Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #83

July 26th, 2010  |  Published in Kay Bourne Arts Report

Contents
RIFF OPENS THIS WEEK
“CONTRACT” CONNECTS AT RIFF
“OFF AND RUNNING” at RIFF
MASCOLL IN GRIMM
GILLIAM AS OTHELLO IN THE COMMONS
HAMBURGERS WITH HUMOR AND HORROR
UP-COMING EVENTS & COMMUNITY INFO


RIFF OPENS THIS WEEK
by Kay Bourne
713 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #83
The annual film festival in Roxbury has modified its name to recognize that film makers from throughout the African Diaspora participate.
The 12th annual ROXBURY INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (RIFF), once the Roxbury Film Festival, is New England’s largest film festival dedicated to celebrating people of Color. RIFF premieres Thursday, JULY 29th and runs through Saturday, AUGUST 1. Presented by The Color of Film Collaborative, the publishers of this arts report, and ACT Roxbury, a program of Madison Park Development Corporation, RIFF will screen more than 50 films including features, shorts, documentaries, and youth-produced works over the course of four days.
“We are very excited about this year’s festival, with a new name and a new logo, we embrace a global community of filmmakers celebrating people of Color,” said LISA SIMMONS, co-producer of the Roxbury International Film Festival.

“Coupled with our continued commitment to local filmmakers, the Roxbury International Film Festival gives us the best of both worlds and an array of work that showcases the vision, voice, and vitality of people of Color here and abroad.”
The festival film selection committee received some 300 submissions from around the country and around the world – and some of the films that will be shown are from Cape Verde, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Canada, and the UK.
The festival offers networking opportunities for filmmakers and enthusiasts. Some of these activities are an acting workshop taught by TROY ROWLAND (one of Hollywood’s premiere coaches), a distribution panel moderated by QUINCY NEWELL, Executive VP and GM of Codeblack Enterprizes LLC, Youth Day activities, and the ever popular DINNER & A MOVIE night at Haley House.

Screenings will be held at various venues in and around the Roxbury community: Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Massachusetts College of Fine Arts, Roxbury Center for the Arts at Hibernian Hall, the Annex Auditorium at Wentworth College, and the Haley House Bakery Café. For more information, including purchasing festival passes, please visit the festival website.

Roxbury International Film Festival website


“CONTRACT” CONNECTS AT RIFF
By Kay Bourne
714 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #83
The next to smallest country of Africa’s fifty-five nations became of enormous interest to GUENNY K. PIRES, a social activist film maker. The Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe concerned the accomplished Cape Verdean director for its historical connection to Cape Verde and, in an immediate way, for a familial reason.
Back in the 19th and throughout much of the 20th century, thousands of Cape Verdeans were forced by the government of Portugal (a colonial ruler until Cape Verde independence in 1975) to go as contract workers to the islands of São Tomé and Principe to work in the coffee and cacao plantations. Even after many years of struggle and sacrifice to eke out a meager existence in a strange land, most of the displaced Cape Verdeans have never been able to return home or be reunited with their families.
With “CONTRACT,” which is being screened at the Roxbury International Film Festival, Pires’ look at that past demonstrates how the West continues to use slavery to build the Western World and at its cost to the people who suffer the consequences of such exploitation. The workers receive 10 cents per day and a $10 retirement from the São Tomé and Principe government, according to the film maker.
In a recent phone interview with the film maker, Pires said that “the roles of economic exploitation and identity in the lives of Cape Verdean people are the major themes of my film making.”
The themes have a continuing interest, he said, “because they help me to understand my people. That I can bring these stories forward makes me feel very proud but I also feel a responsibility on my shoulders.”
The filming of “CONTRACT” became deeply personal to Pires.

At the heart of the documentary is the family story of the filmmaker himself. The film follows his journey to reunite his family after his uncle left for São Tomé and Principe in 1964.

“When I met my uncle in Sao Tomo it was a shock and a happiness,” relates Pires. “His story, his trip held a fascination for me as a film maker, and finally I had my uncle and could reunite him with the rest of my family. It was a lovely moment to me.”

