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Always in Season: A Mother’s Quest for Justice in a Broken Country

17-year-old Lennon Lacy is found hanging from a swing set in rural North Carolina. The community is unsure how he got there, but it’s reminiscent of the KKK hangings they’ve witnessed in the past despite assurance from local law enforcement that the condition was self-inflicted.

Jaqueline Olive takes the viewer on a journey through fear in the American South in this riveting documentary.

Jaqueline’s tenure of more than a decade of experience in journalism and film are a clear tribute to her storytelling ability. This film premiered in the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and was awarded the Special Jury Prize for Moral Urgency.

Lacy’s mother and her quest for truth leads a town and a nation to think about its trajectory toward determining justice without regard to race, color or creed in this film that explores the impact of more than a century of lynching in the American South as it still inspires racial violence in the present day.

Moving scenes of women standing on bridges that the Klu Klux Klan tag with graffiti give way to moving confessions of people who admit their society has not given them justice.

As Lennon’s girlfriend, who had a drug addiction and several paramours with a criminal history pontificates on how he seemed much “older than a teenager,” it’s almost startling. It’s certainly revealing. How often do we think innocent men are older than their years because of social perception and a failing in a culture ignorant enough to potentially hang them?

See this mastery of narrative documentary storytelling co-presented by Denton Black Film Festival for its second screening on Wednesday, April 17th at 1:00pm at the Landmark Magnolia

Dualities and Empathy: A Fortunate Man in Review

Life is full of dualities, many of which push and pull A Fortunate Man’s Peter Andreas in
opposite directions. The clashes between science and faith, love and lust, the poor and the
rich, and autonomy versus authority are largely present throughout the film, leading
Andreas to dark places despite the opportunity to make his wildest dreams come true. His
ambition to become an engineer with revolutionary projects under his belt forces him to
experience life in tunnel vision, causing damage to almost everyone he encounters.
It’s reasonable—easy, even—for one to feel empathetic for Andreas because of how
blatantly his family dismisses him from the film’s beginning. It’s understandable why he
wants to escape his religious upbringing and low social class, all made unbearable by his
father, a clergyman who enforces a patriarchal household ruled by God. Most of all, it’s
clear how his childhood and the people around him influence him to act the way he does
and why he deceives people to promote his own agenda.
It does not, however, justify any of his actions.
“There are people who are drawn to disaster,” Andreas states near the end of the film. A
nod to the religious, he scorns those who view God as their source of liberation because, to
him, it’s a site of wishful thinking and hopelessness. In likening religion to disaster, he fails
to realize that disasters can appear unexpectedly and completely upend people’s lives,
much like he does. In trying to make his wind turbines and canal systems a reality, he
destroys marriages, tarnishes reputations, and perpetuates the same abandonment and
alienation that his family forced him to experience.

Throughout the film, Andreas views God as his worst enemy when, in reality, the true
culprit is his own pride. It’s the common factor of all his dualities and what unknowingly
causes him grief for much of the film. A Fortunate Man is a tragic portrait of Andreas’
unraveling. To follow him on his journey of trials and tribulations is to be in a constant
state of frustration because he does the exact opposite of what’s best for him, causing him
to spiral further and further.
Consequently, the film forces you to reflect on your own dualities with the hopes that your
life is more balanced than Andreas’ so as to avoid his unfortunate fate because—as it
goes—fortune favors fools.


Le Tang is a Filmmaker, Photographer, and Designer based in Dallas, TX. Having graduated from U.C. Santa Barbara with a Film and Media Studies B.A. she enjoys analyzing films and studying stills.

Le has a penchant for capturing the mundane with her camera and and bombarding people with questions about their life and craft.

Kokosmos is a Stylistic Russian Romp Through Space with a Unique Sense of Thematic Transformativity

Moody. Aspirant. Reflective on an Space-Age Era. Hopeful for what’s to come.

Filmed in Moscow by the award-winning director and photographer Anna Radchenko, Kokosmos is a forward-thinking tribute to Russia’s infatuation with space that reshapes the Soviet paradigm for a less dictatorial one.

A fusion of fashion, music, and experimental video, Kokosmos blends magical realism and reality by speculating what space travel might be in a new era.

