New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


This article is from our magazine. To view it in its original format, click here

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.”



The article continues after this ad

 


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.





For more by this author, click here






Rahway Presents Pop-Up Screening of "Best of Rahway Reel Shorts"
(RAHWAY, NJ) -- In 2019, the Rahway Arts and Business Partnership will continue to expand the Culture Crawl Concept to include the Culture Crawl Film Series, with the first pop-up screening, “Best of Rahway Reel Shorts,” scheduled for Saturday, January 19th from 8:00pm-10:30pm at Atelier Rosal (74 E. Cherry St.) in downtown Rahway.
State Theatre Presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back In Concert with NJSO
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra present Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in concert with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra featuring Conductor Constantine Kitsopolous on Saturday January 6, 2019 at 3:00pm. Tickets range from $35-$125. 
A Look At New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2019
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, in association with the Rutgers University Program In Cinema Studies, presents the New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2019 which marks the festival's 37th Anniversary.  The Festival will take place between January 25 and March 1, 2019. Showcasing new international films, American independent features, experimental and short subjects, classic revivals, and cutting-edge documentaries, the New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2019 will feature over 35 film screenings. 
NJPAC Presents Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Live in Concert With The NJSO
(NEWARK, NJ) -- The Harry Potter Film Concert Series returns to New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Live in Concert, on Saturday, June 1, 2019 at 2:00pm and 7:30pm. See the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra perform the magical score live while the entire film plays in high-definition on a 40-foot screen.


REVIEW: "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald"
For better or worse (worse in this writer’s eyes), the success of the Harry Potter franchise is largely responsible for the current Hollywood landscape of endless sequels, prequels and that awful phrase “universe building.” The Potter films showed Hollywood that it was a far safer financial model to hook audiences into returning for instalments of an ongoing series rather than taking a punt on the unknown quantity of original properties.
REVIEW: "Shoplifters"
Earlier this year, writer/director extraordinaire Hirokazu Kore-eda surprised us with The Third Murder, a legal thriller that made for a stark departure from the sentimental family dramas he’s become known for. With his Palme d’Or winning Shoplifters, Kore-eda is back on familiar ground, but this particular family drama shares much in common with The Third Murder. With his thriller, Kore-eda deconstructed the genre, forcing us to question how willingly we place our trust in a storyteller. Similarly, Shoplifters sees Kore-eda lull his audience into a false sense of security, making us develop a warmth and affection towards people who may not warrant such empathy.
REVIEW: "First Man"
The image that most defines the 20th century is that of a man standing on the surface of the moon. The man is astronaut Neil Armstrong, but we can’t see his face as he’s wearing a helmet, the glass of which reflects our collective achievement back at us. When he took a small step, we all took a giant leap with him, and Armstrong instantly became more than a mere man, a symbol. With First Man, director Damien Chazelle takes us inside the famous helmet, stripping away the symbol to tell the story of Armstrong the man.
REVIEW: "Halloween"
In 2013, John Carpenter’s Halloween received a 35th anniversary blu-ray release. The accompanying booklet credited the following line of dialogue to Jamie Lee Curtis’s babysitting heroine Laurie Strode: “Was it the boogeyman?” Of course, that’s a misquote. In the scene in question, Laurie admits to herself that “It WAS the boogeyman,” to which Donald Pleasence’s Doctor Loomis solemnly replies, “As a matter of fact, it was.”
REVIEW: "Cold War"
Back in 2006, German cinema scored something of a breakout global hit with Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others, which followed the travails of a group of disgruntled, pro-western artists in communist era East Germany. At the time I couldn’t help viewing the protagonists of Von Donnersmarck’s drama as the sort of people who would be just as discontented with their lot if they found themselves living in the capitalist west. The grass is always greener on the other side.






Event calendar
Tuesday, Dec 18, 2018


MUSIC

THE NEPTUNES @ Lobby Bar at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 7:00pm

Funk Tuesdays @ Crossroads (Garwood), Garwood - 8:00pm

Holiday Express Benefit Concert @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:30pm


COMEDY

H.A.G.S. COMEDY SHOW @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

View all events










 






















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.