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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Remembering Aaron Ingram

This past Monday, a wonderful friend to BAMcinématek passed away. To those of us who were fortunate to work with Aaron Ingram, the creator of ActNow Foundation and our New Voices in Black Cinema series, he was a passionate, kind man who devoted his life to nurturing young black artists. He will be missed by all of us. Here are two remembrances of Aaron by our Marketing Assistant Alece Oxendine and former BAMcinématek Programming Associate Jake Perlin. For a recent article on Aaron in the Fort Greene The Local, go here.

Alece Oxendine, BAMcinématek Marketing Assistant:

We are heartbroken over the news of our friend Aaron Ingram ’s passing after an almost 2-year bout with cancer. Aaron founded the ActNow Foundation in 2004 and spearheaded New Voices in Black Cinema, an on-going film series at BAMcinématek that has grown to be a tremendous success. His influence was felt here and throughout the Fort Greene community and as a champion of diversity in theater and film, he introduced works from the African and Latino diasporas to the larger Brooklyn consciousness.

“Love and passion help you face the worst kind of obstacle in life.”

It is with these wise words, quoted from a recent The Local article that leaves a lasting impression of his continued dedication to the arts.

He will truly be missed.

Aaron Ingram with director Ava DuVernay and Ralph Scott at the first New Voices in Black Cinema festival
Jake Perlin, former BAMcinématek Programming Associate:

A pleasure and a privilege. When thinking about Aaron Ingram, and our time collaborating professionally and being friends, these are the two sentiments that immediately leap to mind. There is also tremendous sadness that we will not be able to continue to know each other and work together, but the huge impact he made in such a short time will continue to be felt by those of us fortunate enough to know Aaron, and the filmmakers and audiences that will continue to benefit from his legacy.

Act Now: New Voices in Black Cinema is the program that Aaron had begun before bringing it to BAMcinématek, having already built a strong audience base, but which he wanted to bring to a bigger stage, to more people. From the first show, the Act Now screening series was a hit, and in quick fashion it became an annual, multi-day film festival. BAMcinématek’s program for 2012 kicked off with Act Now, and was the series' biggest success yet, firmly establishing itself (in record time) as one of the important film and cultural events on the Brooklyn calendar.

But successes like this don’t happen out of the blue. Aaron Ingram, and his colleagues at Act Now, possessed these reasons: vision, dedication, and also good humor and kindness. Aaron has built something major that will live on for years to come, but at the same time, he did it while making everyone around him feel involved, and able to enjoy each other.

We are all so saddened that Aaron is no longer with us in the flesh, and it has been difficult to realize that we will not see and speak to one another anymore. But in the moments after learning he had passed, I remembered a moment that occurred a few years ago that instantly put a smile on my face, and reminded me how fortunate I was to know Aaron.

After a particularly challenging series of emails and conference calls in an attempt for us to secure a film we wanted to show, Aaron and I found ourselves frustrated and worn out. I emailed Aaron to express just this, but before I could hit send, in my inbox was a message from Aaron saying “Well, that conversation made me feel like…” followed by an emoticon with eyes swirling and going in all different directions, a mouth in a crooked grin, a face of complete bafflement, but still, I am convinced, smiling. There has never been a better use of an emoticon in the history of film-programming related correspondence (a very specialized title that I am sure Aaron would be thrilled to accept), and one that instantly put everything in perspective, and makes me smile whenever I think of it.

It is one of many memories of knowing Aaron that I am lucky to have, and one of many that will always remind me of how grateful I am that our paths crossed in life.

1 comment:

  1. The Greatest purification for the spirit is experiencing and sharing the joy of life with others. Aaron Ingram did that and I am glad to have known him and his kindness.

    Black Vision Network