The video is Radchenko’s first piece combining CGI with real footage, a taste of forthcoming work.

Kokosmos is a collaboration with model Yana Dobroliubova, recognised for her striking and ethereal looks which break away from traditional beauty standards. Inspired by Dobroliubova’s unearthly aesthetic, as well as Japanese manga artist Shintaro Kago, Radchenko focuses on the concept of the all-seeing-eye, established in gnostic and circles of democratic governance to be representative of a “divine logos” that governs humanity’s forward progress.

Music and sound design duo Playhead worked with the London-based singer songwriter Alyusha Chagrin to create an otherworldly-sounding language to fit the short’s scenario.

Similarly, the choices of clothing and make-up are crafted to a post-soviet space theme; Radchenko brings in elements of folklore by specifically selecting Russian fashion designers leveraging neon color palette featuring greens and purples.

“Growing up in post soviet Russia I’d be constantly dreaming about space, the unknown and what was out there, almost like an unknown entity we were trying to reach out to. With Kokosmos I wanted to express exactly that: my vision of what space and this god-like presence would look and feel like” – Anna Radchenko



13th Annual Dallas International Film Festival LineUp Announced

Spanning April 11 to April 18 and presenting over 130 films from over 35 countries, DIFF is never likely to disappoint. 

Johnathan Brownlee is excited this year. Perhaps he should be. Considering the success of last year’s mini concerts in relation to musically themed films including Bone Thugs and Harmony, he’s expanded the idea to include seven music stages covering seven days of this flagship Dallas festival.

This year’s film lineup, powered by Capital One, includes five World Premieres, one U.S. Premiere, 37 Texas Premieres, and 15 Dallas Premieres.

The largest film festival in North Texas, will screen at Magnolia Theater, West Village in Uptown Dallas; Studio Movie Grill, Royal Lane; and Dallas Museum of Art.

For the first time at DIFF, all seats are reserved and tickets are available only through the Atom Tickets app or http://www.AtomTickets.com. Tickets will be available to pass holders beginning March 25 and to the public on March 27. For more information or to purchase passes, please visit go to http://www.dallasfilm.org,

But that’s not the only buzzworthy information about DIFF recently released from directors.

“At DIFF, we understand that film is the most relatable art form and connects individuals through shared experiences,” said James Faust, artistic director of Dallas Film. “Hundreds of hours went into hand selecting the films that will be screened at DIFF, and our goal is to offer a variety of fascinating, heartwarming, educational and insightful films that will be thought-provoking and relatable to DIFF festivalgoers. We have many engaging and entertaining events planned throughout the festival and are eager to provide a memorable festival experience for all who attend.”

This year’s lineup is extraordinary and is poised to bring Dallas screenings of performances by Elisabeth Moss, Lily Collins, and Zac Efron.

Time for Ilhan: A Well-Made Biopic that Chronicles the rise to fame of a Boundary Breaking Somali Congresswoman.

I as a voter, as an “American,” as someone who favors Western Values, am utterly and totally confused by Ilhan Omar as a politician.

I’m not confused by how she wins a constituency. She resonates with her district’s values, a Somali refugee diaspora, women of color, and those tired of politics with a male-preferent rationale. I get this, and I understand why this group is strongly-interested in changing the scale and conversation in American politics.

I’m not confused as to how she wins the hearts of people. As her adorable daughter pontificates that she is “President” of the house, because she takes care of her children, it’s not hard to agree. Good mothers make good community leaders. It’s a good value to instill in a politician–or a human being, taking care of others.

Ilhan is very human, which is something her detractors don’t generally grant her enough credit for and it’s absolutely time they stopped.

She’s quite the opposite of some kind of hijabed monster, out to kill family values, and there’s really not much reason to think she is one, despite her detractors.

She’s got a wonderful family and she takes good care of it despite having lived through a lot of turmoil.

She’s got a strong community, even though it comes together after being fractured. She’s the picture of inspiration. That’s why — in some respects the rest of her platform is so confusing.

