Friday, February 9, 2024

Interview with Traveler #582

In this deadpan, Kafkaesque take on the modern corporate grind, a middle manager interviews a job hopeful for a position in a secretive spiritual order. The organization, called Third Eye Moonwalk, travels outside of four-dimensional space-time. Despite this amazing feat, it's still bound by the humdrum oppressions of debt, turnover and general administrative expenses. They need help, but is Traveler #582 the candidate who can help them?

Co-Directors Lisa Steindler and Jon Bernson conceived this satirical project to illuminate people on the perils of seeking financial gain as an end goal. It leads to a life without meaning and purpose, they warn. The filmmaking team is based in San Francisco, a city known for its counter-culture spirit—and vast wealth. The conflict between those two realities is a call for artists, and this filmmaking team found something otherworldly amidst the contrast.  

You can watch the teaser here: Interview with Traveler #582 Teaser

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Living All of Life

When Susana learns that her husband of many decades has abandoned her, she is disconsolate. Life is joyless, bland and empty. In desperation, she reaches out to her neighbor Gloria, a high-spirited soul who could help her heal the wound. Yet Susana despises Gloria for all the reasons the younger woman could help. It is a vortex of suffering, and neither words nor possible friends are enough to help Susana really live again. 

Mexico City-born Director Marlen Rios-Farjat has a discerning touch in Living All of Life (Vivir Today la Vida). The acting is intimate and nuanced, and elements of cinematography such as lighting, movement and color are woven carefully into the narrative. Susana's fragility is held in relief to the vibrancy and possibility of the city, showing how people can be influenced by their environments and given circumstances. There is much for cinephiles to admire here. 

Then there is the music. An original work by Emiliano Suarez follows the story, entering and exiting, then entering again. The song in this short film is a touchstone of life, a form of expression that conveys Susana's inner life as she grows and manifests. 

Living All of Life is a student project from Centro de Capacitacion Cinematografica, A.C.. Given the maturity of the work, you would never know it had an educational origin. The movie will play with English subtitles, and the accompanying music video for the song will screen separately in Spanish only. You can watch the trailer here (Spanish, without subtitles): 

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Gypsy Rose Leezinski

Poor Max. He tries and tries again to land himself a girlfriend. No, a date! Just a date would be fine. But women will have none of it as he endures rejections, slaps and general love life failure. Yes, it's a humiliating, even depressing, mental state for him to exist in each day...after 

But he won't give up. In fact, his frustration is propelling him to take action. So, one day, he heads off to see a fortune teller. It's a Hail Mary, he knows, but hey it's LA and you can make the nutty choice when stretching for your dream. If Gypsy Rose is making it here, she must have something to offer someone. What has he got to lose? If you don't see a fortune teller now and then, you're not even in the game. 

Gypsy Rose gazes into her crystal ball, and maybe she has no idea what she's doing and only does this gig to pay the rent, but she does see something intriguing and he goes where she sends him. What happens next is really...really.........unexpected. 

You can watch the trailer here: 

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

My Dear Hanna

This short documentary involves a powerful and moving love story. The film's narrator, Marianne Szegedy-Maszak, speaks with eloquence, wisdom and deep fondness about her parents. Her father, a Hungarian Christian, was a rising star of Hungary's Foreign Ministry, but he found his government's alliance with Germany despicable. Her mother was the granddaughter of a Jewish industrialist. The story of their tumultuous lives unfolds through letters found 60 years after they were written. 

Family tribute films aren't often so beautifully produced, a lofty compliment to Director Matt Sullivan, his team, and the quality of the letters. In an era when Holocaust denial and anti-semitism have risen to alarming levels, this is an important film to see and discuss. You can watch the trailer here: My Dear Hanna Trailer

The Carnival: 125 Years of the Penn Relays

Not many sporting events in the United States are as steeped in history as the Penn Relays. It is the oldest and largest track & field competition in the country, with origins dating back to April 1895. Approximately 5,000 people attended the first event, no doubt scarcely imagining the future importance of the meet. Today, total attendance can be well over 100,000. 

This well-produced documentary waxes poetic on the history, but it also explores the Penn Relays as a catalyst for change, particularly in the areas of racial and gender equality. Early in its history, organizers invited African-American athletes to compete. Later, women's events were added. The event maintained this all-inclusive ethos through world wars, the civil rights marches, and many White House administrations. 

Iconic sportscaster and project Producer James Brown (The NFL Today, Inside the NFL) and award-winning Director Justin Jarrett combined forces to tell a story and make a statement with The Carnival: 125 Years of the Penn Relays. Many people see a dramatization of real life in the world of sport: the highs and lows, intense struggles and uncertain outcomes. This film draws frequent ties between the event and America's wider culture, suggesting that the Penn Relays helped to shape history. It is a bold claim, but it is also uplifting and worth saying. Penn Relays is an example of everyone winning in the end, whether or not individual athletes take home medals. 

You can watch the trailer here: The Carnival Trailer

Lady Ivory: The Life & Music of Liz DuFour

A cherished member of New Hope, Pennsylvania's music scene, Liz DuFour would need no introduction in this area. She is a local celebrity, an entertainer par excellence, and a long-term participant in the evolution of the LGBTQ+ community. She is so respected that New Hope Celebrates included this biographical film in the LGBTQ+ organization's New Hope Celebrates History: Artists and Authors series. 

Directed by local filmmaker E. Robert Reilly, the short doc includes exclusive interviews with DuFour and other leading lights of New Hope, making this is a must-see for anyone who loves this quaint, inclusive and ever-arty town on the banks of the Delaware River. 

Lady Ivory, as she is affectionately known, played Carnegie Hall at the age of 8. That's right. Eight. A prodigy like her deserves her own film and a beloved place in New Hope's history. You can watch the trailer here: Lady Ivory: The Life & Music of Liz DuFour

New Narratives in Health Access: The Language of Care

This concise and informative documentary needs only six minutes to deliver a thought-provoking message regarding health equality for the Deaf community. The film is tied to Deaf Diabetes Can Together, a part of the Intensive Diabetes Education and Support (IDEAS) Program at the University of Utah. 

Academy Award-winning Director Ross Kauffman and his team explain that the purpose behind New Narratives of Health Access: The Language of Care is to improve healthcare practices for the Deaf community and, ultimately, "transform life challenges into hope and beauty."

Something as routine as a diabetic person's appointment with a physician can become an insurmountable barrier to care if an inappropriate standard is employed. This film will make a difference when influential people hear the message. 

You can watch a teaser here: