Thursday, October 11, 2012

"Encounter" a hit in the Smoky Mountains

East Tennessee State University and Western Carolina University journal.....

Driving up from Georgia, my mother and I ran into some serious fog...those beautiful Smoky Mountain views alluded us. But, fingers crossed, we'll get to see the lovely vistas and the colorful leaves tomorrow as we head down to Cullowhee and Western Carolina University.  We did however feel somewhat compensated when we checked into the magnificent Carnegie Hotel.

This evening, after a yummy Mexican meal with Shara Lange (professor in the Radio/Television/Film Dept at East Tennessee State) and her husband, we drove to the theater on campus where the film was to be shown.

There I got to meet Anita DeAngelis, who did such a great job organizing my visit.

As she said, ETSU strives to really take care of its visiting artists, and that was abundantly clear to me when I saw AN ENCOUNTER WITH SIMONE WEIL projected in the theater. It was by far one of the best projections we've had, surpassed only by those that were projected from HDCAM tape.

The post-screening questions were thoughtful, challenging, and profound. One audience member even asked me what I thought about the future of humanity. I felt as if I was being elevated to heights far beyond those usually occupied by documentary filmmakers. Afterward at the reception, many people expressed how much the film had moved them, which were deeply gratifying words for me to hear.

It's those moments that, after laboring on something for years, make it all so worthwhile, those moments when I feel as I've really communicated to someone and touched their heart in some way. Most people came not knowing anything about Simone Weil, or my own personal journey in the film, and they said they left with a reinvigorated sense of purpose and hope.  THANK YOU ETSU!

The next day, the weather cleared up and we were treated to beautiful sunshine and hospitality at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. Our host and organizer of the event was Lori Davis (pictured below), who got a large crowd out to see the film.
She also helped us sell a record number of DVDs and T-shirts!

I got some great questions in the Q & A. People were interested to know what Weil would be doing today if she were still alive. While it's hard to predict, I said, I imagine she might well be involved with the Catholic Workers, a progressive Catholic group that does direct action protesting government repression throughout the world.

I left with fond memories and a sense of gratitude for all the hard work that went into making the evening such a success!