Ojai

Archive for November, 2013

FAP bible studyFamilies Are Forever Deals with Devout Couple Who Learns Their Son is Gay

By Demitri Corbin

Families Are Forever is a 21-minute documentary short that tells the story of a devout Mormon couple, who were staunch Proposition 8 supporters, who one day discover that their 13 year-old son is gay.It was the  2013 Ojai Film Festival Theme award-winner.  The film is the third in a series of films produced by the Family Acceptance Project (FAP), a research, intervention, education and policy initiative of San Francisco State University to study the impact of family acceptance — and rejection — on the health, mental health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.I recently spoke via telephone with the film’s executive director and program director for FAP, Caitlin Ryan, PhD., to discuss the making of Families Are Forever from her office in San Francisco.

 Demitri Corbin:  There’s a lot to this story.  Let’s start from the beginning.  How did the Family Acceptance Project start?
Caitlin Ryan:  I’ve been a clinical social worker for 40 years, starting in the ’70s and in the ’80s when the HIV epidemic emerged, and I started AIDS Atlanta. It was the only AIDS organization in the South … and in the South particularly, young gays left to go to the big city, to become themselves, and come home maybe once a year for Christmas or Thanksgiving.  And their families didn’t know that much about them.  Then in ’82, ’83, I started to see parents in intensive care units, and worked with families who didn’t know their son was gay.  Throughout that period, most people didn’t see how families were being affected.  That set for when I had an opportunity to create a program.
Fast forward to the ’90s I continued working in the field … the ’80s saw more and more adolescents coming and the age kept dropping. I knew I wanted to develop a program.  In 2000, I moved to California and got the opportunity to develop a program.

DC:  That leads to my next question – how did you come to develop the study for the research?  Was it an accumulation of research over the years? Were you developing in your head as you moved along?

 CR:  I received a very large grant from the California Endowment for the first comprehensive study on how families acceptance or rejection effects high-risk behavior in LGBT adolescents and teens.  I knew in general, families protest against their children’s sexual orientation and services were designed to serve the teen alone, or with a group of their peers.
Families seemed to be a problem. I knew all families weren’t rejecting their children and I knew we needed a large family study in order to develop a new model of care families – a new service with which to support families.  And I studied families all across the state in urban, rural, farm workers.  I took 2- to 4-hour interviews and discovered 100 ways contemporary adolescents are rejected by their families, and how these behaviors measured the relationship between how families responded and high-risk behavior.  Faith and religion are a huge factor in acceptance or rejection.
By 2004 I knew I wanted to make films.  I wanted the films to be about diverse families, films designed give youth and families hope – a multiple series of ethnically, religiously diverse families that tell the story, show families were being in support of their LGBT children.  FAP uses models to show, to breakdown perceptions of youth and providers, to offer prevention strategies in the field of counseling, education – help families with support.

DC:  Let’s talk about the creative team, tell me about the director, Vivian Kleiman.CR:  We met about 10 years ago. Vivian Kleiman is a veteran filmmaker.  I knew her work and we had the same philosophy.  I met her at a conference and asked her if she would work with me and she said, “Absolutely.”  Then I had to raise the funds piecemeal – if I could get them out faster it would make a huge difference.  Each film is its own cultural work.DC:  Tell me about the first film, Always My Son.CR:  That was the second film.  The first was the story of a Latino family with a lesbian daughter with preschool children.  The mom was struggling – it brought up intergenerational issues.  That was the main story.  The average age of younger kids coming out is a little older than 13.  They know at about age 6 or 7.  The perception is young people come out later.  It’s important that family and caregivers understand how to support them.  In families of color, seniors are really important.  This film has been used a lot in senior’s centers.Always My Son  is the story of a typical masculine father with a son who is gender non-conforming.  The son loves dolls, pretty colors and as the son grows older, the father pushes the son away.  The mother is more responsive but the father just ignores it – silence – that’s related to risk.  They start noticing depression and are sent to a psychologist because he was registering a high level of risk.  He goes to a party one night and gets alcohol poisoning and they have to rush him to an emergency  room and that’s when the realized how much distress he was in and needed help.  They started an LGBT support group for teens and found a church that was accepting … it’s like a Wizard of Oz thing in that you don’t see what happens behind the screen, how families conservative and religious, how they integrate cultural and religious beliefs and values.  It shows the journey of how either rejecting or accepting affects high-risk behaviors.DC:  That brings us to Families Are Forever.  The evening I met you the film had won the OFF Best Theme Award but you also won an award that evening in BakersfieldCR:  Yes, the Best Independent Film Award at the Bakersfield Film FestivalDC:  How did it feel getting two awards in one night?CR:  Oh, we were all really blown away to win the Theme award, it was just an honor.  I was so moved by the festival, everyone’s warmth, the people who were there were artists with great, long careers in film and it was just an honor for our team.  Vivian wasn’t able to be there, she had other commitments.  She would have been thrilled!DC:  What I liked most about the film is that it was fresh – this all happened just in the last year.  How did you come to find this family?

