Telling the stories of Pleasantville's first commuter parking lot, its training of an Olympic-level athlete and the achievements of a high school-aged musician were woven together in an evening of community and collaboration Thursday evening.
"It is the interplay—the interweaving—of all of these stories that creates community," said Jacob Burns Film Center Executive Director Steve Apkon. "And I for one am so thankful to live in the wonderful community of Pleasantville."
Held at the Manville Road venue, "Celebrating the Voices of Pleasantville" featured a number of local guest speakers and films produced in the village, about the village.
Jacob Burns, which has collaborated on projects with the school district and with residents through its Media Arts Lab and theatre through its more than 10 years in the community, has one program titled "Unscripted" which started with the profiling of local subjects in the village, Apkon said.
Two films created by high school-aged students through "Unscripted" were showcased Thursday evening—one featuring Village Curator Carsten Johnson, who shared some facts and visuals from the early days of Pleasantville. The second profiled Westchester Table Tennis Center, owned Will Shortz, a Pleasantville resident and the New York Times crossword puzzle editor.
"I have really never lived in a place that felt to me as if it had so many rich opportunities for storytelling and for stories that deserve to be told and captured," Mayor Peter Scherer stated.
A third film followed village trash from the curb to its final destination and encouraged locals to recycle and reuse.
The evening concluded with two stories that are, perhaps, still in the making.
First, a cello solo by Pleasantville High School student Issei Herr, who performed an original piece by Italian composer Lucio Gregoretti, impressed the audience.
But perhaps the few minutes that brought the intent of the evening together the most happened when Apkon introduced a surprise video.
The film, created by a 10-year-old girl from China who attended Bedford Road School and "stole all our hearts," according to Apkon, highlighted some of the intangibles about the village residents seemed to appreciate.
Avanna's message to her friends, teachers and all of Pleasantville was simple: "Hello Pleasantville," she said. "I miss you. I love you."