Friday, March 31, 2006

Mt. Greylock Building Study - public forum April 5

Submitted by Nancy Nylen

Mt. Greylock High School Public Forum on Building Study

The Mt. Greylock Regional School Building Committee will be holding a
public forum at 7:00 pm on Wednesday April 5 in the high school
library on the estimated costs of various options for addressing the
needs of the school building. The forum is the latest in a series of
meetings on the progress of a feasibility study to analyze the
building conditions, including space and educational needs. The
feasibility study work has identified numerous issues with the
building, and has recommended the replacement of all or most of the
heating, ventilation, air handling and plumbing systems in the
building. The study also includes findings that the building needs
electrical upgrades, and improvements to handicap access.

The preliminary findings of the feasibility study were echoed by a
recent report by an independent association as part of a periodic
accreditation process. The report by the New England Association of
Schools and Colleges (NEASC) praised the school for the quality of
the teachers, curriculum and community partnerships, but concluded
that the aging school site and plant "do not adequately support all
aspects of the educational program and support services for student
learning." The NEASC report states that the building has areas that
are not handicapped-accessible and does not comply with all fire,
health and safety regulations. Previous meetings of the Building
Committee have addressed these issues as well as an array of options
for renovation or for construction of a new building. The April 5th
meeting will include a presentation by the architectural firm of Dore
& Whittier on the estimated costs of the conceptual options developed
so far.

The Massachusetts School Building Authority has a moratorium for
funding of school buildings, and will not even accept applications
until July 2007. The Building Committee expects to finish the
feasibility study later this Spring but, since the state authority
has not yet issued its regulations on a new funding system, the
committee does not expect to make any recommendations on a particular
proposal until the new funding regulations are finalized. State law
requires the regulations to be finalized this summer, but no draft
regulations have been released yet.

The Building Committee has a homepage on the school's website at . which includes numerous prior studies on various
aspects of the building and its needs. The Building Committee
meetings, which are open to the public, are posted on the Calendar
section of the school website. The public may contact Andy Hogeland,
chairperson of the Building Committee, for additional information, by
phone at home 458-5966 or by email to

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Marijuana youth sentencing opponents plan Sunday prayer vigil

David Scribner, former editor of The Berkshire Eagle and a correspondent for
the Hill Country Observer monthly reports that a group of more than seven
clergy from all over Berkshire County have organized to hold a prayer vigil at
the courthouse in Pittsfield on Sunday (Apri 2) at 2 p.m. Scribner reports the
intention of this interfaith prayer vigil is "to provide an opportunity to
transcend the purely political and allow people with differing views to come
together with an affirmative aim." Scribner says members of the clergy will
lead the vigil with prayers and words of support for Mitchell Lawrence, his
family and the families of others involved in cases like this. And also, for
those involved in the community, in law enforcement and in the justice system,
in the hope that these and other cases like these will be handled with wisdom
and mercy."


Films scheduled by Berkshire International Film Festival


A Prairie Home Companion (USA) - New England Premiere
Official Opening Night Presentation

Directed by Robert Altman
Written by Garrison Keillor
Radio like you have never seen it before! A look at what goes on backstage
during the last broadcast of America's most celebrated radio show, where
singing cowboys Dusty (Woody Harrelson) and Lefty (John C. Reilly), a country
music siren (Streep), Tommy Lee Jones, Garrison Keillor, Kevin Kline, Lindsay
Lohan, Virginia Madsen, Maya Rudolph, and Lily Tomlin entertain us in wonderful

Twelve and Holding (USA) - New England Premiere
Directed by Michael Cuesta
Explores the complexities of children losing their innocence and adults
struggling to guide them. In the suburbs of America, three close knit
12-year-olds – introverted Jacob (Conor Donovan), precocious Malee (Zoë Weizenbaum) and
vulnerable Leonard (Jesse Camacho) -- start down the path of self-discovery
and begin to distinguish their own voices from those of their parents.
Sparked by the tragic death of Jacob’s twin brother, the trio band together as
they grapple with feelings of revenge, the burden of grief and the indelible
experiences of growing up.

Blush (Belgium/France) – North England Premiere
Directed by Wim Vandekeybus
Blush is an outstanding film from world-renowned choreographer, Wim
Vandekeybus, and performed by his company Ultima Vez. Vandekeybus choreographs in
water, sand and woods mixing confrontational, intensely physical dance, text
and music in an avalanche of imagery and sound for creating a unique film

Kiss Me Again (USA) – New England Premiere
Director/Writer: William Tyler Smith
This new feature film is a provocative, honest and witty portrayal of a
monogamous couple struggling wit the meaning and manifestations of real love.
When happily married college professor, Julian finds himself falling for Elena
a beautiful student from Spain, he tricks his wife Chalice into agreeing to
run a personal ad to find a woman to join in a threesome. Of course who
should join them but Elena. Surprisingly, things do not go as he expects and the
results of his deception have some lasting repercussions on his relationship
with Chalice. Kiss Me Again examines what might ensue when two mature adults
profoundly in love choose to experiment with the boundaries of their
relationship. Filmmakers in attendance.

Little Fish, (Australia) – Berkshire Premiere
Directed by Rowan Woods
Everybody’s hiding something. Tracey Heart's (Cate Blanchett) past won't
let her go. Aged 32, she's spent the past four years recovering from her
heroin habit and redeeming herself in the eyes of her mother. Beset by the complex
relationships within her family, her world is thrown into further turmoil by
the unexpected return of her ex-boyfriend, Johnny. The criminal aspirations
of her brother, Ray, and coping with the attempts of ex-footy star and
junkie, Lionel Dawson (Hugo Weaving) to withdraw from his habit, almost prove too
much. The complexity of deceit within Tracy's own life is mirrored by that
within Sydney's drug underworld as Tracey becomes tangled with criminal boss
Bradley (Sam Neill) 'The Jockey' Thompson. Tracey has to confront her own fears
before she learns to love again.

