Monday, April 30, 2007



Jody Savin & Randall Miller

Nobel Son , showing at the Tribeca Film Festival (TFF), is a dark mystery/thriller (about the kidnapping of the son of a professor on his way to receive the Nobel Prize award in Sweden) from the writing/directing/producing team of Jody Savin & Randall Miller .

Stylishly directed, with very interesting cinematography, it features exceptional acting from a large and noteworthy cast, including Alan Rickman, Bryan Greenberg, Shawn Hatosy, Mary Steenburgen, Bill Pullman, Eliza Dushku, Danny DeVito, and Ted Danson.

Nobel Son is co-presented by the Sloan Foundation as part of the Sloan Science and technology Series at Tribeca.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007



details have finally been released on how On The Lot (OTL) is going to work.

OTL is a version of Apprentice/Idol/Survivor for filmmakers, with Steven Spielberg as the central figure and Mark Burnett as the TV producer.

From 12,000 submissions, 50 filmmakers were picked to go to Hollywood for "boot camp". 18 of those will make it to the final competition. Their (short) films will be judged by a panel that includes Carrie Fisher, Brett Ratner, Garry Marshall, and Jon Avnet.

Ultimately, the final choices will be made by public voting, based on the films made by the filmmakers each week, with the lowest vote-getting director eliminated on each episode.

The show premieres May 22 on Fox.

The OTL web site can become a central meeting place for filmmakers, as well as a magnet for the viewers of the TV show, if the show's producers put a little more work into making the site user-friendly. (For one thing, it needs really good internal navigation, including a good search engine for films. Right now, navigation assistance is minimal.) The site includes community bulletin boards and blogs, filmmaker and actor profiles, and tens of thousands of interesting short films.

My own film is up there:

FRAGILE (Sonnet 65) with Intro

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Friday, April 27, 2007



Lead actor Amir Arison -- will play Ramanujan

Sloan Foundation, which has a large, ongoing project to encourage plays and films dealing with scientists and scientific issues, is sponsoring (together with the Tribeca Film Institute, at the Tribeca Film Festival -- TFF) a reading on Sunday of a screenplay in development (A First Class Man by David Freeman), about the Indian mathematician, Ramanujan (Srinivasa Aiyangar Ramanujan).

Ramanujan was famous for producing amazingly startling mathematical results, without providing standard mathematical proofs.

The play deals with philosophical issues related to the nature of mathematics, and human issues highlighted by the strong relationship between Ramanujan and the traditional mathematician, Hardy, at Cambridge (two people whose personalities were possibly even more different than their mathematical philosophies).

Author David Freeman

The screenplay, originally a staged play, has had a long development process, and is being championed, among others, by its lead actor, Amir Arison.

Olivia D'Abo is also participating in the reading, which will be followed by a panel discussion that includes the author and mathematicians Krishnaswami Alladi and George Andrews (number theorists who have worked on problems inspired by Ramanujan) and will be moderated by NPR’s Ira Flatow. The event will be held on Sunday April 29th at 2:00pm at the Soho Playhouse,15 Vandam Street. Contact TFF for tickets.

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Congressman Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and one of the most intelligent, shrewd and knowledgeable members of Congress, introduced a
bill to legalize online gambling.

According to a statement on
his website, "By continuing to prohibit Internet gambling in the U.S., the U.S. has left Americans who choose to gamble online without meaningful consumer protections. The proposed legislation would institute practical and enforceable standards to bring transparency to Internet gambling and provide consumers the protections they expect and deserve."

The legislation (or other concurrent legislation) probably needs also to consider the issue of spam and all kinds of e-mail abuses. Gambling sites, like sex sites, in the past have been "aggressive" in their use of web communications.

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Monday, April 23, 2007



Marina Hands as Lady Chatterley

Lady Chatterley and Oliver Parkin (Jean-Louis Coulloc'h) in the rain

Pascale Ferran -- Director

Lady Chatterley (coming to the Tribeca Film Festival) is a (very) French film based on D H Lawrence's second version (there were three) of the story of Lady Chatterley. (It was published as John Thomas and Lady Jane. The well-known version is #3, published as Lady Chatterley's Lover.) It was directed and co-written by Pascale Ferran, with Marina Hands playing Lady Chatterley, and Jean-Louis Coulloc'h, her lover.

I found the film life-affirming and charming.

I do sometimes find myself a little distanced by films in one language portraying people in another. (For example, I found the well-crafted British accents to be at odds with the hoodlum like behavior of the Romans they were portraying in the TV series Rome.) This film is, of course, spoken in French; but more important, it has a French sensibility; it is filmed in a French landscape, and it feels French, though the characters, of course, are English and live on an English estate.

