SWAN Day Screening

March 28, 2015

And in remembering a road sign
I am remembering a girl when I was young
And we said, “These songs are true
These days are ours
These tears are free”

— Paul Simon, Obvious Child

This is the eighth anniversary of Support Women Artists Now Day (SWAN Day). Created in 2007 by film critic Jan Lisa Huttner and arts administrator Martha Richards, SWAN Day “helps people imagine what the world might be like if women’s art and perspectives were fully integrated into all of our lives.”

While the official date of SWAN Day is March 28, activities celebrating women in the arts take place throughout this month and the next, following the founders’ statement that, “The spirit of SWAN events is far more important than the exact dates.”

In New York, several groups, including New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT), the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the School of Visual Arts Film department, the Women in Arts and Media Coalition, and HerFlix, organized a special SWAN Day movie event: a special screening of Obvious Child, a critically acclaimed romantic comedy that was produced, directed, and written by women.

The film was followed by a reception and a Q&A session with director Gillian Robespierre and Caren Spruch, a member of the Board of Directors of NYWIFT.

SWAN Day sticker

SVA Theater

Introducing the screening

Q&A with Gillian Robespierre and Caren Spruch

Gillian Robespierre

SWAN Day 2015 Calendar
SWAN Day Screening and Reception
Obvious Child
Wikipedia: Gillian Robespierre
The Dissolve: Gillian Robespierre and Jenny Slate on Finding Obvious Child’s Voice
Paul Simon: Obvious Child
The Straight Dope: Paul Simon’s The Obvious Child –What Does it Mean?
New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT)
Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA)
School of Visual Arts Film Department
Women in Arts and Media Coalition

Big Joy at the New York Public Library

June 18, 2014

Tonight, in honor of the DVD release of the documentary BIG JOY: The Adventures of James Broughton, the New York Public Library (NYPL) hosted a special celebration.

While filmmaker/poet/author/teacher James Broughton had a notable following among the avant-garde during his lifetime, today he is known to many only through the “warts and all” biopic, BIG JOY.  

The film traces his life from his painful childhood in Modesto, California, through his career as an acclaimed underground filmmaker and poet, his tumultuous marriage and fatherhood, his sudden emergence (at the age of 61) as a gay man, his death at age 85 and his legacy.

Prolifically creative, Broughton made 23 experimental films, several of which won awards a film festivals, and wrote 23 books of prose and poetry. In his final years, Broughton earned a reputation as “the bard of the modern gay rights movement” and was known by his frequently-uttered slogans, “follow your own weird” and “when in doubt, twirl.”


I was born in the San Joaquin town of Modesto,

on the Tuolomne River of Stanislaus County

in the state of California.

My grandfathers were bankers, and so was my father.

But my mother wanted me to become a surgeon.

However, one night when I was 3 years old

I was awakened by a glittering stranger

who told me I was a poet and always would be

and never to fear being alone or being laughed at.

— James Broughton


The NYPL program included a reception, where it was possible to view some of Broughton’s surprisingly-charming short films, an introduction by cabaret star Justin Vivian Bond, and a discussion with experimental film experts Jon Gartenberg, Robert Haller, and Jim Hubbard.

The official poster

Justin Vivian Bond

On the screen

Big Joy: The Film
All About James Broughton
NYPL: The Adventures of James Broughton
Justin Vivian Bond
Jon Gartenberg
Robert Haller
Jim Hubbard

It’s Movie Time

May 3, 2010

Founded only nine years ago, the Tribeca Film Festival has become a major cultural and economic force in New York City. During the 12 days of this year’s Festival, a great swath of Lower Manhattan was filled with directors, producers, screenwriters, dealmakers, actors, photographers, reporters and volunteers, all rushing through the streets with their distinctive badges flapping in the breeze.

This year more than 5,000 films from around the world were submitted to the Festival. Of those, officials selected 85 feature length films and 47 shorts (amounting to 193.94 miles of film) from 38 countries.

In and around the Tribeca, from April 21 to May 2, banners hung from lampposts, streets were closed, theaters and auditoriums halted normal activities and just about everyone in the neighborhood became a movie-goer and a film critic — including me. Here are the films I saw this year:

