Community Film House Celebrates 100 Years in Berkshires

Images Cinema Celebrates 100th Anniversary of its Theater and 100 Years of Movies in the Berkshires

Images Cinema celebrates 100 years as a continuously operating theater this year! To mark this momentous occasion, this nonprofit independent movie theater will host a number of special events and screenings throughout the year, culminating with a special cinematic celebration at the theater on November 30, 2016—100 years to the day that the first film screened in Williamstown.

In November 1916, Hiram C. Walden converted a former Williams College fraternity house into a movie theater, promising to screen only “high class” fare with live musical accompaniment. One hundred years later, movies are still screening, making it one of the oldest continuously operating movie theaters in the world.

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The Ripple: Short Guide to River Movies

Rivers in Reels: Short Guide to River Movies

A classic film set on the Potomac River…a river mighty enough to hold two film icons.

Witch hazel crane over Halloween rivers, their branchtips glowing with yellow blossoms—tassled tiny chandeliers of color, calling for sensitive notice. Catch one in the sunlight; examine the blaze that pops vibrant against the drab of forest dun and river dark. Rivers seem darker when leaves have fallen down. Soon the tiny chandeliers of the hazel will drop, too, into the flow to spin and drift and sail away deep into the frosty months of winter. Soon enough, water will show us its sterner self, as snow and ice will be with us.

Still a few weeks where we might catch some peace in a warm little microclime beside a Hilltown river: yet there’s no fighting it; it’s time for us to retreat from the outdoors a bit, and pull back into our shells of home and work. And imagination.

When it gets cold in the coming weeks, light a fire and let yourself go on a voyage on a river—at least, a voyage of imagination and feeling. Rivers are real as the rain, but they are also imagined. I love imagining rivers, and of experiencing what others have imagined, too. Rivers are always apparent; they don’t hide. But they are inscrutable and relentless, always a mystery.

Here are a few of my favorite river movies, starting with the child friendly titles then moving into PG13-land:  Read the rest of this entry »

“What’s the Big Idea?” Challenges Kids to Think Critically & Philosophically

Film Project Poses Intellectual Challenges to Energize the Mind

In order to raise children who will grow up to be critical thinkers, it is essential that we not only present them with intellectual challenges while they’re young, but – as the goal of “What’s the Big Idea?” states – we must also teach them the skills that they will need to tackle complex ideas. By exposing children to philosophical ideas and questions early in life, we create opportunities for them to learn how to think critically about major topics. And if we provide the proper support, we allow them to do this big thinking in a context where they’re supported throughout their learning.

A project of Mt. Holyoke College professor Tom Wartenberg and local filmmaker Julie Akeret, “What’s the Big Idea?” introduces middle school students (12-14yr) to philosophy through film. Pairing commentary with pertinent clips relating to the themes addressed by the project, “What’s the Big Idea?” takes common tween-age dilemmas and presents them to students in a way that not only allows them to learn how to handle such situations, but encourages them to think deeply about the larger ideas that lay behind common life experiences and situations. Clips from iconic movies including The Karate Kid, Mean Girls, Liar Liar, and even High School Musical help to teach students to think critically about peer pressure, bullying, lying, and friendship. The project even offers resources for developing discussions and activities after tackling each theme – resources that can easily be used by educators of all kinds.

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Cinema of Law: Screenings at the Berkshire Athenaeum

Criminal Justice Review in Film, 2014

There’s a lot more to law than just Law and Order!  The legal system is not all arrests and gavels – it’s a complicated system to navigate, and its intricacies can be fascinating.  The Berkshire Bar Association (BBA)and the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum, along with the Berkshire Law Library, are offering a film series filled with popular films following a law theme.  The four-part series is a mix of both documentary and fiction, both new and old!

Best for older high school and college students interested in criminal justice, the film series brings to light the reality of working in the legal system, whether as a lawyer, judge, or officer.  Students can learn about a branch of government not often examined in-depth, and will be able to enjoy some great cinema at the same time!  The films also help to promote the importance of understanding and engaging with government.

