P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2002
January 7, 2002
The event will be North Adams' version of a Hollywood opening with appearances by many of the principals in the film, and the director Nancy Kelly herself. The screening will be followed by a brief Q&A with Kelly and a festive premiere party for all movie-goers.
"Many members of the community helped make this film, and I am so pleased that it is premiering in North Adams. I hope it will be fun for people to see their town and their friends and neighbors on the big screen," said Kelly.
Bustling with textile and shoe mills from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, North Adams had always been an industrial town. In the 1930s, when Sprague Electric Company took over the massive 13-acre mill which dominates the downtown business district, they employed over 4,000 people, providing half the adults in the city with a version of the American dream. In the 1980s, as part of the widespread relocation of manufacturing from the United States to Asia and Central America, Sprague closed it doors, leaving thousands of people out of work and North Adams in an economic tailspin.
Downside UP takes an insightful, nuanced look at how a city in decline turns itself around with some unlikely assistance from contemporary art. Filmmaker Nancy Kelly, herself a North Adams native whose parents, godparents, and grandparents worked at the Sprague plant, documents the transformation. Starting in 1998, when MASS MoCA was under construction and 80% of the downtown storefronts stood vacant, to the attention-getting opening of the museum in 1999, to the incremental, then dramatic improvements in the downtown, Kelly reveals much more than the physical transformation of North Adams.
Before MASS MoCA opened, fewer than 1,000 tourists visited North Adams annually. Since 1999, MASS MoCA has attracted over 120,000 visitors annually to its galleries and performing arts venues. Many new restaurants, a $6 million boutique hotel, and high tech businesses have moved in, creating jobs and changing the city's image from "down-and-out" to the small city that "knows how." While socioeconomic change is usually documented through statistical tables, Downside UP renders the subtle changes in the spirit of a region at the more intimate level of kitchen table conversations with long-time -- and often-skeptical -- residents of the region.
A native of North Adams, Massachusetts, Nancy Kelly has produced and directed independent documentary and narrative films for more than 20 years. Her film Thousand Pieces of Gold, broadcast on American Playhouse, ranks among the series' top twenty highest rated broadcasts. Showtime, Sundance, Encore and the Romance cable channels broadcast the film. Cowgirls: Portraits of American Ranch Women was broadcast by the National Geographic Explorer Program on various public television stations and overseas in the United Kingdom (Channel Four), Zimbabwe, New Zealand, and Australia. Cowgirls was featured in the Sundance Film Festival, won a Blue Ribbon at the American Film Festival, a Golden Apple at the National Educational Film Festival, Best Documentary from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, and Best of the Sinking Creek Film Festival and the Palo Alto Film Festival. Her film Sweeping Ocean Views, produced by KQED, received a local Emmy nomination. She taught film production at the UCLA Graduate Film School and has given seminars on filmmaking at the Film Arts Foundation, UC/Berkeley, UC Extension, and the University of Washington. The Los Angeles Times compared Kelly's work to the "lyricism of a John Ford, a Budd Boetticher, a George Stephens...but always opening up a new world."
Downside UP is co-produced by WMHT Schenectady and the Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff, Alberta, Canada. Produced in association with ITVS, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding was provided by the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Tickets for Downside UP are $12. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office at 1040 MASS MoCA Way in North Adams from 11 A.M. until 5 P.M. Wednesday through Monday. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased on line at www.massmoca.org. The premiere is sponsored by Hoosac Bank, and the post-screening reception is sponsored by Canteen. Local funding for the film was made possible by the North Adams Cultural Economic Development Partnership through the support of the Massachusetts Cultural Council's Cultural Economic Development Program.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located on Marshall Street in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings.
For Immediate Release