 CR:  Well, when the son was coming out they realized they need some help.  They were sending him to reparative therapy and that only increased his risk.  He was suicidal and they knew they had to change.  He urgently needed help and they went online, found FAP and interviewed them. The mom said I was the brightest light in the darkest abyss of their life.  They desperately needed a therapist and I recommended a friend who found them a therapist.  I went with them on a speaking trip at a Mormon Conference and I asked if they would like to tell their story and they said yes, of course.  They would love to tell their story.

Our conversation lasted 45 minutes.  I will end it here.  Look for the extended conversation in the coming weeks.The Ojai Film Festival wrapped up last night with an encore showing of the festival winners.  Families Are Forever will be available, along with other film festival entries, at Ojai Library in the coming weeks.  For more information on the Family Acceptance Project visit http://familyproject.sfsu.edu/

Galerie 102Galerie 102 Opening:  A Conversation with Devin Oatway

By Demitri Corbin

Galerie 102 opens its doors Saturday, November 16 .  Gallery owner Jolene Lloyd inaugurates the gallery with, We Are One/We Are Many,  the works of Los Angeles-based artist Jon Rajkovich and Ojai artist Devin Oatway.    I sat down for a chat with Devin in his studio at his East End home.

Demitri Corbin:  You are one of the few other people I know who I had no idea was a gifted artist.  When I met you, you told me you had just discovered you had schizophrenia-

Devin Oatway:  I knew before then.

DC:  Did we know each other in 2003?

DO:  We met in 2005.  I was diagnosed 2003.

DC:  So, you informed me.   That brings me to my next question, the degree in English literature and creative writing.  How does that work with the visual art – does it inform or inspire your work; like with the J.D. Salinger stories?

DO:  No, it’s just the opposite.  It’s a rebellion against anything literary or musical, a rebellion against everything I had learned.  In 2003 my mind changed and I no longer read.  Before, I was reading thousands of pages a month.  Those short stories are the first thing I’ve picked up and read in years.  No, painting has always been my first impulse, ever since I was a child I would paint, draw.  As an adult I saw the Julian Schnabel film, “Basquiat” with uh…what’s the actor…

DC:  Jeffrey Wright.

DO:  That movie profoundly affected me and I knew I wanted to be an artist.

DC:  I’m glad you brought that up.  I was going to say I see in your work the influence of both Basquiat and Beatrice Wood.  Would you say that‘s accurate?

DO:  Well, Beato will always be considered the Mama of DaDa in the early 20th Century.  I grew up totally influence by her.  My mom is a collector.  Beato and Basquiat have greatly influenced me –

DC:  But at the same time have given way for you to express your own expression.

DO:  Exactly.

DC:  Tell me about the curator – who is she?  Is she both owner and curator?  How did she find you?

DO:  Jolene Lloyd.  She found me through OSA.

DC:  Does she live here?

DO:  Yes.  She’s been wanting to start a gallery for some years now.

DC:  I find it very interesting that hers is one of a few new galleries that are opening now that are also presenting emerging artists.

DO:  Yes.  I like Jolene’s style.  It’s more international rather than local; more on a wave of the art scene as a whole.  I like the gallery.  It’s small, about 600 square feet, lots of wall space.  It’s not cluttered with too much.  It’s like walking into a museum. DC: Now tell me about your work.  You have not been painting for very long and yet you have a nice resume of shows.  When did you actually start painting

DO:  Well, I really started painting in 2002.  I do pieces and give them to my friends or I’d just give them away.  Then in 2004 after my diagnosis, I started painting squiggly lines – you see this tattoo…

He shows me the tattoo on his left forearm.