All films are free, and will take place at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield.  Each film comes a legal subject and will be introduced by a member of the BBA. Screenings will be on Tuesday evenings at 6pm, beginning on March 4th and include… Read the rest of this entry »

New Filmmakers Series at Historic Northampton

New Filmmakers Series at Historic Northampton
Sunday, November 10th

The challenges of parenting are not unique to any particular culture or geographical location. Raising children (and being raised) includes some of the same obstacles no matter where you live, and these challenges cross cultures, continents, and generations. However, it is in approaching these obstacles that we perhaps learn the most about ourselves, our children, our parents, and our relationships with one another.

Historic Northampton is hosting a screening of two films that address this idea in two very different ways. Fast Forward: New Filmmakers at Historic Northampton includes work by Masami Kawai and Sasha Hsuczyk, women whose films examine their own relationships with their mother’s. Held on Sunday, November 10th at 3pm, the screening addresses themes of immigration, migrant labor, and mother-daughter relationships…

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Cinema of Law: Screenings at the Berkshire Athenaeum

Criminal Justice Review in Film, 2013

There’s a lot more to law than just Law and Order!  The legal system is not all arrests and gavels – it’s a complicated system to navigate, and its intricacies can be fascinating.  The Berkshire Bar Association (BBA)and the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum, along with the Berkshire Law Library, are offering a film series filled with popular films following a law theme.  The four-part series is a mix of both documentary and fiction, both new and old!

Best for older high school and college students interested in criminal justice, the film series brings to light the reality of working in the legal system, whether as a lawyer, judge, or officer.  Students can learn about a branch of government not often examined in-depth, and will be able to enjoy some great cinema at the same time!  The films also help to promote the importance of understanding and engaging with government.

All films are free, and will take place at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield.  Each film comes a legal subject and will be introduced by a member of the BBA. Screenings will be on Tuesday evenings at 6pm, beginning on March 5th and include:

  • The Last Campaign – Screened on Tuesday, March 5th: “The Last Campaign is a documentary feature film about the 2004 campaign for re-election of Justice Warren McGraw for the West Virginia Supreme Court, dubbed the “nastiest” judicial race in 2004, if not the most expensive.” (2005)
  • Caine Mutiny  – Screened on Tuesday, March 11th: “When a US Naval captain shows signs of mental instability that jeopardizes the ship, the first officer relieves him of command and faces court martial for mutiny.” (1954)
  • The Overlooked Suspect – Screened on Tuesday, March 19th: “This documentary film highlights a detailed and on-going 15 year investigation by one of America’s leading private investigators – into the 1994 Nicole Brown Simpson/Ron Goldman murders that prompts the question, “What If O.J. Simpson Didn’t Do It ?” Will be introduced by Albert Harper, Esq., President of the Forensic Science Consortium in Pittsfield. (2012)
  • Amistad  – Tuesday, March 26th:  “About a 1839 mutiny aboard a slave ship that is traveling towards the northeastern coast of America. Much of the story involves a court-room drama about the free man who led the revolt.” (1997. Rated R)

The Berkshire Athenaeum is located at 1 Wendell Avenue in Pittsfield, and can be reached at 413-499-9480.

15 Films Tell the History of Film at the Berkshire Museum

The Story of Film: An Odyssey
Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA
Oct 18 – Dec 13, 2012

The Berkshire Museum’s Little Cinema is offering an in-depth look at the history of films!  The cinema will screen The Story of Film: An Odyssey in eight parts on Thursdays between October 18th and December 13th, starting with “Birth of Cinema:”

The series, which totals just over 15 hours in length, has been divided into fifteen parts – two of which will be shown each week.

Pieced together by film historian Mark Cousins, the series covers literally all of film history, beginning in Thomas Edison’s New Jersey laboratory and ending with a critical look at the multi-billion dollar, technology advanced modern film industry.  Other topics covered include early Hollywood, and the creation of the glitzy Hollywood dream; the so-called “golden age” of cinema, along with the artistry of expressionism, surrealism, and impressionism; the incorporation of sound and color into film; and the effects of changes in American culture on film, especially during eras of historical importance (post WWII, the 1970’s, etc.).

