Films and Picnic on the Farm, August 28

22 08 2021


5:30 pm: Potluck Barbecue

7-ish: Film screenings


Tree Frog Farm, 158 Kopkind Rd. Guilford, Vermon

Elvis died on August 16, 1977, and as the Memphis Flyer said in advance of the premier of The Faithful in the city he made his home just a few days before the anniversary, it’s a wonderful surprise after so long to “encounter an angle that allows us to see him in a new light. So it is with the work of filmmaker Annie Berman, whose remarkable documentary … is a fascinating examination of cultural icons and how they are remembered”.

Kopkind and the Center for Independent Documentary are proud to have played a part in the early development of the documentary when Annie came to Film Camp, and are thrilled to be presenting it now, as the feature presentation of our late-summer gathering on Saturday, August 28, at Tree Frog Farm.

The event will begin with a potluck barbecue at 5:30. We’ll provide the grilled fare; bring a covered dish! We’ll raise a toast to Andy’s birthday (August 24) and to his living memorial which since 1999 has been a source of inspiration, information, intellectual stimulation and rest for hundreds of people who are making a difference in the world today. These are hard times for imagining the joy of politics, but imagine we must. It’s what people have done throughout history to make change.

After the repast, we’ll start off the screening (outdoors) with a sneak peak of Far Out, Chuck Light and Daniel Keller’s work-in-progress about life on and after the commune days in Vermont and Massachusetts — an exploration of not just an era’s history but broad themes of how we grapple with idealism, relationships, morality, spirituality, civic engagement and finding home.

Chuck will be on hand, as will Annie. In true Kopkind style, along with good food, good films, there will be lively banter with the filmmakers.

Annie’s film examines the popular allure of not only Elvis but also Pope John Paul II and Princess Diana, and the rites of their devotees. “The words we express for grief, or the messages you see written on the wall of Graceland or in messages to Diana, can sound cliché”, Annie has said. “Like ‘We’ll never stop loving you,’ ‘We’ll never forget you,’ ‘You’re always in our heart.’ But in that moment when it’s happening to you, it’s not cliché at all. It just feels true.” As the Flyer‘s reviewer put it: “More than interviews with the faithful, Berman’s documentary delves into the quality of perceptions of fame. There are insights into how these global figures appeared to the public, the things they said, the expressions on their faces in unguarded moments. You may believe you know who they were, but it takes an artist like Berman to show you something you hadn’t imagined.”

Please join us on Saturday, the 28th. RSVP to John Scagliotti at; or to JoAnn Wypijewski at

And let’s remember everyone, past and present, friends and lovers and comrades, who ever made us feel lucky to be alive.

Andy at his birthday party, 1984, with Kathryn Kilgore, Alexander Cockburn and John

Marking Andy’s Birthday & Kopkind’s Work

8 08 2021

Saturday, August 28

Place: Tree Frog Farm, 158 Kopkind Rd., Guilford, Vermont

5:30 pm: Potluck Barbecue

7-ish: Film screenings

Late afternoon on Andy’s birthday, a late summer past.

The pandemic is not done with us, but we’re not done either. We’re cautious—no camps for the second consecutive summer—but not cocooned. So we’re celebrating persistence. We’re celebrating survival and solidarity. Recalling Gramsci: “The challenge of modernity is to live without illusions, without becoming disillusioned”.

To live.

No cut-and-dried business that, as the “Scenes From a Pandemic” that ran here and in The Nation between April 2020 and concluded a couple of weeks ago attest. Those 61 pieces—scroll down if you missed them—along with Bonuses, which highlighted what some of our people were doing and thinking during this long, strange time, were a means for Kopkind to live in the present when objective conditions foreclosed our traditional work. John Scagliotti likes to say, “The best way to deal with change is to become part of it”: the reports, observations, analyses, emotions, musings, etc. that we published each week stand as a record of people dealing with change, or trying to. A huge thanks to The Nation for being our collaborator on this project.

Still, there’s tradition. So, as promised, we’re having a late-summer party—outdoors, in the great green of Tree Frog Farm, on Saturday, August 28, four days after what would have been Andy’s 86th birthday.

We’ll supply the grilled fare; you can bring a covered dish!

After the feast, we’ll have a very special film screening—also outdoors, under a tent.

(In an earlier post here, we promised a talk on the same weekend, but decided it’s more prudent to scale back.)

Film screenings have become a Kopkind tradition, and this one’s a knock-out. Please come!

We’ll start with a sneak peak of Charles Light and Daniel Keller’s work-in-progress, Far Out: Life On & After the Commune. 

Blending contemporary interviews, remarkable archival footage collected over decades and documentary material from the time, the film traces a period from 1968, when Total Loss Farm and its sister commune Montague Farm, were founded, to the present, exploring not just an era’s history but broad themes of how we grapple with idealism, relationships, morality, spirituality, civic engagement and finding home. Chuck will be there (as, we hope, will be some folks featured in the film), and we’ll pass the hat to help him get the film to the finish line.

Our feature presentation is Annie Berman’s new film, The Faithful, which explores the public’s connection to and veneration of pop icons (in this case Elvis, John Paul II and Diana); what such enthusiasm says about memory, identity, culture, modernity. More than 20 years in the making, The Faithful was workshopped in 2010 at Film Camp, Kopkind’s collaboration with the Center for Independent Documentary, and we are thrilled to welcome Annie back with us to show it to you now in its full fabulousness. “Ruminative, haunting, and strange”, said the Boston Globe. Strange as life, as faith, as almost all human efforts to make meaning when so much seems absurd.

Still image from The Faithful. It all began with a lollipop.

So please join us on a late summer’s eve for these great films—and of course great food and camaraderie!

RSVP to; or to

Let’s love life whenever we can. For Kopkind,

JoAnn Wypijewski