The Transylvania Times -

Film Lover Wants To Have A Conversation-Brevard NC

 

November 1, 2018

Phillip Henry

Brevard resident Philip Henry wants everyone who is passionate about film to join him for the Pisgah Film Project, a series where Henry hopes to not only showcase film as art but to also engage fellow film buffs in conversation after each showing and to show how film can be a catalyst for social change. The Pisgah Film Project is held on Sundays at 1 p.m., 4 p.m., and 7 p.m., at the DFR Room, 36 E. Main St. in Brevard

His last showing was "The Wife," starring Glenn Close as Joan Castleman, the wife of a Nobel Laureate, Joe Castleman. Close's character began an affair with him as a student and he was her professor. She spent her life catering to Castleman, who is portrayed as a narcissistic skirt chaser. As a student, Joan Castleman cast aside her own talents as a writer to have the future laureate leave his wife and child for her – only to spend her life in the shadow of this man.

The conversation is what Henry is after here; he wants to know how film moves people. Does her story resonate with other women? How can film shape a persons perception of the world? Is her role typical of women across the country and across the world?

"This is just an example of how all genres of film can be really powerful," he said. "Some of these conversations have shaped me, and I want other people to have that experience," he said. "It's possible people have never experienced film as anything but a commercial commodity, or entertainment. There's nothing wrong with being entertaining, but it can be a lot more than that."

Don't mistake Henry for a film snob though – he still loves "Star Wars" and the latest Marvel script. The first film that really had impact on him was "The Shawshank Redemption," the 1994 film starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, based on the Stephen King novel "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption." Robbins plays Andy Dufresne, a banker sentenced to life in prison, falsely, for killing his wife and her lover. He befriends Freeman, cast as Ellis "Red" Redding incarcerated for killing a man in his youth. Dufresne, sentenced for life, doesn't let the walls of the prison define him, and uses the avarice of the prison warden to launder money, eventually escaping through a tunnel he dug behind a life size poster of Rita Hayworth that hung on his prison wall. Using an alias, Dufresne routed the money to bank accounts and withdrew all the money – escaping across the border to Mexico.

The power of hope drives the antagonist in the film. Dufresne writes the state legislature for years asking for funding to expand the prison library, he helps young inmates earn their GED, teaches many of them to read and expands their minds through the written word and music. He never gives up, even when he is raped, beaten, starved and locked in isolation.

"It's a film most people have seen before," Henry said. "As evidenced in the title, it's this really amazing story about redemptions and friendship. It was also just beautifully shot and the music was powerful. That's the only word I can use to describe it. But I want to have these conversations with other people and encourage them to do more than just sit in a dark room with others and watch a screen. Most screenings have film club conversations. The screenings are just a small part of what I'm going for. It's the conversations I'm after."

Henry said in a community screening he asks people to take a moment to reflect on the the film with other viewers, so it's more of a community experience rather than an isolating experience. He said that's the first step to conversations – knowing who you're experiencing this with.

The idea for the Pisgah Film Project came when he and his wife, MacKenzie, moved to Brevard about three years ago, and the couple found themselves driving to Asheville for independent films more than they could afford to.

"A one-and-a-half-hour round trip for a movie seemed nuts, so I slowly started meeting people who wanted the same thing and thought, 'Let's see how hard it will be to do this. How hard is it to bring independent films to here to be screened?'"

Henry approached several venues, but Courtney Domokur with the DFR Room "got it from the beginning," and he said that they have accomodated the idea and keep the bar open so people can enjoy a drink while they watch.

Henry's loved for film started in college when he spent a semester in Los Angeles in a crash course for film making. He won an Emmy in 2016 for his editing work on the documentary "Roy Williams' Game Day Security Blanket." The short film follows University of North Carolina nurse Darrick Woods, who is also tasked with keeping the head coach of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels head coach safe. The film documents Woods' role as security for Williams.

Now, Henry and MacKenzie own Two Pine State, a freelance film and editing company based in Brevard. The pair have done film and editing work for locals such as Mountain Sun Community School and Floressence, and music videos for local musicians such as Sarah Siskind.

As he became more experienced in editing, production and filming, Henry said it was fun to engage with film as more of an art form. He and MacKenzie spent a few years living in Durham, surrounded by independent film and other people searching for people like himself.

"I was an English teacher for four years, and I came to appreciate film as a form of literature," he said. "In ways it has its advantages over literature because it's a visual medium and at the same time it's an engine for understanding. It's the same idea really, and it changed how I evolved as a person. A lot of that comes from films that were impactful for me and the subesquent conversations about them with peers. I started noticing film makers that are doing more nuanced and beautiful things. It's really addictive. Part of the mission with the Pisgah Film Project is starting conversations and to discuss film an art form and as a means for storytellling and as an engine for change. They are just as much a work of art as ballet, a painting or a work of music."

The Pisgah Film Project is a 5013(c) nonprofit, which Henry says is essential to the survivial to just about any independent film series. He said the project is kind of an expensive hobby for him, and he is relying on his partnerships with local businesses and individual patrons to keep it going.

Henry has also partnered with the Transylvania County Library to show an international animated film series. This is not your Pixar and Disney stuff. These are films that most folks in town won't have seen - films from Japan, France, Brazil and Belgium to name a few. These screenings will be free and will start sometime in the New Year.

On Sunday, Nov. 4, Henry will screen "The Guilty," a Danish film about a police officer assigned as a dispatcher, and engages in a race against time when he answers an emergency call from a kidnapped woman. Denmark recently submitted "The Guilty" to the International Film Festival for the countires entry in Best Film.

The next screening on Nov. 18 is "Science Fair," a 90-minute film about nine high school students from different parts of the world who navigate hormones, rivalries and setbacks in an attempt to be named "Best in Fair." On Dec. 2, Henry will screen the film "Wildlife," about a boy who witnesses his parents marriage falling apart after his mother finds another man.

The series at the DFR Room is scheduled through May of 2019. Tickets to each Sunday show are $8. More information can be found at http://www.pisgahfilmproject.com.

 
 

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