Most appropriate for older students, the film series offers lots of information, presented and narrated in a way that is easily understood.  Students can tie what they learn about film history to their own prior knowledge of American history and culture, and the development of technology.  Each screening costs $5, but passes to all eight screenings are available for $25.  There will be no screening on Thanksgiving – Thursday, November 22nd.  For more information call 413-443-7171 or visit


October 18, 7 p.m.
Part 1: “Birth of the Cinema” (1900–1920)
Filmed in the very buildings where the first movies were made, this hour shows ideas and passion as the driving forces behind film, more so than money and marketing. It covers the very first movie stars, the close up shot, special effects, and the creation of the Hollywood myth, along with a surprise: the women who were the greatest — and best-paid — writers in these early years.
Part 2: “The Hollywood Dream” (1920s)
Star/directors like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton made Hollywood a glittering entertainment industry. But the gloss and fantasy was challenged by movie makers like Robert Flaherty, Eric Von Stroheim, and Carl Theodor Dreyer, who wanted films to be more serious and mature. The result of this battle for the soul of cinema: some of the greatest movies ever made.

October 25, 7 p.m.
Part 3: “Expressionism, Impressionism, and Surrealism: Golden Age of World Cinema” (1920s)
German Expressionism, Soviet montage, French impressionism and surrealism pushed the boundaries of film as passionate new movements. Less known are the glories of Chinese and Japanese films, and the moving story of a great, now-forgotten, movie star, Ruan Lingyu.
Part 4: “The Arrival of Sound” (1930s)
Along with the advent of sound with film comes a host of new genres: screwball comedies, gangster pictures, horror films, westerns, and musicals. Director Howard Hawks was a master of most of them. During this period, Alfred Hitchcock hits his stride and French directors become masters of mood.
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Screening of Miss Representation in the Berkshires

Screening of Miss Representation
Triplex Theater in Great Barrington
Sunday, October 23rd at 11am

The Berkshire International Film Festival (BIFF) Reel Friends Film Society presents a screening of the documentary, Miss Representation at the Triplex Theater on Sunday, October 23rd at 11am in Great Barrington.  The film addresses how society’s longstanding misrepresentation of women has caused under-representation of women who hold positions of power and influence.  Following the screening will be a community panel discussion featuring Serene Mastrianni of Radio2Women, Women’s Times publisher Eugenie Sills, and other notable women.  Older students are welcome, but parents should view the trailer to determine whether or not the film is appropriate for them. This is an empowering event, and a potential learning opportunity for all students:

Tickets not sold at the Triplex and it is suggested that you purchase in advance by calling BIFF at 413-528-8030. Sale of $10 tickets go to support WBCR-LP Berkshire Community Radio.  TriplexCinema is located at 70 Railroad Street in Great Barrington, MA.

The Future of Agriculture

The Future of Agriculture: Forum & Film


On Thursday, May 13th at 7:00 pm, CISA is hosting a Local Food and Agriculture Forum at the Northampton Senior Center (67 Conz Street) to discuss the important role consumers, farmers and local government play in supporting a healthy, sustainable and thriving local food system.

Please join CISA staff, Rep. Steve Kulik (D-Worthington), Rep. John Scibak (D- South Hadley), Cris Coffin of American Farmland Trust and other local legislators and agriculture experts for a discussion about the challenges facing local farms as they work to grow food in the Pioneer Valley.

This is a great opportunity to participate in a conversation about the future of agriculture and the importance of local agriculture to our health, our climate and our local economy. This event is free and open to the public.


In the meantime … If you missed the Farm Film Festival last month and didn’t get a chance to see the BBC documentary, “A Farm for the Future” is a great film to watch.  The film is broken up into several segments on youtube, with the first 10 minute segment being presented here.  A free public screening on June 4th in Northampton, MA. (details below):

In this film, “Wildlife film maker Rebecca Hosking investigates how to transform her family’s farm in Devon into a low energy farm for the future, and discovers that nature holds the key.

