More than a hundred friends and family members of Aliquippa hairdresser Maria Rubino gathered in a hotel ballroom in Moon to watch her star in a private screening of a documentary film, "Coiffure and Quips."
She and the film received standing ovations Wednesday night for the documentary that tells the story of Mrs. Rubino's life in Aliquippa, where she has worked at her hair salon for 47 years, and how she and the town have worked to overcome hard times with a sense of humor, and a strong love of family and community.
"I have been a friend of Maria's for 50 years. She is the best hairdresser there ever was," said Tina Salasky before the film was shown.
But Mrs. Rubino's skill at hairdressing alone is not what attracted the attention of Peter Kinkead of Ravenhill Films, a production company from England. Mr. Kinkead was on a tour of Aliquippa scouting locations for a film script written by Kennedy resident Bernadette Callaghan when she suggested they stop in at Maria's salon. Ms. Callaghan has been a customer of Maria's for almost 20 years.
Mr. Kinkead was so taken by Mrs. Rubino's sense of humor and her retinue of regular customers, who shared with him stories of their lives, husbands and children, that he shelved Ms. Callaghan's movie for the time being and filmed a documentary about Mrs. Rubino.
He flew in a film crew from England for the project.
The film shows how Aliquippa has struggled to come back after J&L closed its plant in 1984, leaving the town without its largest source of tax revenue and the main means of employment for most residents. The camera followed Maria at work in her shop. It also filmed her as she cooked for the annual San Rocco Festival in Aliquippa and at her weekly card game with her friends from the hair salon.
Valerie Smith, who edited the film, said, "I am very proud of this project. Filming took eight days, but it took 10 weeks for the editing." Ms. Smith, who flew in from London for the screening, said it was a joy to work with Mrs. Rubino and the people in Aliquippa.
"It was the best holiday I have ever been on. I had a fabulous time" she said.
Maureen Zapico from Ohioville said she was glad to come out to support Maria and the film. "My mother went to her. I went, too, and started loving it. She's so good to everybody. She is the kindest, gentlest person. She treats everyone like royalty."
The documentary now is on its way to the film festival circuit. It will be shown at the Atlanta International Film Festival and at the Santa Monica, London, and Sundance film festivals and several other high-profile venues.
Bob Podurgiel, freelance writer: email@example.com First Published October 4, 2012 9:15 AM