Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Party and Free Books at Nashville Film Fest

Post Tenebras Lux
by Cindy McCain
Free books tonight and a party tomorrow are part of the fun at the Nashville Film Festival. Tonight at 9 PM is the Music City feature screening of  Viva Cuba Libre: Rap is War! The film is a documentary by Jesse Acevedo on the arrest of the Cruz brothers and the censorship of rap duo, Los Aldeanos. As a volunteer for World Book Night, I will be at the screening and give away 20 free copies of Ray Bradbury's classic on censorship, Fahrenheit 451. 

Then on Wednesday, April 24th, The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will host a party  to celebrate Hispanic films and filmmakers following the 6:30 showing of Post Tenebras Lux at the Regal Green Hills Cinema.  Filmmakers, actors, Nashville Film Festival attendees and the public are invited to meet and mingle from 8 PM - 10 PM at Alegria Mexican Restaurant. Please RSVP@nashvillehispanicchamber.com.

Post Tenebras Lux won Carlos Reygadas the Best Director award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.  It is the story of Juan and his urban family trying to live in the Mexican countryside.  Can the two worlds coexist or will they eliminate one another?

One of the nineteen Hispanic-interest films showing at the Nashville Film Festival this year will be awarded Best Hispanic Film of 2013, an award co-sponsored annually by the NAHCC.  For a complete list of Hispanic films at NaFF go here.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Nashville 2012 Tonight at Nashville Film Fest

Nashville 2012, a Tennessee First selection, was a perfect choice for opening night of the 2013 NashvilleFilm Festival.  The eight-day event promising “Something for Everyone” provided a forum for this patchwork piece of our city’s communities. When an audience member asked directors/producers Jace Freeman and Sean Clark what they found most surprising when making the film about their city, Freeman quickly reflected and replied, “Its diversity.”
Threaded by dates, stand-alone, engaging stories from their internet channel, Nashville Docujournals,   were woven together by seamless unperformances—people simply and consistently being themselves.  
The Moving Picture Boys, Freeman and Clark, define docujournals as “stories told in the present tense from the perspective of an individual affected by the headline news of the day.”  With this first film, their mission-- “to connect local communities to find common goals and increase our understanding of each other”—is accomplished.  But in giving us the faces of those who occupy Nashville, there are face-offs, starting with those for and against the Occupy Nashville movement.
“You are not good neighbors,” says a resident stonewalled by unmoved builders of 12 South Lofts. Though his battalion of backers lost the battle against the four-story conglomeration of condos, some who fought to make Middle Tennessee home won.   Immigrant families celebrated the opening of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.  But while Hispanic kids discuss feeling “protected” under the Deferred Action for Deportation for Childhood Arrivals, they are concerned that some of their parents and other relatives are not.  One student voices frustration with those who assume immigrants don’t pay taxes.  He says most do and receive no benefits other than education, though at the college level, they must pay out-of-state tuition.  
In 2013 Freeman and Clark plan to dig deeper into communities covered in the film. For more on the documentary that will screen again tonight at 9:45 go here.  Tickets can be purchased here or at the lower level of Green Hills Theater. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Nashville Film Festival April 18-25

Viva Cuba Libre: Rap is War! is a documentary on music censorship in Cuba.
by Cindy McCain

This Thursday Nashville will go on an eight-day World Tour of fifty countries via  250 films. The 44th Annual Nashville Film Festival l(NaFF) will run from April 18-25, 2013 at the Green Hills Theater. 