“With her father close to retirement, Rebecca returns to her family’s wildlife-friendly farm in Devon, to become the next generation to farm the land. But last year’s high fuel prices were a wake-up call for Rebecca. Realising that all food production in the UK is completely dependent on abundant cheap fossil fuel, particularly oil, she sets out to discover just how secure this oil supply is.

“Alarmed by the answers, she explores ways of farming without using fossil fuel. With the help of pioneering farmers and growers, Rebecca learns that it is actually nature that holds the key to farming in a low-energy future.”


Grow Food Northampton and Transition Northampton will be co-sponsoring a local food potluck, CSA tour, and screening of this excellent film on Friday, June 4th May 28th at 6pm at Town Farm in Northampton, MA.

Following the film, Lilly Lombard will share the vision and work of Grow Food Northampton, especially their campaign to purchase 100 acres of prime farmland (the Bean/Allard land) to create a model site for sustainable community farming and farm education.

Cartoon-a-Palooza: Fundraiser of the Forbes Library Children’s Department

Click Here Listen to PSA

Cartoon-a-Palooza: May 23rd in Northampton

Mark your calendars for Mo Willems’ Cartoon-a-Palooza on May 23rd, 2010 at 2 p.m. at the Academy of Music in Northampton, MA.  An afternoon of award winning animation to benefit the Forbes Library children’s department.

The Forbes Library Children’s Department was last spruced up 18 years ago and the space is showing wear. The paint is peeling, the carpets are fraying, even the bookshelves are collapsing. The homework center is sorely lacking adequate study space and the technology available to help the library’s young adult patrons stay academically competitive is sorely lacking and out of date.

As part of the fundraising effort, the library will be having an afternoon of award winning animation by Mo Willems on Sunday, May 23rd, 2010 at 2pm at the Academy of Music called “Cartoon-a-Palooza”. This family show will present a screening of a collection of his animated cartoons ranging from early Sesame Street and Nickelodeon shorts to the Carnegie Award winning animated adaptations of his beloved picture books, including the world premier of The Pigeon Finds a Hotdog!

All proceeds from this one-time only, special event will go directly to improvements and renovations to the Forbes Library’s Children’s Department. Mo will be on hand to answer questions and sign limited edition Forbes Library posters featuring the New York Bestselling duo Elephant and Piggie.

Tickets are available at the Forbes Library, 20 West Street, Northampton or online or at the Academy of Music. For more information contact Jude McGowan, Children’s Librarian, 413-587-1010 or

Race to Nowhere: How the Pressure to Perform is Impacting Our Kids

Race To Nowhere is a groundbreaking documentary film that examines education, childhood and the unintended consequences of the achievement-obsessed way of life that permeates American education and culture. Unrelenting pressure, whether from well-intentioned parents, teachers, national leaders or from children themselves, is creating a generation suffering from unprecedented levels of stress, depression and burnout.


Race to Nowhere invites you to add your voice to a growing movement of educators, parents, medical professionals, policy makers and concerned citizens who want to see real change in education policies and practices.

Too many students in all grades in the U.S. are under undue performance pressure and stress, get too little sleep and exercise, have too much unnecessary homework, and attend schools that are overly focused on standardized test scores, grades, and/or college admissions. Too many teachers are unable to engage in quality teaching because they have inadequate resources or are under too much pressure from federal, state, district and board mandates that force them to “teach to a test” as they attempt to “cover” an unrealistic volume of content.

As a result, students are no longer in classrooms that challenge them to solve complex problems and think creatively, to work collaboratively on projects, to explore issues with real-world connections, and to develop the real skills needed to succeed in the 21st century and the global economy. Many students are exhausted, anxious, disengaged, unhealthy and unprepared for the future.

Click here to check out their petition to be presented to the  U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, members of Congress, as well as members of state boards of education, state legislators, and local boards of education.  Parents are also encourage the use of this petition in their local school community.

