Millerton director is an Oscar nominee

Arlo Washington in a film still from the Oscar-nominated short "The Barber of Little Rock."

Story Syndicate

Millerton director is an Oscar nominee

John Hoffman, a Millerton resident, has been nominated for his film “The Barber of Little Rock,” which he co-directed with Christine Turner, in the Best Documentary Short Film category at the upcoming 96th Academy Awards.

Distributed by The New Yorker and produced by Story Syndicate Production in association with 59th & Prairie, Better World Projects, and Peralta Pictures, “The Barber of Little Rock” explores the efforts of Arkansas local hero Arlo Washington, who opened a barbershop at 19 years old and, with a mission to close the racial inequality gap in his community, went on to found the Washington Barber College as well as People Trust Community Federal Credit Union. Washington’s goal is aiding his primarily Black neighborhood, which has historically been underserved by more prominent banking institutions.

Hoffman appeared at The Moviehouse in Millerton for a special screening of the short film Friday, Feb. 23, which played along with the four competing nominees: “Nai Nai & Wài Pó” (Grandma & Grandma), a humorous portrait by Sean Wang of his maternal and paternal Taiwanese grandmothers who share one home in Los Angeles, California; “The ABCs of Book Banning,” which features interviews with Florida school children discussing the books that have been removed from their libraries; “The Island Inbetween” which documents life on Kinman, an island governed by Taiwan and located across a bay from Mainland China; and “The Last Repair Shop,” about the lives of four dedicated craftspeople who repair the musical instruments for public school children in Los Angeles.

“The Barber of Little Rock” received the Jenni Berebitsky Legacy Award at the 2023 Indy Shorts International Film Festival and was nominated at the eighth annual Critics Choice Documentary Awards.

At the talk, Hoffman explained that one of the most potent experiences in filming the documentary was seeing firsthand the financial and racial divide in Little Rock, illustrated by Interstate 630, which acts as a barrier between white affluence and Black poverty in the city. The interstate resulted from the signing of the Federal Highway Act by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, then the most extensive public works program in America. In the documentary, Scott Green calls the fallout from the I-630 “not a wealth gap, but a wealth chasm.” Green is the nephew of Ernest Green, one of the Little Rock Nine, the first African American students permitted to enroll at Little Rock Central High School.

People Trust, the only Black-owned Community Development Financial Institution in Arkansas, is attempting to bridge that chasm by supporting the emergence of minority-owned businesses in the community, including helping graduates of Washington’s barber college forge a path toward establishing their own shops and salons and providing emergency grants for Little Rock residents experiencing the strains of houselessness or searching for a new start following incarceration. The average People Trust loan is $5,000 for businesses and $1,000 for individuals.

As Washington says in the documentary short, “Once [Little Rock residents] can put funds here, and deposits, then we’re not going to put money outside of this community, we’re going to put money back into the community.”

“Once this catches on, it becomes a threat,” Green replies. “Because it can inspire others to think that they can become free. This is about being free.”

The 96th Oscars will be held Sunday, March 10, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles and will be televised live on ABC.

“The Barber of Little Rock” is available to watch on www.newyorker.com and The New Yorker’s YouTube channel.

John HoffmanAlexander Wilburn

Latest News

Robert J. Pallone

NORFOLK — Robert J. Pallone, 69, of Perkins Street passed away April 12, 2024, at St. Vincent Medical Center. He was a loving, eccentric CPA. He was kind and compassionate. If you ever needed anything, Bob would be right there. He touched many lives and even saved one.

Bob was born Feb. 5, 1955, in Torrington, the son of the late Joseph and Elizabeth Pallone.

Keep ReadingShow less
The artistic life of Joelle Sander

"Flowers" by the late artist and writer Joelle Sander.

Cornwall Library

The Cornwall Library unveiled its latest art exhibition, “Live It Up!,” showcasing the work of the late West Cornwall resident Joelle Sander on Saturday, April 13. The twenty works on canvas on display were curated in partnership with the library with the help of her son, Jason Sander, from the collection of paintings she left behind to him. Clearly enamored with nature in all its seasons, Sander, who split time between her home in New York City and her country house in Litchfield County, took inspiration from the distinctive white bark trunks of the area’s many birch trees, the swirling snow of Connecticut’s wintery woods, and even the scenic view of the Audubon in Sharon. The sole painting to depict fauna is a melancholy near-abstract outline of a cow, rootless in a miasma haze of plum and Persian blue paint. Her most prominently displayed painting, “Flowers,” effectively builds up layers of paint so that her flurry of petals takes on a three-dimensional texture in their rough application, reminiscent of another Cornwall artist, Don Bracken.

Keep ReadingShow less
A Seder to savor in Sheffield

Rabbi Zach Fredman

Zivar Amrami

On April 23, Race Brook Lodge in Sheffield will host “Feast of Mystics,” a Passover Seder that promises to provide ecstasy for the senses.

“’The Feast of Mystics’ was a title we used for events back when I was running The New Shul,” said Rabbi Zach Fredman of his time at the independent creative community in the West Village in New York City.

Keep ReadingShow less