The Northampton Arts Council works to support and nurture the arts in the city of Northampton. The Council awards grants twice each year to artists and arts groups from both state and locally-raised funds, and seeks to improve public awareness of the arts. Its' goals include maintaining and preserving the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Northampton, programming such annual events of interest to the community as First Night Northampton and Transperformance.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The 35th Annual Black Maria Film Festival Tour Returns to Northampton

Local filmmaker Luke Jaeger and the Northampton Arts Council will co-present a selection of short independent films from the 2016 Black Maria Film Festival. The film festival will be presented on Friday, November 11th in conjunction with Arts Night Out. The program starts at 7:00pm in the Community Room of First Churches, 129 Main Street in downtown Northampton. The 75-minute program is free and open to the public. These award-winning shorts, which audiences are unlikely to see anywhere else, include a mix of narrative, documentary, animation and experimental films.

As Northampton prepares to welcome a group of Syrian refugees for local resettlement, of particular interest is “Notes for My Homeland,” a documentary about Syrian-American composer Malek Jandali’s response to the tragedies instigated by the Assad regime. Jandali composed music in support of the Syrian Revolution, performing it at great personal risk. Malek Jandali’s evolution from classical musician to passionate activist captures the transformation that the civil war in Syria has wrought on many citizens. This is a story that celebrates the power of art to catalyze social movements.

“Malek Jandali is no ordinary musician. The Syrian-American composer and pianist has performed in leading concert halls around the world and has also written a song so powerful that his parents were beaten in punishment for its performance. I can’t think of a more stark example of how threatening art can be.”
—producer Julie Winokur

“Notes for My Homeland” does include some graphic footage of the Syrian civil war; viewer discretion is advised.

The Black Maria Film Festival was founded in 1981 as a tribute to Thomas Edison’s development of the motion picture at his laboratory, dubbed the “Black Maria” film studio, the first in the world, in West Orange, NJ. The Festival attracts and showcases the work of independent filmmakers internationally. This season, submissions came from six continents around the world. The Festival is a project of the Thomas A. Edison Media Arts Consortium, an independent non-profit organization in residence at New Jersey City University’s Department of Media Arts in Jersey City, NJ. For further information, contact the Northampton Arts Council at 240 Main Street, Memorial Hall #1, Northampton, MA 01060, (413) 587-1269,; or Jane Steuerwald, Black Maria Film Festival Executive Director,, 201-200-2043,

The Bravest, the Boldest

Notes for My Homeland



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