And HERE for other ways to get involved. They are currently addressing the best way to create a nationwide group of volunteers to support the film, screenings and a vision for change and are also looking for school administrators interested in joining their advisory board.

Hilltown Mothers, Daughters & Grandmothers Wanted for Ashfield Filmfest

Ashfield Lake (c) Hilltown Families -

The dock at Ashfield Lake. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Nancy Hoff, co-owner of Ashfield Hardware in Ashfield, MA writes:

Mama Mia Reunion and Reenactment in Ashfield!  I would like to submit a five minute film for the Ashfield Filmfest and need a cast of thousands of women and children!

The five minutes will be our own rendition of the “Dancing Queen” scene of Mama Mia where Meryl Streep and girl friends dance through the streets as village women cast their work aside, leave their men, go to the dock and jump in.  We have a Main Street, work, a lake, even a dock.  Be prepared to jump, but not a requirement.

Meet at the Congregational Church on Sunday, August 9th at 3pm on Main Street in Ashfield, MA.  If you can’t be there at 3pm, pop into a scene at 4pm or come to the dock and jump at 5:30pm:

  • 3pm – Organize at church
  • 4-5pm – Shoot a various locations around town
  • 5:30pm – At the town dock to jump

Here are locations we will be shooting at from 4-5:30pm and activities they will be performing:

  • Congregational Church: Women rehearsing choir, dropping hymnals.  Kate (the minister) tears off her collar.  All go out of church to head towards the dock.
  • Elmer’s Store: Women shopping, working on lap tops in cafe, cafe-ole-ing.  They drop what they are doing to join in.
  • Belding Memorial Library: Librarian sweeping steeps, lawn care and gardening.  Leave tools to run and join group.
  • Country Pie Pizza: Women carrying high stacks of pizza boxes.  Boxes tumble down and women rush to the street to join.
  • Ashfield Hardware Store: Sitting on Furniture, loading cars with merchandise, when they stop and join the crowd passing by.
  • Post Office: Having a water cooler moment at the blue mail box as the parade of women head towards to dock.
  • Neighbors Store: Pumping gas, reading the newspaper out front, girls on scooters when every stops and joins.
  • Ashfield Laundry:  Laundry is abandoned
  • Town Hall Steps: Papers fly …

Bring props and ham it up.  Looking for fun?  Tell your friends and come!

If you have questions, call Ashfield Hardware at 628-3299

Click here to see the winning video from Ashfield Filmfest 2008.

Food, Inc.: Special Benefit Screening in Amherst for CISA

Food, Inc.: Discover What “Big Agriculture” Doesn’t Want Farmers to Tell You

Tomorrow, Monday June 29, at 7:00pm at the Amherst Cinema there will be a special screening of Food, Inc. to benefit Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA), followed by a discussion panel.

In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, insecticide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli—the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults. Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield’s Gary Hirshberg and Polyface Farms’ Joel Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals surprising and often shocking truths about what we eat, how it’s produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here. (Director Robert Kenner. 94 mins, Rated PG)

Opens June 26, 2009 at Amherst Cinema in Amherst, MA.  Showtimes: Friday 6/26 through Thursday 7/2 – 2:15pm, 4:15pm, 7:00pm, 9:15pm.  Plus Saturday 6/27 and Sunday 6/28 – 11:45am. NOTE: Monday 6/29 9:15pm show moves to 9:45pm. Baby-friendly Show Tuesday 6/30 2:15pm

REVIEW BY VARIETY: With a constituency limited to anyone who eats, “Food, Inc.” is a civilized horror movie for the socially conscious, the nutritionally curious and the hungry. Yes, it has a deceptively cheery palette, but helmer Robert Kenner’s doc — which does for the supermarket what “Jaws” did for the beach — marches straight into the dark side of cutthroat agri-business, corporatized meat and the greedy manipulation of both genetics and the law. Doc biz may be in the doldrums, but “Food, Inc.” is so aesthetically polished and politically urgent, theatrical play seems a no-brainer, though it won’t do much for popcorn sales.  Read the rest of this entry »

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