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Destiny’s Bridge 2016

By Rosemary Conte

originally published: 07/21/2016

Destiny’s Bridge 2016

Jack Ballo is an award-winning “alternative” filmmaker. His artistic style is “truth cinema”A.K.A. Cinéma Vérité—the French technique of filmmaking originated by Jean Rouch that became popular in the 1960s.

In Destiny’s Bridge 2016, Ballo captures the raw, natural action and dialogue of 80 homeless people and their caregiver, Minister Steve Brigham, who all live in tents in an encampment in the woods of Lakewood NJ, known as Tent City. The film is beautiful, moving, and sometimes disturbing, as it chronicles the many years of tension between Tent City, and the leaders of Lakewood Township who want the people out of the woods. 

True to the cinéma vérité technique, for three years Ballo filmed the everyday activities of people in the camp, including a U.S. Army Vet, a poor elderly vegan couple, and people of all colors, all faiths, and all ages. He used a hand-held camera, picking up sounds, conversations, actions; the gritty, true face of these creative, homeless people who had found solace living together in the woods.

Destiny’s Bridge---the concept, is a plan that offers a solution to homelessness: a plot of land with affordable tiny houses where poor people can live with dignity in a safe and permanent place of their own to call home. The idea of a tiny house community includes on site access to social services, health services, job training and other programs that could facilitate the residents’ integration into mainstream society.

Ballo describes the film’s journey:  “It all started with a 2013 version of Destiny’s Bridge that was never officially released. However, we did screen it at theaters, colleges and film festivals throughout the tri-state area. And as we were screening the film, the story at Tent City grew more intense. So I just kept filming, as a new version of the movie unfolded right in front of me, with a riveting ending that nobody expected.”



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Destiny’s Bridge 2016The idea to re-edit the entire film started when Ballo met cinéma vérité pioneer Bill Jersey after a screening. Jersey was impressed by his vérité work and invited Ballo to call him to discuss the documentary. They soon became friends. Later, Jersey became Executive Producer of the new Destiny’s Bridge

“Bill was a perfect fit for the movie,” Ballo said. “He has years of experience making great films for PBS.”  Jersey has made documentaries for over 50 years and has two Academy Award nominations; two Peabody Awards; and two Emmys to his credit.

Another cinéma vérité legend, Albert Maysles, who preferred the term “direct cinema” also  influenced Ballo’s filming style. After attending Maysles’ Documentary Center in Harlem in 2011, Ballo had a chance to show an early rough cut of Destiny’s Bridge to Maysles. “He loved it right from the beginning,” Ballo said. “It was his kind of film.”

Ballo studied both Maysles’ and Jersey’s work for years before he met them.  Classics like A Time For Burning (1967), Salesman (1968), and Grey Gardens (1976) taught Ballo about the genre.  “You don’t see great vérité films anymore. It’s truly a lost art.  But I always had an appreciation for it and understood the philosophy behind it,” said Ballo.

I was fascinated by Ballo’s description of why and how he shot his scenes. His camera work and editing were done in a way to resemble the optics, sounds, thoughts and movements a viewer would have if they were there. He doesn’t put text or graphics on the screen that might distract the viewer from being there.

“And very important to filming this way,” Ballo said, “I always kept the camera away from my face so I could make eye contact with the subject. I didn’t even wear headphones during the filming to ensure that the subjects would forget they were being filmed. This unobtrusive style of cinematography is crucial to interacting with the film’s characters in the most open and honest dialogue possible. It is my belief that the viewer unconsciously relates this unpolished style of filmmaking to being authentic and truthful, resulting in an emotional connection to the characters in the film and the story that is unfolding before them.

“No tripods were used, no artificial lighting, and there weren’t any boom mics or sound people and producers around. It was just me observing and listening to what people had on their minds while I followed their stories. In the editing process I didn’t dub in any background mood music. There is no host or narration, and no formal interviews.  I’ve taken the viewer on a journey into my film with the hope that they can feel and see what I experienced at the camp.

“The film is really about one man’s passion, and I just let the storyline develop naturally. I followed Minister Steve through the conflicts and challenges he encountered while living in the woods….everything from super storm Sandy, police invasions and an eviction lawsuit---to drug and alcohol issues at the camp and conflicts among residents.  Unlike most homeless documentaries, this film is not about hard luck stories and how people end up homeless. We’ve heard enough about all that. This film gets right down to who people really are and if they count or not.”

Destiny’s Bridge 2016 will have its premiere at the House of Independents in Asbury Park on August 17th at 7:00pm.  The documentary will be followed by a Q&A with filmmakers Jack Ballo and Bill Jersey, along with the film’s main subject, Tent City founder Minister Steve Brigham. The discussion will also include tiny house issues in New Jersey. Tickets are available at the House of Independents website or the Destiny’s Bridge Facebook event page.





