Jim Daniels’ “The End of Blessings” Takes Second Place in Short Film Competition
Carnegie Mellon University’s Jim Daniels often works across genres, combining elements of poetry, fiction and film. His latest project is no exception.
Daniels wrote and co-produced “The End of Blessings,” based on his poem of the same name. The film made its world premiere at the 2015 Three Rivers Film Festival, where it earned second place in the festival’s short film competition. It was one of 16 entries chosen out of over 100 submissions.
“The End of Blessings” follows an African American cyclist on his weekly Sunday ride, when he regularly passes an older Italian couple sitting on their porch after church. The nuanced interactions among the three individuals form the heart of the story, which was filmed in Polish Hill and inspired by Daniels’ own bike rides through Oakland.
According to Daniels, the Thomas Stockham Baker University Professor of English, there are some distinct differences between the poem and the film.
“It changed quite a bit in the adaptation—it evolved into something more interesting, I think. The only dialogue in the movie is a couple of phrases in Italian shouted at the cyclist. We depended more on image and music—like poems do,” he said. “The city with its hills and bridges—and churches and Virgin Mary shrines—plays a much greater role than it does in the poem.”
Director John Rice added, “The project provided an opportunity to explore a less conventional narrative format, employ rhythm in the visuals and editing and use a more up front score to convey the emotion.”
Daniels worked with a team including Point Park University faculty Rice, a senior teaching artist in the Department of Cinema Arts, and sound mixer Andrew Halasz, an associate professor in the department. Local musician Jeff Berman scored the film.
“I enjoy working with smart, creative people in other art forms,” Daniels said.
“The End of Blessings” is the fourth film written by the award-winning Daniels and his third collaboration with Rice. His 2010 film "Mr. Pleasant" appeared in more than a dozen film festivals across the country.
Daniels isn’t the film’s only CMU connection: Stephen Oney, the actor who plays the cyclist, was a student who played softball in the CMU Summer League with Daniels. Oney received his Ph.D. in human-computer interaction last year.
“The End of Blessings” will be shown at the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival from Dec. 3-6 and at the fourth annual International Video Poetry Festival in Athens, Greece on Dec. 19.
The film was funded with support from a Berkman Faculty Development Fund grant.
By Emily Stimmel