While the Hamptons International Film Festival is underway, two local filmmakers will hold an independent screening of their short films at 230 Elm in Southampton.
The Thursday, October 10, event features Sag Harbor-based photographer and filmmaker Bryan Downey’s work “Nashville Long Island,” and Native American writer from the Ojibway tribe Ginew Benton’s “Looking Glass.” Both are Bull Dog Studio productions, out of photographer/filmmaker Downey’s Sag Harbor film-editing and recording studio.
“Nashville Long Island” is a 26-minute candid look into how music moves us. Through 13 segments, it illustrates the effects East End music has on children with Down syndrome, autism, and cerebral palsy; the world of saying goodbye to loved ones through music, as explained by Brenda Siemer, widow of actor Roy Scheider; and the voice of the very first Muppet that changed a generation — a Montauk resident in 1966 who was asked by then-teenage puppeteer Jim Henson if he could write a 60-second song for an appearance he had on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” That Montauk resident was rocker Joe Delia.
“I got a call from Southampton High School and was asked if special education kids could come on a field trip to the studio. A full-sized bus pulled up and I brought them in one at a time to ad-lib to a hip-hop song Michael Maz and Dylan Janét Collins helped me produce,” Downey said. “When they all came in, the energy was through the roof. Two weeks later I returned with cameras to their classroom to play it back to them and film their reactions.”
He said there are happy and sad stories in his film — winner of the Award of Merit by IMPACT DOCS Awards, 2019 winner of the WILLiFEST US Documentary Short Competition, and 2019 official selection of the Artisan Festival International World Peace Initiative Cannes — but all are true.
“Roy Scheider’s widow tells us the one last song her husband wanted to listen to as he slipped away after taken off his respirator. He continued breathing for the entire song,” Downey said. “The last story in the 13 is the saddest, and always catches people off-guard. You expect a happy ending. Nope. That’s not reality.”
Benton’s “Looking Glass” follows a young Native American man who is suffering from the death of his father, and builds a time machine using science and traditional knowledge in an attempt save him, but ultimately discovers his true purpose. The piece, known by natives as sci-fact instead of sci-fi, is still in the international film festival circuit, screening currently at a Native American film festival in Nevada after recent showings at the AFI World Peace Initiative in Cannes and Asinabka Film & Media Arts Festival in Ottawa.
It was also a 2019 official selection of both the NatiVisions Film Festival and 24th RCNI Red Nation International Film Festival — the Authentic Voice of American Indian & Indigenous Cinema in Los Angeles.
Downey was asked by Benton to help him shoot his piece, because of his specialization in portrait photography of Native Americans over the past six years.
“Ginew has a fellowship from Sundance Film Festival because of a script he wrote. He saw some of my photos and asked if I could do his cinematography because my style was compatible with his vision,” Downey said.
At the Thursday event at 230 Elm from 7 PM to midnight, there will be a free reception with an open bar and buffet, introductions by the directors prior to the film screenings, and live music to follow.