DO: (con’t) I just started painting those.  I started reading Perry Mason stories.  I read them all, even though they were all the same, then I stopped reading altogether and I started painting.  My first show was in Austin, Texas where I joined an arts collective, Shady Lane Studios.  Then in Berkeley I started the Firehouse Art Collective.   I sold a lot of paintings and now that I’m prolific, I’m not as attached as I used to be.

DC:  How do you feel about all the acclaim?

DO:  I don’t know if I’d call it ‘acclaim,’ acclaim would be the L.A. Times!

DC:  Well, maybe acclaim is too strong a word, but certainly success.  Now, you’re paired with L.A. based sculptor Jon Rajkovich.  Have you met him?

DO:  No, but I like his work.

DC:  I think it’s perfect with your work.

DO:  Yes, I think it’s going to interesting for Ojai.  I’m curious to see what happens.

DC:  Do you have any pieces here?

DO:  No, the show’s already hung.

I take out my handout left over from the OSA tour.

DC:  Here, tell me what pieces are going to be in the show so I can look for them.

DO:  None.  It’s all new work.

DC:  All new work!!!  That’s wonderful! I’m so excited, I can’t wait to see!

We end on that note and I head off to catch the encore screenings of Ojai Film Festival winners.

We Are One/We Are Many, the inaugural exhibit of Galerie 102 featuring the works of Jon Rajkovich and Devin Oatway.   Opening reception with artists is Saturday, November 16 from 5 to 8 pm at Galerie 102, 102 West Matilija St., downtown Ojai.  For more information visit galeri102.comor call 805-640-0151

 

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Porch Gallery & The Ojai Art Festival

The Porch GalleryAn interview with Heather Stobo and Lisa Casoni

By Demitri Corbin

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Part I

It’s 5 p.m. Saturday evening and I’ve slipped out of an Ojai Film Festival screening at the Playhouse to meet with Heather Stobo and Lisa Casoni, the proprietors of Porch Gallery at 310 E. Matilija Street.

I arrive to find a frenzy of activity!  Lisa is darting between the gallery and the makeshift auditorium outside the Modern Folk Living shop where a distinguished panel of critics, curators and artists are in discussion before a large crowd.  In the gallery I find Heather Stobo and, after determining that Lisa will not be available anytime soon, we decide to begin our interview without her, as Heather is not one of the organizers of the OAF, we can discuss the Porch Gallery.

We find our way to the back office and the piano bench of a baby grand.  Lisa and Heather are newlyweds, having married just a few weeks before this opening.

DC:  First, congratulations and congratulations.

HS:  Thank you.

DC:  Now, let’s start with the gallery.  I’ve been out of touch, so give me the gist – is this the opening?  Is this the official opening?

HS:  The official launch was a month and a half ago with MB Boissonnault, an L.A. artists, who’s landscapes are beautiful, haunting, and emotionally charged.   It was a partnership with Wallspace L.A., Valda Lake’s gallery in Los Angeles.  We wanted to start with something that was comfortable, yet different.  We’ll have rotating shows approximately every six weeks.

DC:  What’s next?

HS:  Well, we’ve been overwhelmed with putting on the festival and getting married, so right now December is up in the air.  But the first week in January we’ll have the work of Alexandra Cantle.  She does text pieces about dyslexia.  It’s very conceptual.  We want present contemporary art about serious matters.  We want to present something conceptual and thought provoking, not just pretty pictures.

DC:  This show and what you’re saying brings to mind the Nathan Larramendy Gallery that really made an impression on the community.

HS:  Yes, Nathan has been brought up to us before.  He was before our time, before Lisa and I had moved here.  We have gallery partners in L.A.  But we’re not trying to be an L.A. gallery.  We’d like to do events…pop-ups, musical events.

There’s something that’s nice about this place.  There’s something peaceful about the place – that’s warm and cozy and comfortable – not a sterile art gallery.  It’s a house.  We have a fireplace to hang art over.  You can see what it’s going to look like in your house.