Acclaimed World Cinema films presented include Kon-Tiki (Norway) and Post Tenebras Lux (Mexico)Kon-Tiki (Directors Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg), Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Film, is the story of legendary explorer Thor Heyerdal's epic 4,300 miles crossing of the Pacific on a balsa wood raft in 1947. His mission? To prove it was possible for South Americans to settle in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times. Post Tenebras Lux is a Mexican film whose director, Carlos Reygadas, won Best Director at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

Hispanic narrative shorts include The Companion and Behind the Mirrors (both from Peru) and A World for Raul (Mexico). Hispanic feature films include Here Comes the Devil (Director Adrian Garcia Bogliano) and Viva Cuba Libre: Rap is War! (Director Jesse Acevedo) and (Pablo Stoll). Here Comes the Devil which swept the Texas fest's horror prizes last fall. It is the story of parents whose children are lost on a family trip near caves in Tijuana. When they reappear without explanation, clearly they are not who they used to be.

Viva Cuba Libre: Rap is War! is a Music City feature from the USA and Cuba directed by Jesse Acevedo. In a small town outside of Havana, two kids—the Cruz brothers—are beaten up in their own home by the police for listening to the music of Los Aldeanos. Risking his freedom and his life, documentary filmmaker Jesse Acevedo takes the viewer inside the revolution brewing within Cuba. Using hidden cameras, he exposes a society where people live in fear and where the Cruz brothers were wrongfully taken into custody. The film centers on an emotional interview the brothers’ mother and asks if Los Aldeanos will be the lost voice of a lost generation, or the sound of the future. 3 is a comedy from Uruguay about “three people condemned to the same, absurd fate: being a family.”
NaFF, whose presenting sponsor is Nissan North America, is one of only 42 film festivals worldwide whose picks for the Best Short Narrative and Animation competitions automatically qualify recipients for Academy Award. More than $37,000 plus television broadcasting contracts will be awarded to innovative filmmakers, including prizes for Tennessee directors, best film by a black filmmaker, and best Hispanic film. NaFF partners year- round with local cultural and ethnic groups and provides programs for senior citizens, challenged teens and student filmmakers.

“Because of our Academy Award qualifier status, we tend to receive an impressive amount of short film entries each year,” said Artistic Director, Brian Owens. “This year we had more submissions than ever before. The films we selected represent every corner of the world, from the United Kingdom, Israel, and Spain to Slovenia, China, and Iraq. It will be like a mini World Cinema category with ten times as many films!”

For the Festival schedule and ticket purchases go to nashvillefilmfestival.org Tickets will also be available at the NaFF Box Office in the downstairs lobby of Regal Green Hills Cinema, which opens April 17. Regular ticket price per film $12, college students and senior citizens with ID $8, and member prices from $4 to $7 off each ticket. Tuesday, April 23, NaFF will host a free event: “an epic battle for movie geek supremacy.” At 8:00 PM at the Crow's Nest located at 2221 Bandywood Dr. teams can win 10 film vouchers ($120 value), plus $50 in Crow's Nest gift cards.

For more information including descriptions of eight special feature presentations and a NaFF slideshow, go here.
In 3 an unhappily remarried father tries to get back into the home and lives of his daughter and ex-wife.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

At Belcourt Theater, Just Say NO

by Cindy McCain

Say “yes” to seeing No, showing at the Belcourt Theater  through April 18. The Oscar Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film that drove audiences to stand in ovation at the Cannes Film Festival last May is moving Nashville to sit down in discussion now.  No chronicles a historical hope-based marketing campaign to release Chile from Pinochet’s regime.   Director Pablo Larrain says the movie’s theme is “defeating horror through happiness.” 

 No takes risks reminiscent of Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful by juxtaposing violence and fear with joy and optimism.  It reiterates that the pen— or media “spin”—can be mightier than the sword.  It proclaims the power of people to choose change, to say NO to oppression or the status quo, to do what’s right today regardless of a troubled past or unsure tomorrow.

In 1973 after being promoted to Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army by President Allende, Pinochet led a coup to overthrow the socialist government.  By 1988, mounting international concern over human rights violations— 3,000 murders,  thousands of accounts of “disappearances,” torture and exile—pressured Pinochet to call for a referendum.  The people would vote YES or NO to eight more years of his presidency.   His YES men and censors controlled the media.  Voters feared the secret police.  Confident of victory, the dictator offered the opposition fifteen minutes of airtime to make their case.

