Lifecasting at Lincoln Center

Posted on: Thursday, February 14 2013

By Carol Varney, BAVC Executive Director

Wednesday night, last week, was a big one for all of us at BAVC. We finally got to see on the big screen the project we had worked to bring to fruition for more than two years: Lifecasters

The occasion was a gala screening of the film at Lincoln Center in New York City the night before its initial PBS broadcast date. That night certainly felt very far away from the early Spring of 2011, when BAVC was honored to be granted a Diversity and Innovation production grant from the CPB/PBS. At that time the Fund sought a program that would push the boundaries of PBS programming and consider series development for winners of the Fund. Lifecasters was considered by the Fund because it proposed profiling in three short documentaries creative artists who carved out paths to success despite challenging circumstances.

BAVC partnered with Sunny Side Up Films’ Gita Pullapilly and Aron Gaudet to Executive Produce, and was thrilled to have Academy Award nominees Julia Reicher and Steve Bognar, as well as Shira Piven and Adam McKay as filmmakers (Shira’s brother, actor Jeremy Piven, hosted the Lincoln Center event). Also producing and directing were Aron and Gita, Emmy-nominated filmmakers who participated in BAVC’s Producers Institute for New Media Technologies in 2009.

The screening at Lincoln Center provided the audience with a chance to get to know the film’s subjects -- Alby Hurwit, a doctor whose lifelong passion for music led him to compose a symphony; Sheri “Sparkle” Williams, a 49-year old pro dancer who fought back from a potentially career-ending injury; and Wayne Kramer, a punk pioneer whose work in prisons is changing lives --  on the screen and in person. While their stories were all different, they held the common thread of creativity as the catalyst for perseverance through times of extreme doubt and hardship. 

The evening also gave me the chance to thank Gita and Aron and the directors of each short documentary, for their work. I was also able to meet each of the film’s three subjects and give a serious, congratulatory hug to Sumner Menchero, Assistant Director of General Audience Programming at PBS who helped to usher the program to completion.  

And now I am very happy to share that Lifecasters will premiere locally on KQED on March 24 at 7pm PST, with a special event the week before airtime. Stay tuned for more details on the BAVC website and Twitter feed in the coming weeks.