Visiting Filmmakers, Special Guests, and Musicians:

November 8-10, 2019

The Rowland Theatre, 127 North Front Street, Philipsburg, PA

Visiting Filmmakers:

April Wright, Going Attractions

April Wright grew up outside of Chicago.  The family business was a roller skating rink, so she could skate before she could walk.  April has two new documentaries:  one about historic Movie Palaces featuring Leonard Maltin; the other an action-documentary based on the book “Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story.” April has been a finalist for the Sundance Screenwriting and Episodic Labs, and Women in Film / Blacklist Episodic Lab.  April’s first narrative feature Layover premiered at Cinequest in 2009.  Her first feature doc “Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the American Drive-in Movie” enjoyed a theatrical release in 2013 in the US, Canada and Australia, was featured on NPR, PBS, BBC World News, and played at over 40 film festivals.  April has been a Programming Associate for Sundance since 2006.  She is a member of Film Independent, the International Documentary Association, Women in Film, Film Fatales, and is an alumni of the Sundance Institute.  

Sean Heisey, Pennsylvania Bouldering

Sean Heisey is a full-time video producer based out of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Throughout his career he has produced countless videos for news, marketing, and entertainment. For his first feature-length film, he decided to create a documentary-style film that unites his two biggest passions; filmmaking and rock climbing. It is not widely known that Pennsylvania has an abundance of great bouldering, a form of rock climbing. Sean hopes that his film will raise awareness of the amazing bouldering that Pennsylvania has all over the state and grow the climbing community. He also hopes his film will inspire others to make films about their passions.

Jack Tumen, The Man Behind the Screen

Jack Tumen has worked in documentary filmmaking, photography and digital content creation in his young career. A graduate of Penn State University, his documentary work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation and screened in local film festivals. His photography work has taken him all over the world from the peaks of the Canadian Rockies to NFL sidelines. Jack currently works as a video producer, editor and photographer for the NFL’s New York Giants. His work can be viewed at and you can follow him on Instagram @jacktumen.

Michael Uys, Riding the Rails

Michael’s first feature documentary, “Riding the Rails,” garnered 18 major awards including Best Documentary from both the DGA and the LA Film Critics Association, A Peabody Award, and was named as an Outstanding Documentary of the year by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  “Riding the Rails”, the story of teenaged hobos during the Great Depression, was acquired by MoMA for their permanent collection. Michael Uys’s Emmy Award winning documentary, “The Good Soldier” follows the journeys of five combat veterans from different generations of American wars as they sign up, go into battle, and eventually change their minds about what it means to be a good soldier.  “The Good Soldier” was picked up for theatrical distribution by Artistic License Films and presented by Bill Moyers on PBS.

Vicki Vlasic, Fiddlin’

Sister filmmakers, Julie Simone and Vicki Vlasic, returned to their Appalachian roots to film at the Old Fiddler’s Convention run by the Galax Moose Lodge. They were given permission to film for the first time in its 80-year history after Lodge members discovered they were locals and knew the sisters’ grandpa. Their local connection earned them the trust of the talented musicians who opened their hearts and shared their stories. Fiddlin’ has won more than 15 awards at film festivals including seven Audience Choice awards and two Best Documentary awards. “This film must be seen, said Quincy Jones, “America needs to know where its music comes from.”

Cy Dodson, Beneath The Ink 

I have been in the storytelling business for over two decades and Beneath the Ink is my third film in five years. Beneath the Ink was shot in my hometown of Zanesville, Ohio. Although I was lucky to have been raised by loving and non-racist parents, it wasn’t uncommon to hear various racial slurs in my community.  At a young age, I knew the adult I did, or did not, want to become. A special thanks to everyone at Red Rose Tattoo, especially Billy White, who made this film possible. I currently reside in Minnesota as Owner/Operator of my production company Triumph Pictures, LLC where I specialize in documentary style marketing and branding content.

Ariel Wengroff, Sitara: Let Girls Dream

At twenty-six, Ariel Wengroff became the youngest person to be nominated for an Emmy as an executive producer in the documentary or nonfiction series category, for her work on VICELAND’s “Woman with Gloria Steinem,” which covers the harsh reality that women around the world face. She is also the publisher of Broadly, VICE’s women’s and LGBTQ+ vertical. Wengroff is the Executive Producer of Sitara: Let Girls Dream, directed by two-time Academy Award winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.

Jonathan Berman, Calling All Earthlings

Jonathan Berman has had a longtime obsession with film and filmmaking. His film Commune (2006), looked at a seminal commune, the Black Bear Ranch, to explore the wins and excesses of the Sixties and Seventies. His film My Friend Paul (2000), about his relationship to his bipolar best friend, was produced with ITVS, a part of the US public broadcasting family. He is director and producer of The Shvitz (1994), a film about the last traditional steambaths in New York. His films have been awarded grants from the NEA, NYSCA, The Jerome Foundation and more; broadcasts include the BBC, PBS, Sundance Channel, Discovery, ARTE, and others. Festival screenings include SXSW, Slamdance, Amsterdam Documentary Festival, (IDFA), Karlovy Vary and others. Berman co-wrote the story for the independent comedy On The Run. He was the American producer on Claudia Heuermann’s German TV project Sabbath in Paradise, which featured Harvey Pekar and John Zorn. Berman helped create On The Run for director Bruno De Almeida.

