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The Place That Makes Us Film Screening (Oct. 22)

Updated: Oct 15, 2022

Join us for a public screening of The Place That Makes Us, Saturday, October 22 at 7:00 pm.

This is the first in-person screening this 2020 full length documentary, an inspiring portrait of Youngstown, Ohio. Featuring a panel discussion with moderator Justin Nigro, operations and public affairs director for the Ohio Arts Council; William “Bill” Mullane is an artist, educator, administrator, and civic leader, Karla Murthy is an Emmy-nominated producer, Alexandra Nikolchev is a NYC-based documentary filmmaker, Nate Offerdahl, co-owner of the Westside Bowl, and AJ Sumell is a Professor of Economics at Youngstown State University.

More about the panelists below.

More about the film here:

"Among the industrial ruins of America, a new generation is rebuilding home.

Filmed over the course of three years, this documentary film is an intimate and inspiring portrait of Youngstown Ohio, a quintessential post-industrial American city, seen through the efforts of a new generation of residents who have chosen not to abandon their hometown, as so many have, but to stay, rebuild and make a life for themselves.

When the steel mills shut down in Youngstown Ohio decades ago, it shattered a way of life. Over half the population left. Thousands of empty blighted homes were left behind, eroding the social fabric of this once mighty industrial base. Persistent joblessness, crime and poverty plague the city. Unlike their parents, haunted and traumatized by watching their way of life crumble around them, these young leaders and community activists grew up in the remains. Unbeholden to the memory of Youngstown’s heyday, they are able to envision a new future.

Interweaving archival footage and home movies of a prosperous but forgone past, this film is a poetic testimony to the profound resilience and dedication it takes to change a community. Karla Murthy’s directorial debut is a hopeful meditation on the meaning of the American dream today. It’s about home. It’s about roots. It’s about the place that makes us."

Awards: Top Ten films, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival Gold Award, Spotlight Documentary Film Awards Best Feature Film, Better Cities Festival Best of the Festival, Arlington Film Festival Emerging Documentary Filmmaker, Woods Hole Film Festival


Moderator Justin Nigro is Operations & Public Affairs Director for the Ohio Arts Council, joining the staff in 2014. His career started in the Ohio Senate in 2006, where eventually served as the minority finance and budget director, performing fiscal and policy analysis of the state budget and related economic matters. In 2012, he moved to Chicago to become the executive director of a statewide labor union coalition, coordinating and guiding its efforts as Illinois policymakers weighed changes to public retirement systems. Originally from Ashtabula, Justin graduated from Miami University with a bachelor’s degree in international studies and political science.

William “Bill” Mullane is an artist, educator, administrator, and civic leader whose collaborative and creative leadership has shaped myriad arts and culture organizations and initiatives throughout the Mahoning Valley. A champion for the arts, education, and economic development, Bill has dedicated himself to making meaningful connections between these sectors. Bill has developed an expertise in connecting and fostering collaboration amongst local organizations to further the goals of the region's arts, education, and economic development communities. He serves on numerous boards of nonprofits and philanthropic organizations. Bill has been an educator and arts administrator for over forty-years.

Karla Murthy is an Emmy-nominated producer and has been working on news documentaries for over 15 years. She was a staff producer and shooter for the PBS newsmagazines NOW and Need to Know, and a special correspondent and producer for the PBS Newshour Weekend. Her work was cited by the Columbia Journalism Review as “compelling, informative and compassionate.” Her first feature documentary set in Youngstown, Ohio, is called The Place That Makes Us. Karla is of Filipino and South Asian descent. She grew up in Texas and graduated from Oberlin College with a degree in Religion and Computer Science, is an alumni of the Third World Newsreel Workshop and the Documentary Institute at Antioch College in Ohio. She is married to Jad Abumrad, host of public radio's RadioLab, and lives with their two kids in New York City.

Alexandra Nikolchev is a NYC-based documentary filmmaker. Her credits include PBS, HBO, she's produced two feature films with national broadcast premieres and won Peabody and Emmy Awards for her work. Alexandra studied journalism at New York University and received her undergraduate degree in Rhetoric and Education at University of California, Berkeley.

Nate Offerdahl, co-owner of the Westside Bowl, holds an M.A. in American Studies from Youngstown State. He is the father of two and a proud Valley resident.

AJ Sumell is a Professor of Economics at Youngstown State University. He earned his Ph.D. in Economics from Georgia State University with a specialization in Urban and Regional Economics. He teaches both undergraduate and graduate-level Microeconomic Theory, Urban Economics, Sports Economics, and Environmental Economics courses. He serves on the Board of Directors for CASTLO Community Improvement Corporation, and the Board of Trustees for the Montessori School of Mahoning Valley. He was awarded a YSU Distinguished Professorship Award for Teaching in 2011 and a YSU Distinguished Professorship Award for Service in 2017 and 2022. When not working, he can typically be found playing tennis, soccer, or Mario Kart with his daughters Scarlett Marie and Lillian Rose.

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