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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Live in Concert At NJPAC
(NEWARK, NJ) -- New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) presents Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Live in Concert. Don’t miss the fourth installment of Harry Potter in Concert when NJPAC hosts the full-length film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, projected in high-definition on a giant screen, with Oscar-nominated composer Patrick Doyle’s masterful score performed live by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, October 27, 2018 at 2:00pm & 7:30pm. 
Hopewell Theater To Celebrate Halloween With Fright Fest Week of Horror Films
(HOPEWELL, NJ) -- For an entire week, Hopewell Theater will celebrate Halloween with, Fright Fest, a mini fest of classic Halloween horror films from October 25 - 31, 2018. The slate of films are icons of horror cinema, and will be displayed in all their gory glory on the big screen. 
"Mother Of All Secrets" To Screen At Golden Door International Film Festival
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- The Golden Door Film Festival is hosting a red carpet screening of the female-led thriller, Mother of All Secrets, on Friday, September 21 at Landmark Loew’s Theatre with several stars in attendance. The movie, which was entirely shot in Bermuda, stars Emmy award-winner Kate Mansi, Top Gun star Kelly McGillis, Real Housewives of New York LuAnn de Lesseps, Brooke Burfitt and local Jersey actor Sean Stolzen. 
Golden Door International Film Festival To Present A Screening of "The Pretender"
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- One of the most popular sports films in history is Rocky - a film that mirrors the real life experience of professional boxer Chuck Wepner from Bayonne. A new independent film called The Pretender takes viewers inside the life of Mike Kunda, a “Rocky” fanatic since the movie’s release nearly 40 years ago. The film explores Mike’s fascination with the Rocky Balboa character and how it continues to impact his life, and the lives of others, in interesting and unimaginable ways. The film screens as part of the Golden Door International Film Festival on Sunday, September 23rd at 12:00pm at the Landmark Lowe’s Jersey Theatre (54 Journal Square Plaza) in Jersey City, NJ.
Hopewell Theater Offers Crybaby and Family Matinees
(HOPEWELL, NJ) -- Hopewell Theater is presenting a special monthly movie matinee, “Crybaby Matinee” just for parents and little ones. Toddlers as well as babes-in-arms, infants in strollers and carriers are all welcome to attend. These special Thursday morning screenings offer a sensory-friendly environment – lights are turned up, sound is turned down, and talking and noise is allowed. Latecomers are admitted and guests can move around. The matinees are a fun and affordable option for families, tickets are $6.00 and babes-in-arms, infants in strollers and carriers are admitted free. Hopewell Theater is also offering Saturday “Family Matinees” one Saturday a month, featuring screenings of new and classic films that families with older children can enjoy. Tickets are $6.00 per person.


Michael Gallagher’s terrific comedy Funny Story Premiere’s at the Fall 2018 New Jersey Film Festival this Friday, September 14!
Michael Gallagher’s terrific feature Funny Story Premiere’s at the Fall 2018 New Jersey Film Festival this Friday, September 14!
The Luring: Fear & Neurosis In Vermont
“As a kid, I was always drawn to the darkness,” said filmmaker Christopher Wells.  “I’d think, ‘Why can’t monsters protect me? If I’m friends with the monsters then I don’t have anything to fear.’”
REVIEW: "Searching"
A few weeks ago the body of a 14-year-old schoolgirl was discovered around the corner from where I’m sitting writing this review. Within hours of the tragic discovery, two 13-year-old boys had been arrested. The police had their work simplified by a series of damning posts across social media which pointed to the guilt of the boys in question. Increasingly, when young people go missing or have their lives taken from them, police investigations are now focused more on trawling through the victim’s internet history in search of clues rather than the pavement pounding of old.
REVIEW: "The Children Act"
Earlier this year saw the release of On Chesil Beach, an adaptation of an Ian McEwan novel centered around a wealthy musician who can’t bring herself to have sex with her husband. Now we get The Children Act, an adaptation of an Ian McEwan novel centred around a wealthy musician who can’t bring herself to have sex with her husband. Both are scripted by the novelist himself, and both suggest McEwan should stick to the literary world.
New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 Preview
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 runs from September 14 to October 26 on the Rutgers University Campus in New Brunswick, NJ. Showcasing new international films, American independent features, animation, experimental and short subjects, and cutting-edge documentaries, the New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 will feature over 30 film screenings.  The Festival runs on select Thursday, Friday and Sunday evenings. For the complete schedule visit www.NJFilmFest.com. Here is a look at the screenings for September.






Event calendar
Thursday, Sep 20, 2018


MUSIC

ELI YOUNG BAND WITH CODY BRYAN @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

CELTIC THUNDER X @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm

Lost 80's Live @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm

Citizen Cope @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 8:00pm

ICON 2018: ELIMINATION ROUND 2 @ Hamilton Stage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm

Linda Eder @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm







THEATRE

Souvenir @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

East Lynne Theater Company presents SILENT SKY @ First Presbyterian Church (Cape May), Cape May - 8:00pm

The Shuck @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

Auditions for Seussical at CDC Theatre @ CDC Theatre, Cranford - 7:00pm

Playhouse 22's Third-Thursday Play Reading Series @ Playhouse 22, East Brunswick - 7:30pm

West End Festival of the Arts- Opening Reception @ West End Arts Center, Long Branch - 6:00pm

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm

Brick City @ Premiere Stages at Kean University, Union - 8:00pm


FILM

New Jersey Film Festival @ Ruth Adams Building #001, New Brunswick - 6:00pm


KIDS

Crybaby Matinee: The Triplets of Belleville @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

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