MIDDLETOWN –The FilmOneFest has awarded Neal Bennett, owner of the Industry Film School and instructor at the Middletown Arts Center, third place in the Spirit of the Shore Awards for his 1-minute video documenting artist Kathy Connolly’s The Sandy Project at the Middletown Arts Center (MAC).
The Spirit of the Shore Awards was a special category created in response to Super Storm Sandy, which severely damaged the Atlantic Highlands Marina where the FilmOneFest takes place. The event organizers asked filmmakers from across the area to submit work that showed the resiliency and hope of those affected by the storm.
The Sandy Project, organized by Connolly, the Middletown Arts Center’s acting instructor, attracted 22 kids, ages 4 to 15, who collaborated to create a 45-minute, multimedia piece in which the children wrote poems and songs, painted, created an animation, danced, hula-hooped and played guitar and piano. The project started March 19 and ran weekly, concluding with a performance April 21 in the Middletown Arts Center theater. The performance raised $950 for the Middletown Disaster Relief Fund.
“The children were a very sweet, creative and brave bunch and I am truly so lucky to have worked with them on ‘The Sandy Project’,” said Connolly. “We all helped each other by expressing our feelings and telling our stories about Hurricane Sandy. They had a great sense of achievement in raising money and helping others.”
“Trying to tell a story in one minute was a challenge,” said Bennett. “Kathy Connolly came to me with the idea of producing a short film about her play. I decided to include a personal story from her experience with Sandy and how she worked with Maggie O’Brien, executive director at the Middletown Arts Center, to raise money for the Middletown Disaster Relief Fund.
“Kathy, who is currently still displaced from the storm, was such an inspiration for the children,” Bennett said. “The FilmOneFest’s $200 cash prize will be donated to the Middletown Disaster Relief Fund and I look forward to next year’s event.”
For upcoming events and programs at the Middletown Arts Center, visit www.mid dletownarts.org or call 732-706-4100.