Technically, it's not a feature (it only clocks at 3'07"). But if you see nothing else this week, take a good look at this short from AJ+, in which Professor john a. powell (his preference in writing his name) spells out the American climate after the violence in Ferguson, Missouri last year.
And what he has to say goes way beyond anything black and white.
Enough of neglecting my still–quite–useful blog — and you, my valued readers.
After an extended period of silence over the death of my good friend Diane Wolkstein, I am finally convincing myself that I am still a good writer in my 50's. I've started writing a number of DVD reviews / essays, and the first of them will show up here soon.
In the meantime, I'll let you know that I am raising the funds necessary to record the voices and memories so crucial to a new radiophonic–style MP3 documentary, which will be called Diane Wolkstein Remembered.
The idea is simple: To record the memories of those people — storytellers, illustrators, musicians, and even just close friends and story lovers — who were a major part of Diana's seventy–year life and her forty–five–year storytelling career.
Already we have breached the 12% funded level (USD $70), but as you will see, we can (and should) do better.
Of course, those of you who've been to New York know first–hand how expensive even a day's trip can be (round–trip railroad fare, subway and bus fares, food, etc.). Add in the cost of lithium or rechargeable batteries and SDHC memory cards (both required by my Olympus digital recorder), and… yes, you get the idea.
Plus… this documentary will be the work of a part–time supermarket employee (with part–time wages and part–time benefits to match). Plus… that person (moi) has some upcoming expenses that cannot wait.
This actually modest Indiegogo Life campaign is meant to raise the funds necessary to make four special trips to record Diana's friends and colleagues. The first trip will happen on Saturday 12 September 2015, the same day as a memorial story hour at the Statue of Hans Christian Andersen (the actual recording will happen before and after the story hour). By the way, there are no special premiums for certain pledge levels, because in the end, everyone will win. The finished documentary will be yours to download for free.
Screenshot fragment from the WishBerry website (apologies to RandomMotion Advertising Private Limited and FilmKaravan).
Too long between posts, yes, but it's s/hero time — time to go to bat for my friends Payal Sethi and Pooja Kohli at FilmKaravan — and you're invited.
To take the plunge: 34 days are left to get yourself a funding piece of Leeches. Not a horror film — and certainly not about the creepy creatures suggested by the title — this is instead a simple story about a sixteen–year–old Hyderabad girl who hatches an unlikely plot to save her younger sister from being sold into marriage for a day. (Sadly, contract marriages, as they are called, are an all too common example of the sex trade in that region.)
Payal is hoping to raise Rs. 6 Lakhs for her film (USD $10,000) by Thursday 14 August — or they will have to start the funding process all over again. (And yes, WishBerry is very much like Kickstarter, an “all or nothing” proposition.)
With women filmmakers still very much treated like a burden in show biz, I'm joining the chorus in asking anyone with spare change to give generously (even Rs.1,000, or USD $17 gets you a digital download of the finished film, so the rewards are good).
Although they are based in India, WishBerry will allow and does welcome contributors from other countries (just make sure you have a valid credit or debit card, and don’t pledge beyond your financial constraints).
Please don't let Payal and Pooja down. FilmKaravan has done some wonderful things in the past, and your support will make all the difference. They're waiting.
[UPDATE 2014.07.18: The cameras will roll — Leeches has been 100% funded. FilmKaravan will now look to raise as much as possible for post–production. The campaign will remain open until 14 August, so you still have time to give what you can.]
A short note this time, because of the usual juggling of my rôles as video producer, supermarket checkout clerk, assistant housekeeper on behalf of two retired parents, and webmaster for the late Diane Wolkstein (I will stay on as webmaster for the storyteller's daughter, Rachel Zucker, who is now the keeper of her mother's incredible legacy).
To this you can now add the title of "remedial Spanish student." That's right, I am returning to the language I studied when I was a junior high school / high school / community college / university student — and which, thanks to what became the New York / New Jersey affiliates of Univisión and Comcast–owned Telemundo, was the first foreign language I was able to grasp while growing up.
For those wondering, my deficit areas are: verb tenses, finer grammatical points, vocabulary, and — I wish we covered this in junior high — idioms. As in, the sort of Spanish you hear and speak on the street as opposed to the classroom.
(Just for the record, I am not abandoning Esperanto. On the contrary, it stays with me, because it still helps remind me how word and sentence structure work. Moreover, those who study Esperanto are far better prepared when they decide to tackle another language.)
As for Just One Story...: I've decided that it deserves a better title, and it will be Do Tell! (That should put some much needed kick into the show.) It will also be losing the Diane Wolkstein episodes — only because I want to put my late friend's work into its own separate showcase, honoring her memory and her legacy.
The re–titling will begin in June — partially because I won't be able to afford a lot of trips to Central Park this summer. And I am still waiting for the 2014 storytelling schedule, so I can decide which dates we will settle on. That schedule still has not been made public, so I am still hanging.
Lately, I've been replaying Xenon Pictures' DVD edition of Perry Henzell's 1972 cult feature The Harder They Come (in no small part because his tale about a Jamaican "rude boy" who straddles the fused career of famous singer and infamous criminal keeps me hooked). The Region 1 DVD came bundled with Universal–Island's soundtrack CD, and lately the Jimmy Cliff tracking "Sitting in Limbo" has been haunting my sleep. Given what's up in the air for my summer, you might understand. And not just from the song's title, mind you.
