Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #59

Contents

MS. RUBY DEE GRACIOUSLY CLOSES ROX FILM FEST

NIK WALKER’S DEBUT SHOWS WHAT HE’S MADE OF

BYE BYE BIRDIE MAKES YOU WANT TO STAY

ASSASSINS REACHES DEEP INTO THE SOUL

JIMMY TINGLE FOR PRESIDENT??

MAMMA MIA IS A SHEER DELIGHT

FILMS, DOCS AND MORE

UP-COMING EVENTS


MS. RUBY DEE GRACIOUSLY CLOSES ROX FILM FEST

by Kay Bourne

(Ruby Dee in a scene from “STEAM”)

733093242682195710114735bbd39960.124.84 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #59At 84, RUBY DEE shows no signs of slowing down professionally. Last year was a biggie. She won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album (a tie between Dee and her husband Ossie Davis for “With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together,” and former president Jimmy Carter.) And, she was nominated, as well, for an Oscar for Best Supporting Role for her portrayal of Mama Lucas in “American Gangster” making her the second oldest nominee for that award behind Gloria Stewart who was 87 for her role in “Titanic.” It was her first Academy Award nomination in a film career spanning some 68 years.

As well, Dee has a featured role in the indie film “STEAM,” which brings her to the ROXBURY FILM FESTIVAL. At the Sunday, AUGUST 3 screening at the Museum of Fine Arts, the Closing Event for the 10th anniversary celebrating independent film makers of color, Dee will preside over a Q & A. For more info about the festival which is screening some 85 films, you can go to www.RoxburyFilmFestival.org.

“There are so many spaces between my projects, it seems like more work than it really is,” said Dee reached by phone at Emmalyn, the production company she and her husband founded in the early 80′s named in honor of Ruby’s mother who had recently passed away with the addition of a letter each for the couple’s children: L for Laverne, Y for Guy, and N for Nora. Dee and Davis often worked together in films, on stage and in TV over their 57 years of marriage. Their life and careers is thoughtfully pondered in a joint memoir published by William and Morrow And Company in 1998, “With Ossie & Ruby/In This Life Together.”

In 2007, Dee also made the indie films “All About Us” which screened at last year’s Roxbury Film Festival and “Flying Over Purgatory.”

Dee reconsiders her comment about the amount of work she does saying that perhaps she’s unaware of the sheer volume of her activity since “I’ve been at it for so long. It’s what the fabric of my life is made up of.”

She’s enthusiastic about “Steam,” which follows the lives of three women who’ve each come to an important juncture in their lives.

At the start of life is Elizabeth, portrayed by Kate Siegel (“Curse of the Black Dahlia”), a young adult from a protected family environment whose Christian values have kept her pinned in emotionally. Once at college where she begins to explore personal options, she realizes that she is probably a lesbian. Allie Sheedy (“The Breakfast Club” “Noise” “A Good Night To Die”) plays Laurie, a middle aged woman who finds herself in a custody battle with her ex-husband for her son. She is broke, desperate, and single. Dee’s character is Doris, an elderly woman mourning the recent death of her husband.

Steam” was shot in and around Kyle Schickner‘s hometown of Brunswick, New Jersey, where his dad is the Wilkes University shuttle bus driver. A fifth film for Schickner, who produced, wrote, and directed the movie, it runs close to two hours. Dee praises the whole notion of the film and in particular the character’s life she was asked to portray. “There are not enough films about older people who become friends and lovers, and what’s at stake at the end of life. It’s such a tender time.”

The only scenes where the three women’s lives intersect are in the steam room of a health club. “In those moments,” she said, “it all comes together with profound endings plus new beginnings implicit in everybody’s crisis, a kind of resurrection. It’s a delicate kind of story that unfolds. I am impressed with the quality of Kyle’s direction.”

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