SCENES FROM A PARISH (2009)
Presented as part of the Lowell Folklife Series
Special Guest: Director James Rutenbeck
Wednesday, April 11 @ 7:30PM
Lowell National Historical Park
246 Market Street, Lowell
The Lowell Film Collaborative first premiered Scenes from a Parish in May 2009 to a sold-out crowd and with director James Rutenbeck as our special guest. It was an emotional, exciting event, which makes us even more proud to be bringing this poignant, award-winning documentary back to the Mill City in partnership with Lowell National Historical Park. Rutenbeck’s complicated and beautiful film was shot entirely on location in Lawrence, MA, at Saint Patrick Parish on the cusp of the grand opening of the Parish’s state-of-the-art meal center, Cor Unum. Today, Cor Unum stands as a tribute to the community and serves hundreds of citizens every day, 7 days a week — TRULY an inspiration. Presented as part of the National Park’s 2012 Lowell Folklife Series program titled “Gateway Cities: When Neighborhoods Change,” this special program will feature an in-person appearance by James Rutenbeck who comes back to downtown Lowell for this encore presentation of his powerful documentary.
ABOUT THE FILM
“Love thy neighbor just got a whole lot harder.” In 2001, an irreverent, young, Harvard-educated Catholic priest arrived at Saint Patrick Parish in the hard-pressed former mill town of Lawrence, Massachusetts. Father Paul O’Brien soon discovered that trying to foster an inclusive community amidst the ethnic tensions of this working-class, multicultural parish would be no mean feat. Older parishioners like Edna McGregor were resentful of a new generation of immigrants—people like the tattooed Elvys Guzman, a former gang-banger from Santo Domingo—who was seen playing basketball with other Latino teenagers in the parish center. Meanwhile more idealistic parishioners like Peggy Oliveto were trying to reach out to those in need but faced cultural entanglements that grew more complicated with the passage of time. Filmed over four years, Scenes from a Parish explores the personal stories a Catholic parish struggling to reconcile the ideals of faith with the cultural realities of a globalized United States.
Critical praise for Scenes from a Parish:
“The Vatican is trying to rouse Catholics’ ire toward Ron Howard’s upcoming “Angels and Demons” without giving the blockbuster drama exactly the publicity it craves. Here’s an idea then: Steer the faithful, and everyone else, to Scenes from a Parish …. It raises more questions about the church’s place in a changing world — and touches more emotions doing so — than any big-budget studio folderol.” — Ty Burr, Boston Globe. Read the full review: Click here
“You don’t need to be religious to be moved by the spirit of Father Paul O’Brien, head pastor, a Harvard graduate who finds his calling amid the unemployed, in the poorest city by far in Massachusetts. Yes, there are problems at Saint Patrick’s: drugs, alcoholism, homelessness, and some resentment of the Hispanic newcomers from the aging Irish. But there’s hope, too, and parishioners turn their lives around, because Father Paul is an exemplary priest, and a movie hero as well.” — Gerald Peary, Boston Phoenix. Read the full review: Click here
“Filmmaker James Rutenbeck’s newest film, Scenes from a Parish, is a deeply felt homage to the nuances of small town life and the role faith plays when meeting the challenges that life presents. In the rhythms and rituals of a Catholic church in a small New England town, we see how people face change while trying to maintain tradition. Rutenbeck’s immersion in the subject lends his film dignity and insight, allowing his viewers a fresh understanding of the complex interplay between faith and family.” — Cara Mertes, Director, Sundance Documentary Film Program
Read about the MAKING of Scenes from a Parish via PBS’ Independent Lens: click here