It was Peter Lehndorff’s first set at Best Video’s new Second Wednesday Open Mic.
“It’s my first time here, and I live in Hamden. And it’s my first time in Hamden,” he said.
Some confusion spread out through the audience before Lehndorff reported that he was from a town called Hampden in Massachusetts. The crowd of performers and patrons responded with laughter and welcomed their new “neighbor” — one example of the congenial tone and community fostered at the beloved video store turned cultural center on Wednesday evening.
Elm Shakespeare Company Producing Director Rebecca Goodheart stood in front of a crowd of about 30 at Highville Charter School on Monday night to talk about her sobering takeaway from Stephen Dest’s film I Am Shakespeare, which tells the story of Henry Green.
In Green’s case, Goodheart said, “it was not enough” that the Newhallville-born Green had played Tybalt in Elm Shakespeare’s 2009 production of Romeo and Juliet. His exposure to the arts had given him an outlet for his talent and the forging of a possible path to college. He had ended up gangbanging anyway, and very nearly died as a result. “As someone who has built my life on the premise” that art education matters, Goodheart said, “I have to say it’s really troubling. How do we do more? How do we do it better?”
The history of movies is a history of two parallel impulses: to record reality as faithfully as possible with a minimum of artifice, and to conjure illusions that look for something true beneath the real.
Alex Dakoulas, owner of Strange Ways in Westville, had been enjoying the weekly underground movies being shown at Lyric Hall on Whalley Avenue, down the street from his own shop every Tuesday. Coincidentally, Dakoulas had begun holding Flair Fair, a market for vendors of pins, patches, and other wearable art, in Lyric Hall.
So he approached Joe Fay, the curator of Lyric Hall’s film series, with the hope that they could “combine our powers” and “get people together for a unique event” — to not only shop, but to also see, as Fay put it, “slightly offbeat films.”
In the film 65 Revisited by D.A. Pennebaker — which screened at Cafe Nine Tuesday night as part of the New Haven Documentary Film Festival — a few of Dylan’s fans are seen talking to him. They get a bit tongue-tied. They even fall silent for a moment.
“I don’t know what to say,” one of them finally says.
“I don’t know what to say either,” Dylan responds.
Stephen Dest’s new documentary I Am Shakespeare: The Henry Green Story is a reminder that the full history and power of cinema, a 120-year-old art form uniquely equipped to inspire empathy among strangers, can be distilled into two basic camera shots: the frontal close-up and the three-quarter profile. One angle to show us who we’re looking at, the other to show us who we are.
The New Haven Documentary Film Festival will be celebrating its four-year anniversary this June with a slate of nonfiction films that feature the Elm City and its residents both in front of and behind the movie camera.
When the film Food Haven opens on Zinc owner Donna Curran and Kitchen Zinc owner and chef Denise Appel, they are shoulder-to-shoulder at a table, Appel still in her chef’s coat. Something she has said has Curran laughing through her sentences.
“Does food bring people together?” Appel asks. “For sure. Yeah. But how?”