As I Am: We Are Meant to Find Each Other

As I Am: We Are Meant to Find Each Other

The more I keep thinking about when I died, when I was a child, I got a job to do.
I wish I could remember what God told me to do.
I wish I could remember the cuts I’m supposed to take, what cuts I’m supposed to create.
What I know is, we are meant to connect, to find each other.
Eyes to see. Hands to feel. Hearts to love.

As I Am is a beautiful, sensitive documentary short film by Emmy-Award winning photojournalist/filmmaker Alan Spearman. The poetic and powerful imagery of the film follows the Memphis landscape of remarkable young Chris Dean, revealing the many lives that have shaped his world. Told in Dean’s own words, the film is a long spoken word poem describing his trenchant observations about life: his thoughts and feelings regarding the places and people that make up his home. As I Am portrays Dean’s hopes, fears and, more than anything, his sensitivity and grace. The film has recently been nominated for Best Live Action Short Film in the 2013 Short of the Week Awards, with winners to be announced beginning February 4, 2013.

Chris Dean’s heart stopped when he was two; he died but he came back. When Chris was five, his father was murdered, shot with more than 20 bullets in a gang shootout. In 2011, at age 18, Chris gained national attention when he introduced President Barack Obama at his high school graduation. Chris is an observer-philosopher who has always had a few things to say about life from his vantage point in South Memphis. As I Am is a wonderful work, which originally premiered on the website of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

As I Am: We Are Meant to Find Each Other

Booker T. Washington Senior Christopher Dean Introduces President Barack Obama

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“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Receives Four 2013 Oscar Nominations

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Receives Four 2013 Oscar Nominations

The nominations for the 2013 Academy Awards have been announced, and it was a huge day for the independent film Beasts of the Southern Wild, which received four Oscar Nominations: Best Director (for Benh Zeitlin), Best Actress (Quvenzhane Wallis, at just nine years old), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is the award-winning first feature film directed by Benh Zeitlin and co-written co-written with playwright Lucy Alibar, whose play Juicy and Delicious provides its foundation. Zeitlin created the movie in collaboration with Court 13, the filmmakers’ collective that moved to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Previously, the film won the Caméra d’Or award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, the Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it premiered, the Grand Jury Prize at the 2012 Deauville American Film Festival, the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival’s Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature and the 2012 Seattle International Film Festival’s Golden Space Needle Award for Best Director.

Part dystopia and part revolutionary utopia, Beasts of the Southern Wild is a visionary film that celebrates resistance, featuring people living in poverty who come together in interracial, inter-generational harmony. After a flood washes away most of “The Bathtub,” a poor and precarious patch of land south of New Orleans, Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis, five years-old at the time of filming) and her father account for their remaining animals and neighbors, and attempt to survive, rebuild, and repair their world. They band together to create a post-Katrina communal life and they fight the system in a variety of ways to avoid getting thrown into the sterile, controlled environment of a state-funded shelter.

Zeitlin’s earlier acclaimed short film about an imaginary post-Katrina world in New Orleans, Glory at Sea, won the 2008 CineVegas International Film Festival Special Jury Prize, the 2008 New Orleans Film Festival Narrative Short Award, the 2008 Woodstock Film Festival Jury Prize and the 2008 SXSW Film Festival Wolphin Award. Coming off the award-winning “Glory at Sea,” Zeitlin wanted to continue working on an expanded feature film set in the Louisiana bayou and to tell a story about a community making a final stand. The same theme and mythic, poetic feeling of Glory at Sea, which was also created in collaboration with the Court 13 filmmakers’ collective, clearly carries through in Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild. Like Beasts, Glory at Sea, concerned a southern Delta community endangered by a flood and focused on a young girl, who also served as the film’s narrator. Glory at Sea tells a story about the aftermath of the Katrina flood, and a community’s Orpheus-like efforts to keep alive its old traditions and loved ones.

