World AIDS Day: A Compassionate Commemoration of Loss and Recommitment

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World AIDS Day: A Compassionate Commemoration of Loss and Recommitment

I used to be afraid of dying,
I’m not afraid anymore,
I’m more afraid of what happens,
To the people who live.

Saturday, December 1st, is World AIDS Day 2012, an annual opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against the devastating AIDS pandemic.  It is a day for commemorating the 30 million people who have been lost to AIDS-related causes, to honor the 34 million people presently living with HIV and to recommit ourselves to creating a future without AIDS. From 2011 to 2015, World AIDS Day has the theme, “Getting to zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.”

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Elton John: The Last Song (From “And The Band Played On”)

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Photography by: Thomas Alleman

30 Years From Here: The HIV/AIDS Epidemic’s Impact On Generations

The HIV/AIDS epidemic gets a hard-hitting overview in 30 Years From Here, a poignant documentary that uses personal accounts from victims, activists and medical experts to show how the “nondiscriminatory” disease has shaped and affected their lives over the past three decades. ACT UP founder Larry Kramer and playwright Terrence McNally are just two of the high-profile voices featured in this documentary. In 2012, 30 Years From Here was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

30 Years From Here: The HIV/AIDS Epidemic’s Impact On Generations

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And The Band Played On (1993)

Randy Shilts’ book And the Band Played On was the first critical study of the development of the AIDS epidemic. Insightful, detailed and passionately argued, the book generated tremendous interest as well as a number of controversies, particularly with sections of the text that appeared to be critical of some segments of the gay community. And the Band Played On (1993) is the award-winning docudrama based on Shilts’ book, which includes clips of actual news reports and documentary footage of a number of authentic events, such as a moving, candlelight memorial procession in San Francisco.

And The Band Played On (1993)

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Little Bird: A Bittersweet Tale of Discovering the World

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Little Bird: A Bittersweet Tale of Discovering the World

Little Bird is touching animated short film by the young English illustrator and animator Sebaldo, with sound design and mix by Jon Clarke. Little Bird tells the story of a baby bird and his mother, shown through the medium of meticulously hand crafted paper maché models. The understated, sweet film follows the trials and tribulations of the young bird who yearns to break out of his nest and discover the world, with its surprisingly bittersweet ending.

Little Bird: A Bittersweet Tale of Discovering the World

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Tufty: An Apocalypto with Teddy Bears

Tufty: An Apocalypto with Teddy Bears

Tufty is an amazing, award-winning short film written and directed by brothers Jason Butler and Brendan Butler, which was produced for Warrior Films through the Filmbase/RTÉ Short Film Award Scheme in 2007. With the holiday season upon us, Tufty provides a heart-wrenching glimpse into the actual origins of teddy bears.

While we’d all like to think our toys come to life when we’re not around, just as they did in Toy Story, Tufty takes an opposite and much more disturbing approach: behind the innocent face of a child’s teddy bear lies a dark and bloody secret. At first glance, Tufty is a cute little bear, a transitional object that is an ideal gift for a young child. But if you return the little teddy bear to its natural habitat, you’ll discover that under his velvet fabric beats a sensitive heart that can flourish under more harmonious conditions.

Tufty: An Apocalypto with Teddy Bears

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Musical Poetry of the Dark Unconscious: Scott Walker’s “Epizootics!”

Musical Poetry of the Dark Unconscious: Scott Walker’s “Epizootics!”

“A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.
-Albert Camus

Epizootics! is the new ten-minute short film/music video recently premiered by avant-garde musical mastermind Scott Walker, a track from his forthcoming album Bish Bosch. Walker has accomplished the near impossible, showcasing an album that’s more ambitious, experimental and surreal than anything he’s created before. This first taste from his upcoming album is filled with dramatic artistry and shows promise that Bish Bosch will be considered one of the most thought-provoking albums released in years.

For those not familiar with Scott Walker’s work, Walker has been described as one of the greatest living avant-garde artists, with hardly any other American musician having had greater influence upon rock music, while at the same time remaining almost completely unknown to his countrymen. Walker grew up in Texas, New York City and Southern California, but he became a celebrity in England during the mid-1960s as part of the Walker Brothers band. The Walker Brothers was a vocal trio, which wed soaring vocal harmonies, lush soundtrack arrangements and a patently somber worldview into a uniquely theatrical package.

