Edison and Ford Winter Estates Hosting Black Maria Film Festival

FORT MYERS, Fla. (November 1, 2019) – On November 8, at 6 p.m., Edison and Ford Winter Estates (EFWE) is hosting the annual Thomas Edison Black Maria Film Festival in partnership with Florida Southwestern State College. Several short documentaries, experimental, narrative, and animated films, co-curated by Festival Director, Jane Steuerwald and Dr. Wendy Chase’s Honors Scholar Program students, will be shown on the Ford estate lawn, along the Caloosahatchee River. The films focus on the human experience and include international selections from Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Canada and the United States.

For 38 years the Black Maria Film Festival has been celebrating creativity and innovation in the moving-image arts. The festival was founded in 1981 as a tribute to Thomas Edison’s development of the motion picture at his West Orange laboratory, dubbed the “Black Maria” film studio, the first in the world. The studio received its name from Edison’s employees who thought the studio’s boxy shape and black tar paper covering resembled the so-called “black maria” police paddy wagons.

The film festival is a project of the Thomas Edison Media Arts Consortium, which also showcases the Global Insights Collection, an archive of films focusing on the environment, people with disabilities, international issues, and films with themes of social justice. The festival is also a partnership with the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University.
The following ten films will be screened during the event:
“My Gossip,” a 15-minute documentary by Kelly Gallagher of Chester Springs, Pa., that incorporates live-action, stop-motion and digital animation, this personal documentary colorfully explores the radical importance of women’s close friendships. The filmmaker examines her relationship with her own best friend, and how women’s friendships were historically weaponized against them.

“Voice,” is a 10-minute narrative by Takeshi Kushida, of Tokyo, Japan, about a lonely man who becomes fascinated with a shadow that appears on the wall of his apartment.

“Black Dog,” a six-minute narrative by Wooseok Shin, of Seoul, South Korea. “Black dog syndrome” is the name for the phenomenon in which dark-coated dogs are overlooked in shelters in favor of lighter-colored dogs. The narrator advises not to overlook the dark-coated beauty waiting in the shadows because it could become someone’s best friend.

“Henrietta Bulkowski,” is a 15-minute animation by Rachel Johnson, of Los Angeles, Ca.
The story is about a determined young woman, crippled with a severe hunchback, who will stop at nothing to fulfill her dream of seeing the world and how she finds happiness.

“Brainworm Billy,” a three-minute animation by Emily Hubley, of East Orange, NJ is about a young man who is haunted by a famous comedian.

“moT,” a  21-minute narrative by Andrew Kastenmeier, of Florianópolis, Brazil is a story about an odd homeless boy with a mysterious past. He invades a stranger’s home, befriends him, and protects a goldfish with which he has a curiously powerful bond.

“The Velvet Underground Played at My High School,” is a seven-minute animation by Tony Jannelli, of Summit, NJ, and Robert Pietri, Las Angeles, Ca. On December 11, 1965, an unknown four-piece rock-n-roll band took to the stage for the first time at Summit High School, in Summit, NJ. “Nothing could have prepared the kids and parents for what they were about to experience that night,” wrote Rob Norris, a student at Summit at the time, in Kicks magazine. “Our only clue was the small crowd of strange-looking people hanging around in front of the stage.”

“Unsettled,” is a seven-minute experimental by Tara Knight, of Denver, CO. with multiple layers of archival and historically based images that appear and disappear as they reveal glimpses into the ecological and economic histories of the American landscape. This journey through American history includes the early lives of Indian peoples morphing into white settlements, industrial development, railroads and dense landscapes.

“Thanksgiving is Insane,” is a five-minute animation by Josh Raskin, of Toronto, Canada and Daniel Davis, of Washington, DC. As generally understood, the American holiday of Thanksgiving commemorates a neighborly feast that was shared by Pilgrims and Indians in 1621. However, Thanksgiving reveals the origins of a country forever fascinated, conflicted, and shaped by its fraught relationship with American Indians.

“What Aristotle Said,” is a four-minute documentary by David Gross, of Brooklyn, NY about the painter, art director, illustrator and teacher, Bill Curran of Hoboken, NJ.
Black Maria received more than 400 submissions for the 2019 festival tour from every continent around the globe except Antarctica. Following an extensive pre-screening by experts in the field of film curation, media studies and production, the highly regarded festival jurors, Margaret Parsons, Head Curator of Film at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC and Henry Baker, Emmy award-winning filmmaker and former director of Synapse Video Center, chose 55 films for this year’s collection and awarded the top prizes.
In addition to the support provided for the 2019 tour by the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton, the film festival receives generous support from New Jersey State Council on the Arts; The Edison Innovation Foundation – Charles Edison Fund; the Hudson County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs and Tourism; the Hoboken Historical Museum; WithumSmith+Brown; Lowenstein Sandler, LLP; Adobe Systems, Inc.; and Microsoft through TechSoup.org.
Tickets for the general public are $10, or $5 for Edison Ford members, and can be purchased at the EFWE ticket office at 2350 McGregor Boulevard, Fort Myers, FL 33901 the day of the event. Parking is free. Seating is limited; visitors should bring a folding chair. No coolers are permitted. Tickets for students are $5 with student identification and can be purchased at the estates. Tickets are free for FSW students but must be picked up in Dr. Chase’s office in L-101 on the Lee campus prior to the event.
All proceeds from the event will go to the Hurricane Dorian Relief Fund through Global Giving. Initially, the fund will help first responders meet survivors’ immediate needs for food, fuel, clean water, hygiene products and shelter. The fund will transition to support longer-term recovery efforts run by local, vetted organizations in the Bahamas, the United States and the Caribbean.
To learn more about the Black Maria Film Festival and Thomas Edison Media Arts Consortium, visit blackmariafilmfestival.org. To learn more about the Hurricane Dorian Relief Fund – Global Giving, visit https://www.globalgiving.org. For additional information about EFWE, visit the website at www.edisonford.org or call 239-334-7419. 

Edison and Ford Winter Estates
Edison and Ford Winter Estates is the internationally known winter home site of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. More than 250,000 visitors walk through the location each year from all around the globe. The organization has received many awards, including the National Stewardship Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Garden Clubs’ Historic Preservation Award. The property is an official project of “Save America’s Treasures,” a Florida Historic Landmark and a National Register Historic Site. The Edison Botanic Laboratory is a National Historic Chemical Landmark. The site is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and until 9 p.m. during the month of December for Holiday Nights.

Media Contact:
Lisa Wilson, APR, Public Relations Director
(239) 334-7419

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