Smile: Light Up Your Face With Gladness

Smile: Light Up Your Face With Gladness

Light up your face with gladness,
Hide every trace of sadness,
Although a tear may be ever so near,
That’s the time you must keep on trying,
Smile, what’s the use of crying,
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile,
If you just smile.

Robert Downey Jr: Smile (Chaplin, 1992)

Bright Eyes: First Day of My Life

Slide Show: All Kinds of People Flashing Big Smiles All Over the World!

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Those Crazy Coney Island Dayze: The Sexy Mermaid Parade

Those Crazy Coney Island Dayze: The Sexy Mermaid Parade

The Mermaid Parade is an annual event that first took place at Coney Island in 1983 and has been a very popular attraction ever since. The Mermaid Parade draws a huge crowd of celebrators, who don wild and outrageous costumes, with the parade’s naughty marchers wearing sea-themed outfits that often leave little to the imagination.

This year, clad in costumes that combined seashells and glitter, scores of exuberant revelers gyrated through Coney Island on Saturday. An estimated half-million people lined the sunny streets to watch ogle Brooklyn’s version of Mardi Gras. The flamboyant marchers, many of whom wore their costumes on the subway out to Coney Island, much to the amusement of their fellow riders, walked on the boardwalk alongside colorful floats and danced to several live bands blaring out top 40 hits and old-time standards.

The Coney Island Mermaid Parade

The 2011 Coney Island Mermaid Parade

Slide Show: The Coney Island Mermaid Parade

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Stonewall: The Proud Moment the Closet Door Finally Opened

Stonewall: The Proud Moment the Closet Door Finally Opened

America may finally be legalizing gay marriage in 2012, but the real beginning of the modern gay rights movement began in 1969 at NYC’s Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. On June 28, 1969, police officers raided the Stonewall Inn, which immediately sparked a series of violent protests. To commemorate the event, a parade is held on the last Saturday of June every year. Relive the history of the gay rights movement:

The Stone Wall Against Oppression

The First March: The Closet Door Opens

The Stonewall Riots: A Night That Changed the World

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Gay Pride Month: Celebrating Loving Feelings for Others

Gay Pride Month: Celebrating Loving Feelings for Others

It’s the Dream Afraid of Waking,
That Never Takes a Chance
.”

On What We Need: First Day of My Life

For all of us, there are genuine needs and wishes, deep longings for human warmth, empathic responsiveness, trust, mutual recognition and creative playfulness. These are many of the ingredients that we think of when we speak of love, or the loving feelings we have for the cherished other person.

Of such feelings about a beloved, one might quietly reflect that, “I’m so glad I didn’t die before I met you.”

Bright Eyes: First Day of My Life

The Times of Harvey Milk: A Documentary Portrait

Before there was this year’s Academy Awards celebrated Milk, there was the widely acclaimed The Times of Harvey Milk, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature Film in 1984, and was awarded The Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, among other awards. The documentary chronicles the political career of Harvey Milk, who was San Francisco’s first openly gay elected Board Supervisor. The film, at times humorous, at times nostalgic, and at other times quite tragic, tells the story of Harvey Milk’s rise to political power and emergence as a symbol of gay political achievement.

The Times of Harvey Milk documents through assembled historic film clips the tumultuous story of Milk’s grass-roots political organizing and election, through the shocking murders and their repercussions. It takes the film’s viewers along with the eloquent candle-light memorial joined by tens of thousands of San Franciscans on the evening of the assassinations, to the scenes of angry crowds who stormed San Francisco’s City Hall in the aftermath of the lenient sentence that Dan White received at his murder trial.

This Academy Award-winning documentary feature film depicts not only Harvey Milk himself, but also the political and social milieu of the era in which he lived. From this perspective, the film continues to have significant relevance for our nation today, standing as a classic portrait of communities and cultural values in severe conflict. The film was produced subsequent to Harvey Milk’s death using archival footage, so that Milk is credited posthumously as the lead actor. Other politicians, including San Francisco’s then-mayor George Moscone (who was assassinated along with Milk) and Moscone’s successor and now United States Senator Dianne Feinstein, also appear in the archival footage. Also featured in the film is then-schoolteacher Tom Ammiano, who has been a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors since 1994, and was elected to the California State Assembly. The film’s outstanding narration is provided by the acclaimed stage and screen actor Harvey Fierstein, who at that time had just achieved great success with his own Tony Award-winning Broadway play Torch Song Trilogy.