Look Both Ways (Australia) New England Premiere
Directed by Sarah Watt
Winner of Toronto’s Discovery Award, Look Both Ways, a mix of animation
and live action, is set over a hot weekend. Seven people are trying to deal
with unexpected events. As their paths intersect and their stories intertwine,
they create an intriguing picture, which is both intimate and universal.

Man Push Cart (Iran) – Northeast Premiere
Directed by Ramin Bahrani
It's 3:00 a.m. in Manhattan, the hour of rumbling garbage trucks, glaring
headlights, and the bluish florescent glow of the all-night delis. Trudging
alongside the honking traffic, Ahmad drags a coffee and bagel cart to a busy
midtown corner. Hours later, he is swiftly and efficiently selling steaming
cups of "coffee regular" to rushing New Yorkers. In the
afternoons, he battles traffic to return the cart to a warehouse,
occasionally peddling bootleg DVDs for extra cash along the way. A solitary, quiet
loner, Ahmad strikes up slightly awkward friendships with Noemi, a young Spanish
woman who works at a newsstand,
and wealthy, jovial Mohammad, who is shocked when he realizes Ahmad was a
famous singer in South Asia. Through Ahmad's relationships with both his new
friends, and his estranged family, we come to understand that he is haunted
by a tragedy in his past. A beautifully crafted character study that captures
the textures of a very specific New York
experience, Ramin Bahrani's Man Push Cart is a subtle, insightful portrait
of a man struggling with issues of identity, self-worth, and the harsh
realities of finding a place to belong in a vast, often-unfriendly American

One Day in Europe (Germany) New England Premiere
Directed by Hannes Stoehe
Four colorful and light-hearted stories about quirky characters and the
amusing misunderstandings that cross-cultural communication often provides. All
take place on one single day in different cities, and in each case those
language barriers are compounded by a chaos of another sort: on this particular
day, the whole of Europe is in high fever over soccer’s Champion’s League
final between Galatasaray Istanbul and Deportivo La Coruna which taking place in
Moscow. The film takes a warmhearted, intrigued and wonderfully light look
at people in Europe, people who meet and misunderstand one another, who
travel, arrive and depart and who sometimes become close. The entire ensemble
exudes an infectious, positive spirit.

The Chosen One, (USA/Berkshires) World Premiere
Directed by Theodore Collatos
The Chosen One is an irreverent horror film blending social satire in the
manner of a fairytale and featuring a pitch perfect performance by 81-year-old
Arthur Collins. The storyline involves the tragic demise of a happily married
woman and her secrete birth... Shot in glorious black and white featuring
expansive landscapes, costumes, set designs and creative special effects, it’s
elegant, cutting edge, unforgettable and entertaining.
Wah-Wah, (UK) - Berkshire Premiere
Directed by Richard Grant
Wah-Wah is a big-hearted, semi-auto biographical dramedy of English colonial
life in Swaziland. From this impressive directorial debut by Richard E.
Grant featuring standout performances by Gabriel Byrne, Emily Watson, Miranda
Richardson and Julie Walters, it is clear that Grant is as talented behind the
camera as he is in front of it.


5 Days in September (Canada) – New England Premiere
Directed by Barbara Willis Sweete
An intimate and exciting look at the inner workings of the Toronto Symphony
Orchestra as it launches a new season with charismatic maestro Peter
Oundjiian. Director Barbara Willis Sweete captures soloists Yo-Yo Ma, Renee Fleming,
Emanual Ax and the lively backstage lives of the orchestra’s musicians and

51 Birch Street (USA) - New England Premiere
Directed by Doug Block
Do we ever really know our parents? And if we were suddenly given the chance
to know all about them, would we take it? These are the primal human
questions at the heart of the riveting personal documentary. Filmmaker Doug Block
had every reason to believe his parents' 54-year marriage was a good one. So
he isn’t prepared when, just a few months after his mother’s unexpected
death, his father Mike phones to announce that he's moving to Florida to live with
his secretary from 40 years before, Kitty. Always close to his mother and
equally distant from his father, he's stunned and suspicious.

Awesome: I F#@* Shot That!, directed by Nathaniel Hornblower (USA)
-Berkshire Premiere
Director: Nathanial Hornblower
A formally innovative feature film experience starring director Nathaniel
Horn blower/Adam Yauch (band member Adam Yauch, a.k.a. MCA) and fellow Beastie
Boys Mike D (Michael Diamond) and Adrock (Adam Horovitz), along Mix Master
Mike and other special guest appearances. This highly original concert
documentary film was shot by 50 fans live at Madison Square Garden.

Beyond Beats and Rhymes (USA) – North England Premiere
Directed by Byron Hurt
At its root, hip-hop is a politically charged music born from the explosive
frustration in the South Bronx, a community cast aside a power structure that
left it impoverished. How did this urgent, political message of hip-hop
transform into the gangbanging, drug-lording, misogynistic gangster rap that
dominates urban radio today? And how did gangster rap become the predominant v
oice and model of black masculinity? Filmmaker Byron Hurt addresses these
questions in his remarkably insightful and articulate documentary. Filmmaker in

Czech Dream (Czech Republic) –New England Premiere
Directed/Written by Vit Klusak and Filip Ramuda
An original, cheeky treatise on capitalism, with more than a whiff of
exploitation, Czech Dream follows two film students who used a state grant to
promote the opening of an entirely fictitious big-box mega-market in a Prague
field. The resulting scandal, alternately hilarious and discomforting,
illuminates the waking nightmare of consumerism in a country still adjusting to the
strengths and pitfalls of the concept. Czech Dream documents the largest
consumer hoax the Czech Republic has ever seen. Klusak and Ramuda, two of Eastern
Europe‘s most promising young documentary filmmakers, set out to explore the
psychological and manipulative powers of consumerism by creating an ad
campaign for something that didn’t exist.
Echoes of War (Netherlands) – Northeast Premiere
Directed by Joop van Wijk
In the documentary film Echoes of War, the story of a little elephant who
looses his father in a jungle war catapults children, survivors of war and
violence in Africa, Asia, North and South America, to share their memories,
nightmares and dreams. The film interplays their life stories with the animated
tale of the little elephant to create a sensitive and moving portrayal of the
children and the consequences of war and violence for all of us.

