Filmmaker Judith Hallet will talk about her latest project, “Tale of the Tongs,” at a screening of the movie at COA on June 26. The documentary follows the installation of a memorial honoring the Irish Diaspora. PHOTO COURTESY OF JUDITH HALLET

National Geographic filmmaker presents work

BAR HARBOR — Award-winning National Geographic producer Judith Hallet will screen her latest film and speak about her work in a special event at College of the Atlantic on Friday, June 26.

Hallet and her husband, Stanley, a professor emeritus of architecture at Catholic University of America (CUA), will discuss their recent journey making “Tale of the Tongs,” a documentary about the building of an architectural installation off the west coast of Ireland. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Gates Community Center on COA’s Eden Street campus. It is free and open to the public.

“Tale of the Tongs” is an independent film following architect Travis Price and his CUA students as they design and build a memorial on Inishturk, a small island off of Ireland’s County Mayo. It is the first film the Hallets have made together since doing independent film work in the early days of their professional lives.

“This is just a small, lovely little film where the two of us could kind of express ourselves together and just have fun,” Judith Hallet said. “In the beginning of our careers, we worked together because we had the time. Now we’re at the end of our careers, and it’s a nice thing to come full circle and come back together and work together again.”

Judith Hallet has had a prolific career as a filmmaker. For five years beginning in 1986, she was senior producer for National Geographic’s weekly television series “Explorer,” overseeing creation of over 60 documentaries. She went on to form her own film company for which she has produced and directed over a dozen award-winning television documentaries, including “Witness to Hope: The Life of Karol Wojtyla: Pope John Paul II” and “The Life and Legend of Jane Goodall.” Judith Hallett also has been a guest on the National Press Club.

Stanley Hallet is a Fulbright-Hayes lecturer who teaches studios and seminars at CUA which explore the relationships between culture, landscape and architecture. He currently heads up the graduate studio at CUA School of Architecture and Planning in Paris, France.

The Hallets shot “Tale of the Tongs” in 15-days, with Stanley working as cameraman and Judith as director and sound person. The result is a film filled with Irish music, beautiful images of the landscape and profiles of the hardy residents of the island and the students and local construction workers who worked on the project.

The CUA architectural installation is a memorial dedicated to the Irish Diaspora, the millions of people who left the country during the great famine of the 19th century. County Mayo legend holds that people who had to leave would place a coal from their fire in a neighbor’s fireplace and leave their tongs beside the hearth in the hopes that they might return and relight their own fire.

“Because this is a small film, we bonded really well with the students, with Travis and with the Irish people. And that’s what makes this film special to us,” Judith Hallet said.

The Hallets are long familiar with Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island, having owned the Route 3 summer cottage East of Eden and having summered here for 35 years. Stanley Hallett’s brother, Michael, was the owner of the former Domus Isle shop downtown and is now caretaker at East of Eden.


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