Bard News & Events

Press Release


Emily M. Darrow
Question-and-answer session with filmmakers Ruth Oxenberg and Rob Schumer follows the screening ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—Bluegrass Journey, a new independent documentary film that Variety magazine calls “a genuine crowd pleaser,” will be screened at Bard College’s Avery Film Center Theater on Friday, March 4, at 7:00 p.m. Filmmakers Ruth Oxenberg and Rob Schumer will be present for a discussion after the screening. Admission is free and open to the public. “This is a good film, especially for people who really like bluegrass music, because Rob and Ruth respect the bluegrass tradition to the degree that they filmed and edited in a way that brings the presence of the music into the foreground,” says John Pruitt, associate professor of film at Bard. “It’s a document in which the makers show their genuine knowledge and love of the music itself. This didn’t come easy. As first-time film artists, they were exceptionally shrewd and made a careful study of other concert films in order to identify the advantages and pitfalls of the enterprise. Over and above that, there is a hidden story, too, which they are very good at telling, of how much dogged determination is needed to overcome the inevitable and difficult hurdles of making any kind of serious concert film.” The film features extended and intimately captured performances by the Del McCoury Band, Nickel Creek, Jerry Douglas, Tim O’Brien, Peter Rowan, Tony Rice, Rhonda Vincent, The Lonesome River Band, Bob Paisley and the Southern Grass, Pete Wernick, and many others. In the tradition of Woodstock, The Last Waltz, and Jazz on a Summer’s Day, Bluegrass Journey weaves together performance, verité-style cinematography, and interviews. Set largely at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in Ancramdale, New York (Columbia County), and at the annual International Bluegrass Music Association’s convention in Kentucky, this film reveals breathtaking musical virtuosity, passionate and joyous audience dedication, and the rich artistry and spirit that infuse one of America’s great musical genres. Bluegrass Journey had its world premiere at the Maui Film Festival in Hawaii in June 2003. Since then, it has played at more than 35 film and music festivals around the world, including the Woodstock Film Festival in 2003. The film was released on DVD and VHS in April and is being distributed by Blue Stores Films, at Schumer and Oxenberg, a husband and wife team, are residents of the Hudson Valley. Oxenberg is a former producer for ABC News World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. In 1996, she became interested in bluegrass and pitched a story to Jennings, who is a fan of the genre. The news piece aired in September 1996. While working on it, she and her husband had the idea to make Bluegrass Journey. It is their first film. It took Oxenberg and Schumer seven years to make the film. Most of the material was shot in 2000 by camera and soundmen that Oxenberg had worked with during her years in network television. In 2002, editor and codirector Nancy Kennedy came on board. Her latest film, Why We Fight, just won the American Grand Jury prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. The multitrack live recordings were mixed by legendary Nashville recording engineer Bil VornDick, who has worked with artists ranging from Alison Krauss, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas and Ralph Stanley to Bob Dylan and James Taylor. His latest project, The Bluegrass Sessions by Lynn Anderson, was nominated for a Grammy Award as Bluegrass Album of the Year. For further information, call Ruth Oxenberg, 518-537-6535, or e-mail # [Editor’s Note: Preview copies on DVD are available by request, call Ruth Oxenberg at 518-537-6535, or e-mail] BLUEGRASS JOURNEY Biographies DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Ruth Oxenberg For 18 years, Ruth Oxenberg produced long and short pieces for network television news and sports, most recently on staff at ABC News World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. From 1992–94, she associate produced several hours for ABC News Turning Point, including Woodstock ’94 (reported by John Donvan), Adoption—The Baby Chase (reported by Meredith Vieira), and Sex Offenders (reported by Deborah Amos). At NBC News, in 1988, she was the associate producer for the award-winning Black Athletes–Fact & Fiction, an hour-long program reported by Tom Brokaw. Oxenberg speaks fluent Russian and, in 1987, was the associate producer for Portrait of the Soviet Union, a 12-part film series for Turner Broadcasting System. She was the Moscow city producer for CNN’s coverage of the Reagan-Gorbachev summit in 1987, and managed Ted Turner’s Moscow office for the inaugural Goodwill Games in 1986. Oxenberg covered three Olympic Games, in Sarajevo (’84), Los Angeles (’84) and Barcelona (’92) for ABC and NBC Sports. Bluegrass Journey is her first independent project. DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Rob Schumer Rob Schumer earns his living as a glaucoma specialist and eye surgeon in New York City and Kingston, N.Y. He holds a Ph.D. degree from Stanford University in vision science. Schumer was raised in a musical family, has had an extensive musical education, and has enjoyed a life-long passion for many kinds of music. He plays the guitar and mandolin. He is also an accomplished still photographer. Schumer brings to this film project a critical mind, a scholarly and analytical approach to bluegrass music, and an in-depth knowledge of the history of bluegrass. He and his wife, Ruth Oxenberg, coconceived of and developed Bluegrass Journey. EDITOR/CODIRECTOR: Nancy Kennedy Nancy Kennedy has been editing documentary film for more than 20 years. Her feature film credits include the 2005 Sundance American Grand Jury Award winner Why We Fight, and the Sundance Audience Award winner Thank You and Goodnight, directed by Jan Oxenberg (American Playhouse, 1993–94). She edited Lexy Lovell and Michael Uys’s Riding the Rails, a feature documentary about teenage hobos during the Depression Era, which also played at Sundance and won the LA Film Critics Award for Best Documentary, 1999. Kennedy has numerous television documentary credits, including Trauma: Life in the E.R., the award-winning series that chronicles, in cinema verité, the events in real emergency rooms, produced for New York Times TV and the Learning Channel, 1998-99. She edited David Grubin’s The Language of Life, A Festival of Poets, a 1996 PBS series presented by Bill Moyers. Kennedy has edited segments and series for National Geographic Explorer, National Geographic’s Science Times, HBO, and A&E. # # # (2/23/05)

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This event was last updated on 03-10-2005