Glory at Sea: A Beautiful Memorial to Mourning the Dead

Every once in a rare, long while, a film appears with such a sweeping gust of rejuvenation that it has the power to restore not only one’s faith in cinema, but in humanity as a whole. Glory at Sea is one of those rare films, an acclaimed narrative short film that has garnered twelve film festival awards, a film that endearingly produces the forlorn feelings that are amassed within the sea of a forever-sunset palette, sanctioning our mourning within its beautiful sorrow. The 26-minute short film follows an unkempt and unruly fleet of heartbroken refugees through the midst of the human devastation in post-Katrina New Orleans. This one and a half year-long collaborative project by director Benh Zeitlin and members of the Court 13 film collective brought forth a narrative film that reveals a rare mutually interactive blend of contemporary dance/movement, cinematography that is richly packed with a grandly sweeping panorama of visual detail and brilliantly subtle interpersonal gestures by the Court 13 ensemble group of performers.

Glory at Sea boldly confronts a monumental tragedy that vividly displays the fact of our human mortality, as well as the inevitable loss of our dreams for the future (the ghosts of loved ones, banished to live underwater for eternity). The raggedy, raucous New Orleans characters in Glory at Sea boldly turn away from their overwhelming of feelings of mortal vulnerability, courageously responding instead with a communal bond to a renewed and feverish commitment to love and hope.

The passionate call for hope and a common cause is expressed by the film’s ensemble through an emotionally inspiring synthesis of a socially important narrative, the performers’ sense of movement that conveys through even the most subtle interpersonal gestures their deep commitment to mutually shared social needs and responsibilities, and fascinating cinematography with an acute attention to visual detail. When a pinch of insanity and an ongoing tone of understated comical irony are added to all of this, one ends up with an experience that is a musically visual delight. An old phrase describes beautiful and appealing speech as “Music to My Ears.” Glory at Sea ends up “Dancing Behind Your Eyelids.” The twenty-five minutes spent deeply engrossed in this narrative is timeless.

Glory at Sea: A Beautiful Memorial to Mourning the Dead

(Best Viewed HD/Full Screen)

An Anthem to Survivors: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Sometimes miraculous films come into being, made by people you’ve never heard of, starring unknown faces, blindsiding you with creative genius. Beasts of the Southern Wild is one of the year’s best films. Winner of the US Dramatic Grand Jury Prize in Sundance, this striking and unforgettable feature-film debut is set in “The Bathtub,” a defiant Louisiana bayou community cut off from the rest of the world. Young Hushpuppy (played by a five year-old force of nature named Quvenzhané Wallis) is devoted to her father, Wink, who frequently goes off on sprees, leaving Hushpuppy to fend for herself in an isolated compound filled with semi-wild animals.

The community is a resilient and joyous one, but there is a growing sense of inevitable destruction. At school, Hushpuppy is taught about natural selection, global warming and the ecological shifts that have placed them in a perilous position. Things come to a head when Wink comes down with a debilitating illness, a massive storm hits, the ice caps melt and destructive prehistoric beasts are released who descend on “The Bathtub.” Little Hushpuppy has to find in herself the courage and heroism to survive the catastrophe and re-instill a sense of community. Fusing recent history and environmental concerns with a mythical quality, Beasts of the Southern Wild defies easy classification or description, instead forging a new path that firmly establishes director Benh Zeitlin as a bright new cinematic talent. Reviewers are speculating that both Zeitlin and young Quvenzhané Wallis could be nominated for Academy Awards.

An Anthem to Survivors: Beasts of the Southern Wild (Official Trailer)

Beasts of the Southern Wild: Official Featurette

Beasts of the Southern Wild: “Once There Was A Hush Puppy”

Director Benh Zeitlin and composer Dan Romer perform the theme to “Beasts of the Southern Wild” at LACMA

Beasts of the Southern Wild: “Once There Was A Hush Puppy”

Super Soul Sunday: Why Oprah Loves Beasts of the Southern Wild

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President Obama Trounces Romney, Wins Second Term

President Obama Trounces Romney, Wins Second Term

Barack Obama, the candidate of hope who became the first black U.S. president, won re-election today by overcoming four years of economic discontent. Obama defeated Republican Mitt Romney, according to television network projections that showed the president winning the electoral votes needed for re-election. Late Thursday, the Romney campaign had no choice but to concede Florida to President.Obama. Putting Florida in Obama’s column brought the president’s final Electoral College vote total to 332 versus Romney’s 206.