The thing I don’t understand about Ilhan, is that she is vehement support of anything meant to bring down Israel’s economy without explicitly fighting for an economy in Gaza that isn’t run by the more militant members of Hamas, because of Israel’s actions to defend itself.

If Hamas would run Gaza and all it could claim as Al Shabaab would run Somalia, wouldn’t you at least be fighting for a more liberal PNA and a less militarized Israel — and perhaps a Gaza that gets stronger and more liberated on accepting pacifist, feminist values and free trade on a world scale?

Palestinians, and Muslims in general have got an international and national stage like they’ve never had before, and I’m glad of it. I often wish it wasn’t as easily dismissible by the Right as, “All they want is Israel’s death, instead of its cooperation in increasing autonomy and peaceable action.”

Everyone’s eerily silent about the recent ruling in Detroit to make FGM possible in U.S. jurisdictions. Not just the Muslim politicians you’d expect to take offense, because they’ve experienced the brunt of the problem.

Why be a U.S. refugee if it’s not going to be markedly different for the little girl’s hair you’re braiding at all?

I want you here. I like that you have organized power. I just wish it spoke more to the issues you don’t want your daughter to face in raising her here than enabling cultures of militancy that even Egypt wants to subdue.

The doc is emotional and riveting, and it’s obvious to see why it’s an award winner. I just can’t get over the politics, the politics that want to destroy a singular country instead of terror factions — instead of governments destroying democracy all over the Middle East and world.

Video Association of Dallas to Receive $10,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

[Dallas]—National Endowment for the Arts Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter has approved more than $27 million in grants as part of the Arts Endowment’s first major funding announcement for the fiscal year 2019.  Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $10,000 to Video Association of Dallas for Dallas VideoFest’s 32nd season. Art Works is the Arts Endowment’s principal grantmaking program. The agency received 1,605 Art Works applications for this round of grantmaking and will award 972 grants in this category.

“The arts enhance our communities and our lives, and we look forward to seeing these projects take place throughout the country, giving Americans opportunities to learn, to create, to heal, and to celebrate,” said Mary Anne Carter, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. 

“The opportunities, which the receipt of the NEA grant will provide in expanding the outreach of VideoFest 32 to the community and serve our mission, are much valued and appreciated,” said Jeff Leuschel, board president of the Video Association of Dallas and Dallas VideoFest.

DALLAS VIDEOFEST
VideoFest (VideoFest.org) is now the oldest and largest video festival in the United States and continues to garner critical and popular acclaim. VideoFest prides itself on bringing films to the theater that are rarely available to be seen anywhere else. VideoFest has included screenings varying from cat videos to Expanded Cinema on the walls of the Downtown Dallas Omni Hotel. Films like Experimental/Art Films through its Dallas Medianale, Animation, Narrative and Documentary Shorts, as well as Documentary and Narrative Features and some hard-to-find Classic TV episodes and Classic Film including Silent Films are often in the mix.

MISSION OF DALLAS VIDEOFEST
The mission of the Dallas VideoFest is to promote an understanding of video as a creative medium and cultural force in our society and to support and advance the work of Texas artists working in video and the electronic arts.  Dallas VideoFest is a 501(c)(3) organization incorporated on April 25, 1989, under Video Association of Dallas.  It began in 1986 as a weekend event, “Video As A Creative Medium,” presented at the Dallas Museum of Art by independent curators, Barton Weiss and John Held.

That first event, which included two nights of video by selected local and national video artists, was a great popular success, which led to the founding of the Dallas Video Festival in 1987. Dallas VideoFest also presents the 24-Hour Video Race, North Texas Universities Film Festival, Dallas Medianale, Three Star Cinema, and other programs throughout the year.

Among Wolves: A Film that Builds Tension In Slow but Structured Pacing

AMONG WOLVES is a film depicting the struggle to heal after conflict and post traumatic stress disorder.

The Wolves are a multi-ethnic motorcycle club led by Bosnian War veterans. In the mountains where they once fought, they now defend the threatened herd of wild horses with whom they once shared the front line.

In helping others, they discover a sense of liberty that heals themselves as they make amends to their society. In cooperative humanitarian mission, they and emerge from the pain of war.

