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Rockaway festival offers films, workshops, art

The 2008 Rockaway Literary Arts & Film Festival took place June 7 and 8 in tandem with the first day of the Rockaway Artists Alliance's exhibit "Good and Plenty." Both were held in sTudio 7 while the "Ragbaby Festival" exhibit from Russia was held in sTudio 6.

Though movies were screened on Saturday evening, including Brett Morgen's "The Kid Stays in the Picture" and David E. Baugnon's "Art in the Face of War," most of the action took place Sunday. Workshops and panels of authors and journalists were featured in sTudio 7, beginning with the "Health and Living Panel" on the Mainstage and the "Promoting Your Book" workshop in the seminar room.

Poetry readings began at 11:30 a.m. on the Rockaway Artists Alliance's Moonstage followed by staged readings. There was also a student writing competition awards ceremony and a panel called "In Literature as In Life" at 1:30 p.m. on the Mainstage, followed by the "All Journalism is Local?," "Shadow of the Holocaust," "Queens Noir Anthology" and "America's Dying Democracy" panels.

Children's activities commenced at 1:30 p.m. in the children's area and continued for much of the day. Other seminars dealt with "Words with Pictures"; "Dealing with a Scary Diagnosis," hosted by Alan Geller; "Ireland's First World War Soldiers," hosted by Tom Phelan; "Historical Fiction"; "Finding Your Characters"; "Food for Thought"; and "Understanding Copyright Law."

Books were for sale on tables set up around sTudio 7 and there was a food court in front of sTudio 6, with patrons eating snacks and chugging cold bottles of water in heat that was only broken by a thunderstorm that roared in around 7 p.m.

In the evening, there were more screenings, including Yisrael Lifschutz's "The Jewish Basketball Hall of Fame," Kevin (son of Jimmy) Breslin's "The Other Side of the Street," Robert Sarnoff's "Dispatch," Pamela Popeson's "Musical Chairs," Debra Eisenstadt's "The Limbo Room," Joshua Coyne's "Three Commercials" and, from 9:55 p.m. to 10:55 p.m., Mark Street's "Hidden in Plain Sight."

"Good and Plenty" is an apt name for RAA's latest exhibit and for all of its exhibits: The artwork is good and there is plenty of it. Often, the works are astonishing, as are the photos of Dan Guarino. His photo of a horse corral taken during a misty morning is so evocative and bucolic that the writer was shocked to realize that it is just that weedy corral at the bottom of Fort Tilden, a few hundred feet away from sTudio 7, where police officers park their horses.

There are also beautiful and delicate mobiles of glass and metal by Renee Radenberg. Janet Dever's watercolor of a canyon looks so much like a David Muench photo that, once again, the writer was fooled. There are M. Elliott Killian's moving watercolors of nearby beaches, Jennifer Schulman's gorgeous photo of Coney Island's Wonder Wheel and Parachute Jump against thunderclouds and a numinous photographic illustration of a field of grass and a fence before a red sunset.

Denis McRae manages to catch regal snowy egrets in their natural state and there is also art up for silent auction.

The "Ragbaby Festival" is also fascinating and there is even a pamphlet that tells you how they are made — but be warned, it is in Russian.

"Good and Plenty"'s opening reception will be June 15 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and will be on view in sTudio 7 until June 22. The silent auction will take place on June 22nd, at the end of the day.

The Rockaway Literary Arts and Film Festival was sponsored by the Rockaway Music and Arts Council.

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