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Karen Allen

Karen Allen

Actress Karen Allen at the Berkshire International Film Festival

by Kathryn Boughton

By fall, it will all be over and actress Karen Allen will be able to draw a deep breath and wonder, “What next?"

But now she is in a flurry of activity, finishing work on her most recent film; preparing to direct a play for the Berkshire Theatre Festival; running her Great Barrington shop, Karen Allen Fiber Arts, and, not incidentally, promoting “Bad Hurt," her 2015 film to be screened during the annual Berkshire International Film Festival.

“Karen is terrific in the movie," said Kelly Vickery, founder of the film festival, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary with screenings in Great Barrington and Pittsfield, Mass.

The independent film stars Allen and “Sons of Anarchy" actor Theo Rossi, in a story about a Staten Island family struggling to meet the needs of a mentally challenged daughter and a son with PSTD. Allen said she was drawn to the movie by the authenticity of its characters.

“They sent me the script and when I read it I just felt it wasn’t something that had come out of someone’s imagination," she said. “It turned out that the director, who was also the scriptwriter, was writing about his own life. The script sometimes made me cry - which is very unusual because scripts are always barebones."

The film, to be screened Friday, May 29, 2 at 6:30 p.m. at the Great Barrington Triplex, will be followed by a Q&A with Allen and the filmmakers. Allen said the film has struck a chord with Europeans and that she might travel abroad this summer for its presentation at foreign film festivals.

Meanwhile, closer to home, she is casting actors for this summer’s production of “Frankie and Johnny in Claire de Lune," which, she avows, is “one of my favorite plays ever written." She will direct the two-character play for the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, Mass. “I first saw it off Broadway back in the 1980s," she said. “The writing is gorgeous - funny and heartbreaking."

It was, in fact, local theater that brought Allen to the Berkshires. “I was living in New York in 1981 when I auditioned for the Berkshire Theatre Festival. I came up for two months and lived at the Red Lion Inn. I was very, very charmed by the area. Later, theater things kept bringing me back."

Theater may have introduced her to the area, but film made it possible for her to stay here. In the early 1980s, after her turn as Marion Ravenwood, Indiana Jones’s love interest in “Raiders of the Lost Ark," she finally had money to move here. “I started having fantasies of a place to come to between jobs. The city didn’t feel very restorative," she said.

In addition, her young son was growing up and she wanted for him the same kind of idyllic rural environment she experienced at her grandparents’ Illinois home. “I felt this was the world of ‘yes’ and the city was the world of ‘no.’ In the city I was constantly running after him saying, ‘No!’"

Vickery also feels the magic of the region and believes it may be a factor in why her film festival has thrived for a decade. “This region is a cultural Mecca with Tanglewood, the arts, Jacob’s Pillow and all the theater. Film just needed to be added to that mix" she said.

The festival has a record number of films this year - almost 80 from around the world - and runs from May 28-May 31.

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