|Posted by email@example.com on May 10, 2017 at 10:05 AM||comments (0)|
"MWAH" Keeps the Hugs & Kisses Coming!
2017 Rochester International Film Festival Follow Up
By Christine G. Adamo
ABOVE: Iranian Filmmaker Sara Soheili at the Rochester Int'l. Film Festival (NY) and at the WorldFest in Houston (TX).
It's no wonder it's the longest-running, continually-held, short film festival ... in the world!
Over a long weekend, the 59th Annual Rochester International Film Festival enthralled throngs of eager movie goers from Rochester and beyond. Held April 20-22, 2017, at George Eastman Museum’s famed Dryden Theatre, it boasted near-capacity crowds at four distinct screenings and extended-stay visits from filmmakers and crew members representing cities or towns across the U.S., Canada, China, Iran, Israel and Spain.
One particular highlight was the bittersweet short film “MWAH” (12 min.).
Written and directed by Sara Soheili, who hails from Tehran, “MWAH” tackles the topic of untimely pregnancy with wit, wisdom and compassion. This was her first film venture as a Director and, she says, RIFF was the first U.S. festival to screen it. Maybe that’s why, since leaving Rochester on Sun., April 23, Soheili has kept in touch with area fans via Facebook, SnapChat and email—shooting off emoji hugs and kisses with regularity.
In the time since, she has visited L.A. and gone on to accept a 2017 Platinum Level Remi Award at WorldFest Houston. That’s a feat in itself, given that roughly 15% of all films selected into that festival receive juried awards like that one. She’ll once again find an audience for “MWAH” next Fri., May 19, when the film screens as part of the D.C. Asian Pacific American Film Festival lineup being shown in our nation’s capital.
ABOVE: "MWAH" tackles the topic of untimely pregnancy with wit, wisdom and compassion. (image: Sara Soheili).
Yesterday, I asked Sara what she liked most about our local festival.
“What I liked most about the Rochester International Film Festival,” she told me, “is how wonderful the hosts (and organizing members) are. They arrange lots of great events, screen the winning films in a lovely theatre and give filmmakers time to talk about their films with audience members who are also very artistic.”
Soheili has shared her film at several festivals since arriving stateside.
Still, she insists, “MWAH” had its U.S. Premier in Rochester—often referred to as the birthplace of film, with its connections to George Eastman and Eastman Kodak Co. That got me wondering: How did it feel to see it up on the big screen under those conditions? And how did our audience’s reaction to the film affect her?
“The audience was large and offered the best reaction to my film so far,” she explained. “In Rochester, it was clear that people had feelings about my film. They truly connected with it. They also sometimes laughed during the screening. I liked that! It proved that I can make a dramatic film that uses comedy (successfully).”
“I hope to see you (all) again soon.” xo
ABOVE: Sara Soheili, of Tehran, breaks for dinner at Blu Wolf Bistro prior to her U.S. Premier. (photo by cga)
The feeling’s mutual, Sara. xo Same goes for the rest of this year's amazing talent!
Filmmakers who traveled from abroad to attend the Rochester International Film Festival included: David Sanz (“La Parada/The Stop,” Spain, 18 min.), Yaniv Segalovich (“An Average Story,” Israel, 18 min.), Tian Xie (“Promise,” China, 16 min.) and Jake Kovnat (“On Days Like These We Must Surf,” Canada, 8 min.)—a Rochester native who now lives and, yes, surfs in the Toronto area.
U.S.-based filmmakers who made the trek to Rochester to participate in the fest included: Kai Carlson-Wee (“Riding the Highline,” 16 min.), Alvaro Cognosto (“The Suitor,” 12 min.), Chris Fiorentini (“Generation Gap,” 11 min.), Ben Hartley (“Early Mourning,” 14 min.), Ivo Huahua (“Stutter,” 14 min.), Steve O’Reilly/Andy Ferguson (“Going Public,” 16 min.) and Conor Chandler Simpson (“Pounce,” 13 min.).
