Sunday, February 16, 2014

Weekend 19 More Film Festivals

                   "Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. 
                                                   Always work with it, not against it."                      
                                                                       Eckhart Tolle
My heart always breaks a bit when I met retirees who are miserable and bored.  Interestingly? most of the time these people are men.  My heart sings, with some envy, when others tell me that they have no idea how they ever found the time to work as their lives were so full.  That is exactly how I feel about my self-gifted sabbatical.  I am so busy!
Pic from the spring
On a Saturday night recently, with no real plans, I decided to go down to the Village for some music.  I again went to Club 55 to see Ayana since it was the first Saturday of the month.  Andrew Yamato writes in New York magazine: “ Unlike other, more devoutly traditional venues, this unpretentious basement gem showcases not only new players, but also new styles—which is what jazz used to be all about in the first place. “
Late night Piano Man
Had a bite to eat, great bartender, cool place, underwhelmed with my food, so won’t mention the place.  I may give it another try.  Then I decided to treat myself to Marie’s Crisis, as it always gives me a smile.  As I entered I was hugged by a lovely Lady, Director of Volunteers at the Food Bank’s Food and Wine Festival last fall.  I now really know people as I roam around the city.  Love it!
The next day at 4th U’s planning meeting for the VDay weekend at the end of March (presenting Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” and “The Good Body”).  A beautiful young Lady directing one of the plays shared that she was distraught as she has just been texted that the founding director of her small theatre company had just died.  Philip Seymour Hoffman.  Surprsingly, I felt haunted, as I literally had “walked in his footsteps” the last night of his life.  I appreciate that many, many people also did.  My Ladies were true fans.  I always admired him.   Such a sad waste of a talented life.  My prayers are with his family, most especially his chidlren.
From the Boston Globe
Superbowl.  I could care less, even when the Patriots are in it.  I simply don’t like, nor understand football..  Growing up with two brothers, our home revolved around their chosen and beloved sports of baseball and hockey.  I did go down to Times Square to explore “Superbowl Boulevard.” It was impressive. This city knows how to go all out!   So, with no interest in the game, I did walk a few doors down to a Super Bowl Party.  Regulars at my Sojourn whom I had just met, invited me to their Party.  I hate cocktail parties with strangers.  God knows I can talk to a wall, but put me in a “cocktail party” (like a net-working event) situation, I freeze.  But, I was in NYC to explore, and God knows I had left my comfort zone behind in Milton last October.  I am so glad, and as always, grateful I went.  I had a thoroughly wonderful time meeting yet more new People, and learning fascinating things about my fellow Sojourners and neighbors.  And, who couldn’t love the Yellow Lab Puppy add with the Clydsdales?!  (Casey, may you be having a blast in puppy-heaven..)
Another of my many dreams in this life of mine has been to work in the Arts.  I have no desire to be in front of anything, although the huge story-telling movement is pulling at me?!  Many people have told me over the years that I’m a great story teller; my family simply raises their eyebrows.  When I would share the dream of “not having to work,” many people would ask, “What would you do?”  Even now when I meet people and tell them of my Sabbatical many (usually men) ask “What do you do all day?”  Well, these days fly.  And, my answer was, and still is “ a lot of volunteering.”  What’s fascinating, as I didn’t plan this, much of my volunteering revolves around Films.
On yet another wintry day, after having a lovely Thai lunch with a woman I did volunteer work with at YearUp in Boston, I took advantage of the warmer temperatures!, and took a very long, leisurely walk through Central Park.  It was a true Winter Wonderland.  I was on my way to another wonderful evening with Rooftop Films.  Rooftop along with Piper Heidsieck Champagnes was screening the beautiful and eloquent Roger Ebert documentary “Life Itself” at the Paley Center for Media.  I was fortunate to meet Chaz Ebert, Roger’s wife who graciously and beautifully took part in the Q&A with the director, Steve James, following the film. 

Athena Film Festival, co-founded by Melissa Silverstein (Women and Hollywood) and Kathryn Kolbert (Director of Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College) approached Rooftop Films looking for good volunteers.  My name was among many given.  Oh, what a wonderful weekend I spent on the Barnard College campus.  Working with many familiar faces and great people and meeting new wonderful Ladies, I was on the hospitality committee and had the privilege and pleasure of guiding some very interesting Ladies.

