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Bits & Bytes: BIFF wraps up 12th festival; New Play Reading series; advocating for healthy food; Paul Çelebi at the Southfield Church; golf classic raises $43,000

On June 4, the Berkshire International Film Festival wrapped up its 12th festival with luminaries such as Christopher Plummer, John Carroll Lynch, Karen Allen, Steven Cantor, Sheila Nevins, David Edelstein and Paul Krugman as well as 40 filmmakers in attendance.

BIFF wraps up 12th annual film festival

Great Barrington — On June 4, the Berkshire International Film Festival wrapped up its 12th festival with luminaries such as Christopher Plummer, John Carroll Lynch, Karen Allen, Steven Cantor, Sheila Nevins, David Edelstein and Paul Krugman as well as 40 filmmakers in attendance. In addition, BIFF announced the winners of the annual BIFF Juried Prize Awards and the BIFF Audience Awards.

In the juried documentary category, the winner was “Nowhere to Hide,” directed by Zaradasht Ahmed and soon to be released by East Village Entertainment. In the juried narrative category, the Israeli entry from Film Movement, “Bar Bahar,” or “In Between,” was awarded the prize.

The Audience Award for Narrative Feature went to the Sundance hit “Patti Cake$,” directed by Geremy Jasper and distributed by Fox Searchlight. The Audience Award for Best Documentary feature was a tie between “Take My Nose…Please!”, directed by Joan Kron, and “Bending the Arc,” directed by Kief Davidson and Pedro Kos.

The winner of the Berkshire Bank Next Great Filmmaker Award was Denmark’s Helene Moltke-Leth, whose short film “Running Through Life” provides insight into the relationship among individuals, their community and technology and the desire to live a balanced life.

Screening a record 80 features, documentaries and shorts, BIFF hosted over 40 filmmakers and offered free children’s programs, conversations with Berkshire filmmakers and parties throughout downtown Great Barrington and Pittsfield. BIFF also presented the sixth annual Filmmakers Summit, a two-day industry summit offering a diverse, multidimensional program of panel discussions, lectures and special events led by known industry professionals.


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Mansour to open New Play Reading series

Mona Mansour
Mona Mansour

Dorset, Vt. — Dorset Theatre Festival will open this year’s New Play Reading series with a reading of Mona Mansour’s newest developing work on Monday, June 12, at 7 p.m.

Mansour is spending five days in residence at DTF developing a brand new in-progress work. She will be joined by director Scott Illingworth and actors Erin Anderson, Christy Escobar, Rafi Silver, Melisa Aker and Andy Ingalls, who will present the play.

“I started off wanting to research two things that were part of the makeup of my home city, San Diego: bioengineering and zoos. I became interested in how we communicate with animals: how much do we project onto them? Each zookeeper I met with had more than one experience of feeling like they and their animals had an understanding that transcended a scientific understanding…so that’s the area we’ll be exploring in this new work,” said Mansour.

Mansour’s play “Unseen” premiered at the Gift Theatre in Chicago in February 2017. “The Vagrant Trilogy” was recently presented at New Dramatists in New York City after a workshop at the Vineyard Arts Project with the Public Theater. Mansour was a member of the Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group and a Core Writer at Minneapolis’ Playwrights’ Center. With Tala Manassah, she wrote “Falling Down the Stairs,” an Ensemble Studio Theatre/Sloan commission. Their short play “Dressing” is part of “Facing Our Truth: Ten-Minute Plays on Trayvon, Race and Privilege,” a collection of plays commissioned by the New Black Fest. Mansour is the recipient of the 2012 Whiting Award and 2014 Middle East America Distinguished Playwright Award.

Tickets are $20. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or call the DTF box office at (802) 867-2223 x2.


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‘Advocating for Healthy, Affordable Food in Massachusetts’

Pittsfield — On Monday, June 12, at 10:45 a.m., the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires will present Massachusetts Public Health Association organizer Kristina St. Cyr, who will give a talk titled “Advocating for Healthy, Affordable Food in Massachusetts” at Congregation Knesset Israel.

