Before it won the top awards at the Sundance Film Festival and picked up a trio of Oscars, Damien Chazelle’s WHIPLASH began as a short film of the same name. Premiering at Sundance the year before the feature film would open it, the short picked up the jury prize in its U.S. Fiction category. (Jordan Raup, The Film Stage, 2015)
The 2015 Athena Film Festival, held recently on the Barnard College campus in NYC, had an abundance of fantastic film screenings, master classes and panels on offer. “Crowdfunding to Build Independence,” a workshop taught by Emily Best, the founder of Seed&Spark, was definitely among the highlights.
“Director Orlando von Einsiedel set out to chronicle the day-to-day dangers the rangers face in Virunga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He’s on the ground with them when they track down poachers and when they come upon gruesome evidence of the poachers’ merciless work. With the help of a young French journalist, he surreptitiously documents a chain of bribes involving a British company with designs on oil reserves in the park, a World Heritage Site. And he’s right in the middle of it — “it” being a war zone — when a military rebellion devastates the country’s eastern region.” (Sheri Linden, LA Times, November 6, 2014)
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(g) All the above
“I have to admit I loved Maleficent the first time I saw Disney’s SLEEPING BEAUTY in 1959. She had power and a dark beauty that was fascinating. I loved her even more when I took my daughter to see a Disney retrospective at Lincoln Center in New York City in the early 70s—before VHSs. My 3-year-old daughter decided she loved Malificent, was going to dye her blond curls black and then went about terrorizing the other kids at the playground by jumping up and shouting, “I am Maleficent!”
That’s why I went to see MALEFICENT and I came away more enchanted with her than ever.
We’d just put our two-year-old son to bed and were ready for our ritual Thursday-night viewing of French news on TV5 (to which we subscribe, my wife being French). We turned on the television and caught the tail end of a French short about a young Black man in the banlieue of Paris; his mother, an émigrée from Cameroon, was on the warpath because he was being called into the high school principal’s office.
One of the few useful lessons from grad school was to find similarities in two seemingly different works of art. It can also work for restaurants, people, jobs; I often wish the Arabs and Israelis would get around to learning this skill. So last weekend I headed to my local video store—Vidiots, a famous last bastion of the independent video store still operating out of Santa Monica, California…and grabbed two very different films—or so I thought.
Watching two solo-performance films–one currently out on video, the other now playing at your local art house cinema—provides a telling contrast in acting styles, approaches to storytelling, and cultures.