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Windcrossing Festival Returns to Celebrate Film, Legacy, Collaboration and Capstones

Colby-Sawyer College will host Windcrossing: A Festival of Sight and Sound, which showcases films by students and alumni and celebrates independent filmmaking. Dedicated to the memory and legacy of Professor Emeritus Donald Coonley, the second annual festival will take place on Saturday, May 4, at 7 p.m. in the Sawyer Center Theatre. Admission is free.

Donald Coonley, professor in the Communication Studies Program (now Media Studies) at Colby-Sawyer from 1989 to 2008, was a writer, filmmaker and inspirational educator. With his passing in 2011, alumni Mike Mooney '02 and Will Peters '06 were motivated to pay tribute to their friend and mentor by reviving the film festival that Professor Coonley originated.

Armed with their professional experience as co-founders of Vermont-based Hammer & Saw Films, Mooney and Peters began recruiting support from the college community, and with much assistance from Donna Berghorn, Ph.D., associate professor of Humanities, the festival was recreated in 2012.

This year's festival will feature the short film, “A Vital Dilemma,” three Capstone public-service films and a clip from the original video/theatre Capstone production, “Love and Lettuce.”

In “A Vital Dilemma,” three best friends stumble upon a mysterious heart in a box and must figure out what exactly they should do with it. The plot is further complicated by a detective at their door who turns the mysterious package into a vital dilemma. Directed by Kryslyn Rousseau '13 and written by Zach Matson '13, the film stars students Ethan O'Connell '14 and Aaron Hodge '14 and Colby-Sawyer Assistant Director of Admissions Mike Clark.

In support of “A Vital Dilemma” Peters and Mooney returned to campus to continue their commitment to the festival. Alongside Professor Berghorn, the two alumni were heavily involved in the film's production over a two-day period in late March.

“Having alumni like Will and Mike willing to come back and pay it forward has been really inspiring,” says Rousseau.

As with the inaugural event, Media Studies seniors have been invited to submit their Capstone project videos for screening at the festival. The inclusion of Capstone projects has been especially important to this year's Windcrossing organizer, Mandy Clayton '13, who created a website and You Tube channel for the festival, as well as served as the festival coordinator as part of her senior Capstone project.

“Working with Mike, Will and Professor Berghorn has taught me that Windcrossing involves a huge Colby-Sawyer family working together. Current students get to work with alumni and professors to create a project. It is not only a great real life learning experience, it is also fun,” says Clayton. “I am looking forward to seeing everyone who is a part of Windcrossing together again, as well as enjoying the great short films that everyone has worked so hard to create.”

Senior Joshua Hardy's Capstone was a promotional piece sponsored by the New Hampshire Coalition of Community Media, “Directed Public Access: Your Community Matters.” The video follows volunteers and employees at a public access station in Concord who explain what they do and why people should get involved in public access television.

Carly Strathdee '13 directed her Capstone video, “For the Love of Dog,” as a promotional piece for a New Hampshire Rottweiler/Pitbull rescue organization. The film was produced for inclusion on the organization's website to attract interest and advocacy for the canine rescue operation.

In the short documentary “Living the Dream,” Jillian DeArville '13 records the daily lives of students with intellectual disabilities in their Winthrop High School classroom. DeArville hopes that chronicling the education of these students will help generate public awareness. “I want others in the community to see the importance of the class,” says DeArville.

Writer and director Victoria Hersey '13 created “Love and Lettuce” for her senior Capstone project. The production, a video/theater performance about love, suspicion and surprise, was originally performed for the general public in April at New London's Whipple Town Hall. Windcrossing will highlight clips of Hersey's video production for the festival audience.

Hersey credits her project's success to the cast and crew of students and members of Sunapee Kearsarge Intercommunity Theater (SKIT). “This project wouldn't have been possible without all the resources and people I've come to know during my four years,” Hersey says. “I planned this project so that I could focus on practicing what I've been studying, film and video, and also continue working with the art form of theater that I fell in love with when I got to Colby-Sawyer.”

For more information on the Windcrossing Festival, visit and keep up to date with festival's progress on Facebook.

-Kellie M. Spinney

Colby-Sawyer College is a comprehensive college that integrates the liberal arts and sciences with professional preparation. Founded in 1837, Colby-Sawyer is located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire.

Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main Street, New London, N.H. 03257 (603) 526-3000