Back in 2011, the New Community Extended Care Facility became a makeshift movie set, under the watchful eye of then facility administrator, Betty Lawson. Lawson had agreed to work with an independent film crew headed by Ralph Scott, who envisioned creating a short film that painted the struggles of dealing with dementia through the eyes of a man, his elderly father and his own young son.
The film was called Barbasol, after the iconic shaving cream that in the storyline comes to symbolize an intimate bond between the three generations of male characters. On the final evening of the 40th Newark Black Film Festival on July 30, Scott and producer Kiara Jones received the Paul Robeson Award for short narrative for Barbasol at an awards reception held at the Newark Museum.
After Scott and Jones took the stage to accept a check and the inscribed glass award, Scott told the audience how he searched for a nursing home and eventually contacted Extended Care through a friend. Lawson, who oversaw the 180-bed nursing home on South Orange Avenue, enthusiastically agreed to the filming and welcomed Scott’s crew.
“Without her support, we could not have done it,” Scott said, in dedicating the award to Lawson, who passed away on July 4, 2014. “I accept this award in honor of such a woman, Betty Lawson.”
Jones, who worked alongside Scott in producing Barbasol, said, “It really means a lot to us.”
The Paul Robeson Award was established in 1985 in the name of Robeson, who was an activist, performer and All-American athlete who graduated from Rutgers University.
The Newark Black Film Festival started in 1974. To date, it has presented 794 films and lectures to more than 180,000 adults and children. According to awards program co-host, Mary Sue Sweeney Price, former Director and CEO of the Newark Museum, the Paul Robeson Awards are presented to “a select group of filmmakers.”