In the NO camp sixteen political parties unite and choose René Saavedra (GAEL GARCíA BERNAL of The Motorcycle Diaries) to steer them.  Saavedra’s savvy in marketing and professional detachment prompts him to reject footage documenting the atrocities inflicted by Pinochet’s power.  Rather than airing beatings, he offers balloons.   Rather than a battle cry, he orders a jingle

But despite his cool composure, Saavedra is on the front lines.  He’s watched by the secret police and his boss, Lucho Guzman (ALFREDO CASTRO), one of Pinochet’s advisers.  He is also fighting for his family.  His estranged wife, Verónica Caravajal (ANTÓNIA ZEGERS) is a radical, too spent and angry to raise her son or believe the election isn't fixed. 

After viewing the movie this week with a group of Chilean friends, I was invited to onces (tea) at the home of Jose Loyola (who Pinochet knew by name) and Dorothy Sek (who grew up in Communist Poland).  Other guests were Pablo Bodini (who served in the Chilean military/ lived in Santiago during the Allende and Pinochet years) and Fresia Ninhauser (who flew to Chile after sixteen years of living in New York to vote“No” ).   We gathered over bread, avocado, queso fresco con paprika, meat, sweets,  and Fresia’s brew—strong, she says, because of her Arabic roots--to  process the movie and memories of the Allende and Pinochet years. 

Fresia:   I went back to Chile in ’74 and I saw how my best friend and everything was.   We knew lots of people who were killed.  I had a friend and they took every single nail from his hands and toes. He was into politics. He said he preferred they burn him to the pain of that.  They tortured him for years. My father also economically went down the drain with Pinochet. So there were a lot of things.  I felt morally obligated.  I went all the way (in 1988) to make sure I gave my vote. Every vote counts. I spent a lot of money on that one vote.

Jose:  It was expensive! I like the movie. The movie takes me back to when for the first time in years you can see on tv someone saying something against the regime.  It was unbelievable. Those 15 minutes the streets were totally empty because every night everyone wondered, “What are they going to show?”  It was real nice and exciting.  Every day it was something so new just to see the truth in an open media. We knew the truth from illegal, underground newspapers…the crimes, the tortures-- but in the official news only talk about the economy--nothing about the crimes. 
I mentioned I’d seen Post Mortem—the second film in Lorrain’s trilogy on the Pinochet era—about a coroner’s assistant who falsifies records of autopsies to cover for the regime’s murders.  

Jose: A lot of people knew that, but the official media said nothing happened.  A lot of people like my family believed the official media. When I told them, ‘Hey, this is what all happened,’ they said, ‘No, no. The Communists invent all these things.’
Jose had been drafted, then chosen after a background check to serve Pinochet meals when he came on the military base:

He called me by my name. For good or bad luck with me, I got in with the officials.  I wore a suit. I had long hair (for the military) and white gloves to serve Pinochet and the big generals. I learned cuisine and how to serve drinks.   He didn't drink.  Imagine if he had.  We said, ‘The walls have ears.’ You never knew who was listening.
 He remembered when another waiter cursed in awe at the size of the limousines that pulled up with the ‘old man’ and his generals:  "A security guard grabbed my friend from behind to take him to jail.  Our boss said, ‘He’s one of my kids and was just excited.’  They let him go.”
Pablo:  But this is what you have to think about.  With Allende I remember walking on the street and making the lines.  I was 13 years old and I was instructed, ‘Whatever you find, you just sit there. You buy whatever they are selling. You bring that stuff home and we’ll switch it with something else.' I was from a middle class family.  So on the one hand, Pinochet killed and tortured, but poor people—you saw the maid in the movie--they were better off. They had access to things they had never had. So what do you do?  You mess with politics-especially if you were on the left—and you get into trouble. Or you believe whatever you want to believe. You believe the press and have food on the table when you had to struggle beforehand. That was the dichotomy of the whole dictatorship.  It’s very hard, very hard to judge. Depending on the side you were, it was black or white.  On NPR they said when Pinochet died there were 2 demonstrations.  One for and one against.
Fresia: I do have to tell you one thing.   You know I don’t drink. I told you I don’t drink at all.  But when he died, yes, I did drink. I got a glass of white wine and I was very happy!
Pablo:  That’s fine. Everybody’s story is different and that’s what makes it interesting.
 Jose:  When Allende died and Pinochet got the power, my father opened a bottle of champaign because, for him, it was the end of his persecution. My father was the president of the opposition against Allende. They (Allende’s forces) had a secret police. And those guys just kicked our door in one night looking for him to kill him. People don’t believe that…I say, ‘Believe it or not, that’s what happened.’  The secret police were looking for my father. He’d have to hide for months and months. He had tractor companies and there were strikes because people who owned their own business don’t like Allende.  My father was president of the whole union of tractor trailers. They were looking for him to kill him. So my father had to wear guns.  He’d disappear for months, then come home with a beard. People don’t believe that.  But I lived that.... Fresia knew what was happening during Pinochet’s time because she was in the US. In Chili everything went to the censors. All we saw on official tv was about the progress.
Pablo:  It’s not about not believing (the truth). It’s about not wanting to believe it. The same thing with Germany and the Jews because they had food on the table. The economy was getting better.
 Jose: Yes, like the nanny in the movie, a simple lady.  She was for the YES because she was ok, her kids were ok. The country was stable and no crime. So people loved this.  My father would say maybe some of those atrocities are real, but they deserve it.  Of course there were terrorists who hurt innocent people. But when I went to college I was told that some people rebelling were not terrorists. They were people starving.   My impression was the movie was correct.  I liked the movie. I enjoyed it.  It took me back home. The language, it was so natural. Even the way they made the movie was so realistic with the old cameras. (Lorrain used a 1983 camera so that shots and historical footage merged flawlessly.)
Pablo:  What I really liked about the movie that was amazing was how they were able to recreate the tension. The persecutions. Like when they came and they took the woman out of the marketing company and hit her.  They hit  people…that tension was there. We all lived that. …For example, I had a friend that the whole family was leftist, a Catholic organization that gave refuge to people running away.  I would study at his house and his sister would come to him and whisper.  I knew there was something going on in the house. They were able to recreate that tension that was there at all times. The relationship between the partners—one working for YES and one for the NO.  At any time…The bottom line is Pinochet screwed up.  He thought he was going to win.
I said I understood the man in the movie who left the marketing meeting because he felt ads with picnics and ponies were frivolous.  He had lost loved ones. They deserved respect and people needed to see the truth.  He said Chile was not a happy place.  But  Savaadra believed  it could be.  The end would justify the means because lives depended on it.  They had to win, and he knew how to do it.  I said Roberto Benigni in Life is Beautiful took a similar risk when he used comedy and a child’s game in a Holocaust story. 

Fresia: Oh, I loved that movie!  I cried so much.
Dorothy:  I loved it, too.  It was the difference between the blackness of the situation and the light. Putting the comedy and drama together was risky but powerful.
 Pablo:  We can laugh now. No one in the movie asked who was for yes and who was for no. But you do have to know the person before opening up even now.
Jose:  At my old job I met a guy from Chile. He was military. He said, ‘Pinochet was the best. Don’t say nothing against him if you want to keep good relations with me. I said, ‘What about the torture?’ He said, ‘I don’t care. They deserved it. I had two uncles who were put in jail after Pinochet left by the Communists.  They are in prison and they’ve never killed nobody.’  Then he said, ‘I’m sorry. That’s me.’
Pablo:  It’s still going to take a few generations.  I don’t know if you heard but there was a reconciliation committee.  They had a period of time when anyone could go and claim abuses. They tried to prosecute some of the most serious ones. At least they were able to quantify how much was the damage from a human perspective.
Dorothy:  This (US) is probably the only country in the world where the conflict isn’t about ethnic difference. It’s about politics. In other countries religion and politics are intertwined. When you have an ethnic difference you will have a religious difference that adds fire to it. In Poland the Polish people got tired of Russians crossing over –every time the Polish government tried to do something different—the Soviets would send the troops over the border to ‘calm down’ things so nothing would happen outside of the Communist idea. So, it was never a conflict in the country. The blame was on the outsider. Whereas here the conflict is within.
I grew up in Communist Poland after WWII. WWII gave Poland away to the Communist regime and Poland was under foot of Soviet Union all those years.   After WWII that German uniform is so deeply…it’s a brain wash thing. When I was in Chile and saw those uniforms I was distraught. My old prejudices kicked in. I grew up with an aversion to the military. It was used against people. People were drafted whether they agreed with communism or not. 
Jose: Some felt so good with Pincochet because he gave to the country a pride because he never took shit. I’m sorry. But when Argentina tried to get our territory, he said, ‘If you put one boot on that island, I will put the whole army on you.’  Nationalism.  It’s a way dictators get more sympathy.
Fresia pointed out the irony that Pinochet was known for his “No!”  One such case was when a pop group tried to return from exile and he refused to allow them to get off the plane.  But in the end the people said, ‘No more.’

I said how timely the movie is given Pablo Neruda’s body was exhumed this week to determine whether he was poisoned for political reasons.  I said I loved the line spoken by a YES man as he saw the success of the NO productions:  “All the artists are with them.”  Pablo and I shared a favorite scene.  Both a man being clubbed and the policeman beating him were labeled “Chileans" and the text noted they both wanted the same thing: peace.  

Fresia said, “I think to really understand the movie you have to be Chilean. Seriously.” 

I can’t imagine living under a regime.  But I did leave the theater singing, “Chile, la alegría ya viene” (“Chile, the joy/happiness is coming”).  I said that maybe the graphic images documenting Pinochet's abuse of power would not have won the vote because we tend to deny what we feel we should not or can not change.  I said I was reminded of my childhood when violent coverage of civil rights protesters --battered and arrested—by Southern police were served with supper by the nightly news. Those abused were called "radicals" and "troublemakers" for breaking Jim Crow laws.  Some adults seemed desensitized and turned away.  When the credits rolled at the end of The Help a couple of years ago, the audience stayed.  For ten minutes women my age sat and cried softly in their seats.  The black and white footage of the ‘60s we'd been told we were too young to understand had been brought to life by a personal story peopled with sympathetic characters and apt actors. The No cast brings Chile home.

At the end of the night, Jose’s daughter, Cindy, stopped by.  She’d just seen No and wanted to ask a couple of questions about the movie. The Chilean-American is graduating from college in May with honors.  She is considering joining the Peace Corps. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hispanic extras needed Thursday for ABC's Nashville

Photo credit: ABC/Katherine Bomboy-Thornton
The Tennessean says that ABC's "Nashville" TV show needs extras Thursday - and Hispanic extras are surely welcome.

A while back, I got an e-mail from Extras Casting Director Tina Kerr of On Location Casting, saying that they had "casting needs for HISPANIC Men, Women and Children to work as paid EXTRAS for the ABC Television series 'Nashville'" and that they were "trying to reflect the ethnic diversity of the Nashville area and create realism within the show of the the types of people who actually live & work in Nashville."

The Tennessean says that tomorrow's 10am-6pm gig is unpaid, but the On Location Casting notice said the work was $8/hr.  I'm not sure if the paid gigs are over or not.

The Tennessean says to register for tomorrow's shooting at www.nashvilleextras.com

The On Location e-mail from a while back, on the other hand, said to go to www.onlocationcasting.net (and then Talent > Register > Talent Application). It is probably too late to fill out that application, especially for tomorrow's shooting. On Location does say not to pay for anything such as an "active" account. If you have any questions about On Location, they can be contacted at nashvilleextras@gmail.com

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