Want to interview a RIFF filmmaker? Contact us for a hook up!
SARA SOHEILI was born in Mashhad, Iran, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from Islamic Azad University at Tehran. While completing her studies, she attended various Assoc. of Young Filmmakers workshops—honing her skills as an Actor, Cinematographer and Makeup Artist since the age of 19. She made “MWAH” in 2016, adding Film Production and Directing to her list of movie-based credentials.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on April 11, 2017 at 2:35 PM||comments (1)|
THRU MAY 13TH - "It’s Not Funny" (Or is it?) - RoCo
By Christine G. Adamo
When I was 7, I would slather myself in oil in hopes of catching a killer tan. I did this on the tar rooftop of the Ridgewood brownstone our Italian American family of seven kept a 2BR, 2nd story apartment in. This alongside my three grown sisters—two of whom shared a Castro convertible couch, in the living room, as a bed. They'd mist with water and run fresh-cut lemons along their miles-longer and lighter-than-my-own-tar-colored hair.
As I slunk into the background, they listened to “Night Fever” (Michelle was a whiz at The Hustle), “Yellow Brick Road” (Fran’s favorite) and “Black Betty” (Denise’s top pick, as with all things, for a short while). When I wasn't tagging along for tanning sessions, I watched a lot of TV with my only brother, Joey—who rocked the bunk beds in the back parlor slash sewing room off my parents’ dedicated bedroom with me and who remains my Pop idol. Long live Joe Cool.
“The Incredible Hulk” was a favorite. We’re talking original episodes here.
No reruns. No DVDs. No Netflix sprees. Afterward he’d flex his yet-to-develop muscles and “Grrrrr” in my face. I, like Bill Bixby’s Dr. David Banner, played his mild-mannered sidekick. Joey was obsessed with Lou Ferrigno. Me? Bixby earlier starred in “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.” I swooned over Eddie (aka Brandon Cruz). I fell harder after interviewing The Dead Kennedys in So. Cal., when Cruz was the DK frontman.
Pop culture has a way confronting us with our past—when we least expect it.
Which brings me to the “It’s Not Funny” exhibit on display thru May 13 at Rochester Contemporary Art Center (137 East Ave. | Rochester, NY). The pics here offer a glimpse. Barbie. Ken. Bart Simpson. Mickey. Commonplace collectibles amid rare, precious gems. Pop icons from the past reconfigured to address modern concerns. The lone questionable icon who currently takes up space in our conscious collective.
“Grrrrr,” indeed. Then there’s Ferrigno. A slew of Ferrignos, in fact.
His hulking frame and larger-than-life musculature expertly mimicked in the talents of the artists whose work you’ll see. His status, as a figure looming large over pop landscapes, celebrated by art fans cozying up to this collection of diverse, provocative work. His sad sense of being misunderstood lurking in details: barely-there brush strokes or blatant examples of what we fix our attention on. (Like Facebook much?)
Whether you’re a Gen Xer (like me), a Baby Boomer (I'm admittedly borderline), a Millennial (I’m so bored with that term) or someone who defies categorization: You’ll find your memory jogged until it leaves you huffing and puffing or perhaps your psyche prodded until barely recognizable, as you stroll the 1st floor at RoCo in search of meaning. Whatever era it is you take comfort in, “It’s Not Funny” will take you there, to infinity and beyond
Participating artists hail from near and afar, spanning generations, and show work in various media both new and familiar: Airigami (aka Larry Moss and Kelly Cheatle, Rochester), Bob Conge (Rochester), Chris Cosnowski (Chicago), Dan Gunderson (DeLand, Fla.), Dina Goldstein (Tel Aviv, Israel), Tyler Bohm (Columbus) and Jason Schulmerich (Rochester).
RoCo Curator and Executive Director Bleu Ferrigno (errr, Cease) sums up the exhibit.
