Diving Into “The Pool Movie”

Wellness, community, and filmmaking were discussed at a screening of a rough cut of Vicky Funari’s latest documentary, which was made with the aid of young alums and students.

On Tuesday, Sept. 20, Chase Auditorium was packed with students, faculty, and invited guests as documentary filmmaker and Hurford Center Visual Media Scholar Vicky Funari and Emerging Artist-in-Residence Hilary Brashear ’14 introduced and screened rough cuts from “The Pool Movie Project.” The as-yet-untitled documentary film was directed by Funari and follows the senior-citizen participants in a water aerobics class at the Main Line YMCA during its final year of operation. Many of the film’s participants were in attendance to talk about its creation.

The project is sponsored by the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities (HCAH), which hosted the first of three Tuttle Summer Labs over the summer. These labs are part of a new Haverford Tuttle Creative Programs initiative, aimed at supporting collaborative projects by student, faculty, staff, and artists working in film, digital media, and other mediums. This past summer’s lab sponsored four fellows—Harlow Figa ’16, Nick Gandolfo-Lucia ’16, Marcelo Jauregui-Volpe ’18, and Sarah Moses ’16— to work with Funari and Bashear on related multimedia content for their documentary. For example, the fellows envisioned a website and an engagement campaign in order to further extend the impact of the film.

The fellows were also on hand Tuesday night to talk about their work, and they screened short clips that they directed, filmed, and edited over the summer. Those clips focused on specific questions and topics related to the senior-citizen community of the water aerobics class: why people took the class, why the male participants thought the class was mostly populated by women. (More below)

Funari’s interest in the film’s subject came from a personal connection. Nine nine years ago, when she moved to Pennsylvania, she began taking water aerobics to help recover from a foot injury. She was immediately humbled by her very active, older classmates, and found the workout “challenging and restorative.” Five years later, Funari asked the teacher and other students for permission to make a documentary about them.

“I wanted to explore the ways this particular group embodied everything that I find beautiful about active, older bodies and specifically, active older women’s bodies,” she says. “I also wanted to focus on this amazing little micro-community that emerged out of that class.”

Funari initially started filming in the fall of 2012 for what she thought would be a documentary short before she found out that the Main Line Y was going to close and move to a newly built location in Havertown in a year. She then decided to document that year as a way to think about “personal transitions.” As a documentary filmmaker, Funari is interested in “shifting the voice from voice of a single author to a more multifocal perspective.”

“To me,” she says, “the creation process of a documentary can also be about community and community building.”

While the film is still in its early stages of editing, Funari took the opportunity to showcase the importance of the filmmaking process and her interest in communities, older bodies, and water.

-Jenny Ahn ’17

Photos by Caleb Eckert ’17