Favela Rising (Brazil) - Berkshire Premiere
Directed by Matt Mochary and Jeff Zimbalist
“Their music fueled a movement. His message fought a war.” Favela Rising
documents a man and a movement, a city divided and a favela (Brazilian
squatter settlement) united. Haunted by the murders of his family and many of his
friends, Anderson Sá is a former drug-trafficker who turns social
revolutionary in Rio de Janeiro’s most feared slum. Through hip-hop music, the rhythms
of the street, and Afro-Brazilian dance he rallies his community to counteract
the violent oppression enforced by teenage drug armies and sustained by
corrupt police. At the dawn of liberation, just as collective mobility is
overcoming all odds and Anderson’s grassroots Afro Reggae movement is at the height
of its success, a tragic accident threatens to silence the movement forever.
Filmmakers in attendance.

Iraq in Fragments (USA) New England Premeire
Directed by James Longley
Even with the plentiful news coverage of Iraq, we rarely have an opportunity
to hear from ordinary citizens or consider their distinct, complex
concerns. A stunning, electric collage of hypnotic sights, evocative sounds, and
arresting voices, Iraq in Fragments listens to diverse points of view in three
Iraqi enclaves.

Jabe Babe, A Heightened Life (Australia) Northeast Premiere
Directed by Janet Mereweather
A tall girl with a tall story, 31 year old Jabe Babe measures six foot two
inches, works as a dominatrix and has a life threatening genetic condition
called Marfan Syndrome. This hybrid documentary, which merges fiction and
non-fiction forms, inhabits the heightened “Technicolor” world of the tall
woman, the outsider, to provoke questions about society’s desire for sexual,
visual and genetic conformity.

Kokoyakyu: High School Baseball (USA) - World Premiere
Director: Kenneth Eng
Before Ishiro (New York Mets) and Hideki (New York Yankees) Matsui became
stars in the Major Leagues, they first proved their fighting spirit in the
sweltering heat at legendary Koshien Stadium of Japan. Americans may think
baseball is just a game, but in Japan, high school baseball has always had a
deeper purpose: the forging of the soul. For the first time, an authorized
English-language documentary will explore the meaning of koko-yakyu by taking
you behind the scenes with players, coaches, fans and others as they experience
the passion and pageantry of high school baseball. Filmmakers in

Land Mine; A Love Story (Australia) Berkshire Premiere
Directed by Dennis O’Rourke
In the ruined city of Kabul, Shah, a former Mujaheddin soldier, noticed a
pretty Tajik girl who had only one leg, and began to court her. Amidst the
chaos and violence, and despite all the obstacles of tradition and religion, Shah
and Habiba were allowed to marry. Part observational film, part essay, this
compelling documentary from Dennis O'Rourke (recipient of the AFF 2005 Don
Dunstan Award) is a celebration of life, hope and love set in Afghanistan whose
name has become synonymous with conflict.

Liberia, An Uncivil War (USA) - Berkshire Premiere
Directed by Jonathan Stack and James Brabazon
In the spring of 2003, in the West African country of Liberia, the ongoing
civil war fully exploded. The opposition movement Liberians United for
Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) decided to overthrow President Charles Taylor,
who had been accused of committing crimes against humanity in neighboring
Sierra Leone, causing an international arrest warrant to be issued for him.
Experienced war reporter James Brabazon positions himself directly among the
rebel army, while highly-acclaimed American director Jonathan Stack documents the
events in the streets of Monrovia and in the immediate vicinity of Charles
Taylor. In rapidly-moving footage pieced together from "both sides of the
barricades" we follow the dramatic moments of the bloody conflict, where hundreds
of innocent civilians fall victim each day, as they hopelessly wait for the
arrival of peacekeeping forces. This film, which was awarded the Amnesty
International DOEN prize at the Amsterdam International Documentary Film
Festival, also features a number of songs by Bob Marley.

Rain In A Dry Land (USA/Berkshires) – New England Premiere
Directed by Anne Makepeace
This is a verité feature documentary chronicling two years in the lives of
two Somali Bantu families as they journey from Africa to America. It is a
story of time travel, culture shock, a leap from the nineteenth to the
twenty-first century as these subsistence farmers find themselves in a mysterious and
confusing land. More importantly, it is an intimate, human story about two
extraordinary families who somehow managed to keep their spirits intact
through years of mayhem and deprivation, and whose astonishing, open-hearted
resilience enables them to make a new life. Award-winning filmmaker Anne Makepeace,
director of Robert Capa in Love and War, Baby It’s You, and Coming to Light,
captures another riveting portrait, this time of two Muslim families in
transition. Filmmaker in attendance.

Road to Guantanamo (UK) - New England Premiere
Directed by Michael Winterbottom and Michael Whitecross
Winner of the 2006 Berlin Silver Bear Award. The Road to Guantanamo is the
terrifying first-hand account of three British citizens who were held for two
years without charges in the American military prison at Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba. Known as the “Tipton Three,” in reference to their home town in
Britain, the three were eventually returned to Britain and released, still having
had no formal charges ever made against them at any time during their ordeal.
The film has already engendered significant controversy due to its critical
stance towards the American and British governments and also because of the
cast’s detainment at British customs upon returning from the Berlin premiere.
Part documentary, part dramatization, the film chronicles the sequence of
events that led from the trio setting out from Tipton in the British Midlands
for a wedding in Pakistan, to their crossing the Afghanistan border just as the
U.S. began their invasion, to their eventual capture by the Northern
Alliance and their imprisonment in Camp X-Ray and later at Camp Delta in Guantanamo.

‘Tis Autumn - The Search for Jackie Paris (USA) Northeast Premiere
Directed by Raymond DeFelitta
‘Tis Autumn –The Search for Jackie Paris is a documentary film that
comprehensively examines the legendary jazz singer’s life and art. Using both new
and archival performance footage, found footage, still photography, historical
audio clips and rare unreleased recordings, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Raymond
DeFelitta conducts on-camera interviews with the late Jackie Paris as well
as many of the musicians, songwriters and personalities who knew him best in
an effort to discover what was at the heart of his enigmatic career, glorious
art and mysterious personal life. Filmmaker in attendance.

