Thursday, November 18, 2010

November 16, 2010- A rainy night in Cleveland

The rain was coming down in buckets as I rode with Bob Toth to Ursuline College where the screening of "Uncommon Vision" was to take place on the 16th. The previous night Bob and his wife Mary Ellen had hosted a small gathering to screen the documentary at their home in Novelty, Ohio. Love that name! There were nine of us at that screening. In light of the weather I didn't expect much more than that number for this showing. However Clevelanders seem to be made of stern stuff when it comes to weather. A sizable number turned out. They were all a filmmaker could ask of an audience-- receptive and responsive. Many in the crowd were associated with the International Thomas Merton Society so much of the discussion afterward centered on the friendship between Griffin and Merton. There was a good discussion also with Pax Christi members regarding the roots of Griffin's pacifism. A fine trip made even better by a quick visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier in the day.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Fort Worth showing

A belated summary of the 10/28 showing at Modern Museum of Fort Worth. In a nutshell it was a great evening. Really nothing was lacking. The facility was exquisite. A standing-room only crowd including the four Griffin children and Roberto Bonazzi (Griffin's literary executor without whom the project could not have happened) was gratifying. The screening was preceded by readings from "Black Like Me" presented by the Jubilee Theater group from Fort Worth. Bob Ray Sanders, the much-beloved columnist from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram introduced the film. He had had communication with Griffin in the late '60's and early '70's. Bob Ray's respect from Griffin and all he stood for was obvious. The audience responded well to "Uncommon Vision" and the q&a which followed was stimulating. The Griffin "kids" and Bonazzi fielded many questions providing unique insights. I believe John Howard would've been pleased.

Monday, October 25, 2010

First Homecoming 10/23/10

      John Howard Griffin had a homecoming of sorts on Saturday the 23rd. I showed the documentary to the community at the Abbey of Gethsemani. This is the monastery where Griffin's friend Thomas Merton lived. It is also where Griffin spent considerable time in the '60's and '70's working on Merton's biography.
      Several of the monks in the audience knew Griffin. I'm happy to say they felt like "Uncommon Vision" caught much of the Griffin spirit. Another monk's father had fought on the same island in the South Pacific where Griffin received a blindness-inducing concussion.
      I like to think Griffin would be glad to have his story told at the monastery for which he had such great affection. This Thursday the program will be shown in his hometown.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The showing at the Clifton Center in Louisville

The 9/16/10 showing of "Uncommon Vision" at the Clifton Center was special on many levels. It was the first large public screening. I was doing it in association with Interfaith Paths to Peace. This is a group whose work I've long admired. I'm always hesitant to speak for someone else but I think John Howard Griffin would've approved of the choice. Being on 9/16 had special meaning as that is the birth date of Arthur Sievert, father of my wife and one of the finest gentlemen I've had the pleasure of knowing.
       The night seemed to go well and the audience (I'm guessing 150) responded in a positive fashion. The post-show discussion had great energy as well. The panelists (Markham French, Fr. James Conner and Fred Gross) brought great insight. Input from the audience was also good, including that from my old friend Gregory Chaney who scolded us at length for not being a more diverse audience. His general point was well-taken. The tone could use some fine-tuning.
     For me the highlight of the panel discussion was hearing Fr. James relate how Griffin had been nearly electrocuted while working in Merton's hermitage. What saved him was the rubber wheels on his wheelchair. I may have heard that story before but I had forgotten.
     The highlight of the evening was talking with people afterwards. The good wishes from friends were gratifying as was hearing from new acquaintances that they were moved and inspired by Griffin's life.