The Times of Harvey Milk: The Full Version of the Documentary

Slide Show:The Life and Times of Harvey Milk

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Amar: Always Surrounded, Always Alone

Amar: Always Surrounded, Always Alone

Amar is the acclaimed nine-minute documentary short film directed by English documentary filmmaker Andrew Hinton for Pilgrim Films, which won The Satyajit Ray Foundation 2011 Short Film Competition Award and The Best Documentary Award at The 2012 Vimeo Festival +Awards.

Amar is an observational documentary that follows the day of a 14 year-old Indian boy from a teeming slum in India, who is at the top of his class in school and who also fantasizes of someday becoming a professional cricketer. In addition, Amar happens to be his family’s main breadwinner, working two jobs six-and-a-half days a week. On its surface, the film is presented as a quiet celebration of the human spirit, of a boy whose tenacity and quiet resolve carry him through every day.

But on a deeper level, Amar presents the sad and haunting echoes found in earlier seminal works, such as: Alan Sillitoe’s Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner, Carson McCullers’ The Ballad of the Sad Café and Truman Capote’s Other Voices, Other Rooms. Beneath the film’s face of optimism lurks a deep well of solitude, a life that is always surrounded, yet always alone.

Amar: Always Surrounded, Always Alone

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The Walk of Death: Nik Wallenda Walks Across Niagara Falls

The Walk of Death: Nik Wallenda Walks Across Niagara Falls

The Wallenda family likes challenges, and Nik Wallenda had plenty of them tonight when he attempted to do what nobody had ever done before: A high wire walk directly over the precipice at Niagara Falls and 190 feet above the churning torrent below. Although he was tethered to the wire to prevent falling to a near-certain death, the seventh-generation funambulist still had to contend with wind, water and an unfamiliar wire when he attempted the high-wire walk from the U.S. to Canada.

In 2008, Wallenda broke a high-wire record when he walked and bicycled on a tightrope high above the buildings in Newark, New Jersey. Today he embarked on a far more arduous trek: walking across a tightrope over Niagara Falls. Confronted by all these life-threatening perils, Nik Wallenda, descendant of the legendary circus act The Flying Wallendas, successfully tightroped 1,800 feet in the dark of night over treacherous waters and rocks across Niagara Falls and managed to make it all the way across.

About a dozen other tightrope artists have crossed the Niagara Gorge downstream, dating back to Jean Francois Gravelet, aka The Great Blondin, in 1859. However, no one has walked directly over the falls, and authorities haven’t allowed any tightrope acts in the area since 1896. It took Wallenda two years to persuade U.S. and Canadian authorities to allow it, and many civic leaders hoped to use the publicity to jump=start the region’s struggling economy, particularly on the U.S. side of the falls.

Read more about Nik Wallenda’s daredevil walk in The New York Times here.

The Walk of Death: Nik Wallenda Walks Across Niagara Falls

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Limbo: A Story from the Hearts and Mouths of Undocumented Young People

Limbo: A Story from the Hearts and Mouths of Undocumented Young People

Limbo is the new documentary short film directed by Eliot Rausch, created in association with Phos Pictures, which had its World Premier in New York City earlier this week. Previously, Rausch won the Best Documentary Award and the Grand Prize at the 2010 Vimeo Festival + Awards, for his short film Last Minutes with Oden. After winning the 25K Grand Prize Grant from the Vimeo Awards, Director Eliot Rausch partnered with Producer Mark Schwartz and the Dreamers of Los Angeles to create Limbo.

The emotionally moving 19-minute documentary short film exposes the lives of three undocumented students, who are living in Los Angeles without legal status. Without ever before having touched a camera, the students were gifted with a small video camera and provided with a half-day of training. They were asked to film everyday for three months. Through their lens, this is a story from the hearts and mouths of the undocumented.

Limbo: A Story from the Hearts and Mouths of Undocumented Young People

From Last Minutes with Oden to Limbo

Rausch won the Grand Prize at the first Vimeo Festival + Awards, held in late 2010, for his documentary short film Last Minutes with Oden. The film documents ex-convict Jason Wood’s emotions as he must euthanize his beloved dog, Oden, who had been suffering from cancer. Oden is a poignant, deeply touching chronicle of love between human and pet, which has been viewed on Vimeo more than 2.5 million times.

After winning the award, Rausch said that he began to feel guilty. “I think the project was exploiting the life of a friend and his suffering,” he said. So, in the months that followed, Rausch came up with the idea to use his $25,000 Grand Prize money to create a film that might empower his subjects, rather than simply chronicling their struggles.

From Last Minutes with Oden to Limbo

Update:

Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children will be able to obtain work permits and be safe from deportation under a new policy announced on Friday by the Obama administration.

Read President Obama’s announcement in the White House Rose Garden on Friday afternoon here.

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