Wordplay (USA) – Berkshire Premiere
Directed Patrick Creadon
Wordplay is a journey into the world of Will Shortz, the crossword puzzle
editor at The New York Times. Known to millions as National Public Radio's
"Puzzle Master", Shortz has spent his entire lifetime studying, creating, and
editing puzzles, and has built a huge following along the way. Meet Shortz's
die-hard fans -- including President Bill Clinton, Senator Bob Dole, "The
Daily Show's" Jon Stewart, filmmaker Ken Burns, the Indigo Girls, and Yankee's
ace pitcher Mike Mussina -- and discover why over 50 million Americans do
crosswords every week.
Catch all the action at what Shortz calls “the most exciting competition in
tournament history!” Explore the madness and the mirth, the comedy and the
drama that is our national obsession with these puzzles. Whether you’re a
Monday-only solver (the easiest day of the week) or a Saturday “brain-busting”
wizard, you’re sure to enjoy your very own “A-ha!” moment when you experience

Zahira’s Peace (Spain/France) --Northeast Premiere
Directed by Nina Rosenblum
Zahira: La Que Florece is the story of a young woman who was gravely injured
in the Madrid train attach on March 11, 2004. Zahira experiences the
tragedy of collateral damage in the midst of dramatic forces that impacted Spain
and the world in response to the bombing of M-11. The film connects the
events of 9/11 and the subsequent escalation of violence in Iraq, which
culminates in Spain’s March 11 tragedy. The Spanish government’s initial deception
regarding the perpetrators of the train bombing backfired, bringing about
tremendous changes in Spanish politics. Filmmaker in attendance.


Azadi (Australia) – Northeast Premiere
Directed by Anthony Mara
Azadi follows the plight of an Afghani school teacher and his asthmatic son,
who escape Taliban oppression only to encounter another kind of persecution
upon arrival in Australia. Part of the film was shot in the infamous Woomera
Detention Centre that saw violent riots in 2002. This harrowing short drama
will take you through ‘life behind the razor wire’ as never before.

Down Home (USA) – New England Premiere
Directed by Rick Kaplan
This short film is big in heart. Down Home is a character study in six men
who revere their past, honor their ancestry and pride in their work. It is
a quintessentially American story. The story of friendship and family,
commitment and sacrifice and the quest for something greater. With eloquence
that flows from the most improbable of mouths, we are welcomed into their world:
Down Home. Filmmakers in attendance.

God Sleeps in Rwanda (USA) – New England Premiere
Directed by Kimberlee Aquero and Stacy Sherman
Academy Award nominated film. The 1994 Rwandan Genocide left the country
nearly 70 percent female, handing Rwanda’s women an extraordinary burden and an
unprecedented opportunity. An inspiring story of loss and redemption God
Sleeps in Rwanda captures the spirit of five courageous women as they rebuild
their lives, redefining women’s roles in Rwandan society and bringing hope to a
wounded nation. The Rwandan parliament (lower house) is 49 percent women –
the highest percentage of women in any parliament in the world.

Green Bush (Australia) Northeast Premiere
Directed by Wayne Blair
In this insightful short film, an Australian Aboriginal DJ realizes that his
job at the country radio station is about more than just playing music.

Julieta Y Ramon (USA) – Berkshire Premiere
Directed by Hugo Perez
Julieta Y Ramon is a darkly comic short Spanish-language fable in the
tradition of Almodovar. Julieta’a erotic fascination with Ronald Reagan keeps her
from finding Mr. Right. Through the intervention of Mima, her downstairs
neighbor, she reluctantly is introduced to Mima’s son Ramon. Ramon is a shoe
store manager who has his own particular fascination. Can this odd couple find
a way to satisfy each other’s needs? Filmmaker in attendance.

Little Red Jiving Hood (USA/Berkshires)
Directed by Ben Hillman
In a deep, deep forest lives a little girl who wears a Little Red – wait a
minute. You know the story. But not quite like this. This short film has
been delighting festival audiences across the country.

Los Angeles Now (USA) – New England Premiere
Directed by Phillip Rodriguez
Once the whitest city in America, Los Angeles is now the most multicultural
city in the history of the world. Once an empty, pastoral space, L.A. is
now a disorienting megalopolis. Los Angeles Now looks beyond Baywatch and
Blade Runner to create a fresh and candid portrait of America’s second largest
city. If the future were a place, Los Angeles would be it. Los Angeles Now
provides a much-needed starting point for imagining our American future.
Filmmakers in attendance.

Mighty Times: The Children’s March (USA/Berkshires)
Directed by Robert Houston
Academy Award winning film for best documentary and IDA Award. This film
tells an incredible true story during the Civil Rights in America. On May 2,
1963, the children of Birmingham, Alabama took to the streets to challenge
segregation. Filmmaker in attendance.

Product of Peru (USA/Berkshires) - World Premiere
Directed by David Eddy and Mati Kiin
A delightful short film in which everyday objects reinvent themselves in
compelling and mysterious ways when perceived within their new environment.

Self Arrest (USA/Berkshires) World Premiere
Directed by Sanjiban
Self Arrest is a therapeutic remedy in times of terror. “I arrest myself
because no one can give me the same justice.” Filmmaker in attendance.
The Djarns Djarns (Australia) Northeast Premiere
Directed by Wayne Blair
The beautiful and touching short film explores the story of a friendship
between four young boys, the responsibility they feel for their culture and the
love a young boy has for his father.

Time for a New God (USA) -Berkshire Premiere
Directed by David Holbrooke
Irwin Kula is an eighth generation rabbi who teaches that every religion
that thinks it has it all right is surely all wrong. In this moving monologue
along the beaches, wharves, hotdog stands and roller coasters of Coney
Island, Kula spins a web of wisdom in a time when nothing is simply what it is.
Amidst the changing ethnicity of NYC, with its new sounds, people and rhythms,
he offers religion as a “giant tool box.” And in an era when we have tamed
the animals, can grow all the food we need and are the masters of the
universe, Kula sweetly poses the question, “What kind of God do we need?”