  1. Visionaries
    Oscar®-winning filmmaker Chuck Workman brings alive the vibrant history of the avant-garde cinema. Through interviews with filmmakers and critics including Jonas Mekas, Kenneth Anger, Su Friedrich, and Amy Taubin, he reveals how this artistic movement highlights subjective vision, sensory experience, and dreams over plot and storyline. Workman couples these conversations with a dazzling array of diverse extracts from experimental films that illuminate for the general audience a qualitatively different kind of moviegoing experience.
  2. My Own Love Song
    In his English-language debut, Olivier Dahan (La vie en rose) sculpts a hyper-stylized and uplifting road movie about family, perseverance, and redemption. Wheelchair user Jane (Renée Zellweger, exceptional) is a fiercely independent ex-singer whose tough exterior hides a secret that has paralyzed her emotional life and career. When her zany neighbor Joey (Forest Whitaker) forces them to skip town, Jane must change her tune. With songs performed by Zellweger and original music by Bob Dylan.
  3. Big
    At a carnival, young Josh Baskin (Tom Hanks) wishes he was big-only to awake the next morning and discover he is! With the help of his friend Billy (Jared Rushton), Josh lands a job at a toy company. There, his inner wisdom enables him to successfully predict what children want to buy, making the awestruck, naïve Josh irresistible to a beautiful ladder-climbing colleague (Elizabeth Perkins). But the more he experiences being an adult, the more Josh longs for the simple joys of childhood.
  4. Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (Winner: Heineken Audience Award)
    For fans and newcomers to the legendary Canadian band Rush, this is the music documentary to experience. Directors Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn embark on a comprehensive exploration of this extraordinary power trio, from their early days in Toronto, through each of their landmark albums, to the present day. Sit back and revel in the words, music, and wonder of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart.
  5. No Woman, No Cry
    More than half a million women each year die from preventable complications during pregnancy or childbirth. In her gripping directorial debut, Christy Turlington Burns shares the powerful stories of pregnant women in four parts of the world, including a remote Maasai tribe in Tanzania, a slum of Bangladesh, a post-abortion care ward in Guatemala, and a prenatal clinic in the United States.
  6. Into Eternity
    Three miles below the earth, the people of Finland are constructing an enormous tomb to lay to rest their share of humans’ 300,000 tons of nuclear waste. To avoid disaster, it must remain untouched for at least 100,000 years. In this poetic, hauntingly beautiful, and thought-provoking doc, Danish filmmaker Michael Madsen ponders how to warn future civilizations that the buried treasure of our nuclear era—unlike the pyramids and great tombs of pharaohs—must never, ever be discovered.
  7. Cairo Time
    In this graceful cross-cultural love story, a happily married woman (Patricia Clarkson) is separated from her husband in the overwhelming city of Cairo. While waiting for his return, she experiences the unique beauty of Egypt with his friend (Alexander Siddig). As their tender friendship blossoms, a series of small yet profound moments changes both of their worlds forever.
  8. Snap
    With a fresh and intense style, playwright-turned-director Carmel Winters composes a gripping psychological drama about three generations of a family poised to repeat the mistakes of the past. Aisling O’Sullivan (The War Zone) commands the screen as a calloused mother who will do anything to protect her son—even go as far to deny her own past. From the producers of TFF award winner Eden and the Academy Award® winner Once.
  9. I Scored a Goal
    In the history of the World Cup, there are only 55 men who have scored a goal in the final match, and only 34 of them are still living. “I Scored a Goal” is a series of thirty short films, each of which profiles one of these men. The narratives are told in the goal scorer’s own voice — they tell the story of their journey up to the goal, and what the goal meant for them, their team, the game and even their country.
  10. Last Play at Shea
    The intersecting histories of a stadium, a team, and a music legend are examined in a documentary that charts the ups and downs of the New York Mets and the life and career of Long Island native Billy Joel, the last performer to play Shea Stadium. Set to the soundtrack of Joel’s final Shea concerts, Last Play interweaves personal Joel interviews with exclusive concert footage—featuring guests like Tony Bennett and Roger Daltrey.
  11. Climate of Change
    A group of 13-year-olds in India rally against the use of plastics. A renaissance man in Africa teaches villagers to harness solar power. Self-described “hillbillies” in Appalachia battle the big business behind strip mining. Tilda Swinton beautifully narrates this rich and inspiring documentary—from the producers of An Inconvenient Truth—about a world of regular people taking action in the fight to save our environment. Executive produced by Participant Media and the Alliance for Climate Protection.
  12. Get Low
    In 1930s Tennessee, backwoods recluse Felix Bush (Robert Duvall) is feared and shunned by the local townsfolk. Then Felix decides to plan a living funeral to lay his own legend to rest. But behind this surreal plan lies a devastating secret that must get out…. Academy Award® winner Aaron Schneider makes a confident feature debut with this engrossing and slyly funny folk tale of forgiveness and redemption. With Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, and Lucas Black.
  13. Please Give
    Death, materialism, liberal guilt, adultery, midlife malaise… writer/director Nicole Holofcener (Friends with Money, Lovely & Amazing) makes such topics sing with earnest emotion and devastating humor. Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt star as well-to-do Manhattanites waiting out the death of their crotchety neighbor so they can take over her apartment. Things get messy when they try to make nice with the old lady and her granddaughters (Amanda Peet and Rebecca Hall).
  14. Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll
    Mat Whitecross (codirector of The Road to Guantanamo) paints a stylized, ripsnorting portrait of mercurial British punk rock pioneer Ian Dury (flawlessly portrayed by BAFTA nominee Andy Serkis). From a troubled childhood and a battle with debilitating polio to the effects of fame on relationships and fatherhood, here are the highs and lows of a life lived sneeringly, unapologetically out loud. With Olivia Williams, Ray Winstone, and Naomie Harris.
  15. Ondine
    Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Neil Jordan (The Crying Game) weaves a visually arresting tale of a lone fisherman (Colin Farrell) who pulls in the sweetest catch of his life—a mermaid-like beauty. But as their passion grows, their dark pasts come to light, and the real world begins to threaten their fairy tale romance. This stunning film will challenge your senses and imagination as fantasy and reality clash on the big screen.
  16. The Space Between
    Lonely flight attendant Montine McLeod (Academy Award® nominee Melissa Leo) becomes responsible for a 10-year-old Pakistani-American boy traveling solo when news of the 9/11 attacks grounds their flight in Texas. After learning of the boy’s direct connection to the tragic events, McLeod musters the compassion she could never afford her own family, and the two embark on a heartrending road trip to meet an uncertain future in New York City.
  17. The Infidel
    Mahmud Nasir (comedian Omid Djalili) may not be the most observant Muslim, but deep down he is a true believer. His life is turned upside down when he learns he was adopted-but most scandalous is that his birth mother was Jewish! And his given name was Solly Shimshillewitz! As Mahmud tumbles into a full-scale identity crisis, a true comedy of religious errors unfolds. With Richard Schiff and Matt Lucas.
  18. William Vincent
    The versatile James Franco (Milk, Spider-Man) stars in the story of William Vincent, a quiet and peculiar criminal uninterested in the fruits of crime. When he falls for a gangster’s (Josh Lucas) favorite call girl (Julianne Nicholson), William is forced to flee New York. But after four years in exile, William secretly returns, intent on rescuing the woman he loves from her dangerous fate.
    This film explores a now-obscure American expansionist and military dictator, William Walker, who through military force and coercion became president of Nicaragua in 1856. The film blends found footage, documentary photography, ethnographic inquiry, and personal travelogue with experimental film techniques such as hand-processing, optical printing, and time-lapse to detour and derail the various approaches to history-making that have been applied to this story.
  20. The Travelogues
    In The Travelogues, Dustin Thompson creates a more personal story. He travels with his film camera across two continents and compiles a series of mini-narratives, suggestive of loves gained and lost. He generates lyrical images, shot at oblique angles and developed with shifting camera speeds; in each scene, the heightened film grain tends to move the depiction of the natural universe toward abstraction. From the prologue through to the epilogue of his journey, this artist travels a fine line between real and imagined worlds.
  21. The Arbor (Winner: Best New Documentary Filmmaker)
    Brilliantly blurring the borders of narrative and documentary filmmaking, artist-cum-director Clio Barnard beautifully reconstructs the fascinating true story of troubled British playwright Andrea Dunbar and her tumultuous relationship with her daughter. Working from two years of audio interviews, Barnard uses classic documentary techniques, actors, theatrical performance, and Dunbar’s own neighborhood to generate a unique cinematic feast while unraveling the truths of a dark family past.
  22. The Two Escobars
    Born in the same city in Colombia but not related, Andrés Escobar and Pablo Escobar shared a fanatical love of soccer. Andrés grew up to become one of Colombia’s most beloved players, while Pablo became the most notorious drug baron of all time. While adeptly investigating the secret marriage of crime and sports, Michael Zimbalist and Jeff Zimbalist (Favela Rising, TFF ’05) reveal the surprising connections between the murders of Andrés and Pablo.
  23. Gainsbourg, Je t’Aime… Moi Non Plus (Winner: Best Actor in a Narrative Feature)
    From a young man in Nazi-occupied Paris to the sultry crooner who bedded Brigitte Bardot and married Jane Birkin to the vulnerable poet hidden behind a shroud of provocation—Serge Gainsbourg’s is a life large enough for grand treatment on film. One of France’s greatest mavericks is brought back to life (uncannily, by Eric Elmosnino) in this imaginative and visually flamboyant film debut from one of France’s greatest cartoonists.
  24. Just Like Us
    Egyptian-American comic and first-time director Ahmed Ahmed takes us on a hilarious tour from Los Angeles to Cairo, Dubai to Beirut, Riyadh to New York with a gaggle of other stand-up talent, including: Maz Jobrani, Tom Papa, Ted Alexandro, Tommy Davidson, and Omid Djalili (The Infidel). Along the way, taboos of culture and geopolitics are exploded, and a younger generation of both comedy talents and audiences is born.
  25. Monica & David (Winner: Best Documentary Feature)
    Monica and David are in love. Truly, blissfully in love. They also happen to have Down syndrome. Alexandra Codina’s affectionate and heartwarming documentary is an intimate, year-in-the-life portrait of two child-like spirits with adult desires. Supported (and, for more than 30 years, sheltered) by endlessly devoted mothers, Monica and David prepare for their fairy tale wedding and face the realities of married life afterward.
  26. Legacy
    British-Nigerian director Thomas Ikimi builds a thrilling psychological drama around an all-consuming central performance by Idris Elba (The Wire). Black ops operative Malcolm Gray is returning home after a botched mission in Eastern Europe. Holed up in a rundown Brooklyn motel room, he is torn between retribution and personal salvation as he mentally unravels. When the walls close in, his story may be all he can leave behind….
  27. Meet Monica Velour
    In this quirky comedy, Tobe (Dustin Ingram, perfectly cast), an awkward teenage aficionado of 1980s soft-core, sets off in his grandfather’s (Brian Dennehy) used Weinermobile to see his sexual idol perform at a strip club in Indiana. After defending her honor against ruffians who taunt the aging erotic starlet (Kim Cattrall) off the stage, he negotiates his unripe romantic impulses with the reality of her anything but glamorous life as a trailer-park single mother.
  28. Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives
    When a group of transgender women are violently beaten and left for dead, the violated vixens turn deadly divas in this hilariously campy homage to the exploitation films of the ’70s and ’80s (“Transploitation,” anyone?). Loaded with bodacious bods and extreme violence, this revenge fantasy proves that it takes more than balls to get even.
  29. Gerrymandering
    This wake-up-call doc exposes the hidden history of our country’s redistricting wars, mapping battles that take place out of public scrutiny but that shape the electoral landscape of American politics for decades at time, posing a threat not just to democrats and republicans, but democracy as a whole. Featuring stories from nine states, Gerrymandering takes a hard look at the framework of our democracy and how it provides our politicians a perfectly legal way to control electoral outcomes.
  30. The Trotsky
    Like most high schoolers, Leon Bronstein (Jay Baruchel, Tropic Thunder) is having an identity crisis. What differentiates Leon, however, is that he believes he is the reincarnation of Soviet thinker Leon Trotksy and predestined to follow the same path as his namesake. Tackling issues from students’ rights to semi-formal dances, this “revolutionary” comedy will have you united in laughter.
  31. Spork
    Junior high isn’t easy for anyone— especially if you’re a frizzy-haired, pink-cheeked hermaphrodite like Spork. But when the talent show shines a chance for Spork to show up Betsy Byotch’s mean girls gang, her recently best-friended trailer-park neighbor Tootsie Roll steps up to coach her in booty-poppin’ moves. This ’80s-inspired dance send-up is littered with colorful dialogue from a tween cast with mouths beyond their years.
  32. The Woodmans (Winner: Best New York Documentary)
    The Woodmans are a family united in their belief that art-making is the highest form of expression and an essential way of life, but for photographer daughter Francesca, worldwide acclaim came only after a tragedy that would forever scar the family. With unrestricted access to all of Francesca’s works and diaries, The Woodmans paints an incisive portrait of a family broken and then healed by its art.
  33. Monogamy (Winner: Best New York Narrative)
    Exhibitionism, voyeurism, jealousy, lust. Brooklyn wedding photographer Theo’s (Chris Messina) side business shooting surveillance-style photos of clients on the sly takes an unexpected turn—and creates a rift with his fiancée (Rashida Jones)—when he’s hired by a provocative mystery woman (Meital Dohan). The first narrative feature from Oscar®-nominated director Dana Adam Shapiro (Murderball), Monogamy effectively fuses an absorbing mystery-thriller and a taut relationship drama.

Tribeca Film Festival
NY Times: 12 Days, 132 Films, 38 Countries
Time Out New York: Tribeca Film Festival: The must-sees

The 29th CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival

October 25, 2009

It was created by College Media Journal (CMJ), the magazine that published the first record charts based on college radio airplay. Back when it started in 1980, the CMJ Music Marathon (the Film Festival was added in 1994) provided college radio staffs the opportunity to meet and hear music from new and emerging sources.

Over the years the CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival has grown and changed, but its primary focus has remained on music that appeals to college audiences.

This year’s Festival featured thousands of musicians at dozens of venues around the city and drew an estimated 120,000 fans, artists, filmmakers, and industry pros. To my surprise, someone gave me a pass to the event. Although I expected a “college music” festival to consist of endless loud party tunes for drunken frat boys (think MTV Spring Break), I was wrong.

In fact, I saw more acts than I could count (including old favorites and new discoveries), performing in a wide variety of genres. The panels, which I anticipated as dull, dry discussions of industry statistics and forecasts, turned out to be entertaining and enlightening. Not to mention the film. Or the parties.

I did remember to take my camera to a few of the events. And if anyone wants to give me a badge to new year’s Festival … I’d be more than happy to accept.


The Dizzy Gillespie All Stars

Jim Rado and Galt MacDermot

NOW Ensemble

JD Souther

Kimberley Locke

Diana DeGarmo

Mieka Pauley

Woody Harrelson

Jarrod Gorbel

Fred Mascherino

Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society

Jets Overhead

Emmanuel Jal

CMJ09 Music Marathon and Film Festival
Wikipedia: CMJ Music Marathon
CMJ Milestones
The Dizzy Gillespie All Stars
Emanuel and the Fear
JD Souther
Mieka Pauley
Jets Overhead
The Color Fred
Free Energy
Jarrod Gorbel of the Honorary Title
NOW Ensemble
Emmanuel Jal
Julia Wolfe
Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society
David Lang
Jessica Pomerantz
Guyora Kats
The Messenger
Arlene’s Grocery
Kimmel Hall
Living Room
Blue Note
Le Poisson Rouge
Judson Memorial Church
Clearview Chelsea
Rockwood Music Hall
Norwood Club
Gawker: Norwood: A Club For The Artistic And Talented
MTV Spring Break

Oooh, a movie star!

July 14, 2009

Movies and television shows are shot on the streets of New York City nearly every day and most residents take them in stride, barely giving the equipment and workers a second glance. Generally, New Yorkers’ attitude towards the actors and crews who live and work here is that they are simply part of the scenery. Many of those in the entertainment industry say that one of the things they enjoy about Brooklyn is our indifference (whether genuine or feigned) to the stars in our midst.