Pires said that every time he sees that part of his movie, he gets emotional. “I feel like I’m going to cry even though it’s three years later.”
Pires, who currently lives in L.A., is eager to have “CONTRACT” in the Roxbury International Film Festival, he said “because the largest Cape Verde community in the U.S. lives in Massachusetts. I get to present the film to my people.”

CONTRACT ticket information


“OFF AND RUNNING” at RIFF
By Kay Bourne 715 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #83
AVERY KLEIN-CLOUD can’t get a grip on who she is. An outstanding high school cross country runner, the question of identity trips her up.

In a candid documentary film which she wrote with director NICOLE OPPER, “OFF AND RUNNING,” Avery is thrown off course. And her angst supports the notion that adopting cross racially doesn’t work well for the child, which has been the contention of many Black social workers over the years.
Exploring herself as a Black person, Avery sets up a face book as Mycole Antwonisha, the name her birth mom gave her. After being the only Black child in a Jewish day school, now she attends a high school with a large Black population where she does develop a support group of African American classmates and begins to date a Black young man.
An African American, born in Texas to a mother who kept children older and younger than Klein-Cloud, but gave her up for adoption as an infant, Avery was raised by two White lesbians in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. The multi-racial family also includes two other adopted children, another African American, a boy, slightly older, and a much young Korean American boy. Avery has no doubt that she dearly loves the women who raised her and her siblings, but raised White but with dark skin, she feels at a loss as to who she really is.
As the film begins, Avery has posted a letter to her birth mom sent to the agency that arranged the adoption, hoping to make contact, yet fearing another rejection. She braves that fear because she says, “I just want to know who I am and where I come from.” Yet, her passion to become acquainted with her birth mom comes across as more fraught with emotion than merely gathering information. It seems in a way to be a longing to address the past rather than moving forward through embracing the birth mother and her other children. And when the birth mother is slow to respond after the initial letter, Avery goes into a tail spin emotionally, dropping out of school and bunking with friends, rather than going home.
Avery’s older brother Rafi has a quite different attitude toward his family of origin. He has a twin brother born with fetal alcohol syndrome, which motivates Rafi (who admits to some “survival guilt”) to push himself academically. He’s off to Princeton, having set his course on becoming a doctor who’ll try to alleviate the condition his twin suffers. He advises Avery to consider that you can think you’re destined “born into something” or you can take your future into your own hands and “be what you want to be.”
Fortunately for Avery, she has running. The sport has never disappointed her, but she discovers that she can disappoint herself, participating in the sport, by not being up to her personal best.
The documentary, which basically follows a year in Avery’s life, is enriched by lots of footage from her apparently happy childhood in her adopted family. There is also the full participation of her adoptive parents, whom Avery rails against, but who continue to love her so much they’ll go along this invasion of their privacy knowing Avery has negative feelings about them as well as positive.

“OFF AND RUNNING” screens this Sunday, AUGUST 1, 4:30pm along with “KNOCK OFF” a narrative short at Mass College of Art. Click the image of Avery above for ticket information, and visit RIFF’s website for a full schedule of all the films, shorts, documentaries, comedies, features, workshops and panels presented this year.

Roxbury International Film Festival website


MASCOLL IN GRIMM
By Kay Bourne
712 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #83 (Mascoll in GRIMM)
A 35-year-old baby who sells, wouldn’t you know, talcum powder, but he purveys it only during a small window of opportunity, much to a princess’ chagrin. A grumpy dwarf named Curmudgeon whose obsession with Snow White scares even his six, brother mine-workers.
“Wild roles,” says KEITH MASCOLL, who’s in rehearsal for “GRIMM,” a re-imagining of seven fairy tales. The Company One production of these eccentric takes on old favorites runs through AUGUST 14 in the Roberts Studio Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street, in Boston’s South End.
Performing these off beat parts “makes you a better actor as you’re constantly thinking on your feet,” says Mascoll.

