Monday, July 29, 2019

Filmmaker Olivia Huang: She see the graffiti on the wall, and the spirit of poetry at the Grolier

Filmmaker Olivia Huang" " The Modica Way"

Filmmaker Olivia Huang: She see the graffiti on the wall, and the spirit of poetry at the Grolier

By Doug Holder

When I first met Olivia Huang--she was in the midst of making a documentary about the famed Grolier Poetry Book Shop in Harvard Square titled, " The Last Sacred Place of Poetry: Grolier Poetry Book Shop." And I was proud to be one of the talking heads in this film about the much-revered shop. And I think the film takes on even more importance with the death of the owner, Ifeanyi Menkiti.  Menkiti, a longtime Somerville resident, was a Professor of Philosophy at Wellesely College for  many years, as well as a respected poet. He passed away in June, 2019. And for now things are in a state of transition.

When the film was completed Huang sent it around and according to her it has been screened at the North Beach American Film Festival, The Massachusetts International Film Festival, Barcelona Planet Film Festival, and others. Huang told me that she is not finished with work on the film. She said, " I am currently editing the film to bring in 15 more minutes  of footage. I want an even fuller view of the store and the activities in and around it."

Huang, a woman of abundant energy, has also set her sights on new subjects since we last talked. Huang, (a former Somerville resident) received a grant from the Cambridge Arts Council to produce a film examining the art and community around the famed graffiti alley in Central Square, Cambridge. The film's  tentative  title is  " Modica Way."   Huang reflected, " I was working in that area, and I passed the alley twice-a-day  It was was fascinating to see folks from all walks of life (not professional artists for the most part) put their work up." According to Huang the graffiti artists' work is up for a while but eventually it will be painted over by another artist. It is this ever changing canvas that Huang places her gimlet eye on.

Huang told me she is working with acclaimed dancer and choreographer Wendy Jehlen and her company  ANIKAYA. She films Jehlen's dance company productions and has other duties. When I left the Bloc 11 Cafe Huang was at work on her laptop--undoubtedly pursuing another worthwhile project---here--in--the Paris of New England.

Trailer for "The Modica Way"

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