PDT Staff Writer
Members of the community gathered Saturday evening at the Vern Riffe Center For the Arts to watch the premiere of “Beyond These Walls,” a documentary about the Portsmouth floodwall murals.
Dr. John Lorentz and his son Nathan of Lorentz Productions, produced the film.
John Lorentz said the film is about building community through public art.
“It tells a story in which the major theme is the role that public art has to play in developing a sense of community. We’re really looking at is the interaction of the community and viewers with the wall,” John Lorentz said. “Part of that story is how did this (Portsmouth Murals) come into creation. How do you take a blank piece of concrete and turn it into something beautiful that people react to and are connected to in someway?”
Among those present at the premiere was Dr. Rita Rice Morris, President of Shawnee State University. Before the showing she addressed those in attendance.
“I am thrilled to be able to say welcome to the university. What a great place for the premiere of this film. Early on in the development of this film, John and I were working on a project and I had the occasion to hear his side of phone calls and conversations when he was trying to put this together,” Morris said. “John has a passion for this community and a passion for this project.”
Also in attendance was Muralist Robert Dafford who called creating the Portsmouth Murals a blessing.
“It has been a blessing for me to get to do this, as much as it has been a blessing for this community,” Dafford said.
John Lorentz and his son Nathan were also in attendance and addressed those in attendance about their perspective on the film.
“This film has been many years in the making. Our goal (for the film) was to take you on a meaningful journey that feels natural and effortless,” Nathan Lorentz said. “Shortly after we completed River Voices, our first film together, my father suggested we do a film on the murals. He was convinced there was a really great story there.”
Nathan Lorentz said, as a filmmaker and musician, he is interested in how art can change a perception of reality and understanding of the world.
“What I began to realize when I looked at everything we shot, was that the murals really were having an impact. It’s just that impact was not as evident in a physical or economic sense,” Nathan Lorentz said. “What I’ve seen in Portsmouth is that art was changing people, how they were thinking, how they were seeing themselves and how they were seeing this town. To me, that was the most interesting part of the story because real change and understanding being internally.”
John Lorentz told those in attendance the making of Beyond These Walls had been an extraordinary journey.
“What an experience, what a journey it has been. We started this film by asking a simple question, does public art have a role to play in building a sense of community. Through this film we attempt to answer that question and along the way it has been an extraordinary journey,” John Lorentz said.
Copies of the film will the available at the Scioto County Welcome Center Gift Shop.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.