Sunday, September 21, 2014

Francine Strickwerda, Oil & Water - Shreveport, LA & Barbourville, KY

The latest update from filmmaker Francine Strickwerda, touring her film Oil & Water on the Southern Circuit:

Bloodshot Eyes, Full Heart  - Can’t Lose

After days packed with plane flights, long car drives, and film screenings, I head home to Seattle, Wash. today, but find myself wishing I could stay on this wild ride that is the Southern Circuit. My eyes are bloodshot, but my heart is full.

At Robinson Film Center in Shreveport, La. on Thursday night, I met with lovely students from Centenary College (I’m talking about you, the sweet filmmaking kid who flattered us by calling yourself “fanboy”!) and was part of a lively panel discussion with university professors Dalton Gossett (biological sciences) and David Hoass (economics), as well as Oliver Jenkins, Shreveport City Council member and president of Phillips Energy.  Thanks so much to these gentlemen and to the Robinson Film Center’s Meghan Hochstetler and Alex Kent, for structuring such a thoughtful conversation around OIL & WATER. Alex and Meghan charm the birds out of the trees with their passion for film and their commitment to promoting the well being of the Shreveport community. And the fact that they are both former newspaper reporters (like me) endeared me to them all the more. To top it all off, Meghan and Alex took me to the Center’s own restaurant for some delicious seafood gumbo. There’s a lot to love about the Robinson Film Center!

Then things got a little crazy. After a cancelled flight and a rental car mix up on Friday, I got lost on my way to Barbourville, Ky. Just when I started to really panic, I got a call from Diana Mills, foundation relations director at Union College, and she calmly filmmaker whispered me to campus. She and Union College President Marcia Hawkins welcomed me warmly to their newly updated theater for a screening that was big, but also, because everybody knows one another in this small town, intimate.

I was heartened by the kindness and enthusiasm of the audience, and enjoyed a conversation that was steeped in the community’s shared history. I was intrigued by the parallels that were drawn between the struggles of the Cofan people in OIL & WATER, and those of the people of Appalachia dealing with the coal industry. At the reception following the screening, I got to really dig in with some townspeople who shared their own stories of history and their pride of place, including one woman’s film project about local legend, Daniel Boone. I found myself falling for these people, and wondering how I could manage to find my way back to Barbourville.

As the evening wound down, Diana packed me a plate of leftover deserts from the screening and took me to “Scholar Holler” where the college put me up in my own apartment. There I ate my sweets and fell asleep watching an old Mae West film on TV. It was another magical night on the Southern Circuit.