Trapping with Ernie (USA/Berkshires) – World Premiere
Directed by Mike Latino
Trapping with Ernie is a unique character study that takes the viewer into
the world a New England fur trapper that is seldom seen. Beckwith, who passed
away last year, was an icon in this community. This film is a real tribute
to a dying breed. Filmmaker in attendance.

Yellow Fella (Australia) – Northeast Premiere
Directed Ivan Sen
“I’m not black. I’m not white, I’m a yellow fella and I’m gonna stay that
way.” Yellow Fella is a journey across the land and into Tom’s past, as he
attempts to find the resting place of his father and to finally confront the
truth of his most inner feelings of love and identity.

Details of innaugural Berkshire International Film Festival in G.B.

Submitted by Kelley Vickery, founder and director,
Berkshire International Film Festival
( ) 528-8030


BIFF Line-Up Includes Robert Altman and Garrison Keillor’s
“A Prairie Home Companion”
March 30, 2006 - Great Barrington, MA: Announcement is made today of the
inaugural season of the Berkshire International Film Festival (BIFF), to
take place May 12 – 14, 2006, in Great Barrington MA. Opening the festival will
be the new comedy by Director Robert Altman (who received an honorary Oscar
at this year’s Academy Awards Ceremony for his body of work) A Prairie Home
Companion, written by starring Garrison Keillor along with a cast that includes
Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, Garrison Keillor, Kevin Kline, Lindsay
Lohan, Virginia Madsen, John C. Reilly, Maya Rudolph, Meryl Streep, and Lily
Tomlin. A Prairie HomeCompanion is a “backstage fable about a fictitious radio
variety show that has managed to survive in the age of television.” However,
unknowingly the radio station has been sold and this is the final broadcast.
The film will be released by Picturehouse nationwide in June.
The opening night festivities begin at 6:00pm with a light dinner and
cocktails at local Great Barrington restaurant Pearl’s before the screening of A
Prairie Home Companion at 9:00pm. There will be three other films premiering
that evening at the Triplex Cinema and the Mixed Company Theatre. A “
Soundtrack Lounge” at nearby Club Helsinki will be showing the rarely seen Robert
Altman film Jazz ’34 and afterward Don Byron Plays Junior Walker takes the
stage. Several Great Barrington restaurants will play host to filmgoers after
the opening night films, with each creating a unique atmosphere with live music
and special drinks and desserts. Participating venues include Bizen, Castle
Street Café, Club Helsinki, Due/Verdura, Pearl’s, 20 Railroad, Union Bar and
Grill and the Vault Gallery.
The film festival will feature some 40 films from the US, Australia,
Belgium, Brazil, Czech Republic, Iran, the Netherlands, Spain and the United
Kingdom. BIFF will include 10 features, 18 documentaries, and 12 shorts as well as
panel discussions, Q & A with filmmakers after screenings and a special
tribute evening to Berkshire native, Michael Haley (see below). Venues for the
weekend-long events will be the Triplex Cinema, Mixed Company Theatre and Club
Helsinki, all in downtown Great Barrington.
Premiere sponsors of the event include Berkshire Living Magazine, Canyon
Ranch Spa, French Rabbit Wines, GWFF, Studio Two, Triplex Cinema and
WRGB-CBS-Channel 6. Supporting sponsors include Abbott’s Livery, Club Helsinki, Medoff
Inc., Mixed Company and the Red Lion Inn.
The Festival tribute for the inaugural season will be given to Berkshire
County native Michael Haley, who has worked in film for over 40 years as a first
assistant director and producer on over 60 films including Angels in
America, Closer, Groundhog Day, A League of Their Own and So Fine to name but a
few. World renowned film and stage director Mike Nichols will present the
award to Mr. Haley at the tribute evening to be held at the Norman Rockwell
Museum in Stockbridge, MA on May 13, 2006.
Club Helsinki and Helsinki Cafe will be presenting “The
Soundtrack Lounge”
with four shows daily and special lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch menus.
Accordion wielding, Yiddish rapping Klezmer-Hip Hop maestro SoCalled will host an
Eastern European laced hip hop shtetl dance party on Friday Night.
Internationally acclaimed horn player, Don Byron will bring his Junior Walker Tribute
project on Saturday night, and Robert Altman’s Documentary of 1930’s Kansas
City Music Jazz’34: Remembrances of Kansas City Swing will be screened on
Saturday and Sunday. Also, funk poet
Everton Sylvester will lead his band Searching For Banjo in one of the most
unique shows in the world. Hector on Stilts who will premier their new music
video, Award winning songwriter Robby Baier will play a solo set, and Citizen
Band will rock the house with their Punk/Folk hybrid sound.
Complete dates and times for films and festivities will be available in the
BIFF program and website May 1. Passes for the festival will go on sale
Monday, April 4 and individual tickets will go on sale Monday, May 1. An
All-Inclusive BIFF Pass are $500 (limited to 125 only and will be sold on a
first-come, first-serve basis) and include the opening night party at Pearl’s, an
exclusive ticket to A Prairie Home Companion, Michael Haley’s Tribute at the
Norman Rockwell Museum, admission to all films and panel discussions, access to
the VIP Lounge and a special BIFF gift. An All-Access Movie Pass are $90
(limited to 100 and will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis) and include
admission to all movies (excluding A Prairie Home Companion) throughout the
weekend. Pass holders must be in their seats 15 minutes prior to the
screening to guarantee seating. Passes may be purchased by contacting the BIFF
office at 413-528-8030 or by contacting _kelley@biffma.com_
( or _Lauren@biffma.com_ ( ) . Individual tickets
may be purchased May 1 at the BIFF Headquarters located in the Triplex
Cinema at 70 Railroad Street in downtown Great Barrington. All films and times
are subject to change.

