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By Blog Master
Posted: 03/01/2021


In November 2020, seven women from Pasadena Village signed up to take a story-telling and filmmaking class given by Shauna McGarry from the Echo Park Film Center. At the end of the class, each participant produced a short film about a defining event from their lives. On a Sunday afternoon in February the women, assisted by Shauna, shared their projects via Zoom before a large appreciative audience of Village members and friends.

We all have stories from our lives and, of course, the longer we have lived, the more stories there are to tell. Each of the women had to select one story from their life, just one, and then whittle that story down to five minutes or less – a big challenge! Loss was a common thread running through all of the films - loss of a spouse or partner, loss of a beloved pet, loss of a long-time home, loss of one’s vision, loss of a lifestyle. But also abundantly clear in the films was a shared foundational sense of hope and renewal.

With the expert guidance of instructor Shauna McGarry, they “polished” their words down to a “golden nugget” that said it all. With art and photos and film clips, the stories came together. Each woman narrated her own story with her own illustrations. It was a bonding experience as they helped each other condense, condense, condense. The results were illuminating, heart-warming, and revealing. Here’s what we learned:

Sandy Biery, after a career focused on art and dance, is still dancing to celebrate life and the environment. Sally Currie treasured the time with her second husband, Tom, who continues to inspire her poetry. Katherine Gabel transformed her grief at the loss of her dog into the “animal energy” of two rescue kittens.  Sally Asmundsen shared two “leaps” in her life, emphasizing the confidence that she gained in the process. Lark Ruffner re-kindled her adventurous spirit post-retirement by going on the road in her van named “Kerouac” (voiced by husband, Howard). Artist Karen Bagnard faced the loss of her vision with renewed artistic creativity. And Jean Owen celebrated the love of her 54 year marriage that was deeply rooted in her love of the Pasadena community.

Pasadena Village members are hoping there is another opportunity to sign up for a filmmaking class at Echo Park Film Center, which has received funding from AARP to use filmmaking to nurture creativity in older adults. We all have rich stories to tell from our life experiences. We are grateful to Shauna and the Echo Park Film Center for this experience which challenged us to learn new skills and allowed us the opportunity to help our Village friends know us even better.

Watch the film festival here

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