As she says this a string of guests come walking through asking where the restroom is.

HS:  (pointing) Right through there.

DC:  And you get to tell everyone where the restrooms are.

HS:  I do want to say that we couldn’t have done any of this without Carl Thelander.  He’s the owner of the building and a true arts patron.  He’s been so supportive of the whole thing and all he asks is to be invited to the parties!

DC:  I do want to ask you about the other galleries that are opening up – which I love –

HS:  Yes, I do, too!  I figure the more the better.  There are different tastes out there, so the more, the better.  Better for Ojai.

DC:  Wonderful!  I think that’s good – look, just in time.

We rise to see that the gallery is now completely full and Heather dives into hosting mode.  I make my way through the crowd and down the street to Phillip and Gary’s weenie roast (don’t laugh), resolved to return later for my interview with Lisa.

Part II

It’s now close to 9 p.m. and the Porch reception is still going strong.   The baby grand now sits in a darkened room but the gallery, front lawn and porch are still teaming with guests who travel back and forth to the wine bar and the Jolly Oyster food truck parked in the driveway between the gallery and OYES.   I flag down Lisa amongst the crowd and we make our way to the piano bench and begin our conversation.  Lisa is exuberant from the success of the evening.

DC:  How did the Ojai Art Festival come to be?

LC:  I’m the marketing director of 49pm with Chris Ritke.  We partnered with his wife Uta Ritke to create the Ojai Art Festival.

DC:  Are they from Ojai?

LC:  Yes, it’s an Ojai-based company.   We were challenged by our business advisor to do something B-HAG – a big, hairy, audacious goal.  So we thought how do we put on something in a community that is already arts-centric.   We went around to all the organizations that are already putting on festivals and I approached Jamie Fleming and we talked about how to uplift the arts conversation, and we decided to do the festival as part of the Ojai Film Festival.  It worked out and we were fortunate to put on the Ojai Art festival with the OFF. Through our company, 49pm, we provide software tools to artists  and arts organizations called Entrythingy, and artists around the country used our software to enter their artwork into our show.

DC:  Tell me more about Chris and Uta.

LC:  Chris is the creator of 49pm and Uta is a graphic designer.  I do sales and marketing.  Uta has done the branding for the festival, she created the logo that you see all around town.   We worked 100s of hours to get stores, shops, and local businesses involved.  We have wonderful artists showing.  In addition, we included five featured installations that are all around downtown Ojai including a garbage tower at The MOB Shop built by Greg Prinz, one of the owners, a piece made entirely out of cardboard by Josh Short that’s in front of Modern Folk Living, a sculptural piece made entirely out of pieces collected out of trash containers from dumpsters all around Ojai by Joseph Umali Fernandez, an installation called Neighborhood Infusions where mulberries gathered in Ojai have been made into an infusion drink called Ojai Mullberry Rye and presented as a public participatory live installation by Fallen Fruit of Los Angeles, and a curated photographic installation by local Ojai photographer Enrico Natali.

At this point Heather enters the room, drink in hand.

HS:  Demitri, if you want to know what is Lisa’s complete inspiration – it’s me!!

We all laugh.

DC:  Let’s end it on that note!  Thank you!

We leave the darkened room and return to the festivities.

The Ojai  Art Festival is holding an international juried show of art from trash, discarded objects and materials. DISCARTED asked artists to work with trash, discarded objects and materials to raise questions and ideas, aesthetic and moral, about the life of the planet our wasteful society threatens.

The art will be shown in 50 shops, restaurants and galleries in Ojai from November 7 thru November 24, 2013. For more information visit porchgalleryojai.com or ojaiartfestival.com

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Porch Gallery & The Ojai Art Festival

OAf6An interview with Heather Stobo and Lisa Casoni

 By Demitri Corbin

Saturday, November 9, 2013
 Part I
 It’s 5 p .m .Saturday evening and I’ve slipped out of an Ojai Film Festival screening at the Playhouse to meet with Heather Stobo and Lisa Casoni, the proprietors of Porch Gallery at 310 E. Matilija St.
 I arrive to find a frenzy of activity!  Lisa is darting between the gallery and the makeshift auditorium outside the Modern Folk Living shop where a distinguished panel of critics, curators and artists are in discussion before a large crowd.  In the gallery I find Heather Stobo and, after determining that Lisa will not be available anytime soon, we decide to begin our interview without her, as Heather is not one of the organizers of the OAF, we can discuss the Porch Gallery.
 We find our way to the back office and the piano bench of a baby grand.  Lisa and Heather are newly-weds, having married just a few weeks before this opening.
DC:  First, congratulations and congratulations.

