Local Festivals, Films, & Faces

Focusing on one filmmaker’s legacy

Karen Aqua, the late filmmaker, will be celebrated today with screenings of her work at the Institute for Contemporary Art. Karen Aqua, the late filmmaker, will be celebrated today with screenings of her work at the Institute for Contemporary Art. (Ken Field)
By Loren King
September 25, 2011

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The filmmaker Karen Aqua, who died in May at 57, had a profound impact on Boston’s independent, animation, and experimental film community. Her prolific and influential career is celebrated today at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Starting at 3 p.m., the museum presents a tribute that includes screenings of 10 of Aqua’s animated short films, from her early work in 1980 to segments she created for “Sesame Street’’ with her husband and frequent collaborator, Ken Field. Field will introduce the shorts and will be joined by the acclaimed filmmaker Frank Mouris, whose visit to the Rhode Island School of Design inspired then-student Aqua to switch to animation from a career as an illustrator, says Field. Amy Kravitz, a RISD filmmaker and professor, will also be on hand to discuss Aqua’s work and continued influence.

Field says he worked closely with curator Branka Bogdanov, the ICA’s director of film and video, on the retrospective, which includes only some of Aqua’s oeuvre and is suitable for all ages. “We wanted to provide historical context and show how Karen’s work fits into the ongoing development of the art form,’’ says Field. “I hope to provide some insight into Karen’s process and thinking. I feel it’s my duty - not duty in any negative sense, but a duty to make sure her work doesn’t just sit on a shelf.’’

Aqua kept the ICA informed about new and emerging animated filmmakers, says Bogdanov, who relied on her “persistence’’ when programming the ICA’s biannual New England Animated Film Festival. Bogdanov remembers how Field brought Aqua onstage directly from the hospital in a wheelchair when the ICA showed her last film, “Taxonomy,’’ which she finished just weeks before she died. “Karen’s life and art are inseparable,’’ says Bogdanov. “Her life is in all her films, from her love of music and dance to ‘Twist of Fate,’ about being diagnosed with cancer, to ‘Taxonomy,’ which brings a number of concepts into powerful, beautiful visuals,’’ says Bogdanov. “It’s life to art and art to life; that’s one of her many fine qualities.’’

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Kuth’s Maine premiere As executive director of the LEF Foundation, Lyda Kuth is used to awarding grants to New England independent filmmakers through the foundation’s Moving Image Fund. Now she’s a filmmaker herself. Kuth’s debut feature documentary, “Love and Other Anxieties,’’ has its world premiere at the Camden International Film Festival on Oct. 1 at 1:30 p.m. at the Strand Theatre in Rockland, Maine. She says she will be organizing Boston showings in the months ahead. The film is about Kuth’s anxieties as she faces an empty nest when her only child leaves for college, and her concerns about what might happen to her relationship with her husband of 20 years.

Short trip to Pawtucket Another local film is also getting a big-screen showing in a festival setting. “The Oblique Sector,’’ a short film shot in Cambridge and Beverly, is an official selection of the Pawtucket Film Festival in Rhode Island and will screen there today. “The Oblique Sector,’’ which premiered at the 2011 Nantucket Film Festival in June, is a 9-minute romantic comedy and sci-fi homage about how technology has become an inevitable part of dating. Husband-and-wife team Art Hennessey and Amanda Good Hennessey of Somerville co-wrote and produced the short through Albion Park Productions, the company they cofounded in 2009 with Jason M. Reulet and Brad Kelly, also of Somerville. Reulet directs and narrates and Amanda Good Hennessey stars in the film.

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‘Girlfriend’ comes home Justin Lerner’s indie feature “Girlfriend,’’ winner of “Best of the Fest’’ at the 2011 Woods Hole Film Festival, will have a free screening at Harvard Business School’s Spangler Auditorium on Oct. 3 at 6 p.m., followed by a Q&A with Lerner and star Evan Sneider, a South Shore resident and one of the rare actors with Down syndrome to be cast in a feature film lead role. Shot in Wayland, “Girlfriend’’ is about a young man who tries to win the love of a small-town single mother. The film also opens Sept. 30 for a one-week engagement at the Coolidge Corner Theatre.

On and behind the screen Film critic, scholar, and occasional Globe contributor Gerald Peary brings back his BU Cinematheque for eight nights this fall. On Oct. 6, editor Mark Goldblatt accompanies a screening of the cult favorite “Starship Troopers’’ (1997), which is among his credits. The next night, Goldblatt discusses his career as a Hollywood editor working on such films as “The Terminator,’’ “Armageddon,’’ “Pearl Harbor’’ “Showgirls,’’ and the current “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.’’ “An Evening with Mark Goldberg’’ features classic scenes from some of these movies and Goldblatt’s behind-the-scenes stories. The free film and discussion series is open to the public. All events are at 7 p.m. in Room 100, 640 Commonwealth Ave., at the Boston University College of Communication.

Calling aspiring scripters Los Angeles-based film producer and screenwriting teacher Barri Evins, who offers seminars on crafting a screenplay, will give a free talk open to the public, “Seven Surefire Secrets to Breaking Into the Film Biz - Even When You’re 2,992 Miles From Hollywood.’’ Evins’s seminar is on Sept. 29, 6:30-8 p.m. at Emerson College.

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Loren King can be reached at

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