The Made in the Berkshires Festival

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Amidst the perfect backdrop of red velvet curtains and ornate golden balconies of the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, the sixth annual Made In the Berkshires Festival, which began Friday, concluded Sunday with a full day dedicated to independent filmmakers, producers, directors, writers, composers, vocalists, musicians and choreographers.

Local artists collaborated as a close-knit team of passionate professionals to showcase their craft in film.

On the program were nine films, each one diverse in content and ranging from 6 minutes in length to 91.

Each film had ties to the Berkshires, whether through its creators' connections and/or as a backdrop to filming or story lines based here.

Hilary Somers Deely and Barbara Sims, co-curators of Berkshire Theatre Group's Made In the Berkshires Festival, introduced the films.

"I am thrilled," Somers Deely said, "that this has been the most successful Made In the Berkshires yet."

Somers Deely - an actor, director and producer who headed three academic theater programs in leading independent schools - is an emeritus member of the Berkshire Theatre Festival board, a member of the advisory board for the Berkshire Fringe, and, most recently, joined the Fringe in their artists' residency at Mass MoCA in a world premiere production of The Waypoint. Somers Deely has extensive background in theater.

Barbara Sims is an actor, producer, director, whose acting credits include Broadway productions, such as "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Noises Off," off-Broadway productions, regional theater, and film and TV credits.

The Made in the Berkshires Festival has "featured cutting-edge theatrical works performed as staged readings, live music, film, short stories and dance in an atmosphere like no other," its website declares.

A list of the films screened Sunday at the Colonial are in the information box to the right.After the credits rolled, filmmakers, writers, producers and photographers were invited to the Colonial's stage for questions from the audience. More than 200 people attended the showing of the films.

AFTER-PARTY

A Meet the Filmmakers: Festival Wrap Party followed under the lights of Hotel On North where plenty of mingling and exchanges of congratulations happened among participants of the films, filmmakers, producers, directors, writers and more. A decadent array of cheeses, breads and spreads were served with imported wines.

In a charming moment with writer Richard Dresser and producer John Whalan of "Goodbye Alan," Dresser said, "The beauty is that Treat [Williams] plays the character in earnest with no malice."

"I am so encouraged," said Kate Maguire, artistic director and CEO of Berkshire Theatre Group, "to be an integral part of this festival and build something with all this talent."

Also in attendance were filmmaker Colin Stevenson who just relocated here from Los Angeles; Julie Bishop, administrator of Black Ice Media; and "Ewe Topia"make-up artist Maria Pizzuro-Cleary, along with her husband Eugene Cleary.

Many folks lounged and socialized on Hotel On North's couches, such as Karen Margolis and Victor Nussbaum of Pittsfield and Francine Bernitz and Steve Seltzer of Dalton.

"Thematically it's wonderful to showcase what's in the Berkshires," said Selzer.

Bernitz added, "The Berkshires is so rich all year around."

The festival on Friday night also paid tribute to actress and director Karen Allen with a sold-out celebration at the Colonial Theatre.

The sixth annual Made in the Berkshires has come to a noteworthy end, but as always, talented artists will continue to stream in honing their craft and getting ready to debut it next year.

Janel Harrison covers the Berkshires for The Eagle's "Scene."


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