HS:  Thank you.

 DC:  Now, let’s start with the gallery.  I’ve been out of touch, so give me the gist – is this the opening?  Is this the official opening?

HS:  The official launch was a month and a half ago with MB Boissonnault, an L.A. artists, who’s landscapes are beautiful, haunting, and emotionally charged.   It was a partnership with Wallspace L.A., Valda Lake’s gallery in Los Angeles.  We wanted to start with something that was comfortable, yet different.  We’ll have rotating shows approximately every six weeks.

DC:  What’s next?

 HS:  Well, we’ve been overwhelmed with putting on the festival and getting married, so right now December is up in the air.  But the first week in January we’ll have the work of Alexandra Cantle.  She does text pieces about dyslexia.  It’s very conceptual.  We want present contemporary art about serious matters.  We want to present something conceptual and thought provoking, not just pretty pictures.
DC:  This show and what you’re saying brings to mind the Nathan Larramendy Gallery that really made an impression on the community.
HS:  Yes, Nathan has been brought up to us before.  He was before our time, before Lisa and I had moved here.  We have gallery partners in L.A.  But we’re not trying to be an L.A. gallery.  We’d like to do events…pop-ups, musical events.

There’s something that’s nice about this place.  There’s something peaceful about the place – that’s warm and cozy and comfortable – not a sterile art gallery.  It’s a house.  We have a fireplace to hang art over.  You can see what it’s going to look like in your house.

 As she says this a string of guests come walking through asking where the restroom is.
 HS:  (pointing) Right through there.
DC:  And you get to tell everyone where the restrooms are.

HS:  I do want to say that we couldn’t have done any of this without Carl Thelander.  He’s the owner of the building and a true arts patron.  He’s been so supportive of the whole thing and all he asks is to be invited to the parties!

DC:  I do want to ask you about the other galleries that are opening up – which I love –

HS:  Yes, I do, too!  I figure the more the better.  There are different tastes out there, so the more, the better.  Better for Ojai.

DC:  Wonderful!  I think that’s good – look, just in time.

We rise to see that the gallery is now completely full and Heather dives into hosting mode.  I make my way through the crowd and down the street to Phillip and Gary’s weenie roast (don’t laugh), resolved to return later for my interview with Lisa.

Part II

It’s now close to 9 p.m. and the Porch reception is still going strong.   The baby grand now sits in a darkened room but the gallery, front lawn and porch are still teaming with guests who travel back and forth to the wine bar and the Jolly Oyster food truck parked in the driveway between the gallery and OYES.   I flag down Lisa amongst the crowd and we make our way to the piano bench and begin our conversation.  Lisa is exuberant from the success of the evening.

DC:  How did the Ojai Art Festival come to be?
LC:  I’m the marketing director of 49pm with Chris Ritke.  We partnered with his wife Uta Ritke to create the Ojai Art Festival.
DC:  Are they from Ojai?

LC:  Yes, it’s an Ojai-based company.   We were challenged by our business advisor to do something B-HAG – a big, hairy, audacious goal.  So we thought how do we put on something in a community that is already arts-centric.   We went around to all the organizations that are already putting on festivals and I approached Jamie Fleming and we talked about how to uplift the arts conversation, and we decided to do the festival as part of the Ojai Film Festival.  It worked out and we were fortunate to put on the Ojai Art festival with the OFF. Through our company, 49pm, we provide software tools to artists  and arts organizations called Entrythingy, and artists around the country used our software to enter their artwork into our show.

DC:  Tell me more about Chris and Uta.

