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Pine Barrens Film Screening at Hopewell Theater Saturday

Image Courtesy of David Scott Kessler

By Doug Wallack 

On Saturday, October 21, at the newly renovated Hopewell Theater, filmmaker David Scott Kessler will be screening his experimental documentary The Pine Barrens with a score performed live by The Ruins of Friendship Orchestra. The film, not unlike John McPhee’s 1968 book of the same name, explores New Jersey’s Pinelands, delving deep into the culture, ecology, and lore of the region, which — despite occupying twenty percent of the state’s land area — is so often overlooked, even by Garden State residents.

Kessler, who is based in Philadelphia but is originally from Union, began work on the film in 2011. Going into it, all he knew about the Pinelands was that they evoked a “sense of wonder” in him, so he set out to make a film that captured the spirit of exploration that he felt in approaching the region. Ultimately, he found much more than he expected to. What he thought might be a year-long project stretched well beyond that; in fact, the work is still ongoing. For the past few years, Kessler has screened different cuts of the film, offering viewers an unusual glimpse into a constantly-evolving project. Saturday’s screening will be the most recent iteration in that process.

Kessler notes that, while The Pine Barrens touches on issues of ecological importance, it is first and foremost a subjective exploration of the region — a tone poem, as he puts it — far more than it is an educational film or a straightforward work of advocacy.

A Q&A session with Kessler will follow the screening. The Hopewell Theater is located at 5 S. Greenwood Avenue, Hopewell. Tickets are available for purchase online.

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