From the Internet
Participating in a panel discussion “Barnard in the Biz,” Naomi Foner was gracious and friendly.  From her bio at the festival: “From Barnard’s class of’66, Naomi Foner is an American screenwriter who has written for several feature films, including Running on Empty (for which she received an Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay and won the Golden Globe), Losing Isaiah, and most recently Bee Season.  She was involved at Children’s Television Workshop in the development of Sesame Street and The Electric Company (where she played the character Naomi in the Love of Chair segment and was associate producer for two years).  She is most proud of her children, Maggie and Jake Gyllenahaal, her grandgirls, and the Blue Ribbon she earned for her carrots at the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair.

From Robin's website
        Robin Marantz Henig moderated the discussion following the film Decoding Annie Parker.“She is a contributing writer for  The New York Times Magazine.  Her articles about health and medicine have appeared in numerous publications.  She has publishes nine books, one of which, The Monk in the Garden: The Lost and Found Genius of Gregor Mendel, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Award.  She received a Career Achievement Awrd from the American Society of Journalists and Authors as well as a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship.” (And, she was the Barnard college roommate of Kitty Kolbert!).

     Maria Agui Carter, a fellow Bostonian, introduced and had a wonderful discussion following her documentary Rebel.  From the program: “Shrouded in mystery and long the subject of debate, the amazing story of Loreta Velazquez, Confederate soldier turned Union Spy, is one of the Civil War’s most gripping forgotten narratives. Who was she? Why did she fight? And what made her so dangerous that she has been virtually erased from history?  This is one film I did not get to see, but definitely will, It has been shown on PBS, and will also be shown at several National Park sites.
From the internet
Poster        Finally on Sunday, I had the pleasure of spending time with Director Susan Seidelman and her husband Jonathan Brett  with whom she often collaborates (most recently the short The Dutch Master for which Mira Sorvino won an Oscar)..  She gave a great Q&A following her film The Hot Flashes: ‘An unlikely basketball team of unappreciated middle-aged Texas women challenge the current high school state champs to a series of games to raise money for breast cancer prevention.  I watched the film in its entirety that night at home on Netflix.  Fun movie, providing good giggles with a great cast (Brooke Shields, Wanda Sykes, Daryl Hannah, Camryn Manheim, Virginia Madsen).  Susan’s other films include: The Smithereens, Desperately Seeking Susan, and Boynton Beach Club.

           The movies I was delighted to see:
banner-belle-film_mobile_1         Opening Film, NYC premiere: Belle: Belle is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay, an 18th Century Admiral in the British Navy.  This was beautiful, highly recommended.  The Director, Amma Asante, introduced and had a wonderful discussion following the film.

decoding-annie-parker         Centerpiece Film: DecodingAnnie Parker: “Based on actual events, Decoding Annie Parker tells the story of two very different women on seemingly similar paths towards ground-breaking discoveries affecting women with breast cancer.    It was devastatingly beautiful, gut-wrenching, and of course, important.  Another interesting discussion moderated by Robin Marantz Henig with Director Steven Bernstein (Monster, Like Water for Chocolate), Robert Benezra of the Cancer Biology & Genetics Program at Sloan Kettering Institute, and Dr. Alison Estabrook who is Chief of the Comprehensive Breast Center at St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospital and Professor of Clinical Surgery at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.

The Book Thief (2013) Poster
in a world         In a World, Directed by and starring Lake Bell: “In A World… brings its viewer into an idiosyncratic world where one woman fights the odds and finally finds her voice.  Great fun, a wonderful way to end a long day 

The Book Thief: “Based on the bestselling book, The Book Thief tells the inspirational story of a spirited and courageous young girl who transforms the lives of everyone around her when she is sent to live with a foster family in World War II Germany.  It was devastatingly beautiful.  One of the best adaptations, of book to film, I think I have ever seen.
GAF at convention         Closing film: Geraldine Ferraro: Paving the Way “tells the story of this trailblazer who served as role model for women and men across the nation and around the world.  Director Donna Zacarro (Geraldine’s Daughter) and Marie C. Wilson, founder of the White House Project and Athena Center Fellow joined the audience for yet another discussion following the film.  I had no intention of staying for this film but am really glad that I did!
(A fun aside for me...I ran into a Lady who came to the Superbowl Party at my neighbors at every event I went to that week.  She didn’t talk much, to me, at the Party other than to say she worked in the film world.  By the end of the week, she had warmed up a bit.)

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