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Newport Tastemaker: Terri Conners, Executive Director of newportFILM

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Photo Credit: J. Clancy Photography

Unstop-ably  chic, fun, smart, and quick-witted, Terri Conners, Executive Director of newportFILM, is a do-er extraordinaire. Proof of this can be seen in Newport periodically throughout the year plus every Thursday evening during the summer when the right ingredients come together to make magic:  intriguing thought-provoking films; Terri and Artistic Director, Andrea van Beuren; their devoted and talented staff; and unbelievably gorgeous, stunning venues such as  Doris Duke’s Rough Point, Rosecliff, The Elms, Norman Bird Sanctuary, Marble House, Goat Island, Redwood Library and Newport Art Museum.

newportFILM, believing in the power of documentary film to inspire, motivate, and entertain, features documentaries curated from film festivals around the world and has screened Oscar winners and nominees like “What Happened Miss Simone?,” “Searching for Sugar Man”, “Finding Vivian Maier”, “Undefeated” and many more.

This Thursday, June 23rd kicks off the newportFILM Outdoors season with an environmental documentary, Sonic Sea. The film will begin at sunset (approx. 8:40PM) on the lawn of St. George’s School appropriately overlooking Surfer’s End of Second Beach.

And to whet your appetite for this summer, please pull up a blanket or beach chair, uncork a bottle of wine and enjoy some tantalizingly delicious images and highlights from last year’s successful newportFILM outdoor screening season.

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Photo Credit: Maaike Bernstrom

The outdoor films are free and attended by thousands of residents and summer visitors. The screening locations are often thematically paired with their films, for example, “The Queen of Versailles” about the largest home ever built in America, was shown on the lawn of the Elms, one of the country’s best examples of turn-of-the century opulence and Gilded Age architecture.  Another example of a newportFILM experiential screening event is last year’s screening of “Dior And I” at Doris Duke’s fabled Rough Point mansion, which included a curated exhibit of the heiress’ Dior collection plus a Dior-inspired picnic contest.

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Here I am judging the Chic Picnic contest prior to the screening of “Dior and I” at Doris Duke’s Rough Point estate. Too much fun! — Photo Credit: Ashley Richer Photography
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How could Rupert Nesbitt and Rebecca Kelly not win? The bikes, the baskets, the outfits. Somehow all the pattern on plaid on stripes work. Cheers! — Photo Credit: Ashley Richer Photography

The film “Iris”, about Iris Apfel, was screened at Marble House, another Gilded Age mansion.  As with “Dior and I”, I had the privilege of judging the chic picnic contest.  Movie-goers were inspired by both films in a major way and they did not hold back!  Picknickers didn’t just accessorize to the hilt — they brought Iris-esque furniture, rugs, fabrics, pillows…

A view of the “Iris” picnickers from Rosecliff’s rooftop. — Photo Credit: J. Clancy Photography
Inspired “Iris” film-goers go all-out for chic picnic pre-film festivities. Photo Credit: Maaike Bernstrom

“Racing Extinction” (below) screened on Goat Island (across a wee causeway from Newport’s historic Point section) with Newport’s Pell Bridge in the background, plenty of movie-goers on a temporarily foggy eve, and a post-film Q&A with the filmmaker.

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Photo Credit: J. Clancy Photography

Now, let’s get back to our Terri!  In order to get to know her a bit better, we asked her to fill out our ‘pop quiz profile’.  Being as fun-loving as she is, she nailed it.

Three things on my bucket list:
1. The freedom to travel, to anywhere, at anytime I wish!
2. To speak French well.

3. To learn to sew/knit/paint. (My inner artist is desperate to be explored!)

Indulgence: Nail salon chair-massages (at least one a week, even if only for 10 minutes) and chocolate covered almonds (daily).

I can’t live without:  My son Hudson, my dog Lola, cashmere blankets/bathrobes/cardis, mascara, black tea (and the two indulgences above).

Movie: Movies plural!  Geez, impossible… the Princess Bride (comedy), Gone With The Wind (classic), Searching For Sugar Man (recent doc, see below), The Graduate (a must), Lord Of The Rings trilogy (I worked on them, so they’re close to my heart and I think they are BRILLIANT), Cinema Paradiso, Her, The Namesake, The Artist, Annie Hall, Amelie, Under African Skies…

Party:  My birthday party (it’s fourth of July weekend so always summery bliss and surrounded by people I love – and fireworks!)

Photo Credit: Hilary Bovay Photography

Newport moment: Watching Rodriguez fulfill a lifelong dream by playing Newport Folk Festival the day after newportFILM screened Searching for Sugar Man (the documentary about his life and career), and knowing that we (newportFILM) made this happen.  He made a surprise musical appearance on our stage the night before (post-film) singing “I only have eyes for you” while I held the microphone for him on stage.  It was magical.

Photo Credit: Hilary Bovay Photography
  1. Book or tablet? Book
  2. Theater or Netflix? Outdoor theater (of course)
  3. Coffee or tea? Tea
  4. Red or white? Tequila
  5. New York or Paris? New York will always have my heart…but recently I visited Paris with Hudson, so let’s say it is a tie.
  6. Antique or new? A mix of both
  7. Garden, lake, beach, or mountains? Beach
  8. Talk or text? Talk
  9. Sweet or savory? Sweet
  10. Meal or snack? Snack
  11. Sing or dance? Dance
  12. Run or nap? Run
  13. Bath or shower? Bath
  14. Mild or spicy? Mild

We can’t wait to see what Terri has up her fashionable sleeve for this summer’s newportFILM season.  More on newportFILM here.

Terri – to know her is to love her!

Featured Image: newportFILM’s screening of “Peggy Guggenheim – Art Addict” at the Newport Art Museum.  Photo credit: J. Clancy Photography

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Bettie Bearden Pardee

About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

6 thoughts on “Newport Tastemaker: Terri Conners, Executive Director of newportFILM

  1. Bettie and Jonathan,
    Time to have watermelon, dance to Party on the (full) Moon and enjoy a southern wedding weekend!
    Loved meeting you and happy to reconnect this morning.
    Most cheerfuylly,
    Lynn and Dick

    1. Wasn’t that the best weekend?? And that band was over the moon! Loved seeing you both, B.

    1. Can’t wait to see this entire list of films! This blog is so much fun and you are simply the best! Nan said she saw you at the wedding. Hope OUR paths cross soon. Ann Davenport

      1. Hello Ann, are you enjoying your “beach time?”Yes, these films are definitely a reason for another visit to Newport.Just give me the word! Happy, Happy Fourth to you and your wonderful “girls.” xo Bettie

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