Beginning more than a year ago, Obama championed middle-class opportunity against an opposition party more determined to protect preferences for the wealthy. Throughout a volatile Republican nominating contest, Obama’s political team never wavered from the view that its eventual opponent would be Romney, a former private equity executive, whom they portrayed as an out-of-touch embodiment of moneyed privilege and heartless capitalism.

Obama Wins 2012 Election: Complete Presidential Victory Speech

Music Video: Yes We Can!

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Imagine Your Dreams: As I Am

Imagine Your Dreams: As I Am

The more I keep thinking about when I died, when I was a child, I got a job to do.
I wish I could remember what God told me to do.
I wish I could remember the cuts I’m supposed to take, what cuts I’m supposed to create.
What I know is, we are meant to connect, to find each other.
Eyes to see. Hands to feel. Hearts to love.

As I Am is a beautiful, sensitive documentary short film by Emmy-Award winning photojournalist/filmmaker Alan Spearman. The poetic and powerful imagery of the film follows the Memphis landscape of remarkable young Chris Dean, revealing the many lives that have shaped his world. Told in Dean’s own words, the film is a long spoken word poem describing his trenchant observations about life: his thoughts and feelings regarding the places and people that make up his home. As I Am portrays Dean’s hopes, fears and, more than anything, his sensitivity and grace.

Chris Dean’s heart stopped when he was two; he died but he came back. When Chris was five, his father was murdered, shot with more than 20 bullets in a gang shootout. In 2011, at age 18, Chris gained national attention when he introduced President Barack Obama at his high school graduation. Chris is an observer-philosopher who has always had a few things to say about life from his vantage point in South Memphis. As I Am is a wonderful work, which just premiered on the website of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Imagine Your Dreams: As I Am

Booker T. Washington Senior Christopher Dean Introduces President Barack Obama

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Samuel L. Jackson: “Wake The F**k Up!” And Vote Obama (NSFW)

Samuel L. Jackson: “Wake The F**k Up!” And Vote Obama (NSFW)

Academy Award Nominee Samuel L. Jackson, with his booming voice and imposing presence, was the perfect choice to  record last year’s audiobook version of the bestselling children’s book for adults, Go the F**k to Sleep!.

In a new, unconventional ad for President Barack Obama that hit the internet on Thursday, Jackson improvises on that title in his political video, Wake the F**k Up!. Have you been thinking about just sitting out this election, or maybe even considering voting for Romney just for the hell of it? You may want to think twice about that!

Jackson may appear out of nowhere to give you a profanity-laced nursery rhyme about the dangers of voting Republican this November. In this video, Jackson magically shows up in the homes of seniors, young people and other disaffected voters to exhort them with his very salty language to start paying attention. Disparaging Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in rhyming verses, Jackson says:

Sorry, my friends, but there’s no time to snore.
An out-of-touch millionaire has just declared war.
On schools, the environment, unions, fair pay.
We’re all on our own if Romney has his way.
And he’s against safety nets, if you fall, tough luck.
So I strongly suggest that you wake the f**k up.

The video was sponsored by the Jewish Council on Education and Research.

Samuel L. Jackson: “Wake The F**k Up!” And Vote Obama (NSFW)

A Charming Little Bedtime Story: Go the F**k to Sleep!!

Go the F**K To Sleep is a wonderful little book by Adam Mansbach, probably the best children’s story since the classic Goodnight Moon. The story only gets better here, when it’s read by Hollywood favorite Samuel L. Jackson, who says in the introduction that in his own experience reading stories to put kids to sleep just doesn’t work. Jackson said he used to say “Go the f**k to sleep!” to his own daughter when she was growing up. He says, at some point, she would look at me when I would come in her room, and she’d say, “Go the f**k to sleep, Daddy?” And I’d say, “Yeah, go the f**k to sleep!