The one in which Curmudgeon lusts after Snow White is by GREGORY MAGUIRE , whose novel “Wicked” was the basis for the hit musical (WINNIE HOLZMAN wrote the book for the Broadway show) and whose best selling works typically reframe fairy tales.
The other playwrights contributing to the Company One production are Boston favorites MELINDA LOPEZ, LYDIA R. DIAMOND, KIRSTEN GREENIDGE, MARCUS GARDLEY, JOHN KUNTZ, and JOHN ADEKOJE, all Massachusetts residents with national reputations.
Mascoll, who has been a regular with Company One for six years or so, finds acting with them “satisfying. They are one of the few companies that does a lot of plays of people of color, local and national.” Five of the playwrights for “Grimm” fall into that category.
A native Bostonian with a degree from UMASS/Boston in theater arts, Mascoll is an affiliate artist with Providence Black Repertory Company and works in New York as well. He was nominated for an IRNE twice, both times for performing in plays by ADEKOJE (one of the “Grimm” playwrights).
“John’s work is always a challenge. His political references and the rhythms of his dialogue require special attention.

Mascoll has branched out from theater and now has considerable experience as well in TV, films, commercials, industrials for trade shows and the like, and voice overs.

Recently, he was the photo double and stand in for Chris Rock in the feature film comedy “Grown Ups,” the Adam Sandler movie about five good friends and team mates, now adults, who reunite after their basketball coach from high school passes away.
Mascoll found Rock as a person “genuinely funny, really shy, pretty much the character we see on his TV show ‘Everybody Hates Chris’.”

The work went well and Mascoll was hired for a second Happy Madison Production as a deejay in “The Zookeeper” which gets him on camera if for only a few seconds.

The actor says what you bring to the set that matters is “your professionalism. You show up on time. Being prepared every day. Being courteous. Conforming to the environment. Knowing when to talk and not talk.”

“Getting work has a lot to do with connections. If people see you as professional, sincere, and talented, then people want to get to know you better.”

Mascoll adds that he has also found that “people respect your coming from the theater.”

KEITH MASCOLL’s website


GILLIAM AS OTHELLO IN THE COMMONS
By Kay Bourne
716 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #83
SETH GILLIAM, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Sgt. Ellis Carver on HBO’s “The Wire” and as Clayton Hughes on HBO’s “Oz,” now steps into the title role in “OTHELLO” for the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. The performances on the Boston Common, weather permitting, are Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 7pm from JULY 28 through AUGUST 15, free and open to the public.
When an actor of Color takes on the role of Othello, he joins a fraternity of performers going back to IRA ALDRIDGE. Mr. Aldridge made his acting debut at age 14 in 1821 at the African Company on Mercer Street in New York City generally recognized as the very first Black theater company in the U.S. (Boston’s ‘New African Company’ was named for this historic group.)
Aldridge left the country, however, when the company was forced to disband by a citizenry enraged that Black people would dare to do Shakespeare. And it was not until Aldridge got to England in 1825 that he portrayed Othello, the Moorish general who succumbs to jealousy which leads to murder through the betrayal of one of his trusted lieutenants, Iago.
Seth Gilliam joins the ranks of such actors as Paul Robeson, the first Black actor ever to play the part in an otherwise all-White cast in the U. S. That production debuted at the Brattle Theater in Cambridge’s Harvard Square. Other outstanding portrayals from history are William Marshall and James Earl Jones. Locally, Jason Bowen gave a heart rending portrayal of the mighty Othello at Villa Victoria in the Actors’ Shakespeare Project’s production this past spring. A 1995 movie version starred Laurence Fishburne.

Commonwealth Shakespeare Company website


HAMBURGERS WITH HUMOR AND HORROR
by Bing Broderick
717 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #83
For the fourth year, HALEY HOUSE BAKERY & CAFE partners up with the Color of Film Collaborative to present a DINNER & A MOVIE on the Friday night of the Roxbury International Film Festival. As many of you know, Dinner & A Movie has become a quarterly favorite for film, food & conversation, but the summer event is extra-special, because we set up an inflatable movie screen in the parking lot, and have an outdoor party under the stars, spotlighting many of our local growers and suppliers. This year, the selection of two independent campy horror films complements the hot, summery, “Drive-In” feel of Outdoor Dinner & A Movie.
The films this are are: “AMATEUR SUICIDE HOTLINE” (a short): This is the suicide hotline you don’t want to call. Zany callers find no help from these misfits working the phones in this dark comedy.

