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‘Turning Pages,’ a documentary film about high school grads of 50 years ago, to be shown Aug. 2 at the Northampton Senior Center

A poster shows the faces of "Turning Pages."  


A poster shows the faces of "Turning Pages." COURTESY OF ANNA POLESNY Purchase photo reprints »

As the messages flew back and forth, an idea took shape. A small group of the former classmates decided to make a documentary film about what had happened to some of the graduates of Niskayuna High in the 50 years since they’d gotten their diplomas in the spring of 1962.

“I jumped on board,” said Polesny, 69, who has lived in Northampton for the past 18 years.

Polesny signed on to help contact, visit and film interviews with 25 of her former classmates. The result is a documentary film, “Turning Pages,” that will be shown Aug. 2 at 1 p.m. at the Northampton Senior Center. The event, free and open to the public, will be followed by a question and answer session with Polesny and her fellow filmmakers.

Polesny said the stories her classmates tell reveal “a range of life experience, the tragic and the happy,” during an era of tumultuous change when issues such as Vietnam, civil rights, and gender identity came to the fore. “It was a significant time for the country,” she said.

For that reason, Polesny said, she hopes that “Turning Pages” will appeal to a broad audience, even though it is focused on the lives of one group of people who attended one high school. The stories delve into experiences of love and marriage, family life, friendships, loss, life after retirement and aging. “These are the stories we felt were meaningful,” she said, adding that careers and professional achievements are given less attention. Also in the film, she said, is the story of Robert Cragin, a classmate who died in Vietnam.

Work on the project began in March 2012 and wrapped up six months later, in September. She was one of four producers on the project, Polesny said; fellow classmate Robert Van Degna, of Cave Creek, Ariz., was the executive producer.

During one stretch of their travels to record interviews, Polesny said that she, Van Degna, and Donald Wilcock, who lives in the Albany area, visited nine cities in six states, to do nine interviews in nine days. “It was quite a scramble,” she said, but worth the effort. The making of “Turning Pages,” she said, “was a fascinating journey.”

‘Turning Pages’ will be shown Aug. 2 at 1 p.m. at the Northampton Senior Center, 67 Conz St.

— Suzanne Wilson

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