Joe Biden Says He Regrets Treatment of Anita Hill in 1991 Hearings

Originally published on pastemagazine.com.

Former Vice President Joe Biden spoke openly of his role in the 1991 Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, saying that he regrets not giving Anita Hill “the hearing she deserved.” The 2020 presidential prospect made the remarks at a New York City event hosted by the Biden Foundation and It’s On Us on Tuesday night that was meant to honor young people who help combat sexual assault on college campuses.

Biden lamented the “white man’s culture” that still persists today and that sought to undermine Hill’s credibility when she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee almost 30 years ago. “The hearing she deserved was a hearing where she was respected, where the tone of the questioning was not hostile and insulting, where the fact that she stepped forward was recognized as an act of courage in and of itself,” Biden said. “I wish I could’ve done something.”

Biden’s role in the 1991 hearings, which he oversaw as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, represents one of the biggest challenges to his potential candidacy for president in 2020, which is widely rumored but still unconfirmed. He has been criticized for contributing to the hostile and prejudiced environment that the committee imposed upon Hill during the hearings, particularly since the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Though still officially undeclared, Biden sits neck-and-neck with Sen. Bernie Sanders at the front of the ever-growing pack of Democratic primary candidates in most early polls. A recent Emerson College poll of Iowa voters had Biden leading the Democratic field with 25 percent of the vote to Bernie’s 24 percent, while an Emerson poll of Wisconsin voters had Sanders at 39 percent to Biden’s 24 percent.

If and when Biden decides to enter the race, he will have a lot to answer for from the left wing of the Democratic Party, even on top of his role in the Hill hearings. He has recently been criticized for his rhetoric surrounding the 1994 Crime Bill, as well as some resurfaced remarks from 1975 in which he argued that integrating schools was a rejection of the “whole movement of black pride.”

Biden’s remarks on Tuesday night signal how he might choose to confront some of those issues on the campaign trail, as does the rumor that he’s considering naming star Georgia progressive Stacey Abrams as his running mate. It’s unclear how such a move might affect Biden’s candidacy on a more substantive policy level, as Abrams generally sits much farther left than Biden on issues of criminal justice reform and voting rights. But it’s important to note that Biden’s central defense so far has been to point back to these specific, very public moments and lament his inability to do more, when in reality he had all the power and opportunity in the world to act—he just chose not to. This is another of those big public moments, and the way he chooses to approach it will determine both how his candidacy and political legacy will be remembered for years to come.

Alexander McQueen, M.I.A. films added to 2018 Hot Docs line-up

Originally published on screendaily.com

Canadian documentary festival Hot Docs has added 17 additional special presentations.

They include McQueen, Ian Bonhôte’s documentary about fashion designer Alexander McQueen, and Steve Loveridge’s MATANGA / MAYA / M.I.A. (pictured), the Sundance world premiere about British rapper and record producer M.I.A. that has been picked up for the UK by Dogwoof.

Other highlights in the programme include Liz Garbus’s The Fourth Estate, a look into how The New York Times covered the first year of the Trump presidency, and Mercury 13, the story of NASA’s first female astronaut training programme.

The full selection from Hot Docs, which runs from April 26-May 6 in Toronto, will be announced on March 20, including the remainder of the special presentation titles and the opening night film.

Full list of new special presentations

All synopses provided by Hot Docs.

ACTIVE MEASURES
Dir. Jack Bryan
Dive deep into one of the most deft espionage operations in history. Featuring exclusive interviews with Hillary Clinton, John McCain and more, this explosive film uncovers Trump-Putin ties dating back to the ’70s and Soviet-style information warfare tactics used to affect the 2016 US presidential election.
World premiere

ALT-RIGHT: AGE OF RAGE
Dir. Adam Bhala Lough
Trigger warning: everything. Set against the horrific violence of the 2017 Charlottesville riots, alt-right leader Richard Spencer squares off against antifa activist Daryle Lamont Jenkins in this provocative look inside the two movements boiling over in America.
Canadian premiere

ANDY IRONS: KISSED BY GOD
Dirs. Steve Jones, Todd Jones
Three-time world surfing champion Andy Irons chased perfect pipe on the waves but dark demons on shore. Breathtaking cinematography captures the gorgeously wild star, but as mental illness troubles the waters, a heartbreaking tragedy unfolds.
World premiere

BEHIND THE CURVE
Dir. Daniel J. Clark
A rapidly rising number of people are convinced that the Earth is flat. Follow the leaders behind this conspiracy theory du jour as they rally to spread their message, challenge scientific proofs and flatten the globe once and for all.
World premiere

BLUE WALL
Dir. Richard Rowley
Oscar-nominated director Richard Rowley offers a searing examination of the police killing of Laquan McDonald, tracing the conspiracy of silence that extended up to the Chicago mayor’s office and revealing the journalists, activists and lawyers whose perseverance exposed the truth.
World premiere

THE FOURTH ESTATE
Dir. Liz Garbus
Granted unprecedented access and interviews with editors and reporters on the front lines, Emmy-winning and Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus’ The Fourth Estate follows the inner workings of The New York Times, revealing the challenges, triumphs and pitfalls of covering a president who has declared war on the free press.
International premiere

THE GAME CHANGERS
Dir. Louie Psihoyos
Oscar-winner Louie Psihoyos’s (The Cove) explosive doc examines elite athletes’ dramatically improved strength and performance when they switch from animal- to plant-based diets, and upends antiquated notions of masculinity and virility along the way.
Canadian premiere

MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A.
Dir. Steve Loveridge
Two decades’ worth of personal footage capture the complex evolution of M.I.A., the rapper and social justice activist whose outspoken rhymes tore up the charts, stoked political fires and captivated fans and critics worldwide.
Canadian premiere

MCQUEEN
Dir. Ian Bonhôte, Peter Ettedgui (co-director)
An intimate account of the life, career and artistry of legendary couturier, fashion maverick and creative genius Alexander McQueen, vividly brought to life via rare archival footage and revealing interviews with his inner circle.
International premiere

MERCURY 13
Dirs. David Sington, Heather Walsh
The pioneers enrolled in NASA’s first female astronaut training program finally open up about their top-secret testing, which pitted them against the established boys’ club of American astronauts of the 1950s.
International premiere

MORE HUMAN THAN HUMAN
Dirs. Tommy Pallotta, Femke Wolting
With artificial intelligence potentially on track to surpass human capabilities within the next two decades, one filmmaker tests his own job security by building a robot to replace himself and discovers the truth of what’s really at stake.
International premiere

MR. SOUL!
Dirs. Sam Pollard, Melissa Haizlip
Go backstage with the first all-Black variety show broadcast nationally on PBS, and meet its openly gay host, who was instrumental in ushering radical Black talent into American living rooms in the wake of the civil rights movement.
International premiere

THE NIGHT OF ALL NIGHTS
Dirs. Yasemin Şamdereli
In frank and funny interviews, four couples from across the world, united under vastly different circumstances but each together for more than 50 years, reflect on their relationships and share their secrets for long-lasting love – for better or for worse.
International premiere

OUR NEW PRESIDENT
Dir. Maxim Pozdorovkin
In a horrifying and hilarious collage, the story of Donald Trump’s path to the presidency is told entirely through Russian propaganda, laying bare an empire of fake news and the cynical tactics of information warfare.
Canadian premiere

PICK OF THE LITTER
Dirs. Dana Nachman, Don Hardy
A litter of newborn Labrador puppies begins “basic training” to become service dogs for the blind – but who will make the cut? Their successes and failures are shared equally with the devoted caretakers who guide them on this rigorous two-year journey.
International premiere

TINY SHOULDERS: RETHINKING BARBIE
Dir. Andrea Blaugrund Nevins
With sales at a historic low and women’s rights campaigns at fever pitch, Barbie is getting a radical makeover. Gloria Steinem, Roxane Gay, Mattel designers and others renegotiate the iconic doll’s place in a world that both loves and loves to hate her.
International premiere

UNITED SKATES
Dirs. Dyana Winkler, Tina Brown
When America’s last roller rinks are threatened with closure, thousands pull together to save and celebrate the vibrant underground subculture that has provided a safe space for the Black community since before the civil rights movement.
International premiere

‘On Body And Soul’ wins top prize at 2018 Hungarian Film Awards

Originally published on screendaily.com

The 2018 Hungarian Film Awards were presented in Budapest this weekend, with Ildikó Enyedi’s On Body And Soul winning both best film and best director.