That’s why I suspect that most of the group that gathered outside the movie trailers parked near the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge were from out of town. At least, I hope so. The overwhelmingly female crowd arrived on Cranberry Street armed with cameras, sunglasses and water bottles and stood for hours in the blazing sun, hoping to catch a glimpse of Robert Pattinson, one of the stars of the film being shot here today.

Some were, to put it mildly, obsessed with Pattinson, the actor who stars in the Twilight films.  One rather average-looking woman confessed to me that she travels the country and follows him around. Scary stuff, I think, but I guess it explains why the set was crawling with security agents and bodyguards. No one can predict when an adoring fan is going to turn into another Mark David Chapman.

Fortunately, despite the flurry of frenzy, the shoot was completed without incident. By the time the sun went down, the equipment was packed up, the actors were spirited away, the sunburnt crowd dispersed and Brooklyn Heights was restored to a quiet neighborhood of tidy brownstones.

Signs were posted to alert the neighborhood

Fans gathered at a trailer on Cranberry Street

They were all equipped with cameras

Some climbed light poles for a better view

They didn’t notice Roger Moore being filmed on the next block

The former 007 was able to work in peace

Twilight The Movie
Mark David Chapman

The thrill is gone

June 25, 2009

Michael Joseph Jackson, the world’s most famous entertainer, has died at the age of 50. I’ve been a fan of his music just about forever; I remember a big family event I attended years ago where I sat around a table with my cousins, arguing about whether or not Thriller was the greatest album ever recorded. The very first song I loaded onto my very first iPod was Michael Jackson’s Ben, the greatest love song ever dedicated to a rat. 

A year ago I attended Thriller Night, a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the video for Thriller. The evening included an appearance by John Landis, director of the ground-breaking short, a stage filled with zombie dancers and two Michael Jackson imitators who showed up unannounced. After a few minutes of competing for the spotlight, they peacefully posed together for me.

You can read my account of Thriller Night is here and see the very shaky video I shot here.


Michael Jackson: Thriller, 25th Anniversary Recording Remastered
Michael Jackson: Video Greatest Hits – HIStory
Michael Jackson: Ben

Tribeca Film Festival 2009

May 3, 2009

Thanks to the troubled economy, the Tribeca Film Festival was significantly smaller than in previous years. While audiences were still eager to participate (what better way to escape problems than by spending a couple of hours at the movies?), the 2009 Festival offered fewer films, fewer venues, fewer screenings, making it much more difficult to gain entry to screenings and events.

Although I was shut out of some of the films on my “must see” list, I managed to attend some screenings, panel discussions and events, and my favorite film, City Island, was also the winner of the Heineken Audience Award. Here’s what I saw in alphabetical order. The descriptions below are taken from the Festival’s Web site.

  1. Antoine
    Antoine was born 100 days premature and became blind from the effects of his incubator. Now five years old, he uses a mini boom microphone to discover and capture the sounds around him. Through this visually striking portrait, expertly crafted by Laura Bari, we share both the everyday and imaginary worlds Antoine lives in and learn how he overcomes adversity by creating his own alternative universe of beauty.
  2. Camera Roll (for Taylor)
    A camera roll city cine-poem, filmed in Brooklyn in the vicinity of the Gowanus Canal. Shot on a single roll of 16mm film and made as a filmic postcard for a distant friend, Camera Roll captures a Brooklyn neighborhood’s beauty and dereliction, industry and atmosphere, and the sounds of the elevated train rumbling in the distance.
  3. Chop Off
    Chop Off exposes the dark, fearful recesses of the human psyche by filming the body modification of performance artist R.K. Literally risking “life and limb,” R.K.’s body is his medium, and amputation is his art. The very act of filming him often stimulates a cascading range of emotions, from disgust to fear to dread.
  4. City Island
    Vinnie’s been secretly taking acting classes, his daughter’s moonlighting as a stripper, his son’s got a weighty fetish, and mom’s eye is wandering… the Rizzos might get along a lot better if they weren’t keeping so many secrets. Andy Garcia, Julianna Margulies, Emily Mortimer, and Alan Arkin star in this smart and poignant dysfunctional-family comedy, set in unassuming City Island.
  5. densen
    Inspired by the Japanese word for power line, densen is a musical voyage through photographs from Tokyo, St. Petersburg, Barcelona, Milan, and Buenos Aires.
  6. Don McKay
    Don McKay (Thomas Haden Church) should have followed the old cliché: “You can’t go home again.” After 25 years, he returns for the first time to his hometown at the out-of-the-blue bidding of his cancer-stricken ex-girlfriend (Elisabeth Shue). But a lot of time has passed, and an old secret crashes into new ones in this darkly comic thriller, also featuring Melissa Leo.
  7. An Englishman in New York
    John Hurt astounds as he revisits the role that made him a star (in 1975’s The Naked Civil Servant): real-life writer, actor, and gay icon Quentin Crisp. This smart, sensitive drama—marked by Hurt’s bravura handling of Crisp’s razor-tongued wit—focuses on the flamboyant 72-year-old star’s move to New York in 1981, and the fallout from a reckless comment about the burgeoning AIDS epidemic. A Leopardrama Film for ITV1. Executive producers are Joey Attawia, Susie Field, and James Burstall.
  8. Entre Nos
    Adoring mother Mariana (talented codirector Paola Mendoza) has toted her two children from Colombia to New York to indulge her husband’s whim. But when he abruptly abandons the family, she’ll have to rely on her own imagination and courage—and that of her remarkable kids (breakthroughs Sebastian Villada and Laura Montana)—to survive insurmountable odds during their first summer in the United States.
  9. Hysterical Psycho
    In this side-splitting horror send-up, a theater troupe takes a trip to a country cabin, but its nearby lake is full of lunar radiation, and one of the troupe members is already straight-up crazy. Put them together and you get one psycho thespian! Full of bloody, fun-filled kills, a deaf-mute chick, inventive animation, and some big boobs, Hysterical Psycho is a wild trip.
  10. influenza/Composition II (chrome square)
    A sticker project translated into animation, this film uses shiny square stickers as miniature, abstract urban screens that quietly reflect the city life on their blurry surface. In the mid-1990s filmmaker Jeroen Jongeleen discovered in stickers a simple and cheap means of functioning in public.
  11. Love the Beast
    Eric Bana’s directorial debut is a love story. The object of the actor’s affection? A Ford XB Falcon Coupe, his “beast,” the car he’s had since he was 15. Tracing Bana’s lifelong obsession with cars to his participation in the ultimate auto race—the five-day Targa Tasmania—this impassioned doc is fueled by family, friendship, and an insatiable lust for life.
  12. A Matter of Size
    In this touching, lighthearted comedy, an overweight, underemployed chef and three close friends abandon their weight-loss group to pursue an activity for which girth is a virtue: sumo wrestling. While training, they discover the soul of sumo, realizing that—fat or thin—love and success will only come from being true to themselves.
  13. Métro
    A journey into the 68 stations of the Montreal subways.
  14. My Last Five Girlfriends
    Based on the international best seller On Love by Alain de Botton, this delightful romantic comedy explores with delicious wit and whimsy just how modern urban relationships go wrong. Surveying the wreckage of his last five relationships, thirtysomething Duncan (Brendan Patricks) concludes that love is a battleground where only the fittest survive.
  15. My Life in Ruins
    From Nia Vardalos, writer and star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, comes the hilarious comedy My Life in Ruins. Georgia (Nia Vardalos) has lost her kefi (Greek for “mojo”). Discouraged by her lack of direction in life, she works as a travel guide, leading a ragtag group of tourists as she tries to show them the beauty of her native Greece. While opening their eyes to an exotic foreign land, she too begins to see things in new ways-finding her kefi in the process.
  16. Original
    In this fresh and colorful lovable loser tale, Henry has spent most of his life trying to blend in. When his seemingly normal life turns upside down, his friend convinces him to move to Spain and open a restaurant. But before he can break free of the mundane, he gets sidelined caring for his mentally unstable mother, running into a lost-soul feminist who does performance art in a strip club, and a big bag of steroids.
  17. Playground
    Executive produced by George Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Steven Soderbergh, this astonishing doc travels to the dark heart of one of the world’s most sinister industries—the child sex trade. Beginning her journey infiltrating brothels in South Korea and Thailand, director Libby Spears soon discovers that the United States is a major player in the human trafficking racket and turns her attention to the homeland. Featuring original artwork by Yoshitomo Nara.
  18. Racing Dreams
    What Little League is to baseball, go-karting is to auto racing. Oscar®-nominated director Marshall Curry (Street Fight) follows the exhilarating and emotional journeys of three top racers competing for the national championship. Three adolescents and their families must discover if they have the talent and dedication—and sponsorship dollars—to one day become NASCAR superstars.
  19. The Swimsuit Issue
    What begins as a joke turns into a new shot at glory for a group of over-the-hill athletes who decide to form Sweden’s only all-male synchronized swimming team. The less they’re taken seriously, the more determined they are to win the world championship in this fun, feel-good comedy about friendship and family.
  20. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    In shell-ebration of their 25th anniversary, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will make a totally radical appearance along with their sidekick April at the Drive-In’s giant pizza party and screening of their 1990 film. To welcome the Turtles, the plaza will be decorated with glow-in-the-dark manhole covers. Families can climb inside the all-new Party Wagon, a mobile treasure trove based on the original Party Van. Kids can get their faces painted Turtle-style, take pictures at the photo booth, and pick up new moves with karate demos!
  21. A Time and a Time
    A Time and a Time is a short film made entirely from archive footage shot in three specific locations in Bristol over the past 100 years. Films and photographs across time are combined to create new scenes where contemporary shoppers mingle with people that walked that same street a century earlier.
  22. TiMER
    Finding true love is easier than ever thanks to a bio-technological implant called the TiMER, which counts down to the exact time people meet their soul mates. Love-starved Oona (Emma Caulfield, TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer) is pushing 30, but her TiMER hasn’t even started counting down yet. What’s worse, she’s falling for a guy (John Patrick Amedori, Gossip Girl) who is set to meet his true love in four months. Newcomer Jac Schaeffer crafts a smart romantic comedy that leaves behind the burning question… would you want to know?
  23. Trailer Trash
    A skewed take on film detritus: 35mm movie trailers are rescued from the trash and affected by hand and digitally, holding up a funhouse mirror to the industry of expectations.
  24. Without You
    Inspired by a poem by Josef Albers, Without You is a visual exploration of London’s industrial suburbia, focusing on an imaginary circle drawn at a 10-mile radius from Charing Cross, where the natural and man-made environments lie side-by-side in harmonic indifference.

Festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal onstage at Borough of Manhattan Community College

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the outdoor screen at the Tribeca Film Festival Drive-In

Cooking demonstration at the Tribeca Film Festival Family Festival

Balloon animal maker at the Tribeca Film Festival Family Festival

Director and stars of City Island at the film’s premier

Laura Bari, director of Antoine

Director and stars of An Englishman in New York

The Scandinavian filmmakers who created Original

Filmmakers speak at Tribeca Talks: The Future of the Independents

First-time director Eric Bana fields a question at premier of Love the Beast

A star meets fans at the Tribeca Film Festival Family Festival

Tribeca Film Festival
Tribeca Talks: The Future of the Independents
Heineken Audience Award

How About Little Intolerance With Your Breakfast?

May 1, 2009

If you want to survive in New York City, you need to know what’s going on around you. It isn’t easy to keep up with the constant changes that affect our lives, so many of us begin each day by catching up with local news reports on line, in newspapers, on the radio or on television.

To ensure that I hear about the latest street closings, subway delays and traffic jams, I usually turn to the TV morning news. In fact, I was one of the New Yorkers who wasn’t alarmed the other day, when several planes flew around the Statue of Liberty, because I’d heard the flyover announced in advance on the local news.

Today, however, I found the news stories less surprising than a commercial that ran towards the end of the local broadcast. It was 7:50 a.m. and I hadn’t yet swallowed a caffeinated drop, but the ad certainly jolted me awake. It was prompted, I assume, by the governor of New York’s recent introduction of a bill to make marriage legal for same-sex couples.

The commercial, from a group called the National Organization for Marriage, carries a clear message: if all New Yorkers are allowed to equal access to marriage, it will be the end to life as we know it. Heterosexual marriages, happy families and small businesses will be destroyed. Nothing like a little intolerance with breakfast to get the day off to a great start.

Yeah! Let’s make sure them gays don’t get equal rights! And the National Organization for Marriage earns extra points by linking the marriage issue to the current state of the economy!

I expect my local television stations to have some sort of standards, but it appears that Channel 2 (WCBS-TV) is willing to run anything for a buck these days. What’s next? Commercials for the KKK and the American Nazi Party?

Gay Liberation by George Segal in Christopher Park

WCBS TV: Contact Us
Marriage Equality New York
Human Rights Campaign Exposes National Organization for Marriage’s Fake Ad for Fake Problems
End The Lies
NY Times: Paterson on ‘Guilt’ And Gay Marriage

The Honeymoon Never Ends

October 24, 2008

One of the most successful programs in the history of American television, The Honeymooners debuted in 1955 and has rarely been off the air. The half-hour series focused on two working class couples in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn: Ralph Cramden and his wife Alice, and their upstairs neighbors, Ed Norton and his wife Trixie. Ralph was a bus driver, Ed was a sewer worker and, typical for the era, the women stayed at home.

The story of the two couples has inspired countless spin-offs and adaptations, including The Flintstones, The King of Queens, and a theatrical film starring Cedric the Entertainer. The characters of Ralph, Alice, Ed and Trixie have evolved into pop culture icons.

So, why talk about this old series? Today I stopped in a McDonald’s restaurant on Columbus Avenue for a cup of coffee to go. While I was waiting for my order, I noticed that the teen aged clerks were flocking to another customer. I didn’t glance over, though, until I heard one of them asking for an autograph.

I turned and saw a woman signing a slip of paper from the cash register with the name Joyce Randolph. The actress, who has lived on the Upper West Side for decades, graciously posed for photos with the adoring fans who were calling her Trixie — the role she played when she starred on the show 50 years ago.

Now in her 80s, Randolph is the last surviving member of the cast. She may have retired years ago, but for those who have enjoyed watching her crack wise with co-stars Audrey Meadows, Jackie Gleason and Art Carney (who played her television husband Ed), the honeymoon will never end.

Joyce Randolph signing an autograph

Still glamorous, the actress poses with fans

Wikipedia: The Honeymooners
IMBD: Joyce Randolph

Just Hangin’ Around

September 26, 2008

David Blaine is an entertainer who is usually called a magician. However, while he does perform some slight of hand and street magic, he is best known as part of the long tradition of performers who have gotten themselves into, and out of, difficult situations with great flourish and showmanship. Blaine specializes in highly-publicized stunts that test his endurance: among other feats he has been encased in ice, entombed in a plastic box, and stood atop a pole for long stretches of time.

A few days ago he began his latest project, called the “Dive of Death.” It is supposed to entail Blaine hanging upside down above Central Park’s Wollman Skating Rink for 60 hours. The stunt will end tonight at about 11:15, culminating in what is being described as a spectacular finale involving big balloons, acrobats and music.

Today I stopped by the Park to see Blaine hanging upside down and was very surprised to see him standing right side up. He was standing on a platform, drinking juice from a bottle. When he finished the juice, he followed it with a bottle of water. Eventually, he was moved away from the platform and suspended from a crane. The area around the rink was surrounded by metal security barricades and dozens of enormous guards with thick necks, shaved heads and earpieces.

Spectators took pictures and some were escorted behind the barriers to pose for photos with Blaine. While they were waiting, a teenaged Blaine fan in the crowd named Joseph quietly performed magic tricks for those around him. His appearance wasn’t planned, wasn’t publicized, wasn’t paid, and was barely even noticed by most of those who surrounded him. Too bad. It was more entertaining to watch the boy doing card tricks and causing a straw man to rise on his palm than it was to see David Blaine hanging upside down.

By the way, if you would like to reach Joseph, you’ll find him in Queens at 347-484-6148.

David Blaine, standing on a platform

Not upside down

Being hoisted up

Finally, hanging!

Upside down man

Joseph the street magician working in the crowd

The elaborate set built in Wollman Rink

Entertainment Weekly: I Don’t Get It
Live News: David Blaine’s a fake, claim angry witnesses
Times Online: David Blaine rubbished over breaks
Gothamist: David Blaine Starts Upside-Down Stunt Over Wollman Rink
Sydney Morning Herald: The Blaine Game – No dive, no death
Times Online: Hanging about like a sloth. Call that magic?

Tribeca Movies 2008

May 4, 2008

The 2008 Tribeca Film Festival ran from April 23 – May 4. Compared to last year, the event featured fewer movies, lower ticket prices and a return to theaters located exclusively in downtown Manhattan.

Once again, I neglected laundry and cleaning for two weeks while I took advantage of the opportunity to attend the festival’s screenings. Here’s what I saw in the order in which I saw them. The descriptions below are taken from the Festival’s Web site. My favorites appear in red.