LC:  Chris is the creator of 49pm and Uta is a graphic designer.  I do sales and marketing.  Uta has done the branding for the festival, she created the logo that you see all around town.   We worked 100s of hours to get stores, shops, and local businesses involved.  We have wonderful artists showing.  In addition, we included five featured installations that are all around downtown Ojai including a garbage tower at The MOB Shop built by Greg Prinz, one of the owners, a piece made entirely out of cardboard by Josh Short that’s in front of Modern Folk Living, a sculptural piece made entirely out of pieces collected out of trash containers from dumpsters all around Ojai by Joseph Umali Fernandez, an installation called Neighborhood Infusions where mulberries gathered in Ojai have been made into an infusion drink called Ojai Mullberry Rye and presented as a public participatory live installation by Fallen Fruit of Los Angeles, and a curated photographic installation by local Ojai photographer Enrico Natali.

At this point Heather enters the room, drink in hand.

HS:  Demitri, if you want to know what is Lisa’s complete inspiration – it’s me!!

We all laugh.

DC:  Let’s end it on that note!  Thank you!

We leave the darkened room and return to the festivities.

The Ojai  Art Festival is holding an international juried show of art from trash, discarded objects and materials. DISCARTED asked artists to work with trash, discarded objects and materials to raise questions and ideas, aesthetic and moral, about the life of the planet our wasteful society threatens.

The art will be shown in 50 shops, restaurants and galleries in Ojai from November 7 thru November 24, 2013. For more information visit porchgalleryojai.com or ojaiartfestival.com

Photo courtesy of Julie Bergman Sender, co-producer of "Harmony."

Photo courtesy of Julie Bergman Sender, co-producer of “Harmony.”

Ojai Valley Green Coalition Hosts “Harmony” Screening

By Demitri Corbin

It’s a hot late afternoon as I make my way to 206 South Signal Street, Suite S, the offices of the Ojai Valley Green Coalition.   Through the alphabet of beauty, healing, chiropractic and travel suites, I find the staircase to Ste. S.  Opening the door as I knock I enter and pass the cases of donated wine for Sunday’s screening reception and approach the six-foot  table where Deborah Pendrey and Anca Colbert sit with their day’s work sprawled before them.  They both exhibit end-of-the-day frazzle, as do I, and quickly announce they have sparse time.

 “Deborah has a fund-raising meeting at 4,” Anca confesses.

“Everyone downtown is scrambling, it seems, so I’ll make it quick.

We begin the conversation with a question about something I’ve wanted to know as I’ve looked over the festival schedule.

DC:  The schedule says that you are, “presenting,” this documentary.  It seems that a lot of local organizations are sponsoring screenings, which is great.  Are you sponsoring this screening?

AC:  Actually, we are hosting the screening.  It is something that the festival started last year; a new segment called Focus Earth, with organizations hosting a series of ecology documentaries.  So, we do the leg work, we all do media promotions and marketing, and the Film Festival provides the staff to run the screening.  It’s a really great idea.

 DC:  And, economical too.
 DP:  People really liked last year.  “Chasing Ice” last year was a really big deal.

DC:  I see from the trailer that it premiered in 2012 at the Sundance Film Festival in London.  It’s been making the festival rounds.

AC:  Yes, it’s been shown at a couple of festivals.

DC:  Did you choose this film?

AC:  Yes, we chose it.  Because it made sense for us because of what it’s trying to put beliefs into action with education and promoting change and care of a green mission, so it was a good match for us.  And what is great about it is that Prince Charles comes as a bit of a surprise.  Most people think of him as someone with privileges and you see that he has chosen to make a difference, to walk his talk.  He heads the most generous non-profits in all of England, I believe that’s what it says in the recent Time magazine article.  What’s beautiful is that it (the film) shows him walking the earth, all the continents, making a change.

DP:  And for the film, he brings to a more global level, making it more inspiring.  It takes you out of the usual gloom & doom scenario and actually offers some solutions by stating the challenges in a different, engaging, surprising …

AC:  Yes, surprising because the perception most people have comes out in this movie that most people think that Prince Charles is disengaged, when in fact he has devoted his life to being engaged.  It shows a strong spiritual set of beliefs … if he were a politician who had to be elected, he couldn’t speak like this. You see the depth of his humanity.

DC:  Let’s talk about the panel, the distinguished panel that you spoke of before.

AC:  (laughs)  Yes, the truly distinguished panel.  Each panelist is an accomplished individual who is, I’m sorry if I’m repeating myself,  walking their talk, making a difference, showing vision and promoting change.

