Armed with her camera and winter coat, Sarah Ginsburg ‘11 roamed the streets of Massachusetts during the 2015 blizzard and searched for the subjects of her new documentary “SPACESAVERS.” The film played at the GlobeDocs Film Festival’s Life in Focus event.
The short depicts various objects Massachusetts residents place in their parking spot during heavy snowstorms to prevent others from parking. It screened at the Brattle Theatre on Sunday, Oct. 14 to a packed room of viewers, filmmakers, and actors.
The GlobeDocs Film Festival showed six documentaries including “SPACESAVERS” at the Life in Focus program designed by The Boston Globe to highlight honest and important filmmaking. The event supported the publication’s dedication to showcasing truth
, by creating a series of screenings followed by open-dialogue throughout the six-day festival.
Ginsburg’s film ran the shortest at three minutes and 30 seconds, and the other five filmmakers chose human subjects.
“Every film is not meant to be stretched out,” Ginsburg said in a phone interview. “I’m really excited that there’s a push for short film whether it’s documentary or fiction.”
Aside from a recording of Mayor Marty Walsh detailing space-saving laws, Ginsburg shapes the short without human involvement. “SPACESAVERS” features chairs, walkers, and other items used to save spaces.
“I laughed as soon as I saw the title,” Amy Kremer, an Arlington resident who attended the film festival, said. “The opening scene was hard to hear over the laughter.”
While living in Somerville post-graduation, Ginsburg said the whole scenario charmed her. She said she observed neighbors saving their spots with a variety of different objects and knew she wanted to capture the phenomenon. The film opens with images of the snowstorm while Walsh’s recording plays.
“I considered doing a photo series. I took that idea and made it more alive with the movement in this town,” Ginsburg said.
Ginsburg said she trekked out during snowstorms to witness space-saving in person. She described the experience as meditative and solitary.
“It was just me freezing with a Canon 5D and a metal tripod, which was so cold,” Ginsburg said.
Ginsburg walked for hours at a time to capture different stages of the storm. She noticed how the whole city seemed to shut down in response to the snow.
“That blizzard went on for so long. The winter goes deep into your soul,” Ginsburg said. The blizzard resulted in up to three feet of snow on parts of New England. Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency and asked residents to stay off roadways.
Kremer said the audience could connect with the scenario.
“If you live in Boston, it’s something we can all relate to very much,” Kremer said.
Paul Turano, an associate professor in the visual and media arts department, met Ginsburg during her BA capstone class.
“She was really a person who was passionate about the topic and subject matter,” Turano said. “She had tremendous technical skill, so she was a really good shooter, a really good editor, and really good at helping in a collaborative way.”
Turano enlisted Ginsburg’s help in a personal project after she impressed him with her work in his class.
“We became great collaborators, great friends,” Turano said.
Taylor McNeil, an attendee of the festival, said the documentary depicts its subject in a light-hearted manner with simple shots and an equally simple message for the viewers.
“It’s very lightly done, and it was just right for what it was,” McNeil said. “It was just the right length.”
Discussion following the Life in Focus program focused on short films as an artform. Filmmakers said they valued the shift toward shorter media online, thus broadening the audience for short documentaries.
“There’s a chance for anything, no matter how short, to be seen,” Ginsburg said.
The public can access “SPACESAVERS“ on Aeon, an online platform, this November.