2013-08-15 / Letters to the Editor

Film festival movies at arts center must-sees

It was the best movie of the summer of 2013, for me. “Tiny” heads west on an hour journey across America to the majestic mountains, plains and skies, a landscape that inspires filmmakers Christopher Smith and Merete Mueller. They follow the trend toward “living small” in wee quarters, on wheels, to escape the Mc- Mansion threat to the noble spaces of our heritage. (Editor’s note: “Tiny” was screened last week at the Jamestown Arts Center as part of the Rhode Island International Film Festival.)

There are some fine conversations, superb interviews, lovely views and impressive cinematography. Chris has made up his mind to build a wagon with his own hands, with the help of his girlfriend. But she is an urban dweller, who nevertheless takes tools in hand and pitches into the endeavor with zest and spunk. The motion picture is a year’s diary of the victories and setbacks, with sidebar stories of other men, women and families that likewise seek to escape the rat race of the American dream of expansion, consumption and competition for acquisition and social climbing.

“Tiny” especially suits me as a native-born Rhode Islander, a child of the Great Depression, and a homesteader here at Middle Bridge in South Kingstown who keeps a small cabin on Narrow River with bunk beds, a galley kitchen, and a loft.

I served as a presenter at last year’s film festival at the arts center. As a veteran professor at Rhode Island School of Design who teaches classes on Hollywood history and the contemporary documentary movement, I recognize in the Jamestown Arts Center a miniature version of our campus in Providence.

On the same evening’s program, “Wood/Sails/Dreams” also toasted the traditions of craftsmanship and independence (mixed with community) with a similar interest in resisting the values of the marketplace by pursuing happiness with your hands and heart.

You have to put up with some degree of scornful laughter for living small or for dreaming of the wind, and Jamestown struck me as a mystical place most aptly chosen for an arts center. I drove over the bridge and watched the birds at dusk winging their way to keep me company through my windshield and mused my memories of bygone, as well as recent, adventures on the island. Soon the monarch butterflies will take off from Beavertail. August is the perfect month for looking both backward and forward. The poignancy and poetry, the eloquence and sheer beauty of “Tiny,” will migrate with me once a new semester kicks in and l thank the staff of the art center most cordially.

Mike Fink
South Kingstown

Return to top