Jennie Kermode at Eye For Film has called this work visual poetry, Alex Salivev has called it “a statement on achieving redemption in a seemingly doomed place.”  John DeFore in his Hollywood Reporter review called scenes from Among Wolves “psychic soothing.”  All three positions represent significant descriptions detailing what it is to engage with PTSD or traumatic moments and come out on the other side a little stronger.

I would additionally describe the film as “a visually pleasing work that lends itself to immense emotional release.” The colorist and DP rendered images that are full of saturated coloration in a pleasing way despite its gritty stylings and seemingly ugly moments.

In this sense, Shawn Covey has created a film that builds an excellent amount of tension in slow, but structured pacing.

After sold out screenings (all of them) and winning the prestigious Chicago Award at its Chicago International world premiere, AMONG WOLVES has spent two years screening to great audience approval at festivals spanning 4 continents and has been awarded Best Director, Best of Fest, and Triumph of the Human Spirit.

Chicagoans still have time to see it at Music Box Theater on Wednesday Feb 13 and 14 as part of a special “and Friends” event featuring related films on themes that portray the complicated emotional nature of masculinity.

Born Just Now chronicles the life and times of Marta Jovanović, as she makes dangerous art her society does not quite know how to value.

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A figure stands on stilts, or a raised platform, in a long white gown. Silent. Waiting. Buckets of hearts from slaughtered pigs are handed to a crowd. One by one, hurled in a seemingly unending fury they pelt the concept artist until she is handed a single rose still very much in the bud stage. The work is called “Ljubav.” It is the Serbian word for Love.

This is one in a series of concepts presented that critique, in some fashion, the role of women in Serbian society presented by the artist and her students, who all struggle to fund their art and find footing in communities that only value limited roles and functioning for women.

Robert Adanto’s Born Just Now chronicles the life and art of Marta Jovanović as she surveys the pain of a nation in turmoil and her own experienced body trauma from relationship abuse through the contemporary Serbian Avant Garde scene. Her acquaintances critique her motives over restaurant conversation. What she is doing is decidedly “out of the norm.”

“The art that you do, that is performance art, does not mesh with what most people consider performance in this environment,” she is told over drinks by Vladislav Scepanović, a noted artist and curator. He represented Serbia at the last Venice Biennale.  He elaborates that it’s not private enough — and far too publicized. It’s almost as if he is speaking about the public and private divide themselves.

The film opens with the artist smashing hundreds of eggs suspended from the ceiling in gauze tubes with a hammer, yolk dripping down on her in a harshly lit enclosed performance space. It signifies wasted years of reproduction, in the pursuit of art and is performed “quite publicly.” Marta hangs one for each time she has ovulated and not conceived.

In explaining that her body and her devotion to art kept her from reproduction, in what might be a beneficial confluence of events, considering her husband’s malice for failure to fulfill her “role,” and a society that seems rather indifferent to her pain, Jovanović takes on the situation of many female artists, or even women doing anything else but having children, situated in patriarchies. Unacceptance. Frivolity. Wasted funds and space.

Jovanović examines her family’s place as a blended Muslim and Jewish postwar formation under Tito’s regime and her relationship to her grandfather who worshiped the dictator. She explains like she felt his ghost — and chooses a burial location close to Tito’s grave for his remains as she explains the art of others in the contemporary scene and students she coaches. Sewn mouths, bodies and sugar mattresses as endurance works complement torched white wedding dresses.

Adanto’s brilliant take on pacing, storytelling, and the emotional composition of a scene makes this documentary beyond riveting — as it exists as a tale of endurance and strength in expression in an age of increasingly curtailed liberties for women.

Drawing out emotional moments and allowing the pace of situational art to grab his camera are his gifts. In capturing moments of pain transformed into strange beauty he meaningfully shares the story of one woman, of many women, fighting for acceptance in their rebellion.

