Essex Art Center Presents Short Film & Jazz Festival

Art is created through connection — connection with subjects and mediums, connection with an audience and connection with collaborators. Connection, in turn, yields its own rewards; on Saturday, Aug. 26 in the Bell Tower Courtyard of the Essex Art Center (60 Island Street in Lawrence, Mass. — rain location inside the Everett Mills), the reward will take the form of the Short Film & Jazz Festival, now in its second year.

The festival, which will run from 1 to 10 p.m. and is free for all, involves a collaboration between the Essex Art Center and Movimiento Pro Cultura (English translation: “Movement for Culture”), a nonprofit focused on “promoting positive values through music and dance,” according to treasurer José Figuerero. Before 2016’s inaugural festival, John Budzyna, Essex Art Center’s executive director, produced a short film festival in Arlington; Movimiento Pro Cultura had been running a jazz festival for two years before Budzyna and the Essex Art Center approached them with an offer of collaboration.

“There was this kind of arts-culture meeting in Lawrence,” Budzyna said, “with different groups getting together and saying, ‘Hey, we’re all doing different things. Let’s find a way to get together, consolidate, collaborate.’”

The festival now includes a mini arts festival at 1 p.m., writing presentations from The Common Sage, a local writing group, from 2 to 3 p.m., Movimiento’s Jazz Festival from 3 to 8 p.m. and short films centered around the theme of “My America” from 8:30 p.m. onward. Last year, the theme was “My Lawrence,” but Budzyna doesn’t think this year’s theme is necessarily broader: “We’re an immigrant city, and immigrants seem to be under constant fire … I hope this will be a prompt for people to say, ‘This is where my America is, here in Lawrence.’”

While the city of Lawrence serves as a connecting thread between short films, Figuerero emphasized that connections forged between arts groups are what allow the festival to grow: “Our mission is to have not just one day of fun, art, culture and music for the town. I think with time, we are going to have a weekend of this kind of celebration. This is just a start.”

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More information about the Short Film & Jazz Festival, including links to last year’s short films, can be found here.

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