Scott Walker’s voice has been described as perhaps the most beautiful male non-soul voice of that era, and an increasingly free-thinking “Beat” attitude was at the core of the group’s appeal. Although the Walker Brothers became huge in Europe, Scott Walker’s eccentricity cast a dark cloud over the band’s public image. Scott began to write increasingly complicated interlaced music, and its sense of bleakness was intensified by his mix of translated Jacques Brel tunes with distinctly arty and pained original numbers. By 1969, his works were failing to appear on music charts at all.

An increasingly elusive Scott Walker slowly withdrew from public view. His voice began to lose some of its former pop-music sense of majesty, a reflection of his new interest in the experimental synth-driven avant-garde, which he helped revolutionize to major critical success, but only minor public attention. Walker seemed to vanish, while artists as diverse as David Bowie, Brian Eno, Julian Cope, Bryan Ferry, Ultravox and Marc Almond became fiercely ardent supporters of his unique body of work, citing him as a primary influence on their careers. Gale Harold (the actor in Queer as Folk) served as an Associate Producer, along with David Bowie as Executive Producer, of the acclaimed 2006 documentary about the influential artistic vision of Walker’s experimental musical work, Scott Walker: 30th Century Man.

Musical Poetry of the Dark Unconscious: Scott Walker’s “Epizootics!”

Scott Walker: 30th Century Man

Scott Walker is celebrated as an influential musical visionary by a roster of superstars, including Jarvis Cocker, Damon Albarn, David Bowie and Brian Eno. The enigmatic and notoriously shy former pop idol is the subject of Scott Walker: 30 Century Man, the revealing 2006 documentary by Stephen Kijak. Walker was born in Ohio and sang with Fabian on television as a teenager. However. after achieving immense popular fame in England as the lead singer of the boy band The Walker Brothers, he has lived mostly in seclusion, while creating avant-garde compositions and releasing critically acclaimed, idiosyncratic albums.

Scott Walker: 30th Century Man

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Happy Thanksgiving: An Impish Alfred Hitchcock Carves Your Holiday Turkey!

Happy Thanksgiving: An Impish Alfred Hitchcock Carves Your Holiday Turkey!

Photography by: John Rawlings, NYC (1956)

Pick a Hitchcock of opulence rather than corpulence,
just pleasingly plump, with a snug silhouette,
To embellish the board when the places are set.
For the ultimate test, more closely examine it.
The Hitchcock supreme has a wide streak of ham in it.

-Ogden Nash

Bright Eyes: First Day Of My Life

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Thanksgiving: Norman Rockwell’s Freedom From Want

Norman Rockwell: Freedom from Want

Thanksgiving: Norman Rockwell’s Freedom From Want

Paintings by: Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)

Freedom from Want or The Thanksgiving Picture is one of Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms paintings, inspired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union Address, known as Four Freedoms. Freedom from Want was published in the March 6, 1943, issue of The Saturday Evening Post and later was included as the cover image of the 1946 book Norman Rockwell, Illustrator, written when Rockwell was at the height of his fame as America’s most popular illustrator.

Mary Chapin Carpenter: The Thanksgiving Song

Casey Neistat and His Son Make Thanksgiving Dinner

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Park Avenue’s Billionaires: How They Stay That Way

Park Avenue’s Billionaires: How They Stay That Way

Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream is the riveting new documentary by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room), which presents his perspective on the increasingly glaring disparity between rich and poor Americans. Gibney contends that America’s wealthiest citizens have rigged the game in their favor, creating an unprecedented degree of financial inequality in the United States.

Gibney proposes that this is nowhere more evident than on New York City’s Park Avenue. 740 Park Avenue in Manhattan is currently home to the highest concentration of billionaires in America. However, just across the river, less than five miles away, Park Avenue runs through the South Bronx, an area that is home to the poorest congressional district in the United States.

In Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream, Gibney states that while income disparity has always existed in America, over the last 40 years it has accelerated sharply. As of 2010, the 400 richest Americans controlled more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of the population, or 150 million people. In the film, Gibney explains why he believes upward mobility is increasingly out of reach for both members of the middle class and the poor.

Park Avenue’s Billionaires: How They Stay That Way

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