, was instrumental in establishing the sound and approach of the new-folk movement growing out of the 1970s singer-songwriter revolution — including founding Red House Records, home to some of the leading lights of the new-folk movement, including Lucy Kaplansky, John Gorka and Eliza Gilkyson — brings her second-generation new-folk sound, heavily influenced by Americana and indie-rock, to Club Helsinki Hudson on Sunday, October 23, 2011, at 8pm.
Pieta Brown is a striking poet-songwriter with a seductive voice and an unmistakable style. With one foot in her Iowa home and one in Alabama where she grew up, she is a mercurial sort – a free-spirited beauty who is both self-possessed and disarmingly unaffected.
Separate, But Equal, a film documenting the history of prosperous middle-class African Americans in Greenville, Miss., in the postwar era, will be screened on Wednesday, October 19 at 7 pm at the Triplex Cinema by the Berkshire International Film Festival’s REEL Friends Film Society. The film was the winner of the 2011 HBO Best Documentary Film and Saatchi and Saatchi Award at a festival in Martha’s Vineyard
The a cappella ensemble Anonymous 4 performs “Secret Voices: The Sisters of Las Huelgas” on Friday, October 21, 2011, at 8 p.m., in Thompson Memorial Chapel on the Williams College Campus. Renowned for their unearthly vocal blend and virtuosic ensemble singing, the four singers of Anonymous 4 combine musical, literary, and historical scholarship with contemporary performance intuition as they create ingeniously designed programs, interweaving music with poetry and narrative. This free event is open to the public.
The women of Anonymous 4 revisit their favorite era with repertoire from the Codex Las Huelgas. Spanning the entire 13th century – from virtuosic motets and conductus to heartfelt laments, plainchants and sacred songs – of aristocratic Castilian women who (in spite of a rule forbidding Cistercian nuns from singing polyphony) sang some of the most beautiful and demanding music of Gothic-era Europe. For this program, Anonymous 4 are joined by two early music specialists – Shira Kammen on vielle, a medieval bowed instrument of the violin family, and percussionist Peter Maund.
PHOTOGRAPHER EMERGES FROM SHADOWS AFTER 35 YEAR GESTATION PERIOD
(STOCKBRIDGE, Mass.) – The aptly titled Out of Darkness, a solo exhibition featuring photography by John Atchley, who has returned to the original art form he studied at university after a nearly 35-year layoff, runs at Sohn Fine Art Gallery through November 29, 2011. This Saturday, October 22, 2011, there will be an opening reception for the show from 4 to 7 pm.
In 1972, Atchley received a Master’s Degree in Photography from Yale. After graduating, he worked in the construction business for 35 years. He picked up the camera again two years ago. So in many ways Atchley is an emerging photographer. However, his work reflects a much deeper and lengthier study of the craft, as if the creative seed has been cultivating beneath the surface for 40 years, waiting for the right time to shoot up. For Atchley, the right time came with the advent of digital cameras, programs like Lightroom, and the Internet to share his art and learn from others.