Archive for robyn hillman-harrigan

CIFF Dance Party at Santos Tonight-Come!

Posted in film, Party with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Hello Friends, just a quick heads up. The Camden International Film Festival, has an exciting film, The Way We Get By screening tonight at Stranger than Fiction, it is sold out, but the after party at Santos is definitely not. And, its Free! So come and meet the documentary film intelligentsia…

santos-flyer8

For more about the film and the screening My Flavorpill preview:

“Stranger Than Fiction, Thom Powers’ quality weekly documentary series, teams up tonight with the Camden International Film Festival and POV to present the New York premier of The Way We Get By. The film centers around a dedicated trio of senior citizens who keep permanent vigil at a rural Maine airport, determined to welcome home every soldier returning from Iraq. They hug the men and women in uniform, offering them cell phones to make their first calls with, shoulders to cry on, and, most strikingly, a moment to exhale before they re-enter civilian life.”

See you tonight!

Brooklyn Socialite on Huffington Post-Bedstuy Meadow

Posted in film, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

I hope you all have had the chance to check out my Huffpo post on the Bedstuy Meadow project. Here’s a little excerpt below and a link to rest of the post. Tonight I’m going to check out a doco on Al Franken at Stranger than Fiction. Report back to come, and I hope to see you all there!
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Last week I interviewed a Brit, Andy Lang, about his new film based in Cuba. I was thinking Global then, but this week’s interview is all about acting local. Saturday morning I woke up early and suited up in full-body rain-gear, then trudged through the downpour to my rendezvous point in Zone 4, which happened to be about 3 blocks from my apartment. I was feeling quite stealth and shrouded in mystery as I arrived at lab 24/7, a basement apartment, which doubles as an event space. There I met, for the first time, about 30 of my neighbors and was given a seed bag, a map and a small team to work with. Me and my new planting crew then spread out over Bedstuy to begin scattering wildflower seeds. There were 5 meet-up zones and 100 volunteers in total. We all found each other and signed on to the project after a new website sprung up, promoting the Bedstuy Meadow Project, created by one woman who envisioned it all, Deborah Fisher.

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Trouble the Water Tonight at BAM

Posted in film, Guide to What's Good, People of Color with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 2, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

I can’t rave about Trouble the Water enough. I have been on the journey with this film for several months. From the time that I first saw it until now, interviewing the filmmakers somewhere in between, writing an article about them and the film…let’s just say I am on the boat for the long haul with this one.

If you are in the New York City area, come to one of my favorite gem spots, The Brooklyn Academy of Music for either the 4:30, 6:50 or 9:30 screening.

This is what NY Mag and BAM have to say about the film:

Trouble the Water is ineradicably moving.” —New York Magazine

“Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, this astonishingly powerful documentary takes you inside Hurricane Katrina in a way never before seen on screen. Brooklyn-based filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal tell the story of an aspiring rap artist and her husband, trapped in New Orleans by deadly floodwaters, who survive the storm and then seize a chance for a new beginning” BAM website

This is the beginning of what I said about it:

The human spirit, all toughness aside could not withstand this movie without tears of empathy, regret, boiling anger, growing conviction and then the commitment to respond. This feeling of good will, fueled by a desire to help, is something that filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal consistently refer to as what motivated them to bring their cameras to the gold coast and begin what would become, Trouble the Water. Long time collaborators with Michael Moore,  they experienced a similar impetus towards action after 9/11. Turning their cameras outwards towards their own Brooklyn neighborhood, they made a compelling short about the backlash of racism and unjust deportations which affected many Muslims at the time.  More

See it for the first time, see it again. Then talk about it with your friends, send me comments, see Spike Lee’s Katrina doco, remember that New Orleans is still in crisis.

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Communal Literary High

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on November 24, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Very little compares to a literary high, the only thing better, is that high experienced communally. It wasn’t the red wine, though we 20 souls went through several bottles of it. Not the soup or the thick hot chocolate, although that alone would’ve been enough to make for a sweet evening. It was the temple of past experience, future dreams, present tensions, colliding under the umbrella of openness, community, literature. Last night’s lit-salon was a a truly sacred experience, and I felt blessed to have presided over it in my Ella Fitzgerald party dress.