# # #

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Ex-Eagle editor pens extensive piece on DA Capless

Former Berkshire Eagle Editor David Scribner has posted on his weblog a length
piece of writing about Berkshire County District Attorney David Capeless. It's
written in a magazine style and makes judgements about Capeless' handling of
prosecutions for drug offenses. The piece appears to be a rewrite of a similar
writing Scribner has done for the Hill Country Observer monthly. But its all
the more interesting now that Capeless has announced he is seeking re-election.
Will Capeless respond? Will a challenger emerge? Scribner headlines his opinion
this way: "Vengeance is mine: Saga of a fanatical prosecutor who is destroying
young Berkshire lives."
Here's a link to it: Bibblings:

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Mt. Greylock RHS Events to air on WilliNet, Community TV for W'tw Channel 17 (fwd)

Upcoming Mt. Greylcok events to air on WilliNet, Williamstown's Community TV, Channel17:

Judge Judith Locke speaks to Mt. Greylock Middle School students on "The Rights and Responsilities of Young People." Her talk was recorded January 9 and will air WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29 at 3:00pm. (This speech was aired frequently in Jan and Feb)

WilliNet airs Mt. Greylock Regional High School's Middle School Winter Concert of January 18 and the High School Winter Concert of January 26. Both concerts present the Chorus, Orchestra, and Band.

The Middle School Winter Concert broadcast schedule on Channel 17 in Williamstown:

Sundays, March 26 & April 2 at 7-8:00 pm
Wednesdays, March 29 & April 4 at 11 am
Saturdays, April 1 & April 8 at 12:30pm & 7pm
Monday, April 3 at 4:45 pm

The High School Winter Concert broadcast schedule:

Sundays, March 9 & April 16 at 7-8:15 pm
Mondays, April 10 & April 17, 4:45 pm
Wednesdays, April 12 & April 19 at 10:45 am
Saturdays, April 15 & April 22, 12:30 & 7:00pm

MUSIC: Folk, rock hillbilly, pop combine at Clark Art on April 1

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute's winter concert series "From Woodstock to Somewhere Near There..." features Gandalf Murphy and The Slambovian Circus of Dreams in the last concert of the series on Saturday, April 1 at 8 pm. The Clark's auditorium has been filled with the soulful rock of the young singer/songwriter Jess Klein and the ageless folk tunes of Richie Havens, and welcomes the whimsical blend of folk, rock, hillbilly and pop of Murphy and his eclectic group. This series celebrates the diverse sounds of nearby Boston, Woodstock, and the Hudson
Valley. Tickets are $18 ($12 for members and students). For tickets, call the Clark's box office at 413-458-0524 or stop by the museum shop during regular hours.

Formed in 1998 in Sleepy Hollow, NY, the band has toured the Northeast, sharing the stage with Greg Brown, Ani DiFranco, Dar Williams, The Nields, The Kennedys, Fred Eaglesmith and other luminaries of the folk/alt-country circuit. Featured in Relix Magazine and on the television show Joan of Arcadia, this foursome's charismatic live performances and whimsical blend of folk, rock, hillbilly and pop have captivated all-ages audiences, defying the concept of a generation gap.

Their 2004 release "Flapjacks from the Sky" garnered a five-star review from Roots Music Report. The New York Times wrote "Gandalf Murphy's repertory is filled with lively songs imbued with mystical stirrings and idealism suggestive of the '60s."

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (daily in July and August). Admission is free November through May. Admission June 1 through October 31 is $10 for adults, free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit

Monday, March 20, 2006

Pioneering CSA farm sold for $427K to new farmers in deal to preserve it forever as a community agricultural resource

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. - March 18, 2006 -- A remarkable transition which promises to keep community-based agriculture growing in South Williamstown forever has been completed with the sale for $427,000 of the historic Caretaker Farm to new farmers and a local land trust. "It will be an actively working farm affordable to the farmers in perpetuity - for conservation, recycling and diversity," Caretaker co-founder Samuel W. Smith, 70, declared on Saturday.

Smith and his wife, Elizabeth V., 68, who have nurtured the 35-acre vegetable farm since 1969, left on Saturday to visit a daughter in France after a long-delayed legal closing. It involved four attorneys, two land trusts, 12
adults -- and one 2-year-old -- gathered on Friday around and under a Williamstown Savings Bank conference table. The new owners and farmer are Bridget Spann and Don Zasada - and their 2-year-old daughter, Gabriela.

The Smiths are intellectual and practical pioneers of a growing phenomenon -- so-called "community-supported agriculture" (CSA), in which local participants contribute an annual membership fee and in turn get generous allocations of farm-grown food crops through the year. Caretaker Farm, with 225 households each purchasing a share of farm-grown food for around $550 a year, is one of the "earliest and most notable [U.S.] experiments" of this approach, according to Bill McKibben, the Vermont author of the bestselling book, "The End of Nature."

McKibben will speak at the First Congregational Church in Williamstown at 8 p..m. on April 28 on "Caretaker Farm: Case Study for a Deep Economy" -- a reference to the title of his current book project. He his honorary chairman of
the "Campaign for Caretaker: Standing on Common Ground," which will raise $239,000 to complete the transaction.


Caretaker/Green Living Seminar Speaker: Vivian Schoung, Tuesday 3 p.m. at MCLA

From Elena Traister . . .

On Tuesday, March 21st, in Sullivan Lounge at 3:00 p.m., Vivian Schoung will present, "You are what you eat: Sustainable agriculture at Caretaker Farm, Williamstown, MA." Vvian was an apprentice at Caretaker Farm in Williamstown during the 2004-2005 growing season. She currently works at Hawthorne Valley Farm in
Ghent, N.Y. Vivian is a graduate of Williams College.

This talk is part of MCLA's spring semester Green Living Seminar. The title of this series is: "From personal decisions to large scale conservation efforts: an introduction to the diverse stewards of the environment." The aim of this series is to inform students and the wider community about the ways that environmental conservation can be achieved
through individual actions in combination with larger scale environmental efforts. Presentations are free and open to the public. Each presentation and will last approximately one hour, and light refreshments will be provided.

