Woods Hole Film Festival: “Jimmy Tingle”

July 29, 2011

“Jimmy Tingle’s American Dream” will be screened on Tuesday, August 2, at 7 PM, at Redfield Auditorium on Water Street, and Tingle, himself, will perform at Woods Hole Community Hall, 68 Water Street, on Thursday, August 4, at 8 PM.

A comedian and a commentator on social and political issues, Tingle explores what the American Dream means to him, and to others, in this hour-long documentary. And he mixes in a healthy dose of humor.

“The American Dream,” he says in the opening scene, “is about creating a better life for yourself and your family, and thereby creating a better world. It’s about new ways of thinking, and new beginnings, and new opportunities. It’s about challenging the conventional wisdom of the day, pushing the boundaries of the human spirit. It’s about a second chance in life, a second opportunity. It’s about freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, free enterprise, freedom of just about everything, except parking.”

The film, written and produced by Tingle, was shot over the course of seven years, during which time Tingle realizes his dream of having his own theater, where he and “like-minded” people could perform, and also sees that theater fail and close, as he moves on to pursue other dreams.

We hear from many of the people who performed at the theater, as well as his mother, Frances, and others he encounters, including Robert Altman, Mort Sahl, Janeane Garafalo, Sean Hannity, Lewis Black, Al Franken, Robert Reich, Colin Quinn, and more. He talks to the man and the woman in the street, to political commentators, to journalists, to those with money and power and to homeless people struggling to get by.

The film traces Tingle’s career as a comic and political activist from his early appearances on late night talk shows, as he explores the many elements of the American Dream: freedom, equality, immigration, religion, and civil rights, and the factors that work against the American Dream: religious differences, intolerance, corporate greed, political intrigue, and loss of values.

He takes us to Provincetown, Plymouth Rock, and Plimoth Plantation to discuss the American Dream envisioned by the Pilgrims, and then to Washington, where he is inspired by the dreams of Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and others.

Tingle also shares some more personal dreams: his tale about taking his son to a Red Sox game is funny and endearing. And his commencement speech at Harvard.

Tingle makes us laugh, but also encourages us to think about the American Dream, about social and political issues, and what it takes to realize our dreams.

Tickets for the public performance and the film screening are available at the Woods Hole Film Festival site: www.woodsholefilmfestival.org.

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