“Each artist used materials found in pop culture,” he told me, during a Thursday night preview, “which are commonplace and accessible. Yet, they gave them uncommon meaning as expressive tools, conveying deeper ideas (for a humorous and ironic take on) toys, play and pop culture while engaging some serious subject matter.”
It’s not funny! Or is it? You decide. Visit RochesterContemporary.org.
THIS ALSO @ ROCO: 6x6x2017
- Common folk: Submit an original 6-in. x 6-in. work of art!
- Entries due: Sun., April 16th (pick up a free “canvas” @ RoCo)
- Proceeds from the sales of donated 6x6x2017 works benefit RoCo.
- 6x6x17 Opening Party & Artwork Sale to be held June 3rd from 4-10pm.
|Posted by email@example.com on March 31, 2017 at 12:45 AM||comments (1)|
ROC FRIDAY | Check Out “The Power of the P”
By Christine G. Adamo
There is power in Poetry, Paint and Piano. Purpose itself is an art form.
So says Gianni S. White—better known on Facebook and in area arts circles as The Rebel Flower Bomb. Tomorrow night she presents a powerful, unique, multisensory event you won’t want to miss called “The Power of the P.”
Ariana Highsmith performs on keys and The Rebel Flower Bomb serves up some poetic justice, as both Pooker Astacio and Lavonne Barfield paint before a live audience .... bringing another dose of vivid color to the mix.
That's Fri., Mar. 31, 7-10 pm at Gallery 74.
“This is an event you do not want to miss,” The Rebel Flower Bomb explains. “Tell a friend to tell a friend, as we bring the Passion, the Pain, the Peace and most of all the POWER.”
Gallery 74 (aka Robert Thompson Photography Gallery) is on the 3rd Floor of Bldg. 3 at 215 Tremont St. (off Ford St.) in Rochester, NY 14608. Admission is $15. Expect light refreshments and bring cash, as afterward the highest bidder will walk away with a painting created on-site. Can we get some snaps for that?
Whoa, Back Up a Minute!
Let’s back up a minute. How'd this blogger stumble upon all of this in the first place? ROC-Arts got turned onto “The Power of the P” last weekend. On Sat., Mar. 25, The Rebel Flower Bomb and others gave explosive live readings during the Black Women’s Book Fair presented by the Rochester Genesee Valley Club arm of the Nat’l. Assoc. of Negro Business & Prof’l. Women’s Club, Inc. The nearby Phillis Wheatley Community Library was the hosting locale.
“I am so grateful for (this) to have been an opportunity for me,” she explained. “It was indeed very powerful.”
“I believe (events like it are) truly necessary and needed in Rochester—as well as the black community,as a whole. It is always an honor to share the stage with Professor Tokeya Graham, Lu Highsmith, Reenah Golden and Banke Awopetu-McCullough. It was even more rewarding to share the stage with Rochester pioneers.”
Part of her own readings included "This Is Why I'm DOPE!" (at R). The poem was written April 2015 and shared at that year’s annual Women’s Foundation of Genesee Valley Voices of Experience program, which seeks to inspire girls Grades 6 thru 12 to overcome challenges and to broaden paths to literacy and legacy-building for them.
“The poem is intended to empower women. Most of all women of color. I believe we all need to be encouraged. This poem defines the Power of women and the importance of a woman, in general. As a lesbian, I get both sides of a woman and can remind myself and others: We are powerful beings."
Even More Power to the P
Tokeya C. Graham helped emcee last weekend's Black Women’s Book Fair. Graham—an author, WAYO 104.3-FM radio host, ATHENA award finalist, D&C Woman to Watch and more—is Asst. Professor of English and Philosophy at Monroe Community College. The Rebel Flower Bomb (an MCC student) tells me she and Graham recently talked about honoring area leaders and building legacies of one’s own. Graham says she learned about the book fair when a friend posted a flyer on Facebook.
