Batson’s Re|Cord screens at 1 p.m. on Saturday

By Patrick Bracken
Citizen Chronicle Entertainment Writer
Editor@TheCitizenChronicle.com

SOUTHBRIDGE — Alecia Batson never thought she would become a filmmaker.  She’s been involved in the arts ever since she can remember, as a Boston-area opera singer and as someone who does communications projects for private clients.  However, it wasn’t until she won the Shawna Shea Film Fellowship that she began to consider what she could bring to the art of filmmaking.  The result is Re|Cord, an experimental “art installation” that premieres at the Ruth Wells Center for the Arts at 1 p.m. Saturday as part of the Shawna Shea Film Festival.

Originally Batson thought she was going to make a traditional narrative film.  Her conception changed after attending a 3 day conference at MIT on the concept of “record”.  Fascinated, she built her film around the ideas from the conference.  “[Re|Cord] approaches the concepts of archive, memory and experience,” she explains, “That words experienced throughout one’s life contribute to one’s perception.”  The film follows a young woman living in a sparse apartment going through a series of seemingly ordinary tasks.  In the background, however, is a nagging, sometimes barely audible voice that changes the viewer’s perception of the scenes.

Batson intentionally keeps the subject of the film at a distance from the viewer.  It’s a full two minutes before her face becomes visible, and other shots keep her face just out of frame, or in darkness.  “I’ve always been a big proponent of negative space,” she says.  “I want the viewer to have a more observant but distant relationship with the subject.”  Although told from a female perspective, Batson resists suggestions that her film is related to the particular moment that women are in today.  “This is related to anyone’s experience, not just the female experience.  We are actively living our lives with others watching, all the time, in front of each other.”

Re|Cord was produced with funds Batson received after winning the Shawna Shea Film Fellowship.  The Fellowship was created to help first time female filmmakers get their start.  “There is a disparity in the business,” says Shawna Shea co-director Skip Shea. “we like to encourage the make-your-own-opportunity attitude.  Make the movie.”

Shea says Batson was a natural fit for the prize.  “I’ve known Alecia for awhile and she is first and foremost an artist,” he explains.  “She’s also a patron of the arts.  She had a unique perspective.”  He couldn’t have been happier with the results.  “Adding Alecia’s piece is exciting because experimental and exhibition video is rarely thought of when discussing film,” enthused Shea.  “We’re excited to have helped Alecia create this wonderful, thought-provoking piece of art.”

The Shawna Shea Foundation Fellowship is currently accepting applications.  Aspiring female filmmakers should go to www.shawnafoundation.org/fellowships to get theirs today.

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