Archive for full frame

Brooklyn locavore at Full Frame

Posted in film, Food, People of Color, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

We’ve discussed my vegan-envy in the past, but this sentiment has now reached new heights. After seeing Food Inc. I’ve been pretty much unable to eat meat, and quite uncomfortable with eating corn products.

True, it’s only been 2 days, but I feel pretty serious about this new conviction. The film details the social impact of the meat industry, as well as its environmental impact and effect on animal welfare. Meatpacking and processing is now one of the most dangerous jobs in the country and the very small number of employers actively recruit illegal Mexican immigrants to work in the plants. Under constant threat of deportation, the workers will then submit to the most dangerous conditions and minimal salaries.

Farmers who raise soybeans, corn and chickens fare no better within the American food industry. Monsanto, famous for having created Agent Orange and for championing genetically engineered food has  patented the soybean. That corporation now owns a piece of natural life. This means that all over the country farmers are being sued and harassed for growing non- Monsanto seeds. Since the dawn of agriculture farmers have saved their own seeds, but now the law says that only corporate owned and sold seeds are permissible, seeds that require toxic Monsanto fertilizers in order to grow.

It gets worse, remember Mad Cow disease, aka  E. coli. This is not a mutant strand that appeared out of nowhere, it is a disease created by the meat industry’s practice of feeding cows corn, in place of their natural grass diet and confining them in inhumane conditions, where they are left standing in their own feces. When one cow contracts this virus, it easily spread to the others, and it then finds itself mixed into meat at processing plants.

These are just a few examples, the list of abuses is long. Yet, because of the powerful legislative bargaining power of corporate food interests, there is no law in place to require labelling of GE or cloned foods and Kevins Law,  the legislation that would  hold the meat industry accountable for e coli deaths, and protect against further infections has still not passed 7 years after its proposal.

I have long been an organic food eater, have tended to favor local over corporate and am even a member of my local csa( community supported agriculture), but I wasn’t exactly a purist before. I’d eat microwave popcorn and dubious diner hamburgers, but I’m just about ready to make a locavore pledge… To Know Where my Food has Come From and to understand its true social, environmental, and animal welfare costs.

The Food Inc trailer- Directed by Robert Keener

Gen Art Film Fest- Lymelife Review

Posted in ella, film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

While I’ve been in North Carolina running from doc to doc at Full Frame, Ella has been keeping track of the premiers at Gen Art. Here’s her review of Lymelife:

Looming  freakishly tall people lifted their  cameras as I walked the “red carpet” (which was NOT RED. Or carpeted. Much to my disappointment) of  the 14th Gen Art Film Festival, only to drop them in disappointment when they realized that this particular short, anemic-looking girl wasn’t an aspiring indie-actress, but just a confused blogger looking for the press entrance.

The first discovery at the official premiere of  coming-of-age in the 70’s indie–flick Lymelife was that being a paparazzi-photographer is a bit like being a basketball player – if you’re short, you better be fast as heck so you can get in there first. At 5’3 (on a good day), I really didn’t stand a chance of seeing any of the celebrities starring in the evening’s feature. So I headed for the free beer, cunningly avoided the chirpy Neutrogena girls (somehow giving away lipstick reminds me of my mother’s admonition to not accept candy from strangers. I have no idea why), noted a couple of those faces that “I’m sure I’ve seen them somewhere, so they must be famous”, smirked at the inevitable surfacing of fugly men wearing their best “I’m tortured because I’m talented”-faces accessorized by at least one, preferably two, willowy young things and headed in to get my seat.

The volunteer ushers in the cinema did an amazing job of avoiding chaos as people were pretty much fighting to get seats. While probably not fun for the volunteers, watching uptight artsy folk barely managing to not completely lose their shit when their (clearly exaggerated) sense of entitlement wasn’t catered for,  was a misanthrope’s dream come true.

The introductory short film, Trece Anos, directed by Topaz Adisez, addressed the issues confronting a young man returning to his native Havana after 13 years in the US. In the Q&A which followed, Adisez explained that the short had originally been part of his feature project (www.theamericanaproject.com), but that he had decided to show it separately.  The pressures of filming illegally in Cuba may be to blame for some of the weaker parts of the short (especially during the massive family argument, where some of the acting was a little forced). Mostly though, the documentary-style storytelling worked well, with the reunion between the son and his mother a genuine highlight.

