Saturday, November 14, 2009

MILKING THE RHINO barnstorms AL, GA and SC (again)

Well have I been the delinquent blogger!. I’ll try to make small amends quickly..
When we last left our hero he was driving headlong into Ida. I think I hit her right around the Alabama border. Fortunately she’d tapered off to a standard-issue deluge. Only side effects were some stressful driving and some Southern weather worse than that in Chicago. Allen, next time on the circuit I’m going back to March!
Auburn was a treat and a half. Hardly any time to see the town. But the beautiful, intimate screening room at the new-ish art museum had some of the best acoustics (and pretty nice image too) of anyplace I’ve ever screened. When audio and image are this good, I get to remember all the blood, sweat and tears that went into preserving every bit of technical juice we could during finishing (Thank you Liz Kaar!!!!) Many of those details are lost at so many screenings, but when they’re there, it’s easy to feel that all the pain was worth it. The audience was super engaged and engaging; and when the long-running Q&A bumped up against the limits of the poor security guard who’d been there since 7am, a woman in the crowd invited us to her home nearby for a post-screening soiree. Fed me dinner and whisky too! I could get accustomed to this southern hospitality thing. My bad for not thinking of taking out my camera, or I’d share my new-found friends.
Backtracked the next day (through post-Ida again) to Augusta, GA. The grand Imperial Theatre, which opened in early 1900s with Charlie Chaplin, hosted the next show. My theory about the inverse ratio of room size to crowd size was borne out here: by far the biggest theater and the smallest crowd. Still, very enjoyable thanks to Rick Pukis (a former Chicagoan who teaches at Augusta State Univ) for bringing some of his film production students. Plus the BIG screen and BIG sound is always fun.

Which brings me to Thursday night’s unique event at the art museum/planetarium at South Carolina State. First (and last) time I’ve ever seen my film projected on a planetarium ceiling. Gave me a bit of a neckache but the novelty was certainly worth it. Here’s where my room size/crowd theory collapsed. It was a small room, but mostly filled with students from this historically black college. It’s been one of my constant complains with RHINO screenings, that we made a film about Africa but we’re drawing relatively few African Americans to come see it at state-side screenings. So this stop on the tour was gratifying. The discussion was great. And afterwards another real treat: museum director Ellen Zisholtz took us on a tour of exhibits AND the archive. Got to see not only James Brown’s clothing, but recent donations of some amazing African artifacts, Plus a collection of original Polaroids that Andy Warhol took as studies for his celebrity portrait prints. What an amazing job that Ellen, Harriet Hilton, and the rest of the staff are doing at this very cool place.

Me with IP Stanback Museum & Planetarium director, Ellen Zisholz

Spent part of the off-day today yesterday hiking in the Congaree National Park, to flex the legs and add some nature to my culture.

I feel like a horse smelling the barn. Just two shows to go, and I’m looking forward (I hope) to the warmth of Florida. Tonight: Jacksonville, tomorrow, further south to Stuart.
Also, HELLO to Joshua Weinstein with whom I can see I’m now sharing the blog. I saw your film at DocReview in Warsaw, Joshua. Welcome to the tour!
Over and out
-David Simpson