There are several aspects to the novel. The writer/director was very selective in picking which to emphasize.

She chose to tone down the class difference between the Lady and the gamekeeper. Her husband calls the gamekeeper uncouth; but he is quite couth. (The actor, actually, resembles Marlon Brando quite strongly at times.) He is sensitive, caring, well (though simply) spoken and very well dressed in elegantly rough clothes. (The costume designer could have taken it a bit easier, I think, on his outfits, though she did win an award for her effort). The characters do refer to their relative positions, but it is more a simple fact than a central element in their relationship.

The director concentrated heavily on the role of nature, which she felt was particularly prominent in this version of the novel. The film is very close to the earth, the changing seasons, the flowers, the flow of water, and the rest of nature. The cinematography is excellent.

And sex is approached as something the characters discover in each other and themselves, as they timidly develop a relationship. Except in teen movies, where it is often played just for laughs or embarrassment, films usually skip over those stages of a relationship where both physical and emotional intimacy develop. Mostly, in films, characters meet, time passes somehow, and then they are sexually involved. That "somehow," with the evolution of sexual activities responding to the level of emotional involvement is a strong focus in this film. (The film features both male and female nudity, but sexual relations are not portrayed with the same level of detail as in, say, 9 Songs.)

It should be noted that the film moves ahead at a very languid pace, and it is very long (168 min). I suspect the director would really have liked for the film to evolve in real-time (and several years pass from the beginning to the end).

I found the film to be sometimes funny, and -- when the characters' behavior goes over the top (as in the rain-dance in the picture above) -- sometimes even a bit silly, in the way that improv comedy may suddenly discover a ridiculous truth.

The production won Cesar awards in France for Best Film, Best Actress: Marina Hands, Best Writing: Pascale Ferran, as well as awards for best costume design and cinematography; it also had nominations for Best Director, sound, and production design. Curiously, although Marina Hands won the Best Actress award, she was nominated but did not win as Most Promising Actress. (Perhaps a logician decided that her acting had passed the promising stage and so she was not eligible to win that award.) Her acting is quite wonderful (love to watch her eyes).

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Sunday, April 22, 2007



Among the restored/classic/historical films at the Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) is the 1959 Russian film The Letter That Was Never Sent (Neotpravlennoye pismo (1959)). Directed by Mikhail Kalatozov with cinematography by Sergei Urusevsky (who is also the assistant director / second unit director), it chronicles a search for diamonds in Siberia.

The style of direction, writing, and cinematography is Russian heroism. These are patriots who will do anything, no matter how difficult or dangerous, to advance Soviet industry and thereby become famous for their historical, important discoveries, through pioneering the wilds of Siberia to discover diamonds.

The beautiful black and white cinematography frames the characters in the most heroic poses, and dramatizes the desolate environment. The directorial set pieces are amazing.

The acting is much more naturalistic than the other elements of the film.

As a footnote to the film, it is ironic to relate the optimism of the characters here, who believe that discovering diamonds will be the seed that spawns a great industrial complex in Siberia, with the despair that Blood Diamond describes as the fate of Sierra Leone because of the discovery of diamonds there.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007


SALEM LUDWIG 1915-2007

Salem Ludwig, an actor, director and teacher died on April 1, 2007 at the age of 91.

He studied at the Actor's Studio, and appeared in dozens & dozens of
movies , TV shows and plays, as early as 1947 (actually even earlier -- as a dancer in Sweet Surrender in 1936), and as recently as 2007, in Savages with Laura Linney and Philip Bosco.

He taught acting and directing for many years at the
HB Studio
. Until very recently he was still climbing, with no complaints!, to his third floor classroom. He was a gentle man who gave strong and clear directions. (He also had strong political opinions and was blacklisted for years at what should have been the center of his career.)

I took several classes with him, both acting and directing, and always came away with useful information and, somehow, a feeling of encouragement and progress.

A terrific description can be found (NY Times registration may be needed for access) in
Alvin Klein's 1989 review of Broadway Bound, in The New York Times:

"Best of all is Salem Ludwig as Eugene's stubborn, Trotsky-spouting grandfather, Ben, who urges the boys to become political satirists, not just joke machines. With masterful timing, the veteran actor finds the warmth in a man who says: ''I don't trust affection. Sometimes people give it instead of the truth.'' "

He will be missed.

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Some events at the
Tribeca Film Festival have already sold out!

It's a good idea to get tickets as soon as possible!

