By Jennifer Raxter
Recently, I had the opportunity to not only visit one of the best creative resources in downtown New Bedford, MA but I also had the privilege of being let into the psyche of a local filmmaker who has a unique flair for humor and human insight. Throughout the month of June ArtWorks! Partners for the Arts hosted the film series, “Through the Lens,” in which Massachusetts based filmmaker Chris Hassan kicked off the exhibition of DIY (Do It Yourself) film screenings. And all I can say is I hope this is the start of many screenings not only by this very talented filmmaker but also at this gem of a location.
Hassan exuberantly started the evening by appearing from behind a screen, ala WWF style, drumming to his own theme song (it wouldn’t surprise me if it was an original tune written by this multitalented filmmaker.) He thanked everyone for coming and questions were “encouraged.” Three short films were screened. Americance, Breadsticks, and Survivor Guilt were all written and directed by Hassan and dealt with themes that everyone has experienced at some point: being happy with where you are in your life, are you doing what you’re supposed to be doing and overall, acceptance. Although Hassan admits the production quality of his films isn’t equal to some financially backed independent films, you can’t deny the quality of the story and subject matter this throw back to Godard chooses to show on screen. In a Hassan film a device as ordinary as breadsticks can become a percussive instrument tagging a joke and a metaphor for social ignorance all in one. The depth of personal observation fused with playful humor leads this viewer to believe Hassan is certainly doing what he is suppose to be doing.
Additionally, there couldn’t have been a better host than ArtWorks!. This versatile art center continuously engages the community by presenting quality exhibitions in all realms of visual media. ArtWorks! recognizes that the local film community is steadily growing and that new media is the “bridge” connecting film with the arts. “Through the Lens” was actually part of the larger “To Tell a Story” digital art exhibit that showcased over twenty artists connecting narrative with both 2D & 3D mediums. Whether ArtWorks! is encouraging filmmaker’s to tell their stories, organizing a show about the art of aerial movement, or breaking the boundaries of new mediums (as their newest show “The Edge” is billed), ArtWorks! lives up to its name by truly partnering with the creative community. It’s exciting to see this org jump into the exploding world of new media and its many bridges to various creative fields. Just as Hassan is embracing his strengths, so is ArtWorks!
“To Tell a Story” was curated by Mark Medeiros and Karen Alves with the filmmaker series curated by Ryan Santos and Tommy Whalen.