“I shared (it) with my writing collective, We All Write,” she told me. The group hosts a Facebook page by the same name. “I reached out to (NANBPW Member and Event Committee Chair) Alicia Ward by email and she invited our group to participate. I spoke with her on the phone and told her I would invite other performers, including my students.”
Ward then asked Graham to facilitate the panel discussion. She accepted.
“I hope the attendees were inspired to listen to poetry and to create poetry. I hope they were inspired to write books and to read more books, particularly those authored by Black women writers. I hope that they felt uplifted by all of the beautiful words that were shared in that space. I hope they recognized the significance of hearing poetry in a library named after the first Black woman to be a published poet.”
The event was powerful and empowering. Hence this post.
“These events are important because they illustrate the power of the written word. The event also provided a space for Black women authors to share their works. In these times of blatant disregard for the humanity and relevance of Black women, it's necessary to show the truth of Black womanhood—the beauty of it.”
Hey, I may be White but I could still relate. As a woman. As a concerned citizen. As a former Marine who's been used and abused by the sytem. And I was awestruck by the volume of the talent and voices which spoke so emphatically. You can be sure I won’t miss another Black Women’s Book Fair. If you know what’s good for you, you won’t miss another one either. As a primer, check out tomorrow night's offering at Gallery 74.
For tickets, search "The Power of the P" at EventBrite.com.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on October 21, 2016 at 12:40 AM||comments (0)|
Wanna Good Scream? Slip “Under the Shadow”
By Christine G. Adamo
Catch "Under the Shadow" at The Little Theater while you still can. Visit the TheLittle.org.
Her screams were unmistakable.
She was stunned. Mortified. Perhaps even terrified. She was? Me.
Sitting in L2, at The Little Theatre, I took in a pre-screening of the Persian film “Under the Shadow” (84 min.) with a handful of other brave folks. I’ll tell you now that I’m no fan of horror and am shocked that this entry only earned a PG-13 rating. Then again there were no sex scenes, no flashes of gratuitous nudity and nothing you could call overtly violent. Nothing obvious, that is.
I am, however, a fan of the undeniable realism, horrific undertones and stunning cinematography which characterize this film; a truly suspenseful social commentary. The 2016 release was written and directed by Babak Anvari. He's also known for the 2011 film “Two & Two,” described as “an allegory for the absurdness of dictatorship and tyranny and the resilience of the human spirit.”
His newest release ups the ante on all counts and, in the process, lifts the veil on the inherent horrors of patriarchy. Set in the late 1980s—as the Iran-Iraq War drew to a close—the film’s opening sequence sets the tone for what’s to come. We pan through the halls of an academic setting cast in stark white tones save for a raven-colored burqa worn by the protagonist, Shideh.
Narges Rashidi thrills as Shideh in "Under the Shadow" (directed by Anvari, 2016, 84 min.).
That role is played with vivid dimension by Narges Rashidi, whose own family fled Iran, in 1987, for Turkey and then Germany. It’s worth noting that Rashidi was named “Best Young Actress” at the N.Y. Int’l. Independent Film Video Festival, in 2007, for her role as Lolita in “A2Z.” If I had my way, she’d win an Oscar for her work in “Under the Shadow.”
The film’s synopsis describes a situation in which mother and daughter are struggling “to cope with the terrors of the post-revolution, war-torn Tehran of the 1980s (as) a mysterious evil begins to haunt their home.” That barely scratches at the surface of what lurks in every frame. Through a series of well-chosen camera angels and movements, we see Shideh’s world turn upside down.
A former medical student and cultural revolutionary, this young mother struggles to reconcile the relationships and forces which weigh on her: Her relationship with her mother, her relationship with her husband, her relationship with her daughter, her relationship with her neighbors, her relationship with institutions and her relationship with personal demons—each unyielding and oppressive of her ambitions, aspirations and actions.
A slew of contentious relationships ups the ante in "Under the Shadow," rated PG-13.
In the process, she struggles to hold it together both literally and figuratively.
A steady stream of pop culture references keeps viewers stuck in this '80s time capsule alongside Shideh, including a video clip of Yazoo’s 1982 hit song “Situation,” with its cautionary lyric: Don’t make a sound; just move out. Such references, however nostalgic, heighten the psychic and physical dangers women face as they reach for emancipation and empowerment.
“Under the Shadow” makes clear that—whether natural, supernatural or manmade—it is those forces that rest outside ourselves which are the most fearful of all, inducing anxiety and whipping up winds that put our dreams precariously out of reach. Brilliant, tense and suspenseful, this intellectual thriller takes horror to exciting new heights (a la "The Shining").
Several scenes in "Under the Shadow" surpass the scare level of "The Shining" even.
Catch “Under the Shadow” at The Little Theatre while you still can. Visit TheLittle.org for show times, which include a showing tonight (Thurs., Oct. 20), a matinee on Sat., Oct. 22, and another showing late Tues., Oct. 25.
And be sure to let me know if it makes you SOL. Uh, scream out loud.
|Posted by email@example.com on August 31, 2016 at 5:55 PM||comments (0)|
Sharon Jones, long-time vocalist with The Dap-Kings, comes on like a barefoot freight train.
Get Hip to “Miss Sharon Jones!” at The Little This Weekend
By Christine G. Adamo
Wanna one-word review of “Miss Sharon Jones!” (2015, 93 min.)? Humbling.
The film—produced and directed by Barbara Kopple in 2015, presented by Starz Digital and released nationwide this August—opens with a noontime screening on Sat., Sept. 3, at The Little Theatre and offers a humbling look at a year that could easily have derailed this dynamic woman whose spirited soul and vocals have infused the Grammy Award winning band The Dap-Kings with an extra shot of dimension for decades.
"Sharon's voice is like a train,” Dapette Saundra Williams cautioned. “You betta get out the way!"
As the part-live-concert, part-studio-performance and very personal documentary helps explain, this “female James Brown” and former Rikers Island corrections officer is more than just a booming voice and larger-than-life personality. She’s fronted The Dap-Kings for 20+ years. And she’s also a recent survivor of pancreatic cancer.
That particular struggle is what “Miss Sharon Jones!”—the movie—used as a vehicle to shed light on who Jones is. But, so much of what’s stood in the way of her rise to stardom has prepared her to face it head on.
"Everything I've done, in my life, takes a little longer," Jones confessed on film.
Sharon Jones fronts The Dap-Kings in Asheville, N.C., in 2010 (courtesy: Rich Orris on flickr).
She grew up the youngest of six children in what she classified “the projects.” She was determined to move her mother out of there just as soon as she could, often supporting her entire family. She’s also been called too fat. Too black. Too short. And too old.
“The guys from Sony,” she said, slung those accusations at her and made her question her ability to make a dent in the music industry. Yet? She’s made more than a little ripple. In fact, she's sure to leave a lasting impression.
"Look at me now. All this hard work has finally paid off."
"I think, all the time, ‘When I had in my head I wanted to be a star, nothing happened.’ But, when I just said, 'You know what? I just wanna sing and use this gift and let people love me for my voice—not the way I look—and enjoy my music,’ (things took off).”
Sharon Jones (center), The Dap-Kings and The Dapettes as featured in a publicity photo at SJDK online.
The Dap-Kings aren’t regularly showered with radio air time, but they have a loyal audience that spans the globe. Its membership is diverse and inclusive. Heck, Homer Steinweiss joined that band at 16 years of age! Its bass player, bandleader, lead songwriter and producer Bosco Mann (aka Gabriel “Gabe” Roth) co-founded Daptone Records and wrote “Retreat” to help ease Jones back into the fold after chemotherapy.
