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Boston’s MFA Takes a Closer Look at Local Filmmakers

1 Feb , 2001  

Written by Hillary E. Cutter | Posted by:

Always a great supporter of local artists and filmmakers, the MFA kicks off another series of films made by Boston filmmakers.

The "Boston Film Artists Present" series, sponsored by the Museum of Fine Arts, has been in existence for 13 years. But, in the past five years there has been an increase in local support and enthusiasm for the series. Bo Smith, Head of the Film Program, is excited to give the Boston community an opportunity to watch independent films in an environment that allows viewers "to go beyond the exhibition experience and become more active."

Many of the filmmakers included in the series use Boston and its surrounding areas as a reference. For example, award-winning director, Henry Ferrini, brings a bit of Jack Kerouac to the MFA with his film, "Lowell Blues: The Words of Jack Kerouac." Based on Kerouac’s novel, "Dr. Sax," the viewer is confronted with images, music, and language from Kerouac’s childhood holyland — Lowell, Massachusetts. "Lowell Blues" is "a visual poem" full of architecture and elements reminiscent of Kerouac’s hometown.

"‘Lowell Blues’ has nothing and everything to do with Boston," Ferrini says. Most people don’t know that Kerouac was from the Boston area and therefore do not realize the influence that the region had on his work and his life. (February 1 at 6 pm and February 24 at 1 pm)

Due to a lack of production facilities and media outlets, aspiring filmmakers are sometimes at a disadvantage when it comes to exhibiting their work. Bo Smith feels that the increase in production facilities in the Boston region has allowed for growth in all areas of filmmaking and the MFA series gives filmmakers a chance for recognition.

One of the narrative films to be showcased "The Same Side of Rejection Street" (reviewed in this month’s NewEnglandFilm.com) by S.G Collins was shot entirely on the streets of Boston. Bringing together a middle-class, reformed telemarketer with a vagrant, narcoleptic philosopher, it’s an original story with creative images and a humorous touch. (Febraury 1 at 7:45 pm and February 17 at 3:45 pm)

Veteran filmmaker Joshua Seftel will show his acclaimed "Ennis’ Gift: A Film About Learning Differences." This documentary presents inspirational stories about actors, scientists, business leaders, and other powerful people who have "learning differences" but refuse to be limited by them. The film is inspired by Ennis William Cosby, who was dyslexic and went on to earn a Master’s degree in education. (February 3 at 11 am and February 17 at noon)

Having had numerous encore screenings at the MFA Boston, "Iditarod…A Far Distant Place," by Alice Bouvrie will also be featured. The follows three competirors in the 1,000 mile Iditarod Sled Dog race across Alaska — Mike Williams, a Yup’ik Eskimo; Lynda Plettner, a 48-year-old grandmother and six-time participant; and Mike Nosko, a determined competitor. (February 10 at 10:30 am and February 24 at 2 pm)

Finally, "Softly III," by filmmaker Jean Kilbourne, explores how a new generation of high school and college students learn about the harmful effect advertising has on their age group. Along with a discussion following the film, Kilbourne will also sign her recently published book, "Can’t Buy Me Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel." (February 10 at 2 pm)

Films that screened as part of the series in January included Margaret Lazarus and Renner Wunderlichs "Beyond Killing Us Softly: The Strength to Resist" and "Henry Hill."

Following each screening there will be a question and answer period. The films are located at Rimis Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Tickets are $8.00 (members $7.00). For tickets, call 617-369-3770, general information at 617-369-3300, or go the MFA web site at www.mfa.org.