  1. Thriller (short)
  2. The Making of Thriller
    Join filmmaker and “Thriller” video director John Landis for a special 25th anniversary screening of Michael Jackson’s epic 1984 music video, plus the classic Making of Thriller.
  3. Squeezebox!
    Like the weekly pansexual party it pays tribute to, SqueezeBox! immortalizes the no-holds-barred, anything-goes attitude that its denizens embodied. The legendary club where the Toilet Boys and Hedwig were born gets the ultimate rock-and-roll tribute where all are welcome.
  4. Gotta Dance
    The inspirational story of the New Jersey NETSationals, the NBA’s first senior citizen hiphop dance team. Against all odds, these energetic and dedicated seniors prove that even in their golden years, they’ve just Gotta Dance!
  5. Live Long Love
    When Oscar®-nominated Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas) was invited to film the Gumball Rally, the famous high-speed race in Istanbul, he decided instead to craft a raw and intimate film that exposes the effects of an unexpected sexual encounter and the high stakes of the race on two strangers. For seven days, Figgis shot in his signature run-and-gun style—the result is a courageous new work that blurs fact and fiction and probes the unsettling consequences of infidelity, loneliness, and life in the fast lane.
  6. A President to Remember: In the Company of John F. Kennedy
    Culled from direct cinema pioneer Robert Drew’s unparalleled behind the-scenes footage of JFK at work in the Oval Office, and the events that brought him there, this remarkable film proves a timely update of the Kennedy mythos and an eerily intimate portrait of the man himself.
  7. Green Porno: Bee (short)
  8. Green Porno: Praying Mantis (short)
    A short short-conceived, written, directed by, and featuring Isabella Rossellini (who co-directed with Jody Shapiro)-providing a comical but insightful glimpse at how bugs and insects “make love.”
  9. The Caller
    Frank Langella gives a tour-de-force performance as an energy executive who tries to expose his corporation’s corrupt practices in this quiet yet chilling neo-noir thriller. He hires a private investigator (Elliott Gould) to forward his efforts, but who is investigating whom? Winner of the “Made in NY” Narrative Award.
  10. Conessionsofa Ex-Doofus-Itchy Footed Mutha
    Melvin Van Peebles, still our most playfully inventive filmmaker after nearly 50 years, returns with a boisterous adventure that ranges from Harlem to the high seas, following the exploits of a man (MVP, natch) who’s always on the move–but always returns to New York.
  11. So Beautiful (short)
    Sonia, an elderly lady, treats herself to a day at the beach. Soon she is approached by a young woman who asks her to keep an eye on her bag. Time passes and Sonia wants to go home, but there’s no sign of the girl. By opening the girl’s bag to have a look before she leaves, she starts longing for her younger days. She goes away, leaving behind a surprising gift for the girl.
  12. 57,000 Kilometers Between Us
    A provocative yet charming take on digital communication, this debut follows a teen caught between her stepdad (who records the family’s supposedly perfect life online), her real father (now a transsexual), and the refuge of her online life as she searches for meaningful connections.
  13. Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot
    Rucker Park. The mecca for all street basketball players. In Beastie Boy Yauch’s super-energized documentary, eight of the country’s top 24 high school players participate in the first “Elite 24” tournament on the same court that helped turn Dr. J, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Wilt Chamberlain into legends.
  14. Green Porno: House Fly (short)
  15. Green Porno: Firefly (short)
  16. Green Porno; Worm (short)
    A short short-conceived, written, directed by, and featuring Isabella Rossellini (who co-directed with Jody Shapiro)-providing a comical but insightful glimpse at how bugs and insects “make love.”
  17. Toby Dammit
    A gorgeous new restoration-supervised by its cinematographer, Giuseppe Rotunno-of Fellini’s adaptation of a Poe short story has Terence Stamp as a British celeb struggling through a haze of booze and drugs to make sense of the paparazzi and produttore who welcome him to Rome. Presented by Taormina Film Fest. Co-hosted with Italian Cultural Institute of New York.
  18. Kassim the Dream
    Kassim “The Dream” Ouma went from Ugandan child soldier to world champion boxer. In this gripping tale of survival and determination, Kassim proves that even against all odds, a man can achieve his dreams and turn tragedy into inspiration.
  19. Lioness
    U.S. policy bars female soldiers from engaging in direct ground combat, so why were the women of Lioness sent out routinely with the marines into the some of the bloodiest counterinsurgency battles of the war? Co-hosted with Human Rights Watch International Film Festival.
  20. The Dalai Lama: Peace and Prosperity
    An amazing experience for those unable to attend the ’07 live event, this film is a visual record of the Dalai Lama’s visit and presentation to a sold-out Radio City Music Hall. With photographic montages by Richard Gere and music by Tom Waits and Philip Glass.
  21. Going on 13
    Ariana, Isha, Rosie, and Esme are young girls who are followed for four years as they navigate the precarious path to womanhood and, in Valadez’ and Guevara-Flanagan’s expert hands, breathe new life into the coming-of-age story. Co-hosted with New York Women in Film & Television.
  22. Eau Boy (short)
    A young man who has suffered from excessive sweating since birth is blown away by a strange encounter. Directed by Eric Gravel.
  23. When I Become Silent (Watashi ga chinmoku suru toki) (short)
    Aspiring writer Kyoko has a problem. She wants to begin writing a novel, but her mind is not into it. Is it because Rie, her girlfriend that she has been with for more than a year, has proposed they move in together? As the moving day approaches, Kyoko’s uneasiness grows.
  24. I Think I Thought (short)
    Joe’s life threatens to come apart when he begins thinking too much: at home, at work, on the train, in the bookstore. Luckily, he discovers Thinkers Anonymous, where he learns that thinking is best left to professionals like politicians, religious leaders, and the news media. After all, they’re the ones who know what’s best for us, right? Directed by Matthew Modine.
  25. Shift (short)
    Fifty-year-old George Komann and his colleagues face the possibility of being laid off by their company without even receiving decent compensation. Knowing that no one will rehire people their age, Komann risks everything by asking his boss for 15 minutes to discuss a delicate matter, the outcome of which will be either the making or the undoing of each man.
  26. Irish Twins (short)
    Despite being born within a year of each other, Michael and Seamus Sullivan have become very different men. On the night after their father’s funeral, Seamus drags Michael to the local pub in their small hometown in Northern California and attempts to convince his brother that they must take their father’s ashes to Ireland in tribute. Of course, it isn’t long before Seamus’ true intentions surface, and Michael must confront how much he is willing to sacrifice for his Irish Twin.
  27. Tournament (Il Torneo) (short)
    In the suburbs of Rome in 2007, an outcast group of teenagers dreams of participating in a soccer tournament but does not have enough money to buy the team uniforms.
  28. Sikumi (short)
    Apuna, an Inuit hunter, is driving his dog team on the frozen Arctic Ocean in search of seals when he becomes witness to a violent murder. With no anonymity in the microscopic communities of Arctic Alaska, Apuna realizes that he knows both the victim and the murderer. The latter claims self-defense and is desperate to avoid punishment, so Apuna finds himself forced to navigate the uneasy morality between honoring the body and memory of one friend while destroying the reputation and life of another. Shot on anamorphic 35mm at temperatures of 20 degrees below zero, Sikumi is the first film ever made entirely in the Iñupiaq language.
  29. A Donkey in Lahore
    An unusual love story that follows the quixotic courtship of Brian, an ex-goth puppeteer from Australia, and Amber, the traditional Muslim girl he met and fell in love with in Pakistan. Can this unlikely couple survive the challenges they are about to face?
  30. 7 Cities (short)
    Striking painted visuals evoke the encounter between the great 13th-century Sufi poet Mevlana Rumi and the wandering dervish Shamsuddin of Tabriz, who would become his mentor.
  31. My Marlon and Brando (Gitmek)
    They fell in love on a film set-but she’s a Turk living in Istanbul, and he’s a Kurd living in Iraq, which US forces have just invaded. The lovers play themselves in this captivating film, based on their true story.
  32. Yonkers Joe
    A small-time con man’s search for the perfect scam is disrupted by unexpected family challenges. This heartwarming drama features memorable performances by Chazz Palminteri and Christine Lahti.
  33. Two Mothers (Meine Mutter)
    At age 58, award-winning filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim found out he was adopted. The search for his biological mother leads him-and the audience-on a dark and engrossing journey into a world of Nazi occupation, prison hospitals, and the SS.
  34. Sita Sings the Blues
    Using a variety of colorful animation techniques, writer-director Nina Paley wittily interweaves the story of Sita, the leading lady of the ancient Sanskrit epic Ramayana, with the story of a modern American woman struggling to keep her marriage afloat.
  35. Worlds Apart (To Verdener)
    The world of a dutiful daughter and Jehovah’s Witness unravels when she falls for a nonbeliever. She is torn between her conscience, faith, and passion-and forced to make a choice between a love and a family that are worlds apart. Based on a true story.
  36. Lake City
    When her family is threatened by violent criminals, a mother and son must reconcile the past in order to save their home. Powerful performances by Sissy Spacek and Troy Garity highlight this potent drama, also featuring Dave Matthews and Rebecca Romijn.
  37. A Story of the Red Hills
    The story of a disheartened dancer and a disabled boy–both of whose lives are transformed by the magic and power of Chhou, a traditional Bengali dance of great spectacle and color-is recounted movingly, if improbably, by a renowned Bollywood choreographer.
  38. Under Our Skin
    Arguably the most overlooked and misdiagnosed ailment currently verging on epidemic throughout the United States, Lyme disease and the shocking controversies surrounding its identification and treatment are the focus of this provocative and often terrifying documentary.
  39. Baghdad High
    Four classmates (Kurd, Christian, Shiite, and Sunni/Shiite) in Baghdad are given cameras to document their last year in high school, resulting in a rare firsthand view of what it’s like growing up where sectarian violence rages right outside the classroom window.
  40. Secrecy
    In the years following September 11, the black redaction stripe has become a familiar sight to most Americans. Secrecy probes the roots of the United States’ culture of classification-and its consequences.
  41. Zen of Bobby V
    Former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine took his baseball expertise to Japan in 2004. This film follows a season in the life of an American who has become an admired icon-and a primary reason that baseball remains Japan’s most popular sport.

Director Mike Figgis

Director Adam Yauch

Director Melvin Van Peebles

Director Dori Berinstein

Director Robert Drew

Tribeca Film Festival
57,000 Kilometers Between Us
7 Cities
Baghdad High
The Caller
Confessionsofa Ex-Doofus-ItchyFooted Mutha
The Dalai Lama: Peace and Prosperity
A Donkey in Lahore
Eau Boy
Going on 13
Gotta Dance
Green Porno
Green Porno: Official site
Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot
I Think I Thought
Irish Twins
Kassim the Dream
Lake City
Love Live Long
My Marlon and Brando
A President to Remember: In the Company of John F. Kennedy
Sita Sings the Blues
So Beautiful
A Story of the Red Hills
Thriller Night
Toby Dammit
Toby Dammit’s Inspiration: Edgar Allen Poe’s Never Bet the Devil Your Head
Two Mothers (Meine Mutter)
Under Our Skin
When I Become Silent
Worlds Apart
Yonkers Joe
The Zen of Bobby V


April 25, 2008

In the mid-1990s, a New York City nightclub owner Don Hill decided to hold a weekly “gay night.” He hired a party planner who vowed to create an event that included everything he liked and nothing he didn’t, and they called the result SqueezeBox! (yes, the exclamation point is part of the name).

The Friday night SqueezeBox! parties offered uncensored, uninhibited entertainment and attracted a regular audience of drag queens, rock & rollers and celebrities. After several years, the parties had run their course.

The last SqueezeBox! event, a gala farewell party, was held on May 18, 2001, and filmmakers almost immediately began working on a documentary. Last night, the movie that was seven years in the making was shown as part of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Some of the SqueezeBox! regulars showed up in full party regalia and, for a few moments, the lobby and street outside the theater were transformed into the site of an impromptu drag performance, fashion show and family reunion.

The filmmakers onstage

Screening attendees

Attendee in the lobby

Jayne Country at the screening

In front of a Tribeca Film Festival banner

Jim Wallerstein and Bebe Buell

On the street in front of the theater

Film attendee in the street

Tribeca Film Festival: SqueezeBox!
Don Hill’s SqueezeBox Party
MySpace: SqueezeBox The Movie
MySpace: Squeeze Box

The New York Television Festival

September 6, 2007

Two years ago, the New York Television Festival (NYTF) was established to bring together independent video artists, television insiders and fans. The Festival allows people with new and original visions to connect with those who are already established in the broadcast industry.

Some of the producers, writers and directors who’ve exhibited their work in past years have established deals with major television networks including NBC Universal and A&E. The festival’s slogan is “All you need is an idea and a video camera.”

Tonight, the NYTF’s programming included the Comedy Short Cuts Diversity Film Festival. Organized by comedian Wil Sylvince and hosted by cast members of sitcom 30 Rock, the evening showcased eight independent comedy shorts:

After the program, I exited the theatre at the same moment the 30 Rock crowd was leaving and became surrounded by their party. I decided to go with the flow.