People shared their own pieces about unrequited love, then that thought was capped by an Austrian poet’s instruction that “Love says,’It is what it is.'” Published Trans stories shared space with emerging confessions of complex nature, or becoming. We had a free write about waterfalls and Spain, while powerhouse confessions of death and the end to mourning neatly fit beside Einstein Stories, a card trick and a report back about Central Park, in broken English and jagged winter. Miles Davis played Sketches of Spain, voices were found, unfamiliarities lost, as Subway Strangers became friends and LA transplants hooked in to Brooklyn. We remembered where we have slept, plus the dreams we had there. Then we decided on the places where we might sleep next, and with whom.

Ballast Article

Posted in film with tags , , , , , , on November 10, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Here is the full text of the article I wrote about Ballast, it includes quotes from the interview that I did with director Lance Hammer.

After 10 years of research, Lance Hammer shot a film in the Mississippi Delta, starring local African American non-actors. “Ballast is not so much about race, but about universal human suffering,” said Hammer. He encouraged the participants to use their own distinct vernacular and rather than hand them a script, he provided situations and encouraged them to improvise dialogue. This method has yielded a steely, classical, cinematic gem. Ballast is a starkly tragic play of emotions, which seems to take place in real time.

Few recent films have portrayed African American protagonists with as much complexity and integrity as Hammer’s first feature, Ballast. Set against the backdrop of the Delta’s desolate beauty, it tells the story of Marlee, a single mother, who struggles to support her 12 year old son James. He is lost in the chasm between childish devotion to his mother and manhood expressed through experimentation with crack, guns, and older boys. “Left to his own devices, there is a lot of pressure on James to grow up really quickly, and to have emotional maturity,” Hammer said. “It isn’t actually fair to expect this from a kid. James makes some innocent choices, a few of them turn out to be bad ones, but he’s just trying to make his way in this world.”

James’ already delicate balance is derailed by the suicide of his estranged father. He begins to know his dad posthumously through association with Lawrence, his father’s twin brother. The complications of inheritance catapult James, Marlee and Lawrence into a shared working and living situation. Forced intimacy requires the threesome to either mutually rebuild their fragmented lives or further destroy each other. Individually, they also continue to grapple with private sensations of loss and depression. “I chose extreme tragedy as the one window into the human experience that I would explore in this film,” Hammer said. “I wasn’t trying to imply that the Delta is a depressed place. On the contrary, the full chromatic spectrum exists in that region. There is so much joy there. You can think of it like the seasons, in the summer it is verdant and full of life, in the winter it is the opposite.”

Hammer decided to focus his lens on tragedy as a means of working through the depression that he was personally experiencing at the time. This process helped him to heal he said, “I will always make work that deals with mortality. That looming specter of death is very important to me, because only with an intimate understanding of mortality and suffering can we truly appreciate what joy is.” He continued, “I identify very strongly with Marlee. We share that rage and frustration at being powerless, as well as the persistence and strength of character to simply refuse to give up.”

The decision to build his tragic window around the narrative structure of a twin’s suicide was also a very personal one for Hammer. “Because my mother is an identical twin,” he said, “I understand that the kind of grief that one would feel over the death of their sibling is intense. My girlfriend told me a true story about an identical twin, who came home and discovered that his brother had committed suicide, without any prior indication of a desire to leave the world. That story really shook me.”

This scene is expressed in the film when Lawrence, distraught upon discovering his dead twin, shoots himself, leaving a blood stain on the wall. He does not die, and weeks pass before he can bring himself to remove the stain. The repetitive image of Lawrence’s bloodstained wall is characteristic of Ballast’s haunting, visceral cinematography. Another poignant scene depicts James overhearing a conversation about himself. The people speaking appear blurred in the background, while the focus is on James, half-listening. “This scene is a good example of my artistic vision,” Hammer said. “James is the subject of that conversation, and the fact that he is tuning it out is significant. I think it was Goddard who expressed that it is best to put the camera on the listener when you really want to show what’s happening in a scene.”

Ballast has been honored by multiple film festivals and Hammer is still surprised and delighted to have received such support for his ‘Delta project.’ “I haven’t gotten over the fact that Sundance even took it into their festival,” he said. “We are all very fortunate. The cast poured their emotional souls into this and it worked. Their commitment has earned them much deserved recognition, a kind of wealth that fills the void left by the very small financial reward that independent films like ours can provide.” Despite the lack of profit, Hammer has succeeded in distributing this gentle humanistic composition. Ballast typifies avant-garde cinema; it is daring and full of integrity.

by Robyn Hillman-Harrigan Brooklyn Socialite (!)