The Golden Bear-winner, which also earned a best foreign language film nomination at this year’s Oscars, won five awards in total.

It also took home best screenplay, best actress for Alexandra Borbély and best supporting actress for Réka Tenki.

The awards were handed out by the Hungarian Film Academy at the Vígszínház theatre in Budapest on 11 March.

The best actor award went to Péter Rudolf for his performance in 1945, a story of guilt and reckoning for Hungarian villagers at the end of the Holocaust.

István Znamenák won best supporting actor for Citizen, and the audience award for best feature film went to Kincsem — Bet on Revenge, a period drama by Gabor Herendi about a famous Hungarian racehorse.

The full list of winners are here.

Netflix takes North America, UK on Berlin Silver Bear winner ‘Dovlatov’

Originally published on screendaily.com

Dovlatov, which was well received at this year’s Berlin Film Festival and took home a Silver Bear for costume designer Elena Okopnaya, has sold into 23 territories.

Sales agent Alpha Violet has inked a significant deal with SVoD giant Netflix covering the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland and Scandinavia.

It has also locked distribution in France (Paradis Films), Italy (Satine Film), Spain (Abordar), Portugal (Leopardo Filmes), Bulgaria (Artfest), Turkey (Bir Film), Taiwan (Joint Entertainment), Brazil (Imovision), Argentina (CDI), China (Times Vision), Greece (AMA Films), the Baltic region (Estin Films) and Romania (Bad Unicorn).

Previous deals were done for China (Times Vision), Greece (Ama Films) and Estonia and Latvia (Estin Film).

The film will have its release in Russia via Disney on March 1.

Directed by Russian filmmaker Alexey German Jr., Dovlatov covers six days in the life of influential Russian writer Sergei Dovlatov.

The film premiered to strong reviews in Berlin, with Screen’s critic describing it as ”an imaginatively realistic recreation of a bygone era of Russian culture.”

City of Boston Presents Artist Fellowship to Five Local Artists

It is a good year to be an emerging artist in Boston. As part of its ongoing Boston Creates program, the city has started an annual Artist Fellowship that awards $10,000 per person to five local artists working in a variety of media. The winners were chosen by a jury of local arts leaders from a pool of 304 applications submitted from all across the city.

This year’s recipients were announced on October 11 and included Roslindale trumpeter and composer Jason Palmer, documentary filmmaker and Boston University professor Mary Jane Doherty, Roxbury artist Michelle Fornabai, performance artist Marilyn Arsem, and Dariel Suarez, a Brighton-based author who is currently working on his second novel.

Suarez, age 34, thinks he heard about the Artist Fellowship from one of his fellow staff members at GrubStreet, a creative writing center located in downtown Boston. Suarez works there full-time planning writing courses and often picks up teaching gigs on the side to make ends meet and continue writing his own work. He is hoping that this award will allow him to take a step back from teaching and focus on his novel, which will deal with the intersection of political dissidence and art in his native Cuba.

“It’s a huge help because I’m a writer with a full-time job,” Suarez said. “This really reduces the amount of extra work that I would have to take on in order to focus on the actual writing. Otherwise I would have to claw and scrape to find time to write.”

One of the biggest goals of the Artist Fellowship was to make it accessible to as many people as possible, no matter their specific discipline or background. According to Julie Burros, Boston’s Chief of Arts and Culture and the main organizer of the fellowship, the application process was specifically designed to place each distinct genre of art on a level playing field and designate at least one grant for each discipline. In an effort to make the process more inclusive, applicants were only required to have lived in Boston for three years in order to be eligible for the award. The city also accepted applications in six different languages and allowed applicants who were not fluent in English to submit a video of themselves describing their work in their native language in place of a resumé.

