Updated: Nov 14
No Class A festival comes even close to the feeling of being in community, surrounded by young filmmakers trying to break into a rewards and distribution system that is constantly challenging their goals. I had my share of fancy festivals in the French Riviera, the Basque country and elsewhere where the stakes are so high that winning or losing often translate into unprecedented levels of anxiety. And perhaps that’s the way it should be, after all Cannes is Cannes, and San Sebastian, well… San Sebastian is San Sebastian.
However, in recent years I discovered a taste for small-town festivals where the camaraderie of fellow artist, and the warmth of local communities, represent an irresistible offering to my narcissistic self. These events are often organized by committed volunteers willing to go the extra mile to make us feel at home. The Mystic Film Festival in Mystic, Connecticut is one of these jewels which this year included “Alice: At Home With Alice Parker” in the Official Selection.
I love Mystic, I think it is one of those very special places where I could live other than where I live right now. In fact, Mystic is sort of a scaled version of Charlottesville by the sea minus the University of Virginia. So, when I was told that our film was competing this year, I wasted no time and immediately invited Alice Parker to join me for the screening. Along with Alice (95), came her two friends and faithful companions Kay Holt and Marilyn Pryor, also members of Melodious Accord, the organization dedicated to sustaining and promoting Alice’s extraordinary legacy. They drove two hours from western Massachusetts, and I covered a greater distance driving close to ten hours from Charlottesville to meet them on at Olde Mystic Village for a second breakfast or first lunch, just before the screening of “Alice: At Home With Alice Parker”.
The sold-out screening was a success, and Alice and I faced the audience together during the following Q&A session where other filmmakers had also the opportunity to respond and interact with the local community. Alice, Kay and Marilyn drove back home after the event and were not able to attend the ceremony where our film was awarded with the Grand Jury Prize to Best Documentary. But they were, because the film was there, and wherever the film goes Alice comes along and will always be present.
Our most sincere gratitude to everyone involved, top filmmakers and volunteers, and specially to Shareen Anderson,Founder and Executive Director of the Mystic Film Festival. See you all next year!