A Charming Little Bedtime Story: Go the F**k to Sleep!!

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An Anthem to Survivors: Beasts of the Southern Wild

An Anthem to Survivors: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beasts of the Southern Wilds is the award-winning first feature film directed by Benh Zeitlin and co-written with playwright Lucy Alibar, whose play Juicy and Delicious provides its foundation. Zeitlin created the movie in collaboration with Court 13, the filmmakers’ collective that moved to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The film won the Caméra d’Or award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, the Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it premiered, the Grand Jury Prize at the 2012 Deauville American Film Festival, the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival’s Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature and the 2012 Seattle International Film Festival’s Golden Space Needle Award for Best Director.

Part dystopia and part revolutionary utopia, Beasts of the Southern Wild is a visionary film that celebrates resistance, featuring poor people who come together in interracial, inter-generational harmony. After a flood washes away most of “The Bathtub,” a poor and precarious patch of land south of New Orleans, Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis, five years-old at the time of filming) and her father account for their remaining animals and neighbors, and attempt to survive, rebuild, and repair their world. They band together to create a post-Katrina communal life and they fight the system in a variety of ways to avoid getting thrown into the sterile, controlled environment of a state-funded shelter.

Zeitlin’s earlier acclaimed short film about an imaginary post-Katrina world in New Orleans, Glory at Sea, won the 2008 CineVegas International Film Festival Special Jury Prize, the 2008 New Orleans Film Festival Narrative Short Award, the 2008 Woodstock Film Festival Jury Prize and the 2008 SXSW Film Festival Wolphin Award. Coming off the award-winning “Glory at Sea,” Zeitlin wanted to continue working on an expanded feature film set in the Louisiana bayou and to tell a story about a community making a final stand. The same theme and mythic, poetic feeling of Glory at Sea, which was also created in collaboration with the Court 13 filmmakers’ collective, clearly carries through in Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild. Like Beasts, Glory at Sea, concerned a southern Delta community endangered by a flood and focused on a young girl, who also served as the film’s narrator. Glory at Sea tells a story about the aftermath of the Katrina flood, and a community’s Orpheus-like efforts to keep alive its old traditions and loved ones.

Glory at Sea: A Beautiful Memorial to Mourning the Dead

Every once in a rare, long while, a film appears with such a sweeping gust of rejuvenation that it has the power to restore not only one’s faith in cinema, but in humanity as a whole. Glory at Sea is one of those rare films, an acclaimed narrative short film that has garnered twelve film festival awards, a film that endearingly produces the forlorn feelings that are amassed within the sea of a forever-sunset palette, sanctioning our mourning within its beautiful sorrow. The 26-minute short film follows an unkempt and unruly fleet of heartbroken refugees through the midst of the human devastation in post-Katrina New Orleans. This one and a half year-long collaborative project by director Benh Zeitlin and members of the Court 13 film collective brought forth a narrative film that reveals a rare mutually interactive blend of contemporary dance/movement, cinematography that is richly packed with a grandly sweeping panorama of visual detail and brilliantly subtle interpersonal gestures by the Court 13 ensemble group of performers.

Glory at Sea boldly confronts a monumental tragedy that vividly displays the fact of our human mortality, as well as the inevitable loss of our dreams for the future (the ghosts of loved ones, banished to live underwater for eternity). The raggedy, raucous New Orleans characters in Glory at Sea boldly turn away from their overwhelming of feelings of mortal vulnerability, courageously responding instead with a communal bond to a renewed and feverish commitment to love and hope.