The animated video makes a cameo appearance in “Miss Sharon Jones!” and is worth checking out on YouTube or on the band’s official website, where you can purchase the film’s soundtrack for $10.99 (I highly recommend it). Despite a few issues with consistency of picture quality, especially during live performance footage, “Miss Sharon Jones!” is a must-see for music lovers of every persuasion and generation. Visit TheLittle.org for local show times, which run thru Wed., Sept. 7.
Post a comment. letting me know what YOU think of “Miss Sharon Jones!”
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on July 13, 2016 at 12:50 AM||comments (1)|
Fringe 2016 - Like Jazz Fest on Ritalin?
By Christine G. Adamo
Pandora Boxx, who's appeared on Season 2 of Ru Paul's "Drag Race," will be performing in #ROCFringe16.
It started at 7am, an insider told me.
What's that, you ask? Rehearsals for this morning's 2016 First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival "Big Reveal" at The Little Theatre.
As photogs and press types (including yours truly) guzzled downed coffee and nibbled on pastries in The Little Café, a team of folks representing Rochester Fringe were busy in Little 1 (off East Avenue): setting the stage, rehearsing their lines and cueing up a slideshow featuring the likes of Pandora Boxx, Patton Oswalt and others set to appear in the organization's 5th annual festival.
"It's like Jazz Fest on Ritalin," quipped Jeff Andrews, co-founder of the Canary in a Coal Mine sketch comedy show.
Ritalin, indeed! Sitting thru a reading of each of the festival's more than 50 sponsor names, in itself, was an exercise in patience. Newest among them? The National Endowment for the Arts. But it was worth it, if only to get a sneak peek at some of the 500+ performers and events on the 2016 roster: returning favorites like "Sient Disco" (Friday and Saturday nights), the stunning dance piece "Cordaro World" (Sept. 17 and 20 at SOTA) and SUNY Brockport graduate Elizabeth Streb's "... in SEA."
Her Extreme Action Heroes' goal, Streb said via a video clip, is to encourage folks to think: "I could go just a little bit further. I can do just a little bit more." A little bit more? How 'bout a whole lot more? Her performers climb scaffolding several stories tall and free fall onto air mattresses, making every moment look effortless and the act of submitting to gravity seem like second nature. Wanna check it out? They perform for FREE Sept. 16 and 17 in Parcel 5.
To steal a line from Pandora Boxx, the whole shebang's sure to be "gay-mazing!" And then some. Even Mayor Lovely Warren is in on the game!
Rochester Fringe 2016 runs Sept. 15-24. For details? Visit RochesterFringe.com.
|Posted by email@example.com on July 6, 2016 at 9:40 AM||comments (0)|
by Mistress Xtine
Why ROC-Arts, you ask? Uh, ... why not?!
There's always something going on in Rochester, NY. And, yet, there are so few voices you can trust when it comes to knowing what's what. ROC-Arts was founded on the belief that, in order to truly appreciate all this city has to offer, you have to be willing to venture out a bit. Get out of your comfort zone. Borrow an objective viewpoint. Follow the adventurers who've made Rochester their home-away-from-home and adopted it as their own. That's right! We're not Rochester natives. We're outsiders. Interlopers. We live here now, but we've been around!
That's a HUGE benefit to you, whether you know it or not.
Having traveled the world and the U.S., criss-crossing this expansive country by air and car and flitting from South America to Asia and various points in between, we have the insight and experience needed to offer up bona fide journalistic reviews of all things Arts & Entertainment. We're not paid to post this stuff. We simply love getting out, doing new things, meeting new people and reveling in the fact that this city is a haven for people craving inspiration, artistic influence and various perspectives. Problem is? You sometimes have to get out and look for 'em.
We make that easier, with cheeky reviews that cut to the chase. Have a suggestion? Let us know.
Leave a comment. Or reach out via the "ROC It" tab.
Happy reading! - Xtine