When I was a student, at Carnegie Mellon University, trying to add more film classes to my routine, my good friend Erin recommended The Film Festival Course. “You watch films, you write a brief essay every few weeks and then you make a mini festival for the campus. It’s easy. It’s fun.” I registered for the course, and what transpired was the complete opposite of Erin’s description. There was a new professor, and she had a different vision- a gigantic vision- for the course.
We did watch films, and we did submit essays, but the class also put on a city-wide film festival with visiting filmmakers called The Faces of Democracy. I hadn’t worked so hard or been so inspired since my freshman year architecture studio courses. Creating a festival involved marketing, design, creative writing, film critique and much, much more than I ever would have imagined.
The following year, the film festival fell under the auspices of the Humanities Center, and Jolanta Lion went from being a professor to being the Assistant to the Director of the Humanities Center, with her main role being Film Festival Director. As such, she reeled me into the project again even though I was in France working as a nanny at the time.
Faces of Globalization (2010) marked my fourth year of participating in the production of the Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival. Throughout the various festivals, my focus was on text and image. I wrote grant proposals, festival descriptions, film synopses, director biographies and opening night speeches. I worked with the graphic design firm on image selection and used film stills to make individual fliers for specific film campaigns.
(click on the festival program images to enlarge and read my work)
No matter how hard I worked, Jolanta was always plugging away on so many more tasks, so when the Globalization festival overlapped with her birthday, I added a special surprise to one of the screenings: a birthday cake! The opera singer who was there as pre-film entertainment started the audience in singing “Happy Birthday,” as I walked down the auditorium to present Jolanta with a very special Face of . . . Cake!
Mocha Pound Cake
For the Cake
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup unbleached, pure cane sugar
1/2 cup local, wildflower honey
1/2 cup maple syrup
4 teaspooons Kahlúa
1 cup organic hot chocolate powder
2 teaspoons water at room temperature
4 teaspoons Brazilian coffee, finely ground
6 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup soured whole milk at room temperature (regular milk will work as well)
For the Buttercream
1 package of cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon local wildflower honey
confectioners sugar to taste
For the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 °F
Place the butter, sugar, honey and syrup in the bowl of a vintage mixer and beat on medium-high for 4-5 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix the kahlua and cocoa powder.
In a small bowl, add the water and espresso powder until smooth. Crack the eggs into the bowl and beat to blend.
With the mixer running on medium, add the egg mixture to the butter mixture, about 1 Tbs at a time, allowing each addition to completely blend before adding the next. Scrape down the bowl about halfway through adding the eggs and then continue.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, hot chocolate powder, baking powder and salt.
With the mixer on the lowest speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and the soured milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
Scrape the bowl, mix by hand and then pour into prepared pans.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
For the Buttercream
Beat ingredients together using a food processor or a stand mixer until creamy.