Special Guests:

Ron and Alicia Hall, Stray Dog

Director Debra Granik met Ron “Stray Dog” Hall and his wife Alicia while scouting in Southern Missouri on her previous film, Winter’s Bone.  After meeting Stray Dog by chance at a biker church, Granik asked him to read for the role of Thump Milton.  He was game.  Although he did not have previous acting experience, he proved well-suited to the role.  After filming wrapped, Granik visited Stray Dog at his RV park in Branson, MO, for what might have been a final goodbye.  Instead, an unanticipated hours-long conversation ranging from Ron’s childhood growing up in the Bootheel of Missouri, his experiences as a young soldier in Vietnam, the evolution of his spirituality incorporating Buddhism, Christianity and paganism to his struggle to balance obligations to family, emerging symptoms of post-traumatic stress, and his veteran identity.  This conversation planted the seeds for what turned into three years of following Ron and his family. Ron Hall and his wife Alicia will be at the screening of the film and talk about concerns for veterans today.

Gerardo Hernandez, The Other Border

High school student Gerardo was arrested by ICE in Ohio, spent almost 2 months in prison and is scheduled to be deported. Just Zimmerman’s “The Other Border” is Gerardo’s American story, told through intimate interviews and shot exclusively on 8mm and 16mm film. Gerardo and his family will be at the screening of his film and will join Ron Hall, his wife Alicia, and Professor Patrick Plaisance to discuss the experience of having his story portrayed on film.

Visiting Artists:

Matt Lambros, Photographer and Author

Matt Lambros is an architectural photographer who began photographing abandoned buildings twenty years ago. A graduate of Boston University’s photography program, Lambros has since been documenting the decay of America’s abandoned theatres in the hope of shedding light on these forgotten buildings and the efforts to repurpose them. Lambros’ abandoned theatre photography has been featured in The Guardian and The New York Times. His work has been featured in art galleries around the world. His first book, After the Final Curtain: The Fall of the American Movie Theater was published in late 2016. His second book, Kings Theatre: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of Brooklyn’s Wonder Theatre followed soon after in 2017. A longtime member of the Theatre Historical Society of America, Lambros joined the board of directors in 2017. After the Final Curtain: America’s Abandoned Theatres, the sequel to his first book, released in late September, 2019.

The Hillbilly Gypsies in Concert

In addition to running one of our masterclasses, the Hillbilly Gypsies will perform live after the screening of Fiddlin’. Hailing from the beautiful mountain state of West Virginia, The Hillbilly Gypsies have been making and performing their own brand of old time bluegrass and mountain music for nearly twenty years. Formed in 2001 from a chance meeting at the now infamous Wednesday night old time jam in Morgantown, WV; The Hillbilly Gypsies have been pickin’ and grinnin’ ever since.

Local Artists and Special Guests:

Sarah Flynn aka “Lady Grey” maintains a strong voice in the community, encouraging others to embrace body positivity, authentic living, and the deep need for the arts in healing. She has worked for three decades as an entertainer and has appeared on Broadway, at the Sydney Olympics, and alongside the greatest names in the entertainment industry. An experienced choreographer and educator in vintage dance, particularly tap, jazz, and swing, Lady Grey’s work can be seen on ensembles across the nation.She is known for her musicality and storytelling through movement, and is the Director and Producer of Lady Grey’s Lovelies, a professional vaudeville company dedicated to celebrating the golden age of entertainment.

Susan Russell

Innovator in Residence at the Center for Pedagogy in Arts and Design, and Associate Professor of Theatre, School of Theatre, Dr. Russell is an actor, playwright, and educator. She has experienced a twenty-five year career as a professional actor on and off-Broadway, in regional theatre and at opera companies across the country. Her two books on body language and cultural conversation are provided free of charge to school systems and community organizations.

Luther Gette

Former hobo king Luther “the Jet” Gette, a native of Philipsburg, spent much of his life riding freight trains across the USA and Canada. Now retired from active rail-riding, he can still sing a few songs and tell a few tales about his adventures which began right outside the Rowland Theatre in Philipsburg, PA. Mr. Gette is the director of the Philipsburg Historical Society and join us for a post-screening discussion, song-singing, and storytelling with the director of “Riding the Rails.”

Patrick Lee Plaisance

Patrick Plaisance is the Don W. Davis Professor in Ethics in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. He also is an Affiliate Faculty member with the Rock Ethics Institute. His research focuses on media ethics theory, moral psychology theory and methods, and the philosophy of technology as applied to media systems and practices. He is author of a textbook, “Media Ethics: Key Principles for Responsible Practice” (SAGE, 2nd Ed., 2014), which is used nationwide. He serves as editor of the Journal of Media Ethics, which is the flagship journal for peer-reviewed research in the field from around the world. He also writes a regular blog on media ethics issues for Psychology Today. Before coming to Penn State, he had a career of nearly 15 years as a newspaper journalist in New Jersey, south Florida and Virginia, where he specialized in state-level political reporting. He received his Ph.D. From Syracuse University.

Greg Eghigian

Greg Eghigian is a historian of science and medicine at Penn State University and writes and teaches about the history of monsters, aliens, and the supernatural. He is presently writing a book on the history of UFOs and alien contact.

Kevin Hagopian

Kevin Hagopian has the best job in the world: he has been teaching film history and theory at Penn State for many years.  At Penn State, he works with student filmmakers as they develop into artists. His research interests include the classical Hollywood cinema and its audiences.  He is the former Editor of The Film and Television Literature Index.  His love of movies dates from a boyhood encounter with Lillian Gish.