Holy cow, what a night for Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival! First and foremost, big big BIG thank yous go out to Nick’s and to Hadwen Park Congregational Church – the venue stuff was off the chain on Saturday night. Huge (HUGE!) props go out tonight to Nicole Watson and her staff at Nick’s, who stayed behind in candlelight to redirect folks over to Hadwen Park. Huge (HUGE!) props go out tonight also to Charlie MacMillan, who secured us the rainbow crepe paper festooned church basement, and made things happen.
What you need to know is that on Friday night here in Worcester, Massachusetts, there was a flash flood that took out big parts of our city, turning roads into canals (if you live here, you understand the irony of that), and washing away cars. Our beautiful venue on Millbury Street, Nick’s, was soaked through to the bone and lost power overnight, draining their auxiliary lighting and leaving the bar in the dark the next day, luxe velvet curtains and all. But then the power came back on right before six! And then, as our setup crew was celebrating the lights being on, there was an explosion (I am not kidding – a big BOOM and smoke and smell and panic) down the block and, unsurprisingly, the power went back off. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
So bring on the Grand Contingency Plan! Knowing early on in the day that things could turn pear-shaped if the power stayed off, we had considered moving the show, and that BOOM pretty much sealed the deal; with doors at 7:30, a little before 6:30, we pulled the cord, packed the cars and headed over to Hadwen Park. Nick’s was kind enough to not only make sure that ticket holders were received warmly and sent to the new venue with directions, but to make sure we had popcorn to bring along for the show. Three cheers for Nick’s!
I want to tell you I am proud and honored – the community here in Worcester took to those messy messy circumstances and swept them aside to make the festival happen this weekend: April and Ted Desmond, two of this year’s judges, made sure there were snacks, volunteers Molly and Liberty and Summi moved gear and set up tech, neighbors and house guests (including finalist and 2015 award winner Rachel Kann!) grabbed the projector, amplifier and rug* from the press office. Guests arrived in good cheer, some after grabbing pizza along the way, and the show started a whopping ten minutes behind schedule.** Doublebunny Press could not possibly be more in love with our city’s and festival’s poetry community, coming together to make sure the event happened. If you want to know why we hold the show in Worcester, and why Worcester deserves nice things, 2016’s Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival was Exhibit A: everyone, but everyone, got together and made the night spectacular.
And it really was spectacular! Packed house, a super keen listening audience, lovely guests and finalists from all over the country, and over two hours of films in with the awards and banter. Tony Brown and Melissa Mitchell emceed like pros, even without a mic.*** The place stayed packed right through to the end and then the celebration poured out to an afterparty. Texts and calls poured in through Sunday night to tell us what a good time was had, and how many people were impressed by all the great films that screened. Color us honored, color us all inspired, color us all thrilled and excited and looking forward to the 2017 festival, again planned for Nick’s next year, on October 21st.
Congratulations and thank yous also to all the winners!
Not the Stars by H. Paul Moon and John Dofflemyer took Best Overall Production and finalist for Best Sound/Music, as well as Curator’s Choice pick! Rabbit Heart fell in love with Moon last year when his poem Equus Caballus won a Here Kitty Kitty prize, and the judges fell in love with his presentation of cowboy poetry all over again.
Becoming a Landscape by newcomer Renata Davis won Best Animation. What a treat to meet this amazing woman and hear her story about the film that very almost never came to fruition! We look forward to more from Davis in coming years’ festivities.
Art Guitars by Cassidy Parker Knight and Jeff Knight won for Best Smartphone Production – and came out with Tonie, whose guitars were featured in the film, and little Harrison, all the way from Austin, TX just for the show! This family’s films has been a cornerstone of Rabbit Heart since the very beginning – it was truly exciting to see them as they brought home their trophy this year.
Hardboiled Egg by Shira Moolton was the winner of the very first Shoots! Youth Prize awarded by Rabbit Heart, and that she and her parents came in from Philadelphia made our night even more special! This was the first year that there were enough entries in the Shoots! Category to award the prize – Doublebunny is absolutely thrilled that the judges picked this dynamic young woman’s work to take the honor.
Start of Winter by Gary Hoare with gorgeous violin music from Kara Kulpa took Best Production 1 Minute or Under! Hoare won in two categories last year, in the Best Smartphone Production category with his collaboration with Joe Cronin, Cat, and took a Here Kitty Kitty for Reminiscing About the Mars Landing. Local Boy Does Good was on everyone’s lips.
Ted by Jon Constantinou was the winner for Best Sound/Music! You could hear every crackle of the fire, the scrape of the blade against whetstone, and grind of pencils being sharpened, all under a gentle and moving score Welcome to Rabbit Heart, Jon, we’re pleased as punch to meet you!
Road to Nowhere by Jessica Lovina Guimond was the winner for Best Valentine! Another local filmmaker took honors tonight with her very first poetry film, again highlighting the sheer force of local talent in Worcester!
Benjamin’s Brother: Story About a Broken Heart by Noam Sharon and Tal Rosenthal (under the name Too Short for Modeling) was the winner this year in the Here Kitty Kitty category with the poem that made the office staff keen when they first saw it, and left the audience enthralled. It’s more of a music video than a poetry film, but that’s one of the lovely things about this category.
*The red carpet got left behind at Nick’s in the dark – lolwhoops – so it was orange carpet to the rescue! Which, wow – totally showed off Best Valentine winner Jessica Lovina Guimond’s leaf green dress, even.
**For the record, in 2015 the show started half an hour behind schedule.
***We forgot to grab a mic and cable. It was a little frantic around moving time.