Forwarded by:
Elena Traister
Instructor of Environmental Studies
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
375 Church St.
North Adams, MA 01247
Phone: 413-662-5301

Friday, March 17, 2006

Nuciforo decision to leave Mass. Senate opens field; Ware announces

The news on Friday that Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. has decided not seek re-election to the Massachusetts Senate from the First Berkshire District is likely to lead to a lively contest in November. The first candidate may be former Williamstown selectperson Margaret J. Ware. Ware, who is also a state Democratic committeewoman, told she decided to run as soon as she heard that Nuciforo had to abandon the State House and
instead run for Pittsfield registrar of deeds. That's because incumbent Mary K. O'Brien is retiring. Ware is currently community-services director at Elder Services of Berkshire County. Her husband, Robert, is a Williamstown attorney. She's a 1971 graduate of Mount Holyoke College. She has her own blog at . Nuciforo bio:

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Peace march planned for Saturday in Pittsfield

This is a forward of an email post from Trish Gorman, of Williamstown ( ). It's not clear who has written the original news release Trish forwards, so the accuracy of the schedule information is not confirmed.

Gorman writes:

"Bring signs (without sticks or cardboard tubes as they are not allowed in Pittsfield.) Bring drums to beat as we march along. Pots and pans will do nicely. Some churches will ring their bells for us. Some
folks will bring whistles so we can blow the whistle on the facilitators of war as we pass the recruiting station at 75 North St. Bring your cameras if you like. We plan to include a reading of the Bill of Rights in our final reflections. If you haven't read it recently you may hear it differently in these times."

The Third Anniversary - End the Iraq War March is sponsored by Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice and the Global Issues Resource Organization. Call 413 997-2108 for more information.

"Third Anniversary - End the Iraq War March," Saturday, March 18, 2006,
Pittsfield, MA. Rain/snow date: Sunday, March 19.

The March will serve as a three-part remembrance.

10:40 - 11:40 a.m.: Vigil on South St. on the sidewalks on the uphill slope, beginning at Crofut St. 11:40 a.m. - 12:40 p.m.: March up South St. to North St. to Wahconah St. to Pecks Rd. (Alll churches are encouraged to ring their bells for five minutes at noon in support of this remembrance.)

  • The first segment of the march, to West Housatonic Street, will be in remembrance of the three-year duration of the Iraq war (invasion and occupation) and will consist of 1,096 steps, one for each day of this now global catastrophe.
  • The second segment, to Wahconah Street, will be in remembrance of the roughly 2,300 American Service Members who have given their lives, one step for each death. The route will follow South Street to Park Square, circle the square and proceed up North St. to the intersection of North and Wahconah streets.
  • The final segment of the March will continue on Wahconah Street and end at Pecks Road. Each step in this phase of the March will represent 100 Iraqi deaths. The total length of the March is approximately 2.25 miles.

Immediately following the march, marchers will join together in the sanctuary of Pilgrim Memorial Church, 249 Wahconah Street, to share a few closing reflections. Marchers are advised to park on side streets, but may also park in the lot behind St. Teresa's at 290 South St. A safety vehicle will accompany the march and can shuttle marchers back to South Street.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

LWV seeks nominations for Williamstown town employee award

Anne Skinner of the Williamstown League of Women Voters, submits this:

"For the past five years, the LSV-W has recognized an outstanding town
employee, to show our appreciation for the work required to keep our
town running smoothly. We invite nominations for this year of an
employee who has provided outstanding service to our community, above
and beyond what is expected of him or her. This service can have
been performed during the past year or in previous years. It can
have been a single exceptional act or have been spread over several

"All employees of the Town of Williamstown, including those at the
Williamstown Elementary School, are eligible. Possible nominees
include (but are not limited to) snowplow drivers, cemetery workers,
policemen, firemen, town department employees, transfer station
workers, custodians, teachers, school staff and crossing guards.

"Nomination forms are available at the Milne Library and at Town Hall,
or nominations can be sent to Anne Skinner (P.O. Box 353,
Williamstown) by April 16th. Nominations should include a
description of the exceptional service provided and the name and
telephone number (or email address) of the person submitting the
nomination. We will recognize the winner at one of our events and
also announce the name at Town Meeting.

"For your information, past winners are:
2001-Tim Kaiser; 2002 - Rose Hammann; 2003 - Betsy Reali; 2004 - Mary
Kennedy; 2005 - Pat MacLeod

Dr. Anne Skinner
Chemistry Department, Williams College
47 Lab Campus Drive
Williamstown, MA 01267
Phone: (413) 597-2285

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Pastor will perform St. Mark's reading from memory on March 10

On Friday, March 10, in Goodrich Hall at Williams College (7:30 p.m.), the Rev. Bert Marshall will perform entirely from memory the whole of St. Mark's Gospel -- as it may have been told in the early years of the Jesus Movement, before the rise of institutional Christianity. Marshall is a native of Weeping Water, Nebraska. He has played in a Lincoln-based rock-n-roll band, spent 10 years driving tractor-trailers for a New England health food distributor, apprenticed on a couple of Vermont dairy farms, co-managed with his wife a small farm and country inn in northern Vermont, and worked with troubled teenagers from New York City at a residential setting in Pleasantville, N.Y. He is a graduate of Yale University Divinity School, where upon graduation he was awarded the top prizes in "religion and the arts" and in "the public recitation of scripture." He's also the pastor of the First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Lee, Mass. He committed the Gospel of Mark to memory while on a three-month sabbatical in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 2003. You can read his thoughts about his spoken-word one-man show here: His reading is co-presented with the Williams College Chaplains' office and the Inkberry literary workshop in North Adams.