Lymelife was a pleasant surprise. From the website’s description as a coming-of-age tale set in Long Island during a 1970’s Lyme disease scare, I feared the worst: 90 minutes of awkward teenagers in bad clothes discovering their sexuality and complaining about their parents. Luckily, it’s genuinely funny. Derrick Martini, the director, mentioned that he thought the love story between Rory Culkin (the Home Alone kid’s little brother) and Emma Roberts (niece-of-Pretty-Woman) was the most important and interesting part of the film — I don’t agree, but maybe that’s because I failed to find teenagers interesting when I was one. Admittedly, Roberts adds the long-legged, brown-eyed Bambi-on-ice charm that was her aunt’s trademark before she decided to accost us with the truly dreadful Ocean’s Twelve, but her character strikes me as a more a fantasy of a hot but intelligent high school girl, rather than a convincing character. Still, it’s a minor gripe, because the rest of the characters are really sensitively drawn. Sure, Kieran Culkin has a natural advantage in playing the younger Culkin’s brother, but his interactions with the other characters are equally nuanced. Alec Baldwin is suitably self-centered but charming as the nouveau riche philandering father of the Culkins, who is sleeping with his Roberts’s mother (suburbia gets messy). Cynthia Nixon, playing Roberts’s mother, comes across as appropriately neurotic and trapped in a life she hadn’t bargained for.

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Timothy Hutton, playing her husband, has been driven mad by Lyme disease and is unemployed, but is shown to be more perceptive than the other characters think. The scene in the local bar where Hutton’s character lets Baldwin believe he has been driven insane by syphilis, meaning Baldwin may have caught it from Hutton’s wife, is an awesome exercise in darkly funny revenge. Headed out, I ran in to a woman in a tiger-print dress who actually had Lyme disease, who was excited that the film would raise awareness about the illness. She insisted it had driven her crazy at one stage, and that Hutton’s portrayal “really showed what it’s like”. Assuming Hutton doesn’t actually have Lyme, that’s high praise.

The acting award, though, goes to Jill Hennessy, whom I’ve only seen in police series like Law and Order and Crossing Jordan. She’s truly impressive as the Culkin’s mother and Baldwin’s wife. Transplanted from her native Queens, Hennessy’s character struggles to repress her frustration at the family’s new found wealth, her husband’s infidelities and juggling the emotions of the children she’s desperately trying to protect; from the army, from Lyme disease and, ultimately, from her relationship with their father.  Alternatively weak, strong, submissive and angry, Hennessy isn’t afraid to let things get ugly – while managing to remain the most compelling character in a very strong cast.

The main test, of course, is whether you would pay to see the film – and for Lymelife, the answer’s a “yes”.

STF-William Greaves Tribute

Posted in film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

If you don’t already know who William Greaves is, here is the background, plagiarized from myself via Flavorpill:

“Tonight, Thom Power’s weekly documentary series, Stranger than Fiction, pays tribute to the “Dean of Black Documentary,” William Greaves. Famous for producing the PBS series Black Journal and for his feature film, Ali the Prize Fighter, Greaves has consistently expanded the perimeters of African-American filmmaking. Longtime Spike Lee editor Sam Pollard joins a panel with Eyes on the Prize director Orlando Bagwell and Elvis Mitchel, co-creator of The Black List to discuss Greaves’ contributions. This night of tribute is presented in collaboration with the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.”

Now for a round up of the evening:

Let me start in the middle, or er um, the end. When the screenings finished and the panel was winding down, Thom introduced William Greaves, who had all the while been sitting quietly in the back of the cinema. Greaves said, “Thank you all for coming, I had no idea there were so many people interested in and still following my work.” He also said that he is and has always been concerned about the state of our country.

This concern is evident in his work. We had the privilege of watching black and white clips from his early films, including Emergency Ward from 1959, Still a Brother and The First International Festival of African Arts. The Dean of Black cinema has definitely covered many subjects of great social importance.  In these early films alone,  he tackles mis-treatment of the ill, the mentality of the Black middle class, police brutality and a history of the arts, which focuses on African, and African American roots.

Next, Thom screened a segment from Ali the fighter, in which Muhammad Ali gears up for a fight with Joe Fraser. Ali comments that people have never seen anything like him before, He is a witty, fast-talking, fighter. He also notes that people hate him because he’s black, because of his religion and for the fact that he avoided the draft.

The clip, which I would say sparked the most curiosity from the audience was a scene from Symbiopschotaxiplasm: Take One. According to a comment made by one of Greaves collaborators, which appears in the film itself, ” The film has no determinable plot whatsoever.” This may sound like a bad thing but the little slice of it that I saw looked brilliant. He collaborated with Steve Buscemi on part 2 1/2, who was also in the audience tonight.

The panel of Black male filmmakers, editors, and producers was extremely appreciative of Greaves, as they showered their thanks on him for the role he played in mentoring  and inspiring them. I exchanged a friendly nod with Buscemi (in my mind a terrific actor) in the hallway and a brief hello with Sam Pollard (ditto on editor)  and the women from Full Frame, who traveled to New York to be at this special tribute. Another great night at Stranger than Fiction.