EarSay’s Youth Arts and Activism Workshops
January 27, 2011, 12:43 am
Filed under: Activism, Art, Life!, Opinion, Projects, Uncategorized | Tags:

Judith Sloan has been my adviser at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study since I took her oral history class in the spring of 2009.  I’ve found that, in more than a few ways, Judith fits the mold for what one would consider a stereotypical New Yorker.  Man, can she talk.  But what Judith is talking about–what she’s concerned with–goes far beyond the threshold of what one would consider spitty, casual, every day conversation.  Her  words and her actions have remarkable substance.  In my interactions with Judith, I’ve gleaned how much living in Queens, the country’s most ethnically diverse county, has affected her outlook and especially her professional work.  As Judith explains in our interview, when at once she was doing work for National Public Radio with her husband on police brutality, she soon found herself leading workshops under her non-profit EarSay at the International High School at LaGuardia Community College.  Judith is currently running two workshops: Transforming Trauma into Art and Cross-Cultural Dialogue Through the Arts.  EarSay’s programs are designed in a way to cox students into confronting the big issues they face as immigrants to the United States and, just as importantly, as teenagers.  As explained on EarSay’s website,

“The premise of this workshop is based on healing through artistic expression using a combination of music, movement, theatre and storytelling. This process helps release the stories and stressors that prevent people—who have been traumatized by war, economic or natural disasters—from moving forward…”

I personally witnessed the transformative powers of the workshops.  As a part of an independent study with Judith, I attended and aided the Cross-Cultural Dialogue Through the Arts workshop on a weekly basis.  Also in the classroom and on tonight’s show is Hasan Salaam, an accomplished rapper signed on Viper Records, educator Laura Doggett, and documentary film maker Robert C. Winn.  The most important guests on tonight’s show are several of the students from the International High School.  They share their experiences in Judith’s classroom and stories from home.  The students also share the creative piece they’ve been working on in the Cross-Cultural Dialogue Through the Arts workshop: I Feel Free.  Tune in below!

Zoe Rosenberg

Ben Model, Piano Accompaniment to Silent Film [Rebroadcast from 6/9]
January 24, 2011, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Film, Music

It took a while to get Ben on the show and I’m glad I did. Ben practices a very unique and valuable craft. He is one of the few musicians out there who professionally accompanies silent cinema with piano. If you’ve been to New York and sat in a screening of a classic silent movie at the MoMA and there was piano playing alongside it, it was probably Ben.

He has a whole philosophy to his craft. He doesn’t play with music in front of him, but rather improvises based on cues from the audiences and his interpretation of a film. Each time he plays in front of a film it becomes a different experience. In the interview, he tells me why silent cinema will always be a relevant artifact to our world’s culture, and why it remains so entertaining and accessible to modern skeptical audiences.

I’ve seen him play alongside some Buster Keaton works at the museum. Since I’ve started enjoying Buster Keaton, I usually watched his works on disc or online, but sitting with a projector and live piano in the room is an entirely different experience. Ben attributes the phenomenon to a higher state of focus the brain experiences. He pointed out to me that when you watch a movie projected from film, you are literally sitting in utter darkness for half the time you watch the movie, but your brain doesn’t register it. He suggested to me that the brain actually tunes itself into the movie. (insomanywords). I thought it was cool and I believed it coming from a man who has devoted his life to recreating a bygone classical era in our culture.

this is his website

There’s much more though. it’s one of my favorite interviews. Have a listen.


Lena Dunham talks on Tiny Furniture
January 13, 2011, 4:37 am
Filed under: Film, Life!

Lena Dunham (there on the left) is one jive turkey. You can tell by her writing. Jive turkey is a word you can apply to those you speak to who seem to be able to understand and contend with their immediate situation with brilliant awareness. The man outside Benny’s Burritos (aka $3frozenmargaritatown, USA) who tried to sell us his shirt for three dollars used the term in this context. I’m almost positive I’m using it correctly and I’m almost positive Lena Dunham is one of these.

Lena wrote, directed, and starred in Tiny Furniture (2010).

It follows Aura, the twenty-something, college-skilled, internship-bred type stuck in the funk of existence. She returns home to New York from college and from a sudden split with her boyfriend to live with her mother (played by photographer Laurie Simmons.. her mother) and her sister (played by Grace Dunham, her sister). Aura alternately copes actively and passively with an old environment but new world.

It’s a movie with the interpersonal relevance of, say, The Graduate (1967) and the spot-on quick wit of Juno (2007). In this movie, Lena was able to avoid the dradramedic qualities that inhibit the psychological denouement of many the post-graduate film while retaining its sense of poetry and a tasteful amount of angst.

Tiny Furniture follows her first 60-minute feature, Creative Nonfiction (2009) and multiple web series on vimeo including the delightful Delusional Downtown Divas. Tiny Furniture won best feature at SXSW. People know about Lena and love her work. E-mail her PR people and tell them to write her a damn Wikipedia page. Listen to the interview to see how Lena and her team were able to crack the balance that cause her work to consistently strike fresh notes with audiences of many ages, sizes, and shapes.

Lucas Green

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After.Life director Agnieszka Wowtjovic-Vosloo [Rebroadcast]
January 5, 2011, 4:49 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Agnieszka is a challenging person. Which is to say, not difficult, but possessing a pronounced thrill for challenge. Not just personal challenge, she is a challenging person in that she makes a point to challenge those she comes in contact with and, importantly, her audience. From the time Zoe and I started the interview (after we learned how to say her name) Agnieszka persistently turned the questions back on us.

We were speaking of her latest work, After.Life, which opened soon after the interview aired. After.Life stars Christina Ricci, Liam Neeson, and Justin Long. Ricci and Long play couple Anna and Paul. Anna wakes up in her own coffin after a terrible accident in her car and is greeted by Liam Neeson as the funeral director Eliot Deacon. Deacon informs Anna she has died and that he must prepare her for her funeral. Agnieszka’s asks her audience to decide for itself whether Anna is really alive or dead as Anna’s boyfriend Paul does the same.

Along with beautiful art direction and finely stylized acting, After.Life is a complex psychological and philosophical work. It’s a piece thats easy to get involved and difficult to reckon with. After.Life is Agnieszka’s first feature film and a strong one at that. In the interview, Agnieszka shares her on-set experiences and explains her thought process behind the film.