When they all veered to the right, ascended a flight of stairs and breezed past a phalanx of security guards, I did the same and found myself in the official after-party.

A nice surprise; a show and dinner (satay, hors d’oeuvres and wine), too! I mingled with the crowd, posed for photos and, when I left, was presented with a gift bag containing a DVD, a water bottle and a nifty little flash drive. Not bad for an otherwise quiet Thursday night.

09-10-2007 02;39;44PM.BMP 2

The New York Television Festival
Comedy Short Cuts
MySpace: Comedy Short Cuts Film Festival
MySpace: Wil Sylvince
30 Rock
El Chisme
A Fat Girl’s Guide to Yoga
The Sunday Man
TV Squad: NYTVF: NBC Comedy Short Cuts

Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story

August 22, 2007

Tonight I attended a special screening of Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story at the ImaginAsian Theater. The documentary tells the story of Megumi Yokota, a Japanese schoolgirl who disappeared in 1977, and of her family’s long, heartbreaking struggle to find her.

Decades after she vanished, a North Korean defector revealed that Kim Jong Il’s henchmen had abducted more than one dozen innocent Japanese citizens. They were transported across the Sea of Japan and forced to teach North Korean spies how to speak, look and “act” Japanese. Taken at the age of 13, Megumi was their youngest kidnapping victim.

While the abductions have made headlines and caused governmental upheavals in Asia, they are little known in the rest of the world. In fact, I wasn’t aware of them until I saw this award-winning film.

Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story is the first effort from husband and wife directing team Chris Sheridan and Patty Kim. They appeared onstage for a question and answer session and described how reading a small article in the Washington Post inspired them to put Megumi’s story on film.

Also present was Noel Paul Stookey, the “Paul” of the legendary folk music group Peter, Paul and Mary, who performed his Song for Megumi. He explained that he wrote the song because folk music traditionally tells stories of struggle and injustice. 

He sang, “Return to me, Megumi, across the waves of the sea. Send me your spirit. My heart will hear it. And lead you home to me.”

Noel Paul Stookey, Chris Sheridan and Patty Kim

Noel Paul Stookey

Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story
Rescuing Abductees Center for Hope
Abduction Blog
Noel Paul Stookey
World Politics Watch: American Folk Singer Pens ‘Song for Megumi’
ImaginAsian Theater

I ♥ Anderson Cooper

August 15, 2007

The graffiti about the popular newscaster was written on a construction wall near the entrance to the 66th Street-Lincoln Center subway station.

I felt a bit guilty asking the elderly man who was leaning against it to move so that I could take a photo, but he readily obliged. As he slowly moved past me, the fellow grinned, leaned over conspiratorially and whispered, “If what I’ve heard about him is true, that might have been written by a man.”

“If what I’ve heard about him is true,” I responded, “it might have been written by his mother.”

Entrance to 66th Street-Lincoln Center station

I ♥ Anderson Cooper

CNN: Anderson Cooper
Anderson Cooper 360°
Anderson Cooper 360° Blog
Wikipedia: Gloria Vanderbilt
Gloria Vanderbilt

A Legend Early in the Morning

August 3, 2007

Every summer two popular television programs compete for early morning audiences by broadcasting concerts live from New York City.

The National Broadcasting Company’s Today Show holds their concert series on the Plaza at Rockefeller Center. Concerts from the American Broadcasting Company’s Good Morning America program take place in Bryant Park.

Both concert series are held in midtown Manahattan, both are free and open to the public, both include a variety of performers and musical genres. Good Morning America’s offerings take place on Fridays; the Today Show’s concerts are generally held on Tuesdays or Fridays.

Recently friend asked why I, who live so close to the venues and enjoy music so much, have never attended one of these peformances. This note from Good Morning America’s Web site might explain:

Show up at Bryant Park (41st and 6th Ave) around 6:00am, or earlier, to get a good spot in line.

Nevertheless, I decided to set my alarm extra early and give a (practically) crack-of-dawn concert a try today when R&B singer, songwriter and pianist John Legend appeared on Good Morning America.

Legend, a Grammy-award winner, performed romantic ballads influenced by gospel, jazz and hip-hop. After the show, the audience received free samples provided by the program’s sponsor, Listerine mouthwash.

Wonder whether the Listerine is at all responsible for Legend’s sweet, mellow sound?

The temporary stage in Bryant Park
The temporary stage in Bryant Park

Singing during the rehearsal
Rehearsing with back-up singers

Singing during the rehearsal
Singing during the rehearsal

Joking with Diane Sawyer & Sam Champion

John Legend performing with the band

John Legend making hearts flutter
John Legend making hearts flutter

John Legend
MySpace: John Legend
Today Show Concert Series
Good Morning America
Bryant Park: Good Morning America Concert Series

A plea to readers

August 1, 2007


I’ve never written a post like this before, but the issue is too important to ignore. If you are a New Yorker, ever plan to visit New York or just care about freedom of speech and expression, this is a plea for your help. 

A controversial new city proposal would require formal permits for a wide range of casual photography and would affect visitors and residents alike.

“Some tourists, amateur photographers, even would-be filmmakers hoping to make it big on YouTube could soon be forced to obtain a city permit and $1 million in liability insurance before taking pictures or filming on city property, including sidewalks.

New rules being considered by the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting would require any group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a single public location for more than a half hour to get a city permit and insurance.

“The same requirements would apply to any group of five or more people who plan to use a tripod in a public location for more than 10 minutes, including the time it takes to set up the equipment.”
— New York Times, June 29, 2007

It seems absurd, doesn’t it, that a city like this would crack down on people taking photos in public places, but the threat of that happening is very real — and implemention of the rules imminent — unless we make our voices heard.

Following a request from the NYCLU, New York City has agreed to reopen the period for members of the public to submit comments about this proposal. The City will accept comments until Friday August 3.

Comments should be sent as soon as possible to the following person:
    Julianne Cho
    Assistant Commissioner
    Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting
    1697 Broadway
    New York, N.Y. 10019

An ad hoc coalition of working artists, filmmakers, and photographers have joined together to fight the proposed rules. Calling themselves Picture New York, they have launched a blog and an online petition which will be closed on Friday, August 3.

If you believe, as I do, that we should remain free to take photos and shoot videos on the streets of New York City, please let officials know before it is too late. They will stop accepting comments in only two days.

If you live outside the city, or even outside the U.S., you might hesitate to contact the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting.

You may think that it wouldn’t be appropriate for you to get involved in what seems like a local fight, but the city needs to hear from as many people as possible, no matter where they live. Please help us keep New York accessible and open to all photographers.


Award-winning newscaster and commentator Keith Olbermann has named Julianne Cho Worst Person in the World for July 31, 2007.


“Responding to an outcry that included a passionate Internet campaign and a satiric rap video, city officials yesterday backed off proposed new rules that could have forced tourists taking snapshots in Times Square and filmmakers capturing that only-in-New-York street scene to obtain permits and $1 million in liability insurance.

“In announcing the move, officials at the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting said they would redraft the rules, intended to apply to commercial film and photography productions, to address complaints that they could be too broadly applied. They will then release the revised rules for public comment.

“It appears that the mayor’s office on film has come to their senses,” said Eileen Clancy, a member of a group formed to protest the rules. “Clearly, they did not anticipate the way in which the rules were likely to affect so many different groups of people.””

For the rest of this New York Times article, click here.


Picture New York blog
Picture New York petition
New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)
Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting
Text of Proposed rule (Amendment to Title 43) [pdf]
NY Times: Artists Organize to Fight Camera Permit Proposal
NY Times: City May Seek Permit and Insurance for Many Kinds of Public Photography
Sewell Chan: A Shout Out to the M.O.F.T.B.
Olde English: Free NYC Rap video
Keith Olbermann
NY Times: After Protests, City Agrees to Rewrite Proposed Rules

Daytime Television

May 9, 2007

When television was in its infancy, most American programs were produced in, and broadcast from, New York. Over time, the majority of the major studios moved to California; the shows that remained here were primarily news, variety and daytime programs including soap operas, game and talk shows.

When I was a kid, schools around New York frequently sent students on excursions to the sets of local shows. I have memories of sitting with my classmates and obediently obeying APPLAUSE signs at game shows, but by 6th grade I was bored with the whole experience. As a result, I haven’t been part of a studio audience since junior high school — until today when, much to my surprise, I sat in on the taping of two daytime television shows.

The day began with a visit to The View, described on its Web site as a “morning chatfest, featuring a team of dynamic women of different ages, experiences and backgrounds discussing the most exciting events of the day.” There is a one-year waiting list for tickets and audience members must conform to a dress code (business casual, bright colors preferred).

Once we entered the ABC building on the Upper West Side, we were greeted by a warm-up comedian who engaged the (primarily female) crowd while we stood on line and watched busy staff members come and go. We were warned that there were no bathroom breaks, told to turn off mobile devices, and welcomed inside the studio. As we entered, we were handed packets of chocolate chip cookies and bottles of juice (I would have loved that during those 6th grade tapings of Tic-Tac-Dough) and shown to our assigned seats.

The show is broadcast live and once it began, it went at a furious pace. Hair and makeup people kept rearranging stray hairs, adding dabs of powder, and ducking out of camera range. The hosts for the day included Rosie O’Donnell, Elizabeth Hasselbeck and Joy Behar. Goldie Hawn served as a guest host and Brooke Shields and Gena Rowlands were the guests.

During commercial breaks the hosts waded out into the audience, answered questions and posed for photos. One audience member (sadly, not me) was selected for a trip to London and we all received gift bags containing a Barbra Streisand CD and an assortment of Tupperware.

We emerged onto West 66th Street where eager young men and women offered us tickets to the Montel Show. When? “Now!,” they cried. “You have to go now! Just take a cab and we’ll pay your cab fare!” Um, OK. But before jumping into a taxi, I asked for a note containing the name of the person who would give me the money and made sure to ask the driver for a receipt.

The Web site for the Montel Show says that it is, “entertaining, informative and relatable … a testament to Mr. Williams’ sincerity and compassion, in addition to his willingness to tackle complex issues head on.”

The differences between the shows were apparent even before we entered the building. While the line to get into The View was orderly and well-managed, with frequent announcements about how soon the doors would open, no one seemed to be in charge of those waiting outside The Montel Show. People milled around, pushed and shoved for position and quarrelled about where the line began and how long we’d have to wait for admittance.

Finally, the doors opened. We were herded into a dark, dingy room equipped with pots of tepid coffee (no cups), several large, plastic garbage cans, a broken soda vending machine and a large color photo of the show’s host, Montel Williams.

When the doors (which bore a large sign warning us not to take photos) finally opened, we were told to keep mobile devices in sight (“hold them up next to your face”) so the security staff could examine them and passed through metal detectors. Finally, we entered the studio. Smaller and darker than that of The View, there was no warm up, no snacks, no comedy. We sat and waited until the host himself came out and sternly recited a long list of rules that his audience must follow (“If I point at you, I mean MOVE NOW!”). 

The single guest was self-proclaimed psychic Sylvia Browne. The audience members included several who claimed to have come from as far away as Greece and Australia, simply for the opportunity to ask her a single question.

For the next two hours, the raspy-voiced psychic clicked her long, lacquered nails, the host barked out orders and the audience members meekly did their best to obey, lest they joined those who failed and were in disgrace (“Nope, you can’t ask your question. You blew it.”).

The show is taped and several times during the production the host halted the action and ordered some changes to the equipment or demanded that a segment be repeated. The most bizarre moment occured off-camera when an unidentified man, who was clearly a staff member, stood up and prompted the host to discuss his hawkish political views and ambitions.

At the end of the taping, as the audience was being herded out the door, I began to search for the person who was supposed to pay for our cab fare. Good thing I’d obtained a note from the people who’d given us the tickets and had a receipt from the driver.

It took a while, and there was a bit of quibbling when I insisted on being reimbursed for the tip, too, but they finally came through. I felt sorry for a mother and daughter duo, though. They had been approached outside The View, too, and the people who’d given them tickets promised that lunch would be served after the taping. Nope, no food was available, not even a piece of gum; the promise was just a way to fill the empty seats.

By the way, just for the record, I’m not a regular viewer of either show.

Sign on the set
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Warm-up comedian
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Audience members dancing onstange
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Joy Behar speaking to the audience
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Rosie & staff member with Goldie Hawn & Brooke Shields
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Elizabeth Hasslebeck during a break
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Gena Rowlands, Joy & Elizabeth
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Rosie O’Donnell talking to the audience
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Behind the cameras
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Goldie Hawn grinning
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Goldie Hawn
Originally uploaded by annulla.

The door to Montel’s studio
Originally uploaded by annulla.

The View
The Montel Show
Sylvia Browne
Go Sylvia Browne
Stop Sylvia Browne
Open Letter to Montel Williams: An Answer?

At the Movies

May 6, 2007

The Tribeca Film Festival ran from April 25 – May 6 and included 157 features and 88 short films from 47 countries. I’m not entirely sure that it is possible, but I just might have gone a bit overboard with my film viewing. 

Here’s what I saw in the order in which I saw them. Some were great, some mediocre, and I actually walked out of one film. The descriptions below are taken from the Festival’s Web site. Most of the shorts are available online to view them, just click here.

  1. Playing the Victim
    In this black-humored Russian Hamlet by one of Moscow’s top theater directors, a young slacker receives nocturnal visits from his father’s ghost and literally “plays the victim” in crime reconstruction videos. Observing a farcical justice system with a brash collage of visual styles, this acerbic depiction of contemporary Moscow chronicles Valya’s dangerously escalating disgust with his world. Grand Prize Winner, Rome Film Festival.
  2. The Pelican
    Dubbed “the French James Dean” for his roles in films by Claude Chabrol (Le beau Serge, Les cousins) and Howard Hawks (Hatari), Gérard Blain’s work as director never surfaced in the U.S. This is his masterpiece, a moving account of parental love and obsession, filmed in a rigorous style that recalls Bresson or Dreyer—sans religion.
  3. To Die a Little (Short)
    A remarkable rediscovery: In Chile, To Die A Little (Morir Un Poco) was proscribed, hunted down and destroyed. Considered “lost” for decades, a copy was recently discovered in the vault of a European film festival. An unknown jewel of Latin American filmmaking, unearthed and restored last year, it features images recalling Cassavetes and Rouch.  
  4. Memories About Sayat Nova (Short)
    (aka The Color of Pomegranates)—Restored, Memories About Sayat Nova (Vospominania o Sayat Nove) reveals astonishingly beautiful, newly discovered scenes from Sergei Paradjanov’s masterwork Sayat Nova, which was censored by the Soviet government.
  5. Shame
    In 2002, Mukhtaran Mai, a woman living in a remote Pakistani village, was publicly gang raped to atone for a crime her brother allegedly committed. Instead of killing herself, as she was expected to do, she raised an outcry that became an international cause. A powerful essay in courage. In Urdu and Sariki.
  6. Normal Adolescent Behavior
    A darkly comic look at precocious teens grappling with sex, excess and alienation. Avoiding the high school party scene and random hookups, Wendy (Amber Tamblyn) and her friends form a clique that claims a more fluid sexuality. Schacter’s directorial debut delivers a provocative take on teen romance in this modern promiscuous age.
  7. Planet B-Boy
    A powerful documentary about the vibrant global resurgence of break-dancing, Planet B-Boy goes inside the underground hip- hop dance scenes around the world, as the best crews prepare for the “The Battle of the Year”—an annual “World Cup” of b-boying. Director Lee combines spectacular dance footage with poignant insight explaining why these dancers make tremendous sacrifices for their art. In English, French, Japanese and Korean.
  8. Man of Two Havanas
    Growing up in Miami, the director witnessed drive-by shootings and death threats directed toward her father, a former friend of Fidel Castro and opponent of the embargo. Using never-before-heard CIA audiotapes and fascinating interviews with her father, Weisman links his past and present in an eye-opening film that’s sure to be talked about. In Spanish and English.
  9. Say Can You See (Short — Express Stops Only Program)
    An improbable witness experiences New York City from atop the Empire State Building during a time of extraordinary change. Day to night, light to dark, the pathos of the American spirit is explored through a historic event.
  10. Red Shoes (Short — Express Stops Only Program)
    An aging Chinatown masseuse, Linda, tries to find a way to buy her 10 year-old daughter, Dee, a pair of shoes. When pressured by her client to make easy money, her vanity gets the better of her and she gives in to temptation. But as Linda finds herself falling down the slippery slope of moral compromise, Dee begins to discover the truth about what her mother does for a living. How far will Linda’s greed take her, and will she be able to continue protecting Dee from the truth?
  11. Lock (Short — Express Stops Only Program)
    Two strangers briefly connect as they find themselves locked on a New York city rooftop.
  12. A Nick In Time (Short — Express Stops Only Program)
    An old school Brooklyn barber recounts an incident from his past to a troubled young man who is on the verge of making a major life-altering decision. But can the barber get through to him before things spiral out of control?
  13. Super Powers (Short — Express Stops Only Program)
    A young couple tries to save their marriage by dressing up as super heroes in the bedroom. But when they’re unexpectedly forced out onto the streets of New York City, they end up saving much more than their sex life. Winner, Special Jury Prize for Best Narrative Short.
  14. Raving (Short — Express Stops Only Program)
    With no apparent direction, young and reckless urbanite, Katie, uses her charm to swindle her way through life. When she meets Dito, an older man in search of a cleaning lady, she thinks it’s the perfect opportunity to clean him out. She soon learns, however, that for Dito, it’s not about getting rid of the clutter in his apartment, but also the memories that go with it.
  15. Happiness (Short — Express Stops Only Program)
    One evening, after work, Iwona buys a box of happiness in a strange discount store and has to decide what to do with it. Inspired by the myth of Pandora’s box, Happiness is a straight-faced comedy about how the little things can make all the difference in a humdrum world.
  16. In Vivid Detail (Short — Express Stops Only Program)
    In Vivid Detail is the unusual love story between Leslie and Justin, an architect who suffers from Prosopagnosia — a neurological disorder that makes him incapable of recognizing faces. The couple must decide whether their new relationship can overcome the obstacles ahead of them as they try to cope with this bizarre but real condition, meanwhile raising the questions about how beauty is measured.
  17. Darius Goes West: The Roll of His Life
    Darius, a 15-year-old with muscular dystrophy, has never been outside of Georgia, until his 11 closest friends rent an RV and take off across the country, hoping to convince MTV’s Pimp My Ride to work on his wheelchair and raise awareness about the disease. On their long adventure they learn that life, even when imperfect, is always worth the ride.
  18. Between Heaven and Earth (Tussen Hemel en Aarde)
    In the heart of the Eurasian continent, the ancient center of the world where the Silk Road connected China to Europe, the circus is a deeply rooted cultural phenomenon. This film focuses on two circus artists, whose lifelong friendship is affected by the differing political choices they make under the dictatorship in Uzbekistan. In Russian and Uzbek.
  19. Take the Bridge
    Four young strangers meet after their failed suicide attempts land each of them in the hospital on the same day. United by circumstance, they may yet discover a reason to live. This fresh, original take on city life pays tribute to the vitality and energy of the Dominican community in Washington Heights. In English and Spanish
  20. Blackout
    In summer 2003, America experienced the largest blackout in its history–widely reported as peaceful. But in Brooklyn’s forgotten East Flatbush neighborhood, mayhem unfolded when the power shut down. This is the untold story of the blackout–a place where, as night fell, looters emerged, violence surfaced and residents feared for their lives. With Melvin Van Peebles and Jeffrey Wright.
  21. Nobel Son
    In this taut thriller spiked with droll humor, Ph.D. candidate Barkley (Bryan Greenberg) is kidnapped the night before his father Eli (Alan Rickman) will receive the Nobel Prize. When Eli refuses to pay a ransom equal to the $2 million prize, secrets, betrayal and revenge collide. With Bill Pullman, Shawn Hatosy, Danny DeVito, Mary Steenburgen, Ted Danson, Ernie Hudson and Eliza Dushku.
  22. Falafel
    Everything bad that can happen on the way to a party happens to easygoing young Tou in this chronicle of a nighttime trip though Beirut, permeated by the smell of falafel frying at neon-lit stands. Flipping between the playful youth and scenes of unexpected danger, Kammoun creates a kind of Lebanese After Hours.
  23. Forging a Nation
    Accompanied by his mother, cousins, aunts and uncles, the director retraces the steps of his Jewish ancestors, who fled Europe in the 1920’s hoping to find in Argentina the land of their dreams. This poignant film journey uses the documentary as a singular tool to explore the multifaceted ways in which the Argentine nation was built.
  24. Miss Universe 1929
    Amateur filmmaker Marci Tenczer was smitten with his cousin, Liesl Goldarbeiter and chronicled her rise from a modest childhood in Vienna to the Texas competition where she was crowned the first Miss Universe. Then Hitler upended everyone’s universe. Péter Forgács (El Perro Negro, Best Documentary, 2005 Tribeca Film Festival) continues his fascinating exploration of Europe’s private history through home movies.
  25. Vartan, LLP (Short — Ulterior Motives Program)
    Sidney Taylor heads up one of the most successful asset management funds on Wall Street. He has always escaped the pain and disappointment of life by throwing himself one hundred percent into his work. But when Sidney discovers his estranged best friend and former business partner has died of cancer, all the emotional walls he has built to protect him instantly disappear, and he is shaken to his core with regret so powerful he can barely stand it.
  26. The True Legend of Tony Vilar
    Using a tongue-in-cheek mockumentary style, this half-true, half-imagined tale is based on the story of real-life singer Tony Vilar. Born in Italy, he later moved to Argentina and became one of the most popular crooners in 1960’s Latin America, then mysteriously disappeared, leaving a faint trail apparently leading to New York City.
  27. The Gates
    In 1979, artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude proposed one of the largest public art installations in history: a “golden river” of 7,500 fabric-paneled gates in Central Park. Transcending controversy, it was finally completed in 2005. Renowned documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles and long-time collaborator Antonio Ferrera chronicle the artists’ 26-year commitment to transform the winter darkness of the park into a garden of light and color.
  28. NYC Weights & Measures (Short — Archiving Identity Program)
    NYC Weights and Measures is a simple gathering of New York City street footage. Shot with a spring-wound 16mm Bolex on, above, and below the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn , this dreamy film explores the city’s many moods, even including footage of the ticker tape parade for astronaut John Glen.
  29. Palo Alto
    It’s a bittersweet homecoming when four college freshmen return to their quiet northern California town for Thanksgiving. In the tradition of American Graffiti, this first feature film by college students Brad Leong and Tony Vallone follows the adventures of four friends on one eventful night that changes everything.
  30. Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother
    An intriguing look at sex and celebrity, this richly textured documentary, filled with drag queens and Hollywood glitterati, is actually a serious movie about transgendered life. In this unique and candid documentary, Alexis reveals a more private side as she grapples with the process of sex reassignment surgery.
  31. The Education of Charlie Banks
    Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst makes his directorial debut with this potent coming-of-age drama about confronting one’s fears. Pensive, honorable college student Charlie Banks must reconcile with his past when he gets an unexpected visit from a hometown thug-who may or may not know that Charlie once ratted him out to the police. Starring Jesse Eisenberg. Winner, “Made In NY” Narrative.
  32. Where God Left His Shoes
    Frank Diaz (John Leguizamo) and his family have been living in a homeless shelter for months. But on Christmas Eve, they receive the best gift possible-the chance for an apartment. To get it, Frank needs a job, so he and his stepson go on the hunt for employment. This heartwarming tale shows the compassion of a family that comes together when all else feels lost.
  33. The Workshop
    A spiritual search for answers leads the filmmaker to a California workshop run by a spiritual leader who promotes sexual adventure — and the possible existence of aliens. In this amusing and emotional film, Jamie and his friends shed their clothes and inhibitions for a wild ride of sex, fear, love, anger, betrayal and joy.
  34. Dorme (Short — Show and Tell Program)
    Dorme (meaning “sleep”) takes us on a magical journey into the world of dreams, that mystical place our spirits go to play when our bodies go to sleep at night. A beautiful and mesmerizing fantasy film, Dorme is a celebration of the sub-conscious mind, an artistic feast for the eyes and an escape for the soul. Told without the use of words, this universal story is about a boy lulled to sleep by a captivating melody only to begin his adventure of transformation and discovery
  35. Chinese Dumplings (Short — Show and Tell Program)
    Like any kids their age, sisters Lucy, 9, and Grace, 7, would rather be playing outside after school than practicing the violin in their living room — especially since it is Grace’s birthday, and they deserve a break! Lucy goes out of her way to look out for their interests, but in the end it is younger sister Grace who surprises everyone with her actions and illuminates how, in childhood, even the smallest moments define us in big ways.
  36. Fish Miracle Sky (Short — Show and Tell Program)
    The FishMiracleSky is a short film trilogy about childhood, specifically three significant moments in the life of a five-year-old girl. In When Fishes Cry, Kate tries to save her dream world against the reality of life. In The Miracle, Kate thinks that she can change real life with her imaginary dream world methods. In Closer to the Sky, Kate opens the gates of life.
  37. For All The Marbles (Short — Show and Tell Program)
    Recess begins — the schoolyard is flooded with kids! Ten-year-old Jeff reveals his prized cat’s-eye marble in a bid to win the Universal Marble Championship. But just before his winning shot, Cricker, the schoolyard bully, grabs it and launches it to the other side of the playground, and Jeff must set off across the infamous “big-kid’s area” to retrieve it. With danger at every turn, Jeff plays his way through various games in order to claim his marble, but will he return in time to win the game?
  38. Amarelinha (Short — Show and Tell Program)
    In Amarelinha, Matteus is a six-year-old who treasures storytelling hour with his parents before bedtime. Believing that they will stop telling him bedtime stories once he learns how to read, Matteus comes up with a plan to exempt himself from reading exercises at school.
  39. Dear Lemon Lima (Short — Short Attention Span Program)
    A lonely girl with a vivid imagination struggles to plant seeds of love after her narcissistic sweetheart breaks her heart. But a chance meeting with “angel-headed dorks” Hercules and Nothing enables her to overcome her heartbreak on a serendipitous summer day. Dear Lemon Lima thrives on the notion that life is a time to celebrate our common traits and differences and inspire kindness and equality in others.
  40. Thorndike (Short — Short Attention Span Program)
    Todd, an awkward teenage boy, makes a mess of the last day he and his girlfriend get to spend together before she moves away. He enlists his friends in a harrowing plan to make it up to her but realizes that no effort will take away the melancholy of losing his first love.
  41. Miss Chinatown, U.S.A. (Short)
    Miss Chinatown, U.S.A. is the comical and touching story of a young woman who competes in one of America’s oldest ethnic beauty pageants. As Katie travels from her native Seattle to the bustling streets of San Francisco’s Chinatown, she embarks upon a journey of self-discovery — forever changing our notions of what it means to be young, female, and Asian in America.

