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January 24, 2012 – Art Jones has been nominated by Film Independent for the John Cassavetes Award in recognition of his role as producer on the team behind director Matt Gordon’s debut feature film, “The Dynamiter.” The Cassavetes Award, spotlighting the five outstanding feature films of 2011 made for under $500,000, will be presented on January 24 in Santa Monica at the Independent Spirit Awards ceremony, hosted by Seth Rogan and televised on the IFC Channel. Past recipients of the award include “The Blair Witch Project,” “Personal Velocity” and “The Station Agent.”
Filmed entirely in rural Mississippi, “The Dynamiter” tells the story of two young brothers who are left to care for themselves and must struggle to keep a sense of “real family” alive. The film, directed by Baltimore-native Matt Gordon, was an official selection at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival and has been acquired for distribution by Film Movement.
VERMONT PUBLIC RADIO / NPR
Thursday, 10/13/11 • By Nina Keck
A documentary film about Rutland's annual record setting blood drive will be shown tonight in Washington, DC at the visitor's center of the U.S. Capitol. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion on the plight and promise of America's small towns. As VPR's Nina Keck reports the film is gaining traction outside Vermont as a teaching tool for grassroots community development.
(Film) "We're going for a thousand pints of blood. Last year we broke the New England record. I don't know what the national record is but I bet if Rutland found out about it we'd try to break it."
(Keck) When he first drove to Rutland, New York City filmmaker Art Jones expected to make a five-minute movie about a blood drive.
(Jones) "We didn't' really realize until we got to the edit room that there was a very strong palpable story of reinvention and renewal here. "
(Film) "People say, 'Ah, this place is dead, I'm getting out of here. Never gone to work.' Never say that. you gotta say I'm gonna fix the damn thing one way or the other and I'm gonna get it on track and I'm gonna do it."
(Keck) Jones' film highlights efforts by local residents to create an award-winning farmers' market, launch a series of city block parties and carve out biking and recreational trails. It's a message of activism and renewal that Jones is now taking on the road to community forums outside Vermont, like this one in Lake Placid. Here's Steve Costello, one of the blood drive organizers, speaking at that event.
(Costello) "We certainly had no idea that this blood drive would become what it has become. And this past December after Art made the film we did 1400 pints in a day. The point is, whether you're in a little dinky town like Rutland or a beautiful town like Lake Placid or anywhere in between, setting goals and really focusing on those goals is one of the keys to getting things done."
(Keck) For Gail Brill of Saranac Lake, N.Y., it was a powerful message.
(Brill) "I think this film was really inspiring on so many levels. And it just goes to show that there is this effort that we are not alone in our effort to keep our smallcommunities thriving and healthy and sustainable and this is really kind of a revolution that's happening all across the country."
(Keck) In places like Williamsburg, Pennsylvania - population 1,300 - Carlee Ranalli, a local official says they showed The Blood in This Town last month at a community development meeting and it spurred them to host a fall festival this Saturday.
(Ranalli) "And then we talked about trying to actually have some type of activity every month in our community if we can. So I really think it did jump start some motivation."
(Keck) Ranalli says Williamsburg, like Rutland, has a long way to go. But she says the lesson she and others took away from the film was that it was up to them to make their town better.
Colleen Cain is with a nonprofit organization that develops policy research on economic and environmental issues for states from Minnesota to Maine.
Her organization is one of the hosts of tonight's screening in Washington, DC. Cain believes the film can be an important wake up call for policy makers who she says often focus too much on big cities and regulations, while overlooking the needs and potential of small towns and the power of their local residents.
By Gordon Dritschilo - October 11, 2011
Art Jones thinks Congress could learn from Rutland, Vermont.??The filmmaker, with the help of Rep. Peter Welch, D-VT. and a nonprofit group called the Northeast-Midwest Institute, has scheduled a showing of “The Blood in this Town” later this week at the Congressional Auditorium, located in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. ??Jones’ documentary uses the Gift of Life Marathon blood drive as a backdrop to look at Rutland’s various problems and the efforts under way to solve them.
Jones has held a number of showings of the film accompanied by panel discussions about community renewal.??“I think we’re going to get a number of lawmakers, but I think really there is something in getting their staffs,” Jones said of the Washington showing, scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday. “It’s staff members on the Hill who do a lot of the day-to-day dealing with constituents.”??Jones said he also hopes to attract “advocates” and people from Beltway think-tanks.??“I’d love to kind of reignite the fire for federal support for the small towns, who are the ones hardest hit in this recession,” he said.
Like the other screenings, this one will include a panel discussion, and Jones said panelists who have signed up to go to D.C. include Gift of Life organizer Steve Costello and Rutland Area Farm and Food Link executive director Tara Kelly.??Jones said when Congressmen pay attention to small towns, it is typically to listen to people’s problems and “feel their pain.”??“I wish they’d do a little bit of listening to what is working at the grass-roots level,” he said. “Small towns are an incredible resource for reinvention and new ideas, but I’m not sure people are used to listening to them that way. I’d like to bring this to a larger audience in Washington where it should be on their radar.”
“The Blood in this Town” has found its way into some regional film festivals, but Jones said he feels he has been more productive showing the films at small-town forums.??“What you get at a festival is an audience of moviegoers, but they’re not the sort of people who will turn around and say ‘What is happening in our community and what can we do?’” he said. “I really believe this film is going to live and do its work at the grass roots level. If we can go to DC and take a macro view of things now and then, I’m all for it.”