The Things They Carry:
On November 29, we proudly inaugurated The Things They Carry program at a premiere arts and cultural institution here in Philadelphia, International House. Though the Tuesday night was cold, rainy, and close to finals season, nearly 130 people — professors, students, community members — attended the screening.
The event was scheduled to begin at 7 PM but because guests and we, the programmers, were so charged with the electricity of the night, we did not herd into the theater until about 7:15. This was, after all, one of the first public screenings of Temple University MFA thesis films, the first to feature only documentary films, and the only one in most recent memory in which community organizations were so invested in the planning and execution of the event.
Specifically, Temple University’s Film and Media Arts Department and International House served as co-sponsors. And the Philadelphia Independent Film and Video Association (PIFVA) and its lead coordinator, Caroline Savage, were a crucial bridge between us and the public. Caroline Savage designed promotional postcards for the event, helped print our program booklets, offered a great deal of financial and networking support, and generally made sure our screening was receiving the attention it deserved, all while expecting a new grandchild and promoting all of PIFVA’s excellent events. This event reinforced for us how important it is for independent filmmakers to be a part of indie filmmaking associations, especially one as generous and as supportive as PIFVA.
Alongside filmmakers’ own networking, it is also crucial that relationships between the
Temple filmmaking community, the public, and arts and culture organizations in Philadelphia continue to be nurtured. As we all know, filmmaking is never an individual endeavor. Films are made in community, through a long process and with the emotional, technical, moral, intellectual, financial and creative guidance of so many. I noted in my opening remarks that as much as any story belongs to the filmmaker her/himself, the films belong to us all, and as such, should be shared in a way that invites these many auxiliary voices into the conversation, into the viewing experience.
That is why we are so proud to announce that based on the overwhelming turnout and positive response to the program — a response greatly buttressed by the delicious and bountiful catering spread provided by Aroma Cafe — Temple and I-House are in talks to coordinate future screenings at the wonderful Ibrahim Theater at I-House. Just today, we saw an email over the Film Department listserv advertising a Spring 2012 Graduate Documentary Workshop which will culminate in a Fall 2012 screening of students’ final projects at I-House!
This workshop will be taught by Professor and Filmmaker, Rea Tajiri, who taught the course the first year it existed, 2010. In the Fall of 2009, Andrew Bateman and Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz worked with Rea to conceive the course, and then we two students advocated fervently and petitioned for its creation. Rea’s advice and guidance, as well as the feedback we each received from peers in that course, were instrumental to the success of each of our films.
Thus, Andrew and I, Aggie, are thrilled that two programs we fervently initiated — the grad documentary workshop and the screening — have taken such a foothold in the Temple filmmaking community. We so look forward to seeing the work of our up-and-coming colleagues and witnessing as they continue to take Temple’s documentary production to new and great heights, as they are sure to do under Rea’s tutelage.