Suarez, who immigrated to the United States from Cuba in 1997, is excited that the city is recognizing the talents of all of its inhabitants.

“I noticed there were different language options and there was a lot of focus on different neighborhoods in the city, and I think that’s really important moving forward because Boston has a lot more diversity than people think,” he said. “I’m really glad they’re putting the tools out there for people to get access to this kind of support.”

Unlike many grants of its kind, the Artist Fellowship is not specific to any particular project, but rather leaves it up to the artist to decide how they spend the money. Mary Jane Doherty, another recipient of the fellowship, is planning on using the funding to get a professional sound mix on a film she is working on about the Boston Children’s Choir. She feels that getting a professional sound mix is one of the largest barriers of entry for independent filmmakers, and the higher production value would allow her to get more exposure at festivals than she has for most of her thirty year career.

“No filmmaker can afford the equipment that you need for a mix, and most filmmakers are not engineers, so there are a lot of arcane things you have to deal with,” Doherty said. “I’m excited to use this for a project where sound is the storyteller.”

The framework of the fellowship is the result of years of careful planning by the city’s Office of Arts and Culture.

“We looked at the structures of several different kinds of fellowship grant programs and decided that we wanted to have as few strings attached as possible,” Chief Burros said. “In the end we’re not funding a project, we’re funding a person.”

The award’s only stipulation is that each artist is responsible for collaborating with the city on bringing their work to the people of Boston in some way.

“The idea for Boston is, ‘How can we support our artists, and how can they support us?’” Doherty said. “So there’s an expectation that you’ll take your work and find ways to engage with the public, particularly kids and young people.”

Dariel Suarez feels that the city’s loose approach to the award is a huge vote of confidence for struggling artists starting out in Boston. For many, this kind of fellowship program is a welcome change of pace from the typical world of arts funding that is so dominated by museums or big foundations like the National Endowment for the Arts. There are very few opportunities for emerging artists who are independent from those organizations to get funding. According to Burros, one of the foremost goals of the Artist Fellowship was to combat this problem and make funding accessible to talented creators in the city who are not necessarily attached to a big name foundation or museum.

“If you can prove your dedication to your art, I think it’s important for the city to say, ‘We want you to stay here, we want you to produce work here, and we want you to succeed as an artist,’” said Suarez. “And the way that we pay that back is by representing the city in our work.”

“There is almost no funding for individuals, and that’s often where the really cool things come from,” Mary Jane Doherty said. “The fact that you don’t have to prove your connection with another organization is a very rare gift.”

Burros says they have the funding to continue the fellowship for the foreseeable future, and they have no plans to stop. She hopes that the Artist Fellowship and other programs like it can encourage new artists to develop their craft here and show them that Boston will continue to support them for as long as they are making art.

 

 

 

You’re My Favorite Customer: the Coolidge Grapples with Midnight Screenings of The Room

Originally published on Vanyaland

 

The lights go off, the crowd roars, and the Wiseau Films logo appears on the screen. What follows is a 90 minute onslaught of gratuitous sex scenes, intoxicated 20-somethings yelling their favorite quotes in unison, and the offbeat delivery of eccentric star and director Tommy Wiseau. This is what happens when you attend a midnight showing of The Room, the 2003 cult classic that has been called “the best worst movie ever made.”

Brookline’s Coolidge Corner Theatre has been hosting these screenings since 2007. In those 10 years, the screenings have grown from tiny audiences to sold-out theaters packed with rowdy diehards. These days they seem to be more about the experience of viewing the film in a packed room than the actual film itself, with the most rabid followers often drowning out the dialogue with their call-and-response references and inside jokes. Audiences have also started a tradition of throwing hundreds of plastic spoons at the screen whenever a particular framed picture of a spoon appears in the background.

“The rowdiness is part of the charm. That’s why you go to The Room, for the craziness of it,” says Brookline resident Garrett Stevens, who attended the most recent screening of The Room last month. “It’s a communal thing I think more than any other moviegoing experience.”

