New Jersey’s One Million Acres of Undeveloped, Otherworldly Land
by Meredith Sellers
I first saw David Scott Kessler’s experimental documentary film The Pine Barrens in the heart of the Pine Barrens itself, at the Whitesbog Preservation Trust, a cranberry farm and nature preserve nestled deep down a long dirt road in southern New Jersey. I watched, rapt, as the Ruins of Friendship Orchestra performed a lilting, wandering, live score replete with harp, strings, banjo, and ethereal vocals. I became so engrossed in the film that at times I forgot the orchestra was even there.
A Pine Barrens Documentary Nears the Finish Line
By Bill Sprouse
There’s a scene in David Scott Kessler’s film about the Pine Barrens where Steven Carty, a basket-weaver from Mount Holly, reflects on the nature of Piney identity. Steven’s a Bozarth, which makes him Piney royalty, and he’s Lenape Indian (“the first Pineys”) on his mother’s side, but he has an open mind on the question of what makes a Piney a Piney—if you say you’re a Piney, you are one. But he does have one pet peeve.
“If you ask me, claiming to be a ‘redneck’ does not make one a Piney,” he says.
Person to Watch: David Scott Kessler
Examining the Pine Barrens through a unique lens
When David Scott Kessler decided to make a film about the Pine Barrens, he knew it couldn’t be a run-of-the-mill documentary. The story of the Pine Barrens goes far beyond who, what, when, where and why, the filmmaker says.
So the intuitive artist set out to record a story that – much like the Pine Barrens – would constantly evolve, even after filming. Although the movie is still in production, Kessler, 41, has already organized live performances, art installations and illustrations that all relate to his documented exploration of the relationship between man and nature – specifically, man and the Pine Barrens.
Pine Barrens Documentary
by Ilene Dube
"Storytelling was once of enough importance in the Pine Barrens to give rise to a class of local Homers, some of whom did nothing at all but travel through the woods telling tales."
This quote from John McPhee appears at the opening of David Scott Kessler's film "The Pine Barrens," and is a theme throughout as "Pineys"—people of the Pine Barrens — gather around bonfires to tell tales. As the flames reflect off their faces, we feel the heat of their disbelief or terror.
David Scott Kessler: The Pine Barrens
Producer: Michael O’Reilly
Filmmaker David Scott Kessler has been working on his evolving documentary, “The Pine Barrens”, for half of a decade. Before he began the work, he had never visited the Pine Barrens proper. Guiding the viewer through the Pinelands’ winding, rust-colored rivers, its dark forests and slowly developing towns, the documentary creates a contemplative and complex portrait of a place. Through a haze of tall-tales around campfires, encounters with “Pineys” punctuate a landscape removed from contemporary experiences of reality. With the Pinelands as its primary character, the film explores the symbiotic yet sometimes destructive relationship between man and nature. Aiming beyond journalism, The Pine Barrens is a meditation on Nature and Place and their roles in the formation of identity through impressions and artistically interpreted moments; instances best experienced through a veil of wonder and left largely unexplained.