All posts by Erin Dempsey

Danny Barman- Nuovo Cinema Italiano Film Festival

The Italian Film Festival was a film festival at the Sottile Theatre on George Street that was put on by professors within the Italian department. Many films were screened throughout this four day film festival including some Q&A’s from some of the directors that flew into Charleston to attend. This was an amazing way for the audience to be able to connect with the people who made the films, and ask various questions that went on in the audience’s mind throughout the films. It also allowed the crowd to have a much better understanding on why the director wanted to show what was being portrayed of Italy, the ugly and the beautiful.

Overall, the film festival went fairly well. The largest portion of the audience was college students, but it also included some diversity from others that were visiting Charleston at the time. The biggest flaw that I would change would simply be the promotion to draw a more diverse crowd to get people to attend besides those college students who were required to go, and to have a more even spread of diversity throughout the audience. I had a great time attending the festival though, and I really enjoyed watching the documentaries.

JAIL BREAK: A Charleston Arts Festival


On Saturday, November 16th, I attended the bi-annual JAIL BREAK Arts Festival in the Old Charleston City Jail. After being told I should attend the event, I was excited to be a part of such a unique experience. The festival, featuring music, art works, comedy, and theatre, was incredible. However, I found that what time you go to the event makes a big difference. For example, my friends and I went pretty close to it’s opening at 4 o’clock, where we were surrounded by a lot of families and pre-teens. This audience shifted throughout the night, yielding a more mature, cooler audience by 7/8pm. For anyone planning to attend this annual event in the future, I would suggest considering what time you go pretty thoroughly beforehand. Also, take into account it’s close proximity to a not-so-great part of town when arranging transportation.

As far as the venue itself, the old jail made for an awesome setting. Seeing exhibitions and comedy/theatre performances in preserved rooms of the prison made for an engaging and historical experience. I was, however, unimpressed with the scale of the jail, thinking it would be a lot larger…maybe I just watch too much TV. Either way, the event was killer and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone. This year’s turnout was one of the best that they’ve ever had, so I’m sure that they will knock the next event out of the park as well.


Across Pieces: An Exhibition by Maribel Acosta

On September 24 I had the pleasure of attending an exhibition featuring artist Maribel “Mag” Acosta. The exhibit was held at The 827 in West Ashley, which is a killer gallery/studio/events hall space. If not to see the art, I highly recommend going to the space and getting a tour of the gallery, because it’s quite unique. Apart from the space, the exhibition itself is very cool. The paintings track the artists’s journey, as she moved around a lot in her life. I liked it because I enjoy art that clearly represents some kind of life event or connection. A key element of the show was a performance piece about the artist’s travels, and the way that new places have nurtured her. This piece was very cool and a video of the show can be found here!

This event reminded me of our class discussion about planning. After speaking with one of the managers, I learned that the large, six foot canoe used for the performance was bought one day earlier. Through my research, I found that a material like this can be very pricey if bought new. Had the gallery planned for this need ahead of time, they could have minimized costs and maximized authenticity of the prop. There also lacked a plan as the show began. Managers were still hanging up painting descriptions and setting out food even 30 minutes after the event was scheduled to begin. Although this is a new business, this gallery needs to act more official in their presentation. Regardless, the work here is awesome and I would highly recommend checking it out, especially if you enjoy art with some heritage!

New Music Collective: Earth People

On September 5th I saw a concert featuring the band Earth People. This experimental duo performed on the second floor of the Cato Center for the Arts, in a show sponsored by the New Music Collective. Overall, I am fairly neutral towards the show. On the one hand, the artists took a lot of risks, playing very experimental music. I appreciate their ingenuity and attempt to make music out of objects like pencils and barrels, or screeching pre-recorded voices. Regardless of my admiration of their style of choice, the music itself was not to my liking. Although the pencil-tapping demonstration was interesting, it lasted 15 minutes, way beyond the audience’s attention span. Also, after one segment in which an amplified cello and harsh digital sounds clashed for at least 10 minutes, I cannot say I walked away confident that I would hear again.

As with any art event, there exist some parallels between my experience and the event that I went to. For example, before the event, I had no prior knowledge or education about experimental music. Perhaps, had New Music Collective been proactive about educating the public about contemporary music, they would have had a better turn out and a more engaged audience. On the positive side, the event clicked well with the organization’s mission-an important part of any organization. In keeping with their mission to develop “a community around contemporary music in the South Carolina Lowcountry,” the event was small and had a close-knit, communal feel. They also strive to have “accessible dialogue” between the audience and the artist, which held true during this event. We were able to go up to the performers after the show and ask them questions. We also picked up on the band’s internal banter, since we weren’t more than 10 feet from where they played.

In the end, I recommend this event to my peers. Although the main-stream application of Earth People’s music is questionable, something this wacky and experimental is a must for those interested in different takes on music.