DP (chiming in)  John Rulac!  Nutiva!  He’s sponsoring the screening.

AC:  Yes, John, someone who is also walking his talk.  The moderator is Michael Shapiro, a combination producer, screen writer and movie maker and long time environmental and political activist.  Lori Pye, PH. D, also with an intersection of disciplines; conservationist and environmentalist, a  Jungian psychologist and the first to open a school in ecopyscology…  and Jim Churchill, the Ojai farmer and activist, famous for his Pixie tangerines. And then there’s Nicholas Deitch, an architect and civil activist.

DC:  Is he from Ojai?

AC:  Ventura.  He has helped to build low-cost housing for Ventur … the one thing I want to say is that the movie is fun, and again, filled with surprises.

DP:  Wait ’til you see the farmer from Louisiana!

They start laughing!

AC:  Yes, wait til you see-

DP:  And hear …

AC:  … the farmer from Louisiana!  He’s wonderful.  Even though the film addresses profoundly serious matters, there is a sense of levity that leaves one with a sense of hope and possibility.

DC:  Thanks, that’s good.  I will leave you to your work.

It’s 15 minutes before Deborah’s next meeting and she plunges back into her work.  Anca walks me to the door.

AC:  Please come to the reception after the movie and enjoy some wine.  It was donated by Casa Barranca.

DC:  Thanks, I’ll see you Sunday.

 Deborah Pendrey is the executive director of the Ojai Valley Green Coalition and Anca Colbert, an arts consultant and arts columnist for the Ojai Quarterly, is the events chair.

INTERVIEW WITH FILMMAKER WILL PROSSER:

Patricia Cardinali singsThursday, November 7, 2013

By Demitri Corbin

The Ojai Film Festival is just about to kick off its first event and I have scheduled an interview with visual artist and filmmaker William Prosser.  His documentary on the Ojai Mardi Gras screens Friday evening at the Ojai Art Center.  The highly anticipated screening will start with a red carpet reception, followed by a cocktail reception afterwards.  Getting together proves to be a chore and we start our interview 3 hours later than planned and via telephone.

DC:  What prompted this documentary?

WP:  Shane Butler asked me to shoot some footage for the Krewe – that’s K-R-E-W-E – , just footage of their meetings in their studio –

DC:  When was this?

WP:  This was in February.  And Patricia Cardinali just happened to mention that she knew Lyle Matthews, the woman who started Ojai Mardi Gras, they were best buddies.  And she told how it came to be and I said, “There’s a story here!” and I asked for an interview.  I saw a great human-interest story, and I don’t want to give too much away — but Lyle was dying of breast cancer. The story is not how she died but how she handled it, the example she set.  She urged people to celebrate life.  The first Ojai Mardi Gras was small, at her house.  She introduced Mardi Gras to Ojai.  The next year Mardi Gras was thrown as a fundraiser for Lyle.  By then she and been diagnosed and needed help with medical expenses.  She was in really bad shape but she got dressed up and came and had a wonderful time.  She died two weeks later.  It touched a nerve…

DC:  Is this your first film?

WP:  This is my second documentary.  My first is a film I shot in Sri Lanka called, And the Sea took Us, narrated by Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas.  I had been in Los Angeles for 20 years in low budget films and I got funding to do a story with a partner about his fishing boat.  Well things just fell apart on that project.  Then the tsunami happened and I went to Asia, to Sri Lanka as a volunteer.  I shot 30 hours of footage.  I put it all together, and entered it into the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival and won!  Suddenly I was an award-winning filmmaker!

DC:  When did you complete the Mardi Gras documentary?

WP:  (laughs)  About a week ago!  Now Demitri, there was no budget for this film, I shot it all on my own.  I finished it and I then I realized I needed music!  I felt, “I’m not worthy!”  I called up the Mardi Gras band and they came through for me.  Patricia Cardinali, Connie Early John Zeretske, Bill Flores, Jim Hansen, Ron Seba, Joe Croyle and Jimmy Calire…

DC:  Are you a member of the Krewe?

WP:  I guess I’m sort of the pet videographer.  I spent time with them with my camera and they were just so welcoming and free, comfortable in their own skin.

