‘Silver Screen Series’ celebrates older adults young at heart

By Ellen Futterman, Editor

Its mission is to promote positive and productive aging through the arts. Since its inception in 2009, Maturity and Its Muse has mainly focused on the visual arts to showcase the positive and productive efforts of older St. Louisans, with exhibitions at the Sheldon Art Galleries, the Regional Arts Commission, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University, and Craft Alliance.

But come September, the non-profit founded by Lynn Friedman Hamilton is moving in a new direction with a free film series on Monday afternoons at the AMC Creve Coeur 12.

“We wanted to branch out to other art forms and felt a film series such as this would really interest people,” said Hamilton. “Nothing in these films deals with end of life but rather how older people work through their lives.”

“The Silver Screen Series” kicks off with the classic “Harold and Maude” Sept. 9, followed by “A Trip to Bountiful” Sept 16, “Strangers in Good Company” Sept. 23 and two documentaries Sept. 30, “Bella Bella” and “Close Harmony.”

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“After the film, we are offering various conversations and programs hosted by film critics, academics and artists,” said Hamilton. So, for example, after “Harold and Maude,” audiences can listen to a conversation about the film between St. Louis Beacon film critic (and former Post-Dispatch critic-at-large) Harper Barnes and Chris Clark, artistic director of the St. Louis International Film Festival. “The audience will be encouraged to ask questions and be apart of the conversation,” Hamilton added.

She said a committee of about 40 people was tapped to make film recommendations. Those resulted in a mix of audience favorites and more obscure choices, such as the series’ closing films, “Bella Bella” and “Close Harmony.”

“Bella Bella” chronicles the vibrant life of Bay Area sculptor and widow, Bella Feldman, a Holocaust survivor, who currently is having a retrospective in Northern California. In her 70s, Feldman overcomes a life-threatening illness and embarks on a transatlantic love affair with a German architect. Her story demonstrates, in short, a life being lived fully.

“Close Harmony,” which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary, Short Subjects in 1982, tells about youngsters in a grade-school chorus and a chorus of elderly Jewish retirees who combine to give an annual joint concert. Practicing separately for several months while communicating only as pen pals, they eventually meet for a rehearsal prior to their concert.

After the films, the closing program will feature a performance by The Dunnettes: Residents of Dunn Road Manor – a senior living community in North County, who will sing hymns and classic gospel tunes.

“I hope some of the people coming will bring younger people so that they can see what getting older might mean to them. It can be a really wonderful time of life as these films demonstrate,” said Hamilton.

Each film begins at 1 p.m., with doors opening at 12:30. Audience members can leave after the movie, though everyone is enocouraged to stay for the ensuing program.

“What a wonderful way to spend a Monday afternoon and it’s totally free,” said Hamilton. “But we are suggesting people call and make a reservation. The theater holds 280 and we don’t want to have to turn anyone away, especially large groups that may be arranging for transportation to shuttle people to and from the theater.”

For reservations and more information, call 314-442-2081.

For the love of Ethan

You might remember that earlier this summer, three campers at the Union for Reform Judaism’s Goldman Union Camp Institute (GUCI), outside of Indianapolis, sustained injuries when a lightning bolt hit the camp’s sports field. One of the three was Lily Hoberman of St. Louis, whose family attends Congregation Shaare Emeth. The others were Noah Auerbach, 9, of Louisville, Ky. and Ethan Kadish, 12, of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Both Noah and Lily were released fairly quickly from the hospital. Last week Lily’s father, Jason Hoberman, said his daughter is doing very well and seems to have made a full recovery. She is now a fourth grader at Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School.

Ethan, however, has a long road ahead before he can return to school — no one knows if that will even be possible. Currently, he’s an inpatient at the Rehabilitation Unit at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital where he is working hard to heal. According to a blog written by his mother, Alexia Kadish, the hospital’s medical team believes Ethan will be in the hospital for many months before he can continue with outpatient treatments for a year or more.

Ethan has suffered a brain injury. Alexia Kadish writes: “At this time we do not know how much he will recover and over what amount of time this will occur. We do know, as his loving parents, that we will provide Ethan with all the support necessary for him to continue his treatments as he progresses on Ethan Time.”

So far Ethan has yet to speak, walk or voluntarily move. His therapies are focused on arm, leg and mouth movements designed to help with establishing new sensory connections within his brain. He does breathe on his own. He is fed, and receives all his medicines, through a G-tube.

“To say it is hard watching our child heal from this type of injury is an understatement,” Alexia Kadish writes in her blog. “We are heartbroken. We are devastated. Yet we are determined. The challenge ahead is daunting but we are dedicated and focused on providing Ethan with every opportunity to heal.”

Realizing that Ethan’s medical needs and expenses are going to be significant, the family has been working with HelpHOPELive.org, a non-profit organization that has set up the Great Lakes Catastrophic Injury Fund to assist those like Ethan. If you are interested in making a donation and being a part of Team Ethan, go to http://www.bit.ly/hhl_ethankadish.

St. Louis holds its own at KC kosher BBQ competition

Two St. Louis teams won first and second place in the brisket portion of the 2nd Annual Kansas City Kosher BBQ Competition and Festival Sunday. A total of 20 teams competed in three categories: chicken thighs, beef ribs and beef brisket.

The Bais Abraham team, “Thursday Night Barbecue,” led by Daniel Picker, Dan Vianello and Leslie Fogel, placed first in the brisket competition, considered the most difficult category, and finished fifth in overall points for chicken, brisket and ribs.

Jon and Dave Rubin’s team, “ St. Louis Meat Arts,” finished second in brisket and received a ribbon in chicken, finishing sixth overall. Jon Rubin runs a kosher catering company based at the Crown Center.  

The event drew professional barbecue teams from the Kansas City area as well as kosher teams from New York, Chicago and St. Louis. It also was an official event of the KC BBQ Society with Simon Majumdar from the Food Network serving as a celebrity judge.