Jay Craven


Jay Craven is a filmmaker who teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and directs Kingdom County Productions

Baona / iStock

I remember a conversation I had, one August afternoon forty years ago, with my part-time neighbor, the late Richard Barnet, who worked in JFK’s State Department and co-founded Washington’s Institute for Policy Studies.

Craven: Student Activism

Mar 20, 2018

The sudden burgeoning of high school-driven youth activism, focused on issues of gun violence, reminds me of the 1963 Birmingham Alabama Children’s Crusade, which changed the course of history and moved President Kennedy to take a dramatic stand against racial segregation – in Alabama and elsewhere - which had until then stubbornly refused to yield.

The late attorney Bob Gensburg was a tireless champion against injustice, even when it was difficult and unpopular.

Women are speaking out and things are changing. Much of this shift can be traced to New York Times and New Yorker allegations that movie mogul Harvey Weinstein acted for decades as a serial sexual predator. More than sixty women have now spoken publicly about Weinstein’s transgressions against them, saying, “me, too.”

Performing arts events bring people together for experiences of shared community. In this age of virtual community where we congregate on the Internet with millions of others we will never see or meet, it’s especially vital – and comforting – to interact with people that live in or visit our own place.

Craven: Next Best Thing

Oct 9, 2017

Every fall season provides a showcase for stimulating arts events in every corner of Vermont.

Craven: Vietnam Preview

Sep 18, 2017

My generation came of age during the Vietnam War. Some of us volunteered or were drafted to fight in Vietnam. Others had friends and family who fought and some who died. ManyOthers of us joined or led the battle against the war, dropping other pursuits to take risks in those trenches, determined to change U.S. policy. By 1968, Eugene McCarthy, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and others had called for withdrawal.

Craven: Uncivil Wars

Aug 22, 2017

My Texas grandmother’s relatives fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. She remembered a time, as a kid, meeting an older second cousin who’d served as a water boy in the Texas Brigade. My grandfather fought in the trenches of France during World War I and family members of his had fought in the Maine Infantry of the Union Army.

The theater world has paused to mourn the passing of Pulitzer Prize-winner Sam Shepard, the boldly original and unconventional playwright who worked to find meaning in the raw characters and culture of the modern American west.

Craven: Strawberry Time

Jun 30, 2017

I treat each year’s strawberry season as a special holiday. The dates change according to the weather, but it lasts longer than even Hanukkah or the 12 days of Christmas - though not much longer.

Recent demonstrations in Vermont and across the country show newly invigorated grass roots movements around issues of climate change, economic inequality, health care, and rights for women and people of color.

Chuck Berry’s passing reminds me of a summer night in 1987 when the rock n’ roll legend played a concert I produced in Lyndonville.

At the close of each year, we pause to remember people who have recently passed away. This is especially true in the arts where, for 2016, we remember, among others, actors Gene Wilder and Alan Rickman, musicians David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Merle Haggard, Sharon Jones, and Prince. The theater world lost playwright Edward Albee and Liz Suedos. Film will miss Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami.

Craven: Perverse Logic

Nov 21, 2016

One of the more worrisome features of this election is that, of our last three presidents, two will have moved into the White House without having won the majority of the popular vote.

Craven: Foreign Meddling

Oct 25, 2016

Some have called this year’s alleged foreign interference in our Presidential campaign unprecedented. But while the circumstances are unique, the idea of a power play by a foreign government during election time is not new.

At the recent Burlington Book Festival, I looked over a selection of poetry for sale by Vermont writers, and a wave of sadness came over me when I spotted editions by Leland Kinsey and David Budbill.

Even beyond his twenty years as headmaster, Bernier Mayo acted tirelessly to improve his beloved alma mater. And he toiled behind the scenes to strengthen St. Johnsbury.

Bill Eddy was an explorer of places and ideas. At Williams College he studied literature, poetry, and philosophy and it was then that he developed an intense interest in how the human mind looks at nature and how that perception evolves over human lifetimes and generations.

Craven: Sundance

Feb 9, 2016

The Sundance Film Festival is really the only U.S. festival that doubles as a market. Sometimes, it sets trends. Other years, it provides an opportunity to simply note new developments, especially in distribution. For the independent filmmaker with a hot title, it’s the place where distributors stay up late, competing with each other at the bargaining table. But this year’s top bidders were not the traditional indie distributors hoping for an art house hit with the potential for Academy Award nominations and crossover to the mainstream.

Craven: War Talk

Dec 9, 2015

Like all Americans, I was shocked by the recent ISIS attacks in Paris, Beirut, Mali, and Egypt - and by mass shootings in Colorado Springs and San Bernardino. Some presidential candidates insist this is the start of World War III - and urge an all-out response.