DC:  Are you planning to submit to other film festivals?

WP:  Yes, Santa Barbara Film Festival and Nashville … you know the raison d’etre for the musicians is that this is a charity ball.  The Krewe counts the loot after every Mardi Gras, then finds people in the community who need medical care.  They have contributed to Katrina in New Orleans, to local Ojai people with medical needs, the Krewe votes on who receives the funds.

DC:  Is there anything else you’d like to add?

WP:  Yes.  It’s been a delight to contribute to the community.  Before this I did not know the Krewe.  I grew up here but I went away and now I’m back and I got to know them as I shot the footage.  It was a great chance to show a little slice of Americana.  The film shows this year’s Mardi Gras.  You know, Monet painted stacks of hay and friend said, “Why don’t you paint lilies.”  Now they don’t do that anymore and they’re valuable, they’ve been documented.  But you can document to show what’s happening truthfully.  If I do that then I’m made.  And one more point:  I didn’t have a high definition camera, I didn’t have all the fancy gadgets.  But if you’re a filmmaker and you want to tell a story, you’ll find a way.

DC:  Thanks so much Will and congratulations!

WP:  Thank you, Demitri!

Will’s documentary on the Ojai Mardi Gras screens tonight at 8 pm at Ojai Art Center.  For tickets and more information on the Ojai Film Festival visit www.ojaifilmfestival.com. You can also learn more about him at williamprosser.com.

 

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Film Festival Returns!

John Perry talks with director Harris Goldberg, along with actors Mary Steenburgen and Matthew Perry at the screening of “Numb.”
Jamie Fleming, Ojai Film Festival Executive Director

Jamie Fleming, Ojai Film Festival Executive Director

OJAI FILM FESTIVAL 2013

 

 PRINCE CHARLES DOCUMENTARY, SHIRLEY KNIGHT HEADLINE 14th Annual Ojai Film Festival

By Demitri Corbin

Nov. 6, 2013

It’s the Monday after the clocks have turned back to standard time and I’m waiting for Ojai Film Festival artistic director Jamie Fleming in front of Java Joe’s I spot him walking briskly towards me. I join his gait and like two doctors on “ER,”  we make our way to the coffee counter.  We are served our coffees stat and take a seat out front.  I start the interview:

DC:  So, is everything ready.

JM: (chuckles) Well, yes, we’ve been preparing for a year now.  It’s the last-minute details we’re dealing with now, you know, getting everything locked in, accommodations, making adjustments for our celebrities, film makers, that sort of thing.

DC:  What are the highlights of the festival?

JM:  The Ojai Valley Green Coalition is presenting documentary “Harmony”on Saturday—

DC:  Yes, I’ll be interviewing Anca Colbert about that.

JM:  Then I’ll let her speak for that one.   On Saturday at 3 p.m. the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy will present “Pod Yatra: A Green Odyssey,” from female filmmaker Wendy Lee, who survived a 450-mile trek through Himalayan Holy Land.  On Sunday, Patagonia presents the Dan Malloy film, “Slow is Fast” that will be very popular with bike riders.  On Friday night at the Playhouse our Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Shirley Knight will be on hand for the screening of “Redwood Highway,” presented by Ojai Film Society.

DC:  Yes, it’s the same time as the screening of Will Prosser’s documentary on the Ojai Mardi Gras at the Art Center .

The phone rings and Jamie excuses himself as he takes it.

JM:  I’m sorry, where were we…oh, yes, there’s USC rivalry film that will be very popular.

We continue going through the list of 51 films, discussion panels, industry workshops – something relatively new with the festival – and after hour festivities.  We are discussing “Fill the Void,” presented by Laemmle on Saturday night presentation at the Ojai Playhouse when Jamie’s phone begins making ER noises and we wrap things up.

DC:  Thanks, Jamie.

JM:  Thank you, Demitri, I’ll see you at the festival.

The 14th Annual Ojai Film Festival begins Thursday, Nov. 7 with the free screening of “Wings of Life”at 7pm in the Libbey Bowl.  For a complete schedule of films,  visit ojaifilmfestival.com.  For daily coverage of the OFF,  as well as Ojai’s weekly cultural events, come right here to theojai.net.