[UPDATE 2014.07.18: The 2014 Central Park schedule did eventually come, along with a request from artistic director Laura Simms not to bring the camera this year. A real pity — but it's her show now, you might say. My show stays, with apologies to Mr. Cliff, in limbo until I can convince enough Long Islanders and outside tellers to help me do a re–boot. As for the Spanish self–study… I'm giving it a breather, for lack of study partners from within my own Unitarian Universalist congregation. Hopefully not forever.]
I am writing this in early March, and already I am approaching the summer of 2014 with some trepidation.
Even as we will soon be able to resume work on Just One Story… and thus get through the backlog of future episodes, we are also keeping close tabs on the labour situation involving the Long Island Rail Road and its parent, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or MTA. The LIRR’s rank and file employees have been without a current contract for some time now, and there have been some pushes to get the matter resolved — but without success. The MTA has ruled out any talk of actually giving LIRR employees even a small raise in their salaries, and have instead insisted that said employees forfeit certain benefits and submit to cost–cutting measures that are more likely to increase tensions on the job.
In late February, what was supposed to be a two–day gathering to air out the most sticking of issues ended abruptly after a mere four hours — without both sides meeting face to face.
The upshot of all this is that without a new contract deal in place, the LIRR’s rank and file will be free to strike in July.
That will be damaging enough to the many weekday commuters of the LIRR, who choose to ride the rails to and from their cubicles or office desks. But it will be equally damaging to Rosegarden, because we use the LIRR to get into New York City and record our signature show.
In a nutshell: No LIRR, no passage to and from Manhattan — and thus, no Just One Story… episodes. That simple. And that sad.
For now, five things need to be decided:
• whether there will be a 2014 story season at the Statue of Hans Christian Andersen in Central Park (and money to pay for it),
• who will be the artistic director this year (Laura Simms, or…?),
• who will be telling,
• whether or not we will be invited back to record some of the story hours, and most importantly…
• whether or not the LIRR’s rank and file will strike — and if they do, how long will it last.
You can help decide the first item by heading for the Hans Christian Andersen Storytelling Center website and making a donation via PayPal or any of the other methods available. If you enjoy coming to Central Park every summer for stories, then please do your part. It is bad enough that the original storytelling tradition is impoverished when compared to cinema, theatre, opera, broadcast media and the like. That needs to change, and it needs to change now.
Rest assured, we at Rosegarden will be able to keep ourselves busy during the summer if we need to. It would, however, be preferable if we don’t have to sacrifice something that gives so much pleasure summer after summer.
P.S. to the LIRR employees and MTA managers who may be reading this: Please get your act together and get a contract done and signed. We’d prefer to think the world of you in the end.
[UPDATE 2014.05.09: The 2014 Central Park schedule still has not been announced. From what I understand, Laura Simms is staying on as artistic director. If there is a LIRR strike, it would happen on Sunday 20 July. One neighbor of mine suggested that it wouldn’t last more than a weekend, but we’ll see.]
[UPDATE 2014.07.18: No recordings this year, because the camera has been un–invited. Pooh.
One piece of good news: A new tentative agreement between the MTA and LIRR union representatives was reached yesterday, thus canceling the strike. One out of two ain't bad.]
Summer is gone, but don't expect me to hibernate. Much.
I'm getting ready to completely overhaul Just One Story… Specifically, the name of the show will be changed, there will be a new opening title sequence, and I want to get a proper signature tune for it all (ha!).
All of that will be going on during the Fall and Winter months, and it will affect all episodes in the series.
In the meantime, here is a Special Presentation from Rosegarden Television (accessible on both Vimeo and YouTube): Rachel Zucker remembering her mother, Diane Wolkstein, with a telling of the 1992 story Little Mouse’s Painting. This is not the final cut of the video (B–roll hasn’t been inserted; this is just what one long take looks like).
But it's Diane Wolkstein remembered by her daughter, and that's what matters, so please enjoy:
Because of an unexpected complication with my Vimeo Plus account, I won't be able to stream Rosegarden programming in 720p High Definition until — and only until — I am able to renew that account. (Until then, everything will only be available in standard definition.)
Sadly, because other bills do come first (in this case, a car payment), I won't be able to renew that account until next week. OY.
[UPDATE 2013.08.22: The account has been renewed, and we are once again available in 720p HD. Thankfully, none of the source files were deleted. Thank you, everyone, for your patience. Stream on!]
It is so good to bring Just One Story… back after a long silence. Our first episodes of 2013 since the death of Diane Wolkstein back in January, and our first episodes to showcase Asian — in this case, Japanese — storytelling. So this finally fulfills a long–held wish of mine ever since the series began in 2009 and following the launch of Rosegarden Television two years later.
So, and without further adieu, please welcome… Motoko.
Yes, I know, this is a PVR Cinemas "Director's Rare" selection, which means it will be seen only on PVR–run screens in India (read: we wait for a DVD). Still, something this low–budget seems so refreshing after what's gotten dumped in North American multiplexes this summer, I couldn't help but share.
Besides, the trailer is subtitled, so what could I lose? For your amusement, a taste of the upcoming… Local Kung Fu: