Annie Berman of WIFVNE Reflects on Film Camp

We live in a workaholic culture, one the believes that there are more hours in the day, and if we only work harder, we’ll unlock those hidden hours. As independent filmmakers, we are among the worst offenders — skillfully resourceful, most of us operate within the margins. CID/KOPKIND FIlmmakers Retreat offers a respite, a refuge — rewarding a select few with the space and time to breathe, renew, restore. They call it “radical relaxation.”

I arrived so tense, over-committed, over-extended with a list of my own goals that I wanted to achieve in my week away.  The idea of taking a week off only added to my stress level, as did my fear of the unknown — being trapped on a hippy farm with strangers for a week. The word camp brought up all kinds of feelings that I thought I had successfully suppressed, many years ago. If I had a week of free time, wouldn’t I much rather spend it on a beach with friends?

By day two, I had submitted to the regiment – elective yoga in the morning, a leisurely breakfast, a thoughtful critique session about a participant’s film (viewed the previous night), an educating and inspiring discussion with a visiting scholar (from Attorney Sandra Forman, to MCC Program Manager Meri Jenkins, to filmmakers Kate Davis and David Heilbroner), a luxurious break for a real lunch, an excursion to a watering hole, to town, or to a neighbor’s home for arts and crafts, another exquisite meal, a ‘film slam’ presented by my far too humble peers, and the nightly reward of losing oneself to the warm, therapeutic depths of the hot tub where conversations under shooting stars drifted into early morning.

By day three, I was accustomed to a world without desks and computers, without meals on the go, without cell phones, without pavement and subways, without shoes.

By day six, I started to worry that we really would all be leaving tomorrow and tried not to think about it as I danced the splinter further and further into my toe at our disco send off.

By day seven, I tried to miss the day’s only train out.  I was not successful.

I miss the farm, its inhabitants, the friends and colleagues I took for granted, the nourishment of both body and mind.  But, I returned to the city a better version of my former self, feeling supported, re-invigorated, and renewed, with a better sense of who I am, what I am doing, where I am going, and what I need to get there.

Each day presents its choices and distractions, and having tasted the freedom of a life/work balance, I am determined to create and sustain such balance back home.  The secret?  It’s not hidden time portals.  Taking time off to do the things I enjoy, as it turns out, actually makes me more productive in my work, more creative, and better able to face my biggest obstacles.

And for all of this, I must thank Andrew Kopkind, the radical journalist for whom the camp is named, who died far too young, but who lives on at the CID/Kopkind retreat.  He lives on in the beauty of the farm, the spirit of the community, and in each of us campers who continue to benefit from his generosity and inclusion.  It was an experience that I hope each of you has the opportunity to live through.  I encourage you to consider applying next year.  Happy 75th birthday, Andy!

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For further reading visit:
Kopkind Colony
Women In Film & Video New England
CID / Kopkind Film Camp 2010 Attendees
The Faithful (Annie’s Film In Production)

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