Dr Atomic, GetOutOfMyFacebook

Posted in Guide to What's Good, opera, word of the day with tags , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

I saw Dr Atomic at the Metropolitan Opera this afternoon. The Opera was written in 2005 about Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist who invented the Atomic Bomb. He is painted as a modern day Faust. A heroic villain, distinctly human, but made mad by the zealousness of discovery and dominance. Oppenheimer is pictured referring to the bomb, pre-test, as a great “luminescence.” He focuses on its momentary beauty, not the destruction that it will yield, or the fact that as the Germans have already surrendered, its use is no longer necessary or potentially justifiable. Serving as a valuable history lesson, Dr Atomic informs the audience of the semi-mutiny at Los Alamos. Apparently many of the other scientists on Oppenheimer’s team did not want to use the weapon against Japan, without warning, at such a late stage of the war. Additionally, we learn that paradoxically, Oppenheimer, warmonger that he was, was also a highly literate lover of the arts. He spoke several languages, adored poetry, often read the Bhagavad Gita in Sanskrit and Baudelaire in French. He composed sonnets in his spare time! The poems that he so loved are incorporated into the opera. Ultimately he is faulted for masterminding such immense destruction, but there are a few too many warm and fuzzys given to the father of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Opera is really fun, for those who haven’t given it a go, I recommend trying. The met has a lot of discount options, like student rush, standing room and HD projections at movie theaters.

The word of the day is Getoutofmyfacebook: A new web 2.0 application currently being developed by haters.

A.M. Holmes, Stop Me If You’ve Heard This, Ben Greenman

Posted in art, Book, Guide to What's Good with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Yesterday evening, after pulling up with difficulty and enjoying a coffee and croissant at Choice, I managed to get a lot of actual work done, including the business of editing and writing. By 6:30, still somehow awake, I stumbled uptown to the Guggenheim to catch a reading by A.M. Holmes.

Who is A.M. Holmes you ask? Let’s start with our meeting. It was in the basement of the Guggenheim. After the reading inside one of the Catherine Opie galleries, which was very intimate and populated primarily by curators and other museum staff. Holmes read from her ‘fiction to accompany art’. This is a genre of her writing, which in this case was related to Catherine Opie, and which in the past has been applied to Ghada Amer, Cecily Brown, Rachel Whiteread and several other artists. After she read from the Opie story, there was a quick shy Q& A. My favorite quote from her was: “Contemporary life to me is kind of surreal, reality seems less and less applicable to me lately.” Next, we few remaining members of the public were ushered down to the basement for a wine and cheese reception. Out of the maybe 10 people who were now huddled in the basement, A.M. was surrounded by 4 of the head curators, in other words not easily accessible. Brazen with exhaustion, I decided to approach her for a quick Hi anyway. She shook my hand and thanked me for coming, “No, thank you I responded.” The conversation was quite simply, over… (!)

Ah well, now that she is on my radar, when next we speak, perhaps the discussion can extend to matters such as, her stint as an L-word writer, the several acclaimed novels she has written and her most recent work, a memoir entitled, The Mistresses Daughter. I might ask her about her rumored bisexuality (leave Brittney alone! I mean Lindsay), or how she makes the transition back and forth between writing fiction and art and literary criticism. I’d ask her for some advice probably.

One liners aren’t that terrible though, or so says Stop Me If You’ve Heard This. My review of that book recently came out in Boldtype. Here is a snippet:

“Stop Me If You’ve Heard This reads like a tall tale. In fact, it’s what Jim Holt might call a “long joke,” which, unlike a one-liner, could take an hour to tell. Holt strings the reader along, extending incredulity and curiosity, as he offers unlikely tidbits about the history and philosophy of jokes through detail-rich, well-delivered narration. No matter how preposterous some of it may seem, it is safe to assume this veteran reporter of both the BBC and the New Yorker is faithful to the facts. Holt discusses joke collectors and humor philosophers including such characters as G. Legman, the man who invented the vibrating dildo and coined the Phrase “Make Love, Not War.”” More

Finally, again on the lit tip, today I went to the launch of Ben Greenman’s new book at the Tenement Museum (GL). Decidedly more approachable, Greenman remembered me from the last time we met. I also got to see Fly, who was fascinating as always, and spoke to a few new and interesting writer/editor/publisher types. I would love to delve into the content of Greenman’s new book, oh and I will, but now I must sleep. Suffice it to say that it is a Luddite limited edition letter writing book project…more to come.