Pulitzer finalist reading from work-in-progress tonight (March 4) at Eclipse Mill

Inkberry writer's project is trying out tonight (Saturday, March 4, 7:30 p.m.) a new venue for its literary readings -- the gallery space at the Eclipse Mill ( /) on Union Street in North Adams, a beautifully-refurbished old mill building that now holds live-and-work artists' lofts. It also holds a gallery, which is where we're presenting this reading. The first reader will be Jill Gilbreth, who holds an MFA in fiction from Emerson (and who works as Inkberry's program administrator). She'll be reading from a story called "When the Stars Begin to Fall," which I've had the deep pleasure of reading, and which I'm looking really forward to hearing aloud.The second reader will be Andrea Barrett. Andrea is the author of five novels, most recently/The Voyage of the Narwhal/, and two collections of short fiction, /Ship Fever/, which received the National Book Award, and /Servants of the Map/, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She'll be reading from her n!
ew novel-in-progress.Kerry Fried has written, "Barrett excels in both physical and social description, writing with a naturalist's precision and a passionate imagination." The *Times* of London calls Andrea "an original, memorable voice." Don't miss this chance to hear her read her work! The reading will be followed by a wine-and-cheese reception in the gallery.

Williamstown Community Chest seeks volunteer of year nominations

Williamstown Chamber of Commerce director Anne Singleton reports the agency is seeking nominations for its Volunteer of the Year Award, to be presented at the Chest's annual meeting on May 17th at the Williams Inn. "As an organization that depends on volunteers to carry out its mission of raising and distributing funds to support local charitable organizations providing services to those in need, the Chest wishes to recognize the importance of volunteer efforts throughout the community," Singleton writes.

Since 1985, the Community Chest has presented an annual award honoring a member or members of the community for exceptional service as a volunteer. The nomination process is open to the public and members of the community are invited to submit names of persons whose volunteer efforts have made Williamstown a better place in which to live and work. Nominations for the award should include the name of the proposed recipient and examples of his/her volunteer service with dates, if possible. A contact name for additional information should also be included. Nominations should be sent by April 1 to Selection Committee, Williamstown Community Chest, P.O. Box 204, Williamstown, MA 01267. Nominations can also be dropped off at the Community Chest Office at 86 Spring Street or sent to . For more information please contact Executive Director Anne Singleton at 458-2443 or visit the Chest's website at .

(Contact: Anne Singleton 458-2443 (work) or 458-4083 (home) )

Women's history play, "Looking for Elizabeth" opens March 17 in North Adams

(Submitted by Bette Craig)

Looking for Elizabeth, a two-character play written by Bette Craig, will open at the Main Street Stage, 55 Main Street in North Adams, on March 17th. For reservations and information, telephone (413) 663-3240. Performances will be Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. through April 1st, with Sunday matinees on March 19th and April 2nd at 4:30 p.m. and a Thursday (pay what you wish) performance on March 23rd at 8 p.m. It's especially appropriate that the play will be performed during Women'ss History Month," says playwright Bette Craig, "Because 'Elizabeth' refers to Elizabeth Robins, an American actress/writer/suffragist who wrote one of the 20th Century's first works of feminist theory, Ancilla's Share, published in 1924." The play explores the intersections of art and politics and family obligations, as Elizabeth Robins talks about her early career in the theater (she toured with James OÿÿNeill and with Edwin Booth and Lawrence Barrett in the 1880ÿÿs and was the first person to perform Ibsen's Hedda Gabler in English in London in 1891) and her development of political consciousness. "It was not my original intention," continues the playwright, "but I wound up as a character in my own play, and I am playing the part. I spent quite a lot of time at the Fales Library at New York University, which has most of Elizabeth Robins' papers. I was intrigued to discover that Elizabeth's mother was mentally ill, as is my own mother. Elizabeth never acknowledged this publicly, but I knew from my own experience that it had to be a significant factor in her life. This wound up forming the core of the play."

New York City actress Mary Anisi, who has been working with Craig on the play for the last four years, will play Elizabeth Robins. Bruce MacDonald, Main Street Stage Artistic Director, is sharing direction with Chuck Portz, who played the father in Main Streetÿ's 2004 production of Proof. Both Craig and Portz have been part-time residents of South Williamstown since 1980. They produced (and Portz wrote and directed) the PBS American Playhouse version of Mary Wilkins Freeman's A Mistaken Charity which was filmed in the Berkshires in 1986. Craig's three previous plays, Working Our Way Down, I Just Wanted Someone to Know and A Peaceable Kingdom were produced by The Labor Theater in New York City and on tour. I Just Wanted Someone to Know, a documentary play about women's lives by Craig and Joyce L. Kornbluh was published by Smyrna Press.

(Posted for: Bette Craig (413) 458-5257

Williamstown's "Little Red" preschool open house March 13

Angela Cardinali ( ) forwarded the following
news release as volunteer publicity chair for Williamstown's Little
Red School House nursery school.


The Williamstown Cooperative Nursery School at the Little Red Schoolhouse will host a SPRING OPEN HOUSE for the community on Monday, March 13, from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Students ranging in age from two years nine months through four years will be accepted for fall enrollment beginning April 1. The annual open house is an opportunity to meet parents and teachers, learn about programs at the school and take a tour of the building and its facilities. Children are welcome and refreshments will be served.

A bright, spacious facility in a rural setting, the nursery school encompasses an acre of grassy field surrounding the historic building. It features two separate classrooms for younger and older children with preparation for kindergarten readiness in the older children's room. A large outdoor play area includes a newly constructed playground, climbing structures and a children's garden. Seasonal field trips provide enhancements to the classroom experience throughout the year. There are several enrollment options available including five days, Tuesday-Thursday or Monday-Wednesday-Friday. School hours are 9 am until noon with an option for Lunch Bunch ending at 1 p.m. or Extended Day until 3 p.m.

Williamstown Cooperative Nursery School operates on a traditional academic calendar and enrollment is continuous. Teachers are state certified and the school is accredited with the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The school accepts vouchers and subsidies and tuition assistance is available for qualified families. Offering a child-centered approach to learning, Williamstown Cooperative Nursery School at the Little Red Schoolhouse is the only parent-cooperative preschool in Northern Berkshire County. Parent members are encouraged to get involved with the school, however participation is not required. The schoolhouse is located at 32 New Ashford Road (Route 7) in Williamstown just south of the intersection of Routes 7 and 43. For more information, contact Sharon Manning at 413-458-8668 or Jessica Storey at 413-458-2107