Karen Bernstein: The Five Question Interview

Karen Bernstein is producer/director with a long list of biographical documentaries of arts icons and cultural events to her name. Her work includes documentaries for American Masters and Independent Lens, and her latest film I’m Gonna Make You Love Me was included in SXSW2020 virtual festival earlier this year.

She lives in historic downtown Elgin with her son Joseph, five dogs, and takes care of nine cats.

The Open Room. Photo by Veronica Ortuño

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

I moved to Elgin three years ago because of Margo Sawyer, the artist who has been in Elgin for close to twenty years.  She sold me what I know call The Open Room at 117 Central.  I had known Margo since moving to Austin from NYC in 2000.  A good friend had visited me in Austin and I had brought her to visit Margo since they’d both been at graduate school together in the 1980s. Margo mentioned that the space next to hers’ was up for rent with an eye to sell.  I had just ended a love relationship in Austin and had to move out, so Elgin seemed like the perfect distance from old memories.  That same day that my friend and I visited Margo Sawyer three (3) years ago, we went to the Depot Museum and met Anne.  She sealed the deal on moving to Elgin.  I found her to be so smart and the history of the area was compelling.  By the time we actually moved into The Open Room, she had passed away, and that’s continued to sadden me.

Guests at our film series at The Open Room during Elgin Art Studio Tour. Photo by Veronica Ortuño

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

I have no choice!  I wish there were a button to decrease the amount of creative impulses and increase the pragmatic ones.

Screengrab from Etsy.com: “No Place Like Here – Marfa, TX”

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

  1. Stop eating so much bacon and slow down on salt 
  2. Drink coconut water every day and stay hydrated
  3. Adobe Creative Cloud

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Too much to list here in a coherent way but the top tier of creative projects is as follows:  finding a distributor for my documentary feature film, i’m gonna make you love me, finishing three (3) short videos on the history of Elgin, finishing the short film about my mother who died with Alzheimer’s disease (La vie en Rose), finishing all 16 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, listen to opera more often, learn to play piano, figure out how to show films free of charge on the outside of my building.

Screengrab from “Ella Fitzgerald – Something to Live For

5. Cake or Pie?

Definitely pie — apple, please

Bernsteindocumentary.com
The Open Room


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