This Sunday at the Palm Theatre, books will be flying all over the place. On screen, that is. It’s the Telluride Children’s Film Festival, and one of the highlights is this year’s Academy-Award-winning animated short film, The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore. The film tells the story of a boy named Morris, who takes up residence in a beautiful old house and becomes the steward of its library after his town is blown away by a hurricane. The boy not only weathers the storm, he thrives – something the film’s creator and the community in which he lives have also done. As Fantastic’s writer William Joyce, who was in Katrina, remarked of life post-hurricane on Oscar night, “We’re just down there in Louisiana, where people keep on trying and keep going.”
The Festival keeps going, too. Now in its fifth year, it’s a production of Sunday at the Palm, curated by Erika Gordon. Her first two years of children’s film festivals were theme-oriented: Teddy Bears one year, and A Mouse in the House (featuring the original Mickey Mouse films) the next. Then Gordon hit pay dirt: Milos Stehlik, who runs the Chicago International Film Festival and is “a huge supporter” of the Telluride Film Festival, “began sending us a disc of ‘The Best of the Fest’ and letting us screen it.” As a result, for the past three years, Telluride kids (and their parents) have been treated to some of the most creative, beautifully animated films in the world. For the first time this year, Telluride High School teenagers will also screen a film at the Festival. They’ll be showing Speak, a movie eleven of them collaborated on about their goals and daily lives. Speak is the sort of thing Gordon has looked forward to featuring for years. “This is the perfect venue for these kids’ films, and exactly what we want to be doing at Sunday at the Palm,” she says. “The goal is to create a generation of future filmmakers.”
If you find the idea of filmmaking inspiring, the Telluride Film Festival would like to hear from you. The organization is accepting submissions for short films until July 1, and for features until July 15. For requirements and to download an entry form, visit telluridefilmfestival.org.
WORDS AND PAINT IN OURAY
Poet Beth Paulson and painter Ann Dettmer, both Ouray residents, are about to re-collaborate on a popular class in writing and illustrating accordion-style “artist’s books.” They first held this seminar four years ago. “Weehawken has been after us to repeat it, but it’s such a big undertaking that we’ve put them off,” Paulson says. Finally, the time is right to do it.
The three-day course involves what Paulson calls “deep journaling” – short exercises she uses to take students places “into their minds and hearts that they’ve maybe put off going to until now.” Dettmer, who is known for her large oils, then takes over, coaxing students into channeling those creative energies into something more visual: thick, expressive coats of paint, often applied to both sides of a canvas. Because of all those layers of paint, “The paper gets quite leathery. It has texture, and the quality of the color can be very rich,” Paulson says. As the layers dry, it’s Paulson’s turn again: she helps students find the words to inscribe in these most-personal journals. “It’s quite a unique class,” she says, and her teamwork with Dettmer is key. “We’re both there the entire time [over the three-day course]. We both understand what the other does and are able to help people, wherever they are in the creative process.” For more information or to reserve a spot in class, visit weehawkenarts.org.
WINIFRED HAUN AND DANCERS IN MONTROSE
It’s not often that a noted choreographer from a major metropolitan area swings through this area to perform, but one is about to – and she’s bringing six of her dancers with her. What’s more, she’s offering a chance to work with them. The Chicago choreographer Winifred Haun will spend three days next month in a “dance intensive” at the Black Canyon Cultural Arts Center in Montrose. The Black Canyon Center was founded by Tess Ludian, an alum of Alvin Ailey, who danced with Haun in the early 1990s as part of the Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theatre. “Wini was a principal,” she says; Ludian danced with the company for its last two years (before founder Holmes passed away), and accompanied them on their last European tour. Years later, Ludian re-connected with her old friend Haun in a ballet-shoe shop in Chicago, and invited her out to Montrose. Haun accepted. The three-day intensive will include two Master Classes as well as choreography instruction, and will culminate in a performance with Haun’s troupe (and that of Black Canyon Cultural Arts) at the Montrose Pavilion the evening of June 16. Prospective dancers can get an audition by taking any class taught by Ludian or one of her instructors, Valerie Madonia or Shirley Fortenberry.
Ludian is looking forward to bringing Haun to the Western Slope. “This is the real thing,” she says. “I’m excited.” To learn more about Winifred Haun and her work, visit winifredhaun.org. For more information about the Black Canyon Dance Studio and its instructors, visit blackcanyonculturalarts.com.