But note also (alert #2!) that tickets are honored only up to 30 miniutes before event time. Ticket holders must come at least 30 minutes before show time or the seat may be given away to someone on the wait line! (Good news for the standby line! Bad news for latecomers!)

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Friday, April 20, 2007



Poster for TFF on the Tribeca Grill

Checked in today for my
Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) Press Credentials.

This is one mighty festival. There are 157 feature films and 88 shorts, showing between April 25 and May 6. 73 films have their world premiere. Almost all are showing for the first time in New York. Seven important restored or re-discovered films from around the world are being presented.

Films come from 47 different countries. Only Africa seems to be under-represented. Eighteen "narrative" films and 16 documentaries are in competition.

Among the genres represented are a series of midnight features (horror and all that), family films, and sports films.

There are numerous panel discussions and special events. Spider-man gets special treatment. And Julia Stiles has a film that she directed in the shorts program. Many directors will be in attendance, along with celebrity and less well known actors.

The festival was created "in the wake of September 11," by Robert De Niro and others in 2002, largely to help re-vitalize downtown New York. It now does much more than that.

festival program can be downloaded as a PDF file and printed out. It is one of the best organized festival film programs I've seen.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007



Here, direct from
The Film Society of Lincoln Center, is an announcement for a very, very interesting film making contest for students. Submitted films will be viewed by an especially distinguished panel. The winning film will be used as a trailer before screenings at Lincoln Center. The winning filmmaker, in addition to credit for the film, will receive $5,000 and a trip to New York for the film's premiere, at the 2007 New York Film Festival.

"HBO Films and The Film Society of Lincoln Center are holding a nationwide competition that will provide college students with the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to create a trailer to precede film screenings at one of the world’s most important cultural institutions. Winner Will Receive Line Credit, $5,000 and Trip to New York For Trailer Premiere at Film Society’s 45th New York Film Festival in 2007.

"The Film Society of Lincoln Center, which has screened the works of countless legendary filmmakers including Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut and Stanley Kubrick—and which continues to showcase the work of celebrated and emerging filmmakers from all over the world—will premiere the winning work in the Student Trailer Competition at its 45th New York Film Festival, which will take place Sep 28 – Oct 14 at the Time Warner Center’s Rose Hall. The winning trailer will showcase the Film Society of Lincoln Center as well as highlight its major annual festivals, programs and events.

"The winner will receive a check for $5,000 and a trip to New York for the trailer’s premiere, as well as a line credit at the end of the trailer, which will be shown before every Film Society screening for the next two years. HBO Films producers will professionally finish the trailer.

"Judging the entries will be five respected film industry professionals. The panel includes Mira Nair, noted filmmaker and Director of The Namesake, Monsoon Wedding, Kama Sutra and Salaam Bombay, among many other films; Bob Berney, President of Picturehouse and marketing and distribution chief on several successful US film campaigns, including the triple Oscar winner Pan’s Labyrinth, Prairie Home Companion, The Passion of the Christ, Y Tu Mamá También and My Big Fat Greek Wedding; Nelson George, author, music and culture critic, and filmmaker whose film, Life Support, debuted on HBO on March 10th, 2007; Sam Martin, Vice President of Programming for HBO Films; Marian Masone, Managing Director, Festivals and Associate Director of Programming, for the Film Society of Lincoln Center; and Steve Perania, Creative Director who has overseen numerous major and independent film marketing campaigns.

"Chris Smith, then a senior at Brown University, won the inaugural Student Trailer Competition in 2005. His winning entry has preceded every Film Society screening since it debuted at the 2005 New Directors/New Films Festival, and will continue to do so until the premiere of the 2007 winner’s trailer.

"Through creative use of imagery and words in graphic montage or other means, the 60-second trailer should let audiences know they are seeing a presentation of The Film Society of Lincoln Center. The winning entry will be the one that best conveys the Film Society’s core image and mission, touches upon its major offerings, signals ways to learn more and get involved, and credit its underwriter and creator.

"In addition, the trailer should be layered, dynamic and sophisticated. It should implicitly or explicitly convey that the Film Society, a) has been on the cutting-edge of international film exhibition for four decades; b) offers a wide range of highly-popular and critically-acclaimed programs and events; c) annually brings the best in world cinema and international filmmaking talent to New York audiences; and d) is one of the most exciting, innovative and influential cinematheques in the world.

"All entries must be received by May 31, 2007, and should be submitted to Film Society/HBO Films Student Trailer Competition, PO Box 5076, Blair, NE 68009-5076.

"To submit an entry, film students should visit to print and complete both an Official Entry Form and a Competition