The passionate call for hope and a common cause is expressed by the film’s ensemble through an emotionally inspiring synthesis of a socially important narrative, the performers’ sense of movement that conveys through even the most subtle interpersonal gestures their deep commitment to mutually shared social needs and responsibilities, and fascinating cinematography with an acute attention to visual detail. When a pinch of insanity and an ongoing tone of understated comical irony are added to all of this, one ends up with an experience that is a musically visual delight. An old phrase describes beautiful and appealing speech as “Music to My Ears.” Glory at Sea ends up “Dancing Behind Your Eyelids.” The twenty-five minutes spent deeply engrossed in this narrative is timeless.

Glory at Sea: A Beautiful Memorial to Mourning the Dead

(Best Viewed HD/Full Screen)

An Anthem to Survivors: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Sometimes miraculous films come into being, made by people you’ve never heard of, starring unknown faces, blindsiding you with creative genius. Beasts of the Southern Wild is one of the year’s best films. Winner of the US Dramatic Grand Jury Prize in Sundance, this striking and unforgettable feature-film debut is set in “The Bathtub,” a defiant Louisiana bayou community cut off from the rest of the world. Young Hushpuppy (played by a five year-old force of nature named Quvenzhané Wallis) is devoted to her father, Wink, who frequently goes off on sprees, leaving Hushpuppy to fend for herself in an isolated compound filled with semi-wild animals.

The community is a resilient and joyous one, but there is a growing sense of inevitable destruction. At school, Hushpuppy is taught about natural selection, global warming and the ecological shifts that have placed them in a perilous position. Things come to a head when Wink comes down with a debilitating illness, a massive storm hits, the ice caps melt and destructive prehistoric beasts are released who descend on “The Bathtub.” Little Hushpuppy has to find in herself the courage and heroism to survive the catastrophe and re-instill a sense of community. Fusing recent history and environmental concerns with a mythical quality, Beasts of the Southern Wild defies easy classification or description, instead forging a new path that firmly establishes director Benh Zeitlin as a bright new cinematic talent. Reviewers are speculating that both Zeitlin and young Quvenzhané Wallis could be nominated for Academy Awards.

An Anthem to Survivors: Beasts of the Southern Wild (Official Trailer)

Making of Beasts of the Southern Wild: Part I

Making of Beasts of the Southern Wild: Part II

Super Soul Sunday: Why Oprah Loves Beasts of the Southern Wild

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The Callous Mitt Romney: The Full Secret Video of Romney’s Private Fundraiser

The Callous Mitt Romney: The Full Secret Video of Romney’s Private Fundraiser

On Monday afternoon, Mother Jones Magazine posted a short leaked video online that captured Mitt Romney at an exclusive fundraising event that offered a rare glimpse of his personal views. Speaking at a private fundraising reception earlier this year with millionaire donors in Boca Raton, Florida, Romney described almost half of Americans as “people who pay no income tax” and are “dependent upon government.”

Those voters, he said, would probably support President Obama because they believe they are “victims” who are “entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.” With its unvarnished language, the short video clip seems to undermine what Romney’s aides have tried to argue is an enduring attribute that would appeal to independent voters: a sense that Mr. Romney is, at base, an empathetic and caring man.

Now, Mother Jones has posted the full 49-minute secret video of Romney speaking at that May 17th fundraiser, captured raw and uncut. In addition to his denigrating comments about poor people, Romney’s remarks about a critical area of foreign policy set off another media firestorm, generating headlines around the world. Responding to a question about the “Palestinian problem,” Romney said peace in the Middle East is not possible and a Palestinian state is not feasible, telling his wealthy donors that Palestinians have “no interest whatsoever in establishing peace and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish.”

Romney’s remarks, degrading nearly half of the electorate, sent the Romney campaign, which was already rocked by infighting, into panic mode. The new video confirms the impression of a callous Mitt Romney, who has little idea of how Americans actually live. Further, the additional comments in this full-length secret video solidify previous impressions that Romney can be quite a bully to those who are not a part of his small exclusive group.

The Full Mitt Romney Fundraiser Video-Part One (36:39)

The Full Mitt Romney Fundraiser Video-Part Two (31:04)

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