Born Just Now can be seen at the upcoming Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival on the following dates:


WHEN: Sunday, November 4th at 8:00 PM

WHERE: The Savor Cinema, 503 SE 6th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL

WHEN: Saturday, November 10th at 9:00 PM

WHERE: Cinema Paradiso Hollywood, 2008 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, FL

Robert Adanto’s new art documentary BORN JUST NOW offers an intimate look at Marta Jovanović, a Belgrade-based performance artist struggling to cope with the violence that has ended an eight-year marriage. Daring to live on her own terms, Jovanović has chosen art and art-making over marriage and abuse. Through provocative acts of endurance exploring intimacy, motherhood, and the trauma of the Balkan wars, Jovanović seeks to confront, release, and liberate her own pain in the name of art. This personal portrait is a moving meditation on what it means to be a fearless female artist living in the 21st century. Through Jovanović’s words and performances, the story of contemporary women’s ongoing struggle for equality emerges.

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The film participated in the Sundance Institute Documentary Program’s Rough-Cut Lab in Miami.

Featuring: Marta Jovanović, Ivana Ranisavljević, Kathy Battista, Ph.D., Director of Contemporary Art, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, NY; Anja Foerschner, Senior Researcher, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles; Milica Pekić, Art Historian and Curator, Belgrade; Jovo Bakić, Ph.D., University of Belgrade; Vladislav Scepanović, artist; and Jean-Daniel Ruch, Swiss Ambassador to Serbia and to Montenegro.

 

The First Man American Flag Controversy

Much has been made about the controversy surrounding the lack of Ryan Gosling’s Neil
Armstrong placing the American flag on the moon in Damien Chazelle’s just unleashed
First Man.

The outrage has led to massive 1-star ratings and user reviews on IMDB from people
who have yet to see the film. If the lack of the flag being placed on the moon are the
worst thing to happen in a film, it’s massively telling for the point America has reached
as a nation. Yet these people seem to have no problems with the awful problems that our
nation faces today.

The problem is that people are more than willing to pre-judge a film before it hits
theaters. I understand judging those films with abusers in them because I’ve done the
same and won’t stop that anytime soon. But what do these protesters have to say about
First Man when Armstrong’s own family is defending the film?

One excerpt of a statement from Armstrong’s sons, Rick and Matt, and author James
Hansen says everything we need to know about their feelings:

“Although Neil didn’t see himself that way, he was an American hero. He was also an
engineer and a pilot, a father and a friend, a man who suffered privately through great
tragedies with incredible grace. This is why, though there are numerous shots of the
American flag on the moon, the filmmakers chose to focus on Neil looking back at the
earth, his walk to Little West Crater, his unique, personal experience of completing this
journey, a journey that has seen so many incredible highs and devastating lows.”

This film, they say, should not be seen as anti-American. Give First Man a chance. I
know that I will.

29134970_10102083915109720_1906448420_nDanielle Solzman is a film critic and a member of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle, Galeca: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, Alliance of Women Film Journalists, and the Online Film & Television Association. She also writes for Solzy at the Movies.

 

Sarah Mondale; Director of Backpack Full of Cash — holds out on elaborating on some education concerns in her film.

Sarah Mondale, the director of Backpack Full of Cash, has created a film that’s meant to spark some impressive conversations. She and I had one recently, despite some malfunctioning equipment. 

So to attempt to elucidate some deep elements of our conversation that she stated “weren’t in the film” and “weren’t what she usually spoke about” . . . she as a filmmaker, and I in my strange combinant dedication in filmmaking, Texas politics and publishing talked about our experiences with publicly-funded charters and our concerns both financial and ideological/structural with these institutions.

Sarah’s greatest concern eclipsed my usual attention paid to line-items paid out to nebulous administrators contributing questionable items of technology and curricula. She denoted that some charters, specifically requested by parents who wanted a more “reformatory” or “punitive” style of education to reach their children they were worried were on the wrong track.

I will admit that this element within all forms of education concerns me too, especially when it is aimed at minority populations. It’s troubling when other areas are primed for the to-prison pipeline, ideologically, and students of all backgrounds aren’t given what they need to thrive intellectually and physically, in trade and post-secondary training.

I regret I cannot bring you her direct words because of an equipment glitch — but I can say this — she is worth hearing speak more than once at your state convention, a private screening, or a phone call if she has time to grant it.

Host a screening of hers yourself (and potentially hear her speak) by contacting her at http://www.backpackfullofcash.com/host/