“A Woman’s Work” by Yu Gu highlights the exploitative practices of the NFL against its barely-paid Cheerleaders.

There has never been a film that has made me more glad I grew up “acculturated against professional sports,” and in some senses “male,” than this one.

In high school, I played guitar and shredded better than most men. I knocked my peers on their feet in combat with my Sarah McLaughlin haircut that made people scream “Lesbo.” I made highest marks in Stoichiometry and AP History. I produced news content at the “student executive” level.

I slept with and broke the heart of any man I wanted, sometimes in an act of deliberate egocentricism. Some of them were running backs and quarterbacks — and wrestling captains. I laughed at trophies and brought home my letters and medals. My self-esteem never suffered. I knew the game was impossibly stacked and learned not to care about anyone or anything, deep down in that place inside that makes a person invincibly tough. A therapist and I figured out in my adulthood that — “schadenfreude and enjoyment at the emotional collapse of a male sex partner for the unfair expectations he possesses of the world to serve him,” is likely a difficult orientation to rehabilitate.

“So you only really sexually enjoy activity with men if you break them somehow.”

“Yes.”

“But women?”

“No longer excite me. In my youthful experimentation, I was very kind, loving, supportive, and respectful of boundaries.”

“So you’re not attracted to them?”

“No. Not really, physically. In my youth I was always in one altered state or another and angry with men for the state of the world.”

“But you’re not asexual?”

“No. I orgasm six and seven times daily and am most classically described as oversexed.”

“Curious.”

 

Before I joined the military in my 20’s, I almost took a job in the broadcast industry, aligned with my almost associate’s degree, selling advertising time during football and basketball games.

But a little inner voice I thought was “God” told me to turn it down, flatly, and enlist the same way my  college foray with the Cheerleading team asking me if I wanted to join resulted in laughter and my time in graduate school had me pledging a fraternity I didn’t finish out the requirements on.

That journey through the military a terrifying marriage and a husband who tried to re-acculturate me California Baptist “female” through a series of drugs and rapes supported by our nation’s mental health system, graduate school, communes, activist enclaves and watching my mother’s subsequent genocide by Evangelical Lutherans for being at her core raised by a Jewish, Feminist Atheist, has made me “unique.”

I see abuse for what it is — all over the system. It makes me untenable to a lot of people. Some still threaten forcible Kirkbride-era inspired medical treatment for talking about how factory farmed meat literally severs the arms of undocumented teenagers who can’t see doctors, because their charity really needs to feed unwitting AIDS patients spiral ham and Factory Farm Charoset for Passover with no intellectual challenge or organic non-GMO root beer at the table.

As YuGu so aptly highlights, women are literally making next to nothing and are paying thousands of dollars to appear in calendars they don’t get proceeds from while men make millions to give one an other concussions and create a programming block to place commercials that sell food made with coerced, undocumented child labor stolen from unstable countries.

These women are conditioned from childhood to find this rewarding while they are robbed of all personal power and identity in strength. Her storytelling ability is strong and all of the women in this film have always deserved much more in terms of identity and compensation.

I’m completely done Western Civ. There is simply nothing left to stick a fork into that isn’t patently exploitative to the world’s children, women, or the environment.

But if you’re going to do something this weekend, get a bar of fair-trade chocolate and see this film at VideoFest’s Docufest tonight along with a lineup of films highlighting the often overlooked careers of women.

The Laundromat is a complicated film with superb acting and a compelling narrative.

The North Texas Film Festival premiere of Netflix’s The Laundromat presented a complicated film that often breaks the fourth wall and presents human characters who show intense sides of humanity and propensity to vice.

It is complicated in the way a diamond-wearing, church going woman in the mid-Atlantic states losing her husband and the condo meant to remind her of him to a shady off-shore banking company involving African and Caribbean characters can be. It was never-the-less an engaging film that will capture the attention of audiences with superb acting by Meryl Streep and Antonio Banderas and phenomenal portrayals by all else involved.

Power and corruption run rife in a global insurance, investments, real estate and banking industry as a suddenly widowed Ellen Martin attempts to make sense of her life. Her husband becomes suddenly deceased in a mass fatality shipwreck at Niagra Falls before he can hand her an anniversary present of a ruby. The condo she wants to remind herself of her husband who stole tickets to see The Supremes with is suddenly snapped up by a strange shell company with ties to a banking and insurance system that reroutes her calls and disconnects them.

Steven Soderbergh’s writing is a times a bit ham-handed and often times a bit too cognizant of the conventions it breaks as it tells a narrative clumsily asking for a restoration of liberty to a nation by policing its financial systems that operate as shadily in Delaware as they do in the Lesser Antilles.

It also does not present a balanced view of minorities, the accumulation of funds or goods by colonizing systems over the colonized and “fraud” in this framework or sense. It is a reasonable commentary on a need to regulate our systems of finance and capital, however, and should start many necessary conversations with its compelling storytelling.

David Schwimmer, Gary Oldman, Jeffery Wright, Nonzo Anozie, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Chris Parnell — honestly this list of talent is so long it’s hard to credit it well in passing in an article — all deliver masterful performances.

It’s decidedly a film to observe people who are living out situations, more than anything else.



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



THE REPLACEMENT presents a creative concept and storytelling through stunning cinematography.

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In the world presented by THE REPLACEMENT, clone 642, Abe Stagsen, has just become president. Not everyone is happy about this development, least of all the person who originated his existence, a janitor who has seen no benefit from the successes of all the fruit his genes have produced.

This short which integrates three parts portrayed by actor Mike McNamara seamlessly thanks to the magic of cloning and expert cutting (janitor, president, and newscaster) presents a creative concept that delivers in terms of storytelling that is able to capture audience interest.

This film is doubly fascinating because it speaks to contemporary problems in consideration of intellectual property and biomedical research. This problem surfaces in our current reality in the terms of Henrietta Lacks, John Moore, Ted Slavin — and to some the selectively-unrealized human potential that became HEK-293.

THE REPLACEMENT also speaks to all who labor and feel immobile in their position and the exploitative powers that they feel they can’t control.

That’s generally the hallmark of a good dystopian work. The cinematography presented by three-time Emmy winner Mike Bove is one of the most magnificent aspects of this film.

You can see director/producer team Sean Miller and Naz Khan’s latest release in two locations:

Chicago International Film Festival
Oct 25th – 5:45pm

Austin Film Festival 
Oct. 29 – 7pm
Nov. 1 – 2pm