Banner on Lamppost
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Festival Box Office at Varick & Laight Streets
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Tribeca Film Festival
Tribeca Film Festival Shorts
NY Magazine: Tribeca Shorts
Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother
Between Heaven and Earth (Tussen Hemel en Aarde)
Chinese Dumplings
Darius Goes West: The Roll of His Life
Dear Lemon Lima
The Education of Charlie Banks
Fish Miracle Sky 
Forging a Nation
For All The Marbles
The Gates
In Vivid Detail
Man of Two Havanas
Memories About Sayat Nova (Vospominania o Sayat Nove)
Miss Chinatown, U.S.A.
Miss Universe 1929
A Nick In Time
Nobel Son
Normal Adolescent Behavior
NYC Weights & Measures
Palo Alto
The Pelican
Planet B-Boy
Playing the Victim
Red Shoes
Say Can You See
Super Powers
Take the Bridge
To Die a Little (Morir Un Poco)
The True Legend of Tony Vilar
Vartan, LLP
Where God Left His Shoes
The Workshop

The Dance-In Drive-In Movie

April 28, 2007

Drive-in theaters are the product of a time and place (America in the early 20th century) where land and gasoline were plentiful and cheap. Uniting two national passions cars and movies thousands of drive-in theaters operated across the country during the 1950s and 1960s.

Today, they are rapidly disappearing from the landscape and in New York City (which has the lowest rate of private automobile ownership and highest real estate prices in the U.S.) there are none at all.

But this week, the Tribeca Film Festival recreated the drive-in experience in Lower Manhattan. Today a large screen, loudspeakers and rows of chairs were erected in the cove behind the World Financial Center for an event called the “Tribeca Drive-In.”

Early arrivals received free popcorn, candy, drinks and seat cushions and settled in for a special screening of Planet B-Boy. The film is a new documentary about Battle Of The Year, a world-wide break-dance competition held annually in Germany.

The evening’s program began when Fab 5 Freddy, the former host of Yo! MTV Raps (who is now known as the grandfather of the New York hip-hop scene), welcomed the crowd. He explained that “B-Boy” stands for, variously, “Break-Boy,” “Beat-Boy” or “Bronx-Boy,” and is the preferred term for those who practice this form of dancing.

He went on to introduce Ken Swift, one of the original members of the fabled Rock Steady Crew, who demonstrated “classic” break-dancing moves and gave lessons to audience members. Other live performers included the Persuaders, the Beatbox Orchestra, Knucklehead Zoo, Toni Blackman and the Drifters (a team of B-Boys from Korea).

By the time the sky was dark enough for the main attraction, the crowd that had gathered at the “Drive-In” was overflowing and enraptured. Even when it began to rain, the crowd stayed in place to watch the film and, afterwards, to give director Benson Lee a standing ovation.

Fab 5 Freddy
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Ken Swift
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Knucklehead Zoo
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Originally uploaded by annulla.

The Persuaders
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Beat Box Orchestra
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Planet B-Boy
MySpace: Planet B-Boy
Battle of the Year
Tribeca Drive In
Fab 5 Freddy
Rock Steady Crew
Ken Swift’s Breaklife
Knucklehead Zoo
Toni Blackman
The Persuaders
Google video: Drifters (Korea) v. Pokeman (France)
Wikipedia: Drive In
Wikipedia: Yo! MTV Raps
World Financial Center

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