K. Danielle Edwards: Unfortunately, getting touched “down there,” inappropriately kissed or suggestively approached by relatives and authority figures is not as uncommon as we probably hope or pretend it is. According to child abuse organization Darkness to Light, one in four girls and one in six boys is sexually molested before the age of 18. Moreover, according to the organization, about 39 million adults who have survived childhood sexual abuse exist today.
Charley James and Lulu Demaine: Although technically still a teen, Hot Docs is starting to flex its muscles as one of the most mature, all-documentary festivals in North America. It’s become a major clearing house and debut forum for both accomplished and first-time filmmakers, and an increasingly important venue for the voices of less-mainstream directors.
Ed Rampell: The audience, which included many African-American women, by and large loved the performances and philosophy. In a kind of “call and response” the performers adroitly riffed with the responsive spectators, incorporating some improv into their show since, as Jimmy Durante wisely noted: “Everyone wants to get into the act!” (Especially the sex act.)
Michael Sigman: Community Arts Resources’ mission emphasizes the development of public space in Los Angeles, a concept that may seem oxymoronic to Angelenos who have panic attacks when they have to walk more than a few feet to their valet-parked cars. Bergin/Paley helped with the design for the new Grand Avenue Civic Park, slated for 2012 opening, which will feature a fountain plaza, performance lawn, community terrace and event space, along with a children’s garden and an area for community markets.
Carl Matthes: Not to be missed is Peter Bratt’s “La Mission,” a film brimming with street and domestic violence, and laced with homophobia, search for ethnic identity and machismo. Starring the talented Benjamin Bratt, Peter’s younger brother, “La Mission” refers to the Mission District in San Francisco, the real-life, growing-up family neighborhood of the Bratt brothers.
Ed Rampell: The current production of The Stigmatized is the opera’s U.S. premiere and part of L.A. Opera’s “Recovered Voices” series, which, according to press notes, is “a multi-season initiative to revive the works of composers whose lives and careers were cut short by the Nazi regime.” Schreker’s saucy work, set in 16th century Genoa, was originally presented in Germany in 1918, and can be viewed as being part of the edgy postwar culture of the Weimar Republic that included sexually charged works in various cabaret acts and by playwrights such as Bertolt Brecht.
Ed Rampell: Unlike other thespians, such as Brando who frequently derided acting as an unworthy profession (well, if your father repeatedly put you down during your childhood as a big nothing, even if you later won two Oscars, millions and vast critical acclaim, you’d still hear your father’s voice in your addled head insulting you and belittling whatever you did), it was a joy to see the pleasure that Beau continues to take in his lifelong avocation, and the pleasure Emily also takes in this art and craft, as the latest member of this show biz dynasty. And their clear enchantment in being able to perform together in this family affair.
Ed Rampell: Mid-August Lunch may be out of step with the movie mainstream (all the more reason to feast your eyes on it), but it is very much in the Italian cinematic tradition of Neo-Realism. Like his motion picture predecessors such as Vittorio De Sica, Roberto Rossellini, Luchino Visconti and Federico Fellini, Di Gregorio has cast a number of non-professional actors in the roles of the Italian mamas, and a couple of the director’s real life friends to play versions of themselves. This “amateur” casting – as the term “Neo-Realist” implies – often gives performances a more true-to-life, if less polished, quality, and it works very well onscreen here.
Ed Rampell: Cuba and the Teddy Bear reminds us of the all-important father-son, parent-child bond and relationship. Break that, and all hell can break loose. I have observed that the children I know for him that link has been torn of asunder often don’t fare well. Despite being an illiterate drug dealer, to his everlasting credit Cuba still tries his best to be a good dad, despite it all.
Ed Rampell: I highly recommend the filmic City Island, a delightful family comedy with a superb ensemble cast with an uplifting message. More than any other movie in recent memory it reminded me of William Shakespeare’s wise words ironically uttered by the foolish Polonius in Hamlet: “This above all else, to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
Michael Sigman: Community can be created in many ways — geographically, electronically, or around a shared interest or cause. The community of singers which has formed around SOS and its sister organizations needs help from another community: us listeners, whose lives have been so enriched by the wonderful singers — past and present — performing in Los Angeles and around the world.
Ed Rampell: If the performers are under the covers and covered up in a play about sex, and the show’s not willing to show skin, it makes one wonder: why do a story about that particular topic in the first place? If you don’t want to show naked people and depict sex acts, why not do a play about something else?
Randy Shaw: While conservatives love bashing “Hollywood liberals,” Sunday night’s Oscar telecast showed how little this description applies. From Kathryn Bigelow’s promoting George W. Bush’s argument that the U.S. invaded Iraq to protect Americans, to the disproportionate acclaim given to films exalting the military, to the exclusion of Michael Moore’sCapitalism, A Love Story from the documentary nominees, Hollywood now largely avoids any hint of progressive social analysis.
Ed Rampell: But in a country still troubled by racism, where hate crimes are on the rise — from nooses and KKK hoods at the University of California San Diego to death threats against the first African American president — any month is appropriate for this engaging interpretation of the life and death of Emmett Till, the martyr who launched the Civil Rights movement. Three months after Till’s murder, Rosa Parks stood up by sitting down in a segregated Southern bus.
Ed Rampell: The good news is that Capitalism, A Love Story is another Michael Moore instant classic, and in his considerable, 20-year-long oeuvre – which spurred revitalization of the documentary as an art form, as well as an entertainment medium — is second in quality and power only to his 2004 masterpiece, Fahrenheit 9/11.
Glenda Hooker, an extraordinary doll artist, will be exhibiting her collection of miniature vignettes depicting events and significant icons of Black American History. Her traveling museum will be on display: March 7, Sunday 11:00-2:00 301 N. Orangegrove, Pasadena, CA For 30 years Ms. Hooker’s pieces have been displayed at miniature shows across the United States [...]
Ed Rampell: The 2009 Progie Award winners include: Michael Moore’s anti-corporate documentary Capitalism, A Love Story; the Palestinian immigrant drama Amreeka; the German urban guerrilla feature The Baader-Meinhoff Complex; the psychic military unit satire The Men Who Stare At Goats and British director Ken Loach, all completely overlooked by this year’s Oscars.
Georgianne Nienaber: Obsessions notwithstanding, whatever formulas Holley has applied to parenthood and her creative life seem to be working. Nourishing transplanted Delta roots and tending to a mother’s worries are a challenge, but it appears that Holley may have found her muse and her strength in southern California.
Ed Rampell: Probably the most controversial film screened this year at PAFF was the Australian doc Stolen, which, according to co-director Daniel Fallshaw, started out as a documentary about the plight of people in refugee camps as a result of the West Sahara liberation movement against Morocco led by the Polisario. But, he said, in the process of filming Fallshaw and co-director Violeta Ayala purportedly stumbled upon something quite unsettling: the existence of slavery in these resettlement centers, with some Blacks owned by Arabs in the camps.