“MACHETE JOE” (the feature): A group of out-of-work actors decide to take their careers into their own hands by shooting a low-budget horror film, about an urban myth. With only 15 days to shoot their unfinished script, at a remote castle in the desert, getting through the first night becomes a nightmare. As their egos begin to surface so do the dead bodies. Written by GORDON GREENE.
Menu for this event will include lots of great local food: -Haley House Homemade Chicken Dogs topped with our homemade Sauerkraut -Hardwick Farms Cheeseburgers with all the fixings -Haley House’s Own Special Veggie Burgers -Haley House Potato Salad with local potatoes and vegetables and Noonday Farm Eggs -Haley House Special Healthy Slaw made with Chinese Cabbage from Noonday Farm -Fresh local Tomato Salad -Sour Cherry Upside Down featuring Roxbury/Dorchester Cherries, courtesy of Earthworks, topped with Whipped Cream -Watermelon Punch -Organic Beer & Wine will be available for purchase Dinner & A Movie Tickets are not included in the RIFF Festival Pass, they must be purchased seperately, and are on sale now. Hope to see you this Friday night.

RIFF DINNER & A MOVIE ticket info


UP-COMING EVENTS & COMMUNITY INFO
DROP-IN YOUTH SPORTS NIGHTS, Thursdays, now until AUGUST 12, 5pm to sundown at White Stadium and Tennis Courts for youth ages 8-18, every Thursday evening for free sports: basketball, double dutch, flag football, frisbee, tennis, kickball and food is served.
2010 ELMA LEWIS PLAYHOUSE IN THE PARK returns with the FREE SUMMER PERFORMING ARTS SERIES for the whole family; morning shows for camps and daycares. This year, they present Tuesday shows at 11 a.m. for an hour, geared toward children, families and summer camps. Evening shows, hosted by Naheem, run from 6 to 8:30 p.m. These FREE, outdoor performances take place at Valley Gates, next to The Playstead, the big field in Franklin Park between White Stadium and the rear entrance of the Zoo. For more information, call (617) 442-4141 or click here. July 27, 11 a.m. – OrigiNation dancers
July 27, 6 p.m. – Boston Soul Revue plays time classic dance hits of the 60′s and 70′s.
August 3, 11 a.m. – Estrellas Tropicales a baton twirling amazing Caribbean dance troop from Jamaica Plain.
August 3, 6 p.m.- Zili Misik creates music that bridges Haitian, Brazilian, and West African rhythms.
August 10, 11 a.m. – Ballet Rox, multi-racial youth-based professional ballet company, led by Tony Williams.
August 10, 6 p.m. – Kendrick Oliver and the New Life Jazz Orchestra with gospel jazz.
August 17, Mayor Menino’s Movie Night
Tito Puente Latin Music Series Continues with FREE Latin Music and Culture Spectacular, JULY 31 at City Hall Plaza with a Celebration of Latin Music and Culture with Jerry Rivera and Eguie y su Orquesta from 7 to 9 p.m. Call 617-927-1707, or click here for information.
Up You Mighty Race in collaboration with The Nettles Artists Collective presents “THE PSYCHOLOGICAL BODY”, a weekend intensive master class lead by Debora Balardini and Sandie Luna of New York City based Nettles Artists Collective JULY 31 & AUGUST 1, for $150. For further details or to register please contact Collinmeath@upyoumightyrace.org or call 617-536-9695 ext. 204.

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The Color of Film Collaborative is a non-profit organization that supports and fosters the individuals and organizations in the creation of diverse images of people of color in film, video, theater and other media, by providing artists with opportunities to exhibit, distribute and find funding for their work, as well as provide a supportive environment where they can share and develop their ideas, their vision and their work with their peers. About Us

Roxbury International Film Festival

Join us July 29th - August 1st, 2010 for the 12th Annual Roxbury Film Festival. Incredible movies will be playing and other events will be happening and more. Find out more

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In collaboration with The Haley House Bakery Café, the Color of Film Collaborative presents our ongoing film series, featuring independent cinema and delicious food. Read more...

The Roxbury International Film Festival



Now going into its 12th year, the Roxbury International Film Festival is proudly presented by The Color of Film Collaborative to promote productions of color. Find out more here...

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