In Massachusetts there are 2.8 million residents, including more than 700,000 children, living in lower-income areas with low grocery store access. Over 680,000 state residents are likely eligible for federal nutrition benefits but are not receiving them. MPHA works with partners around the state to address issues of healthy food access and affordability. Attendees will learn more about how MPHA is addressing food insecurity through its work leading the Massachusetts Food Trust, the SNAP Gap campaign and the Healthy Eating Community of Practice.

St. Cyr is responsible for managing all aspects of MPHA’s healthy food financing campaign. Prior to joining MPHA, she served as the coordinator for the Dona Ana Place Matters team in southern New Mexico. Place Matters is a nationwide health equity initiative aimed at reducing health disparities by identifying their complex root causes and defining strategies to address them.

For more information, please call the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires at (413) 442-4360, ext. 10.


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Paul Çelebi. Photo courtesy Music at the Southfield Church
Paul Çelebi. Photo courtesy Music at the Southfield Church

Pianist Paul Çelebi performs at Southfield Church

Southfield — On Saturday, June 10, at 7 p.m., Music at the Southfield Church will present pianist Paul Çelebi at the Southfield Church, 234 Norfolk Rd. The program will include works from Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms and will conclude with Etudes by Philip Glass.

Çelebi is an alumnus of Pittsfield High School and Berkshire Music School, where he studied under Jean Stackhouse, and is now in his third year at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He has won prizes from the New England Piano Teachers’ Association and the Uel Wade Scholarship Competition. Last year, he was invited to perform at the Tanglewood 75th anniversary concert. Çelebi is also a composer and studies composition with Jesse Jones and Stephen Hartke.

The performance is free and open to the public; a retiring collection will be taken in support of the artists. A reception with refreshments will follow the program. For more information, call the Southfield Church at (413) 229-8109.


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The team of James Pollard, Katie Phillips, Barb Hassan and Wendy Goodwin at Berkshire County Arc's 23rd annual gold classic.
The team of James Pollard, Katie Phillips, Barb Hassan and Wendy Goodwin at Berkshire County Arc’s 23rd annual gold classic.

Berkshire County Arc’s 23rd annual golf classic raises $43,000

Pittsfield — Berkshire County Arc held its 23rd annual golf classic at Berkshire Hills Country Club on May 25. More than 180 golfers on 45 teams participated in the tournament, which raised $43,000 to support individuals with developmental disabilities and brain injuries throughout Berkshire and Hampden counties.

Approximately 100 organizations contributed sponsorships to the golf classic, and more than 50 volunteers and organizations donated time, raffle prizes and silent auction items. To date, the annual event has raised approximately $723,500 and awarded more than $93,000 in scholarships to graduating high school seniors who are pursuing careers in the human services field. Tournament results are below.

First Flight
First place ($200/team): Neyman, Hadley, Griffin, Whitlock – 60
Second place ($140/team): Krawczyk, Quinto, Harlow, Morin – 61*31
Third place ($100/team): Caritey, Caritey, Stracuzzi, Guinan – 61*34

Second Flight
First place ($200/team): Mangiardi, Mangiardi, Mazzeo, Sondrini – 63
Second place ($140/team): Murphy, McDermott, Hyatt, Butler – 64
Third place ($100/team): Craighead, Doyle, DiNicola, Ruberto – 67*10

Third Flight
First place ($200/team): DiNicola, Paquette, Eseppi, Gonska – 63
Second place ($140/team): Melski, Messana, Simmonds, Ameen – 66
Third place ($100/team): Gable, Potluck, Horton, Gable – 69

Fourth Flight
First place ($200/team): Proskin, Wixsom, Brooking, Powers – 67
Second place ($140/team): Tatro, Croshier, Consolini, Brodeur – 68
Third place ($100/Team): McNiche, Spence, Donhoney, McKenna – 69

Long drive (men): Josh Pollander
Long drive (women): Katie Phillips

Closest to the pin #3: Pete Sondrini – 3’6”
Closest to the pin #5: Paul Paquette – 7’2”
Closest to the pin #7: John Keegan – 11’10”
Closest to the pin #13: Jim Boland – 9’2”
Closest to the pin #17: Ron Pero – 6’1”



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