But that fun, communal environment often causes problems for the Coolidge staff.

“I’ve always had to do introductions to let people know they’re watching a bad film, and also to set up our expectations for the audience’s behavior,” Coolidge After Midnite curator Mark Anastasio says.

According to Anastasio, it is not uncommon for the staff to be picking up plastic spoons and popcorn until 3:30 a.m. They have also had problems with people throwing footballs in the crowd, yelling inappropriate or sexist things during the film, and bringing drugs and alcohol into the theater.

“As a film programmer I shouldn’t be complaining about a film that reliably brings sold-out audiences,” Anastasio adds. “One sold-out screening of The Room can fund two or three weeks of films that only bring in 30 to 50 people.”

However, almost 10 years of increasingly raucous screenings combined with a deteriorating relationship with Wiseau led the Coolidge to stop showing the film last year. But the film suddenly began making headlines again when it was announced that James Franco and Seth Rogen would be releasing a screen adaptation of The Disaster Artist in December, based on a novel written by Room co-star Greg Sestero about the making of the film and his friendship with Wiseau.

Sestero is a longtime patron of the Coolidge and even witnessed his first midnight screening of the film at the Brookline cinema many years ago, so the theater decided to support him by resuming monthly screenings of The Room this summer. They also hope to host a full script read through of The Room with Sestero in December and have members of the audience read characters’ parts.

While the newfound attention brought by The Disaster Artist will only expand the film’s audience, the future of The Room at Coolidge Corner Theatre is uncertain. According to Anastasio, they will continue the screenings for at least a few months after the new film is released, but beyond that, they will need to have a serious discussion about how they can continue to accommodate the crowds that it brings. One thing is certain though: As long as The Room is showing, there will be hundreds of eager fans lining up outside the theater to throw spoons during the best worst movie ever made.

“Play Me, I’m Yours” Brings Music to the Streets of Boston

BOSTON — If you were strolling through the city of Boston this weekend chances are you stumbled upon one of the sixty street pianos that local artists individually painted and placed throughout the city. The pianos are part of an internationally touring artwork called “Play Me, I’m Yours” by British artist Luke Jerram that has come to over 50 cities worldwide.

The project first came to the city in 2013 and Celebrity Series Boston, a presenting organization that produces over 100 performance art pieces annually, has brought it back this fall. The street pianos opened on September 23 and will continue until October 10. Every piano is inscribed “Play Me, I’m Yours” and the artist’s signature.

“The first time we did the street pianos it was really one of the first public art installations of its kind to come to Boston,” said Gary Dunning, the President and Executive Director of Celebrity Series Boston. Dunning has devoted his life to facilitating the connection between artist and audience. He first saw “Play Me, I’m Yours” in London, and was so inspired by it that he decided to bring it to Boston. “It was such a success that we decided to bring it back again this year.”

Dennis Carr’s lively, multi-song performance at the piano at City Hall Plaza could be heard from a block away and attracted a small crowd Sunday afternoon.

“I’m glad they brought it back because it was really fun last time,” the 27-year-old Carr said. “It really builds a sense of community and allows people passing by to experience music in a way that wouldn’t normally be possible.”

On the same bright, breezy afternoon Carr performed at City Hall Plaza, Liam Morley, 36, could be found playing a soft, lilting ballad on the street piano at Old North Church. This particular piano was tucked away in a small square on the side of the church, off the beaten path of Boston’s touristy North End neighborhood.

“Each piano has its own artwork, its own sound, its own location,” Morley said. “I’ve played probably around 12 to 15 of them so far, and I’m going to try to play all of them if I can.”

As Morley played, the few people who passed by stopped for a moment and listened. But for the most part it was just him and the piano. He has been playing off and on for 25 years.

“It’s an art installation where the audience is the artist,” Morley said. “A lot of art installations are good to look at but it’s ‘look but don’t touch,’ whereas this invites everybody… to come and be a kid again or be an artist again.”

Dunning encourages everyone who is inspired by the street pianos to make art a daily experience, “because it really does make for a better life.”