Producing Partners are local community organizations that co-present Community Cinema screenings across the country. Last night, the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center (BMAC) in Brattleboro, VT, screened the Independent Lens film YOUNG@HEART. The film documents the true story of the Young@Heart senior citizens chorus, whose average age is 81. Their inspiring story celebrates the unbreakable bonds of friendship and the life-affirming power of music. Special thanks to YOUNG@HEART chorus director Bob Cilman and chorus members Steve Martin and Jeanne Hatch who made special appearances at the screening. Danny Lichtenfeld, director of the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, gives his take on the event below:
This weekend we had the great pleasure of welcoming Bob Cilman, director of the Young@Heart chorus, and two members of the chorus, Steve Martin and Jeanne Hatch, to our screening of the uplifting film about their ensemble. Despite the worst weather forecast of the winter so far, about 35-40 audience members showed up for the event, which included a pre-screening meet-and-greet and a post-screening Q&A session. Bob and the chorus members were, in fact, the first to arrive -- the trip up to Brattleboro from Northampton, Mass. being much shorter than they had anticipated (not so for their return trip in the snow, however). I greeted them at the door and had to remind myself that, while they seemed so familiar and lovable to me (I had already watched the film), they had no idea who I was. That was all resolved soon enough, owing mainly to the fact that Steve Martin has the gift of friendly gab like few people I've ever met. And Jeanne and Bob, too, were warm and gracious -- throughout the meet-and-greet and also during the spirited Q&A.
When it came time to show the film, the trio headed up Main Street to grab lunch and watch the Patriots game. They returned in time to catch the last 10 minutes of the film, and I spied Jeanne tearing up at Fred Knittle's moving rendition of Coldplay's "Fix You" and singing along to the tongue-twisting "Yes, We Can." For its part, our audience applauded at the end, as they had done at several instances earlier in the film.
Although the snow was now coming down wet and heavy, and we had shown the full one hour and 42-minute version of the film, nearly the entire audience stuck around for the Q&A, in order to proclaim their amazement and appreciation for the work of Bob and the Young@Heart chorus. Audience members asked interesting questions, which Bob, Steve, and Jeanne fielded with grace, humor, and depth. There was a strong sentiment in the room at the end of the event that we should find a way to bring the chorus to Brattleboro for a performance, and also that Brattleboro should launch a Young@Heart-type chorus of its own. Sincere praise, indeed.
-Danny Lichtenfeld Director, Brattleboro Museum and Art Center and Community Cinema Producing Partner
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