Western Connecticut State University Professor of Communication and Media Arts Dr. JC Barone was invited to screen his new documentary, “a life we imagined,” this summer at the prestigious Jane Austen International Film Festival, a competitive independent festival held annually in Jane Austen’s Georgian city of Bath, England. As a result of the screening and subsequent judging, Barone’s film was named “Best Documentary” at the festival.
The website dedicated to Barone’s film describes it this way: “Anarchist. Rabble Rouser. Artist. Visionary. Kate Millett’s transformative art colony created a nurturing space where women could freely explore their artistic endeavors and challenge societal norms. For four decades, the women’s art colony offered sanctuary for community, creativity, sisterhood and empowerment. A place where women could experience freedoms that the Women’s and LGBTQ+ civil rights movements were fighting for, but that were not yet available in mainstream society. ‘a life we imagined’ features interviews with Millett and women at the colony.”
Barone said his inspiration for making the documentary occurred because he was living and teaching in Poughkeepsie, New York, not too far from the Millett art colony, when a student asked him if he was interested in filming there. “I jumped on it knowing the historical importance of Kate Millett,” Barone said. “‘The farm,’ as it was called, was visited by many people, including John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Gloria Steinem and Simone Beauvoir. While I was there, I met several influential feminists, writers and artists.”
His decision to accept the invitation for his work to be screened at the Jane Austen International Film Festival came easily, Barone said. “Jane Austen’s themes of female independence (or lack of it), agency, marriage, social status and economic opportunity all resonate with this documentary. The film records how it was for women at the farm who lived outside of accepted social norms from the 1970s to 1990s. Finding some equality and meaning through social and romantic relationships in a restrictive environment was shared by the art colonies’ inhabitants and by Austen’s leading women.”
According to the festival website, “This is a festival for independent filmmakers who produce works in the following genres: animation, art-house, comedy, documentary, drama: including historical/costume drama, experimental, extended shorts, horror, LGBTQ+ and music video. The
festival is named after Jane Austen because of her great storytelling and her connection to the city of Bath, England where the festival takes place. It’s not only historical and costume dramas we accept, but all genres of short and feature films are welcome. We are looking for the most exciting and innovative storytelling, films that challenge and inspire audiences.”
After the selection of his film as Best Documentary at the festival was announced, Barone said, “I’m absolutely thrilled! All the painstaking efforts to restore and make sense of the old, deteriorated mix of footage, Hi8, VHS, ¾” video, 16 mm and 8 mm film, paid off. I can’t wait to work on my next documentary.”
At WCSU, Barone teaches COM 146 Basic Video Production, COM 247 Live News & Election Coverage, COM 336 Postproduction, COM 340 Sound for Media and COM 446 Advanced Video Production. His students have captured multiple Broadcast Education Association and
National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Boston/New England Student Production Awards.