Archive for IFC Center

We Live In Public opening @ IFC Center

Posted in film, talk, tv with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Last night I saw this completely tripped out documentary called We Live In Public, check out the site, but do it during off hours ’cause it looks like their sever is crashing (ironically). Too many hits! That could be the subtitle of this Orwellian film about a time in the late 90’s, yes back when I was living in NYC as a 18-year old activist kid, in fact going to some of these parties, but having no idea what it was all about, this Internet mogul, dot-comer, Josh Harris was throwing crazy art projects parties and doing psychological and social experiments on people by way of Internet reality tv.

One might even venture to say that he created reality TV, but did it on the internet, before The Real World NYC, before Big Brother and before it morphed into the present day manifestation of completely scripted, un-real, reality TV shows like The Bachelor and The Real Housewives of NYC.

This guy actually did an experiment called “Quiet” in 1999, in which he housed 150 people for 30 days in an underground bunker, pimped out as a “Pod Hotel.” He dressed them in orange jail-chic jumpsuits and required them to sign their commitment to being filmed 24 hours a day, in every possible position, including showering, having sex, going to the bathroom, eating, fighting, and obliterating themselves with drugs and alcohol if they should chose to do so.

Everything was provided free of charge, free food, booze, what have you, but they would have no rights to the video that was taken of them and they wouldn’t be allowed to leave, once they committed to the project.  Where this begins to get even more grotesque, is that the underground, lower Manhattan, created-world, was complete with a shooting range, large collection of guns and an interrogation chamber. This M.O.D. style interview room, was where people would go to confess all of their psychological and historical messes. Think the “confession room” on The Real World crossed with Guantanomo Bay. This was sick shit. But the most fascinating part is that the people involved were all volunteers, many of whom were artists, friends, part of a larger social scene. It was meant to be fun.

In a way I suspect it was fun, the simulation of freedom, followed by a realization of the fundamental trap. Something like the philosophy of re-living pain in a safer-feeling environment, in order to exorcise the trauma. It reminds me of RENT crossed with Lord of the Flies. This was an experiment with human guinea pigs and it had an aim. The film, and the Quiet project itself records this fascistic, capitalist, gold-rush project of exploitation, an attempt to rush down the slope into internet addiction, and total lack of privacy.

As a prediction it proves to be quite true, our lives have changed enormously as a result of the Internet. In 1999, I didn’t own a phone didn’t really know how to use the computer and everything operated on this slower delivery system called word-of-mouth. I remember the New York of that time being a really vibrant place, but I  have doubted whether that’s true. It could just be me glorifying a left past. This film seems to corroborate my memory though. Perhaps since facebook, and myspace, blogs and online-newspapers have taken over our lives, we know about infinitely more things, yet there is less passionate and exciting fun to be had out there. New York does feel flat.

Beyond asking some very frightening moral questions, this film lovingly reminds us our city past.

Girls Like Us-STF-Examined Life-Twitter-Zoe Leonard

Posted in art, film, People of Color, queer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

The pace of my life is accelerating all too quickly and its hard for me to keep up with myself, aghhh, that sentence doesn’t make sense, edit, delete comma, insert quote marks, no parenthesis stop, no, just talk! So yes, rather than get the editor’s blues I’m going to speak freely, in an at times sloppy state of mild dishevelment. Let’s go:

So I was in the sauna at the gym on Sunday when I overheard some girls talking about kicking winter’s ass, and facing the last snow storm and just hitting march right out of the ballpark, whoa! I was inspired, I realized I must apply this go-get-em attitude to all things in life. I’ll let you know how that goes, so far not perfectly.

Next topic: Today I joined Twitter and people are starting to follow me, you can too, my user name is BSrobyn. That stands for Brooklyn Socialite Robyn, not that card game Robyn, or ok, out with it, Bull Shit Robyn. Def. not that.

Topic 3: Girls Like Us. This is a great film from the late 90’s that I saw at Stranger than Fiction last night. Oh, how I love STF, I finally found a club that would have me as its member (this is a Marx Brothers reference, if you don’t get it, you can’t join the club!). The documentary made by a lovely lady couple, tracks 4 teenagers from the time they are 13-14 until they are 17-18. The girls, who all live in South Philly, speak candidly about sex, childbirth, their relationships with their family and friends and their goals in life. This film won Sundance back in the day and it’s easy to understand why. Like Trouble the Water it sort of magically captures those tragedies and joys of life, which are often rendered mundane, as people avert their eyes to experiences of “othered” social groups.  The 4 girls, 2 white, 1 black and one South Asian all seemed to struggle to define themselves independently of their relationships with men. While, their parents and guardians strove to keep them on a track towards college and career. 3 of the women, now pushing 30, joined us at the IFC center after for a Q & A. They all seem to have turned out quite well and consider their experience being in the film to have been enriching and not exploitative.

On the way out of the theatre I saw Astra Taylor the director of Examined Life, which is an excellent film that I saw last week in preview. I feel somewhat ill-equipped to review it properly as I missed the first 20 minutes, but I will just say that Cornel West, who was one of the philosophers that Taylor interviewed, was completely amazing. He spoke fully and freely about every subject from Jazz to Nihilism. See it now at the IFC center! West and Taylor will be there in person for a Q&A after tomorrow’s show.

Finally, Zoe Leonard. I somehow faced the dreaded subway for a really long haul as I hot tailed it up to 155th to check out Zoe Leonard’s show at the Hispanic Society. Yesterday I met a cartographer. Cartographer, if you’re reading this, hello. I met a cartographer and I saw this collection of old maps, which Leonard curated at the Dia at the Hispanic Society. There is something Mystical about maps, quietly stunning, reminds me of The Phantom Tollbooth, which by the way is one of my favorite books (if you have read this and love it, you can be in the club). Leonard also had an exhibition of her photographs, which captured the East Village as it was changing, through the mapping of storefronts and charting of the journey that the products in those stores might take on as they enter a third world market. Reverse globalization, recycling consumerism. Interesting ideas. Yesterday I met a cartographer. The filmmaker Gregg Bordowitz spoke about Leonard’s exhibition on Saturday, his films sound like something that I would be fascinated by, but I haven’t seen them yet, so hold on. Hold on.

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.