Check It Out: Anna Deavere Smith, International Film Festival At The Library

The Westport Library produces 2 signature events each year.

“Booked for the Evening” has brought Big Names like Alan Alda, Patti Smith, Martin Scorsese, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Tom Brokaw to the library stage.

The Malloy Lecture in the Arts is just as impressive. Salman Rushdie, Christopher Plummer, Joyce Carol Oates, Arthur Miller and Christo have all inspired audiences with their insights.

COVID knocked out last spring “Booked” event. But the 2020 Malloy Lecture is on the books — virtually, of course.

Anna Deavere Smith is this year’s speaker. The event is Tuesday, November 10 (7 p.m.).

Anna Deavere Smith

Smith — a playwright, actor and educator — explores issues of community, character and diversity in America. The MacArthur Foundation gave her a “genius” grant, citing her creation of “a new form of theatre — a blend of theatrical art, social commentary, journalism, and intimate reverie.”

In 2012, President Obama awarded her a National Humanities Medal.

Smith travels the country, “absorbing America.” She performs portrayals of people she’s met, recreating a diversity of emotions and points of view on controversial issues. She has crafted more than 15 one-woman shows, transforming herself into an astonishing number of characters.

Her most recent play, “Notes from the Field,” examines the school-top-prison pipeline, and inequality in low-income communities. It won an Obie Award, and Time called it one of the Top 10 plays of the year.

Currently, Smith appears on “Black-ish” and “For the People.” She may be most recognizable as the hospital administrator on “Nurse Jackie,” and the national security advisor on “The West Wing.”

“Booked for the Evening” is a fundraiser; tickets are priced accordingly. Malloy Lectures, on the other hand, are free. They were established by longtime Westporter, arts patron and philanthropist Susan Malloy in 2002. She died in 2015, at 91.

For more information about Anna Deavere Smith’s appearance, and a link to free registration, click here.

But that’s not all that’s happening downtown by the river.

Couldn’t get to the Tribeca or South by Southwest Film Festival? Looking for entertainment while cooped up during COVID?

As it so often does, the Westport Library rides to the rescue.

“Short Cuts” — a short film festival — screens virtually on Thursday, November 12 (7 p.m.).

The event is a collaboration with Westport’s JIB Productions. Thanks to the library’s state-of-the-art technology, viewers will enjoy a professional experience.

The films will be followed by a discussion among 3 directors, and “Short Cuts” producer Nancy Diamond. The talkback has been a key to “Short Cuts”‘ success as a live event for the past 10 years.

The virtual format means that filmmakers will appear live from where they live. That includes New Zealand and Texas.

The “Short Cuts” films:

  • Single an “anti-romantic comedy challenging preconceived notions of life with a disability
  • Coup d’Etat Math: 4 immigrant stories using graphic animation.
  • Tapes: The discovery of an old recording leads to an awkward and raucous family dinner.
  • Dirty Laundry follows the misadventures of 2 foreigners trying to dispose of an old washing machine.
  • Liliu: Based on a true story; director Jeremiah Tauamiti was inspired by his own journey as a high chief from his Samoan village.

Tickets for the films and talkback are $25. Click here to purchase.


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