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Inspiration

Dolor y Gloria – Pain and Glory

Antonio Banderas. Dolor y Gloria, 2019.

With his latest film “Dolor y Gloria” (Pain & Glory), Pedro Almodovar* has given us the most personal and restrained film of his career.  But don’t let that fool you.  Almodovar is a master of self reference, and he expertly weaves this nonlinear story within a story, a memory within a memory, the film within the film, leaving me wanting more. Like the reviewer in The Guardian, I felt that “this movie was running so smoothly and so seductively that it could have gone on for another five hours.”

Largely autobiographical, the story centers around Salvador, a film director (played by Antonio Banderas) in the autumn of his life, who is facing a creative block born out of profound emotional and physical pain.  Antonio Banderas has never been better.  While he plays a passive character at the bottom of a well of depression, he is so present and allows deep emotions to boil just below the surface.  And this being an Almodovar film, there are moments that are really funny, especially when Salvador is persuaded to attend a Q&A of one of his classic films (a meta moment as we were also there to hear a Q&A with Almodovar after the screening).

Pedro Almodovar and Kenneth Lonergan in conversation at the DGA Theater. Credit: Busy K.

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Amazing Grace, 2018.

Get thee to the movie theater now, gentle reader, to see Aretha Franklin’s concert film Amazing Grace.  To see it on the big screen is to be transported back to 1972, to the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles where Franklin recorded her Grammy-winning gospel album.  In search of authenticity that a studio recording could never achieve, Franklin brought the studio to church in every sense of the word with the support of the Southern California Community Choir, her band, and Rev. James Cleveland, one of the most renown gospel figures of the time. Read More

Happy Women’s History Month!

This year Mellini Kantayya and I focus on women making history in our series for New York Women in Film & Television.  Check out these inspirational women!

 

Ai-Ling Lee.  (Photo credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Ai-Ling Lee: first Asian woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for sound editing for her work in “La La Land.”  She was nominated again this year for “First Man.”
 
“Ask for what you want because sometimes people may not be aware of what you are capable of.”
 
 

Ruth E. Carter.  (Photo credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Ruth E. Carter: first African American woman to win an Academy Award for costume design for her work in “Black Panther.”

“Women still have to fight to show people that we know what we’re doing. That change is still in the works, but at least there’s more of us.”

Rachel Morrison.  (Photo Credit: rachelmorrison.com)

Rachel Morrison: first woman nominated for an Academy Award for cinematography.

“I try to see what is at the heart of the story and the character at a given moment, and let story and emotion be the factors that inform the technique.”

 

Jessie Maple.

And back by popular demand…

Jessie Maple: filmmaker, director, editor, producer, writer, cinematographer, and pioneer.

Maple is the first black woman to join the union of International Photographers of Motion Picture & Television (IATSE) in New York.

“You can’t stop progress. You can hold it up for a minute, but you can’t stop it.”

2018 Muse Honorees: Ellen Burstyn, Tricia Brock, Maysoon Zayid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Lisa Nishimura. Photo by Flor Blake Photography

For 38 years,  New York Women in Film and Television has organized the Muse Awards annual gala holiday luncheon to celebrate women of vision and achievement.  And each year, remarkable and accomplished women are honored with this prestigious award.

Backstage lineup: NYWIFT Board Members Margarita Sophia Cortes, Rachel Watanabe-Batton, and KOK with honoree Lisa Nishimura of Netflix. Photo by Rowena Husbands

It was my great pleasure to accompany one of the honorees, Lisa Nishimura, Netflix VP of Original Documentary and Comedy.  With the success of “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” on Netflix, this was a full circle moment for me.  We hadn’t yet met when I greeted Lisa at the entrance, and her first words to me were “Congratulations on the show!”  What a classy lady.  Also attending on behalf of Netflix was Zana Lawrence, who played a big role in our series as an EP.
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Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs

Stanley Kubrick for Look magazine, Rosemary Williams, Show Girl [Kubrick photographing Rosemary Williams], 1949 ©SK Film Archives/Museum of the City of New York

I have been a fan of Stanley Kubrick for nearly as long as I have been a fan of movies.  Dr Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and The Shining top the list for me in that I can watch them over and over and find some new delight in his dispassionate storytelling, dramatic soundtracks, and the aggressive symmetry of his composition.

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Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo speaks at the bill signing of the “Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act” at City Hall, May 9, 2018.

Yesterday was a full circle moment — to be present at City Hall for the bill signing of the “Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act,”  a comprehensive package of legislation strengthening New York City’s anti-sexual harassment policies and combating sexual harassment in the workplace.  Last month the City Council  passed 11 bills that will expand worker protections and improve transparency about harassment in city government— some of the toughest harassment protections in the country.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio at the bill signing of the “Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act” at City Hall, May 9, 2018.

With the swiftness that the issue demands, the research and the passage of these bills has progressed rapid through local government in the wake of the #metoo movement to shine a light on sexual harassment and predation nationwide. The council members acknowleged that every new revelation of harassment and assault is a failure of the City to protect its most vulnerable residents.

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