Well the big story in the Berkshire this weekend is undoubtedly the 9th annual Berkshire International Film Festival. The BIFF takes place primarily at the Triplex Cinema in Great Barrington, but also at the Mahaiwe, the Beacon in Pittsfield, and at the Mount in Lenox, through Sunday. This year, the festival boasts over seventy-five films, including many features of international origin and numerous documentaries. Among the highlights are two films featuring the brilliant French actor Mathieu Amalric – sort of France’s answer to Dustin Hoffman – including Venus in Fur, directed by Roman Polanski. The festival also boasts the documentary When Jews Were Funny, which traces Jewish humor from the Borsht Belt through Seinfeld up until today.
The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield isn’t only an art museum – it’s always been a museum of science and natural history. A new exhibition brings the outdoors inside for a season, as the show Butterflies features an actual Butterfly Pavilion, swarming with live native and exotic species of butterflies. The exhibition will introduce visitors to the fascinating and complex life cycle of butterflies, including their remarkable metamorphosis, and suggest ways in which we can protect their place in the natural environment, which has become threatened, like so much else in nature, by the development of modern towns, cities and suburbs, as well as climate change. The inter-disciplinary exhibition will include works by contemporary artists, as well as historic and cultural artifacts from around the world.
The summer theater season in the Berkshires has a head start with two productions, one at Barrington Stage in Pittsfield and the other at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox. At Barrington Stage, Emmy Award-winner and Golden Globe nominee Marg Helgenberger stars in The Other Place, a drama about memory and ways in which the past infringes upon the present, and vice versa. And “Shakespeare’s Will,” a provocative one-woman show -- starring longtime Shakespeare & Company actor Kristin Wold -- about the bold and unapologetic journey of William Shakespeare’s enigmatic wife, Anne Hathaway, and the couple’s unconventional courtship and marriage, runs through August 24 at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox.
While the Tanglewood season proper is a few weeks away yet, those itching to visit Ozawa Hall to hear some great music might want to head over there on Sunday afternoon, when The Berkshire Lyric Chorus and Blafield Children’s Chorus will perform their annual Masterworks Concert at 3 pm. The concert will feature choral psalms from many traditions and periods, including works by Schubert, Mendelssohn, Chesnakov, Charles Ives, Virgil Thomson, Bobby McFerrin, Arvo Part, Henryk Gorecki, James MacMillan and others. Mezzo-soprano Marjorie Dix will be joined by the men of the chorus in a performance of the Brahms Alto Rhapsody.
If Western Swing is your thing, you may want to head over to Club Helsinki Hudson tonight, when Lauren Ambrose, perhaps best known for her dramatic role in the black comedy “Six Feet Under,” brings her latest musical project, the Northeastern Western Swing Explosion, to Helsinki Hudson at 9pm. The band, a kind of supergroup comprised of members of many of the region’s top Americana bands, specializes in performing danceable renditions of beloved Western swing classics by the likes of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys.
Speaking of all-stars, Melora Creager and the Calico Indians - a supergroup of international and regional talents - bring their eclectic mix of hard rock, rockabilly, Gypsy-punk and roots music to Helsinki Hudson on Monday, at 8pm. Multi-instrumentalist Melora Creager, who calls Hudson home, is a kind of one-woman all-star team. She’s best known as founder and leader of the historical cello-rock band Rasputina, and she has also played with the likes of Nirvana, Marilyn Manson, Bob Mould, Cheap Trick, Joan Osborne, Porno for Pyros, and others.
Seth Rogovoy is editor of Berkishire Daily and the Rogovoy Report, available online at rogovoyreport.com