Closer to home

By Tim Smith

Where A r [ts] Thou?

The @ home edition

Mark Twain once said: “The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is that you really want to say.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook: 1902-1903)

The following follows his lead for certain, enjoy.

EFA’s Town: It has been almost exactly two weeks since the nominations were released for the 2021 Academy Awards, (for work done in 2020), and contained within that august body of contenders is a film made by an Arkansas filmmaker-covering an Arkansas story.

From the news release that came to me from a local television station in Rogers, Arkansas. Here is what they reported:

“Lincoln, Ark. – A film set in Lincoln, Arkansas, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture Monday [March 15th] morning. 'Minari' tells the story of a young Korean couple who move with their kids to Arkansas in the 1980s. It’s an American story, it’s an Arkansas story. It’s really a universal story. The fact that the filmmaker is from Arkansas, it’s very special. We have a very vibrant film industry here, and we have a lot of stories that need to be told internationally. I think it’s important that Arkansas is very much on the map,” (stated) Ashley Edwards with the Bentonville Film Festival.

The community of Lincoln lies within the Northwest Arkansas corridor, near the Oklahoma border, and having decades of personal connection to that section of the county, it does my creative heart good to see how, during those same years, so many individuals, working through film commissions, chambers of commerce, schools and university programs labored mightily to bring the major film industry to the area.

As promised: Continuing my year-long salute to the “Class of 1971” and our graduation from Drury University in Springfield, Missouri, what I remember is that as a theater major, and I also secured a teaching certification in that field, was the depth and breadth of the approach taken by the drama faculty to ensure that students saw theatre from all sides, and that included the professional.

Each spring break, students would travel to New York City, and for the next week would immerse themselves in live theatre, enjoy industry professionals from both sides of the curtain who would meet with them in Q & A sessions, and when there was time, take in the normal sights and sounds of The Big Apple.

In retrospect, it provided students the motivation to pursue their education from so many different angles; at the graduate level, within those professional ranks, and for those that chose to work in educational theater, they were more than prepared for the students that they would be inspiring.

I hear from the folks at Carne Golf Links on the western coast of Ireland each month and they provide me with their ongoing saga of the challenges being faced as they prepare to stage the Irish PGA Championship later this summer, amidst the ongoing challenging European virus restrictions.

Here is just a snippet of our recent ‘E-conversation’. “. . . we are still in Level 5 lockdown here . . . with what appears to be a very slow vaccination roll out so many businesses are still closed and likely to be until May. . . We have made some course modifications, as required, which are now nearly complete, but have been battling a bout of bad weather in terms of rain which has caused some sitting water on the course … Nature is unforgiving here at the edge of the Atlantic . . . and having only been able to trade for a one week period since October 2020, we are eagerly awaiting the return of our visitors to Carne, the Links is a lonely place at the moment.”A creative venture for certain.

Once more into the race for an Oscar: I spoke with a long-time colleague and we were reminiscing about the film commission team that represented Northwest Arkansas that he had worked with, who decades earlier, had traveled to Los Angeles to connect with film industry leaders to promote that part of the state for filming locations.

I happened to be living in LA at the time, and was able to assist. It was a learning experience on the first order.

When the recent Oscar story broke, it brought this effort back to mind, especially in the realization that it may take years before sowing turns to reaping.

Although the two efforts are not directly related, the area of the country being recognized is the big winner from all the efforts that went before it, and, in the end, that is good for all the surrounding economies.

Enjoy seeing you in the pap”E”r.

t A s

[For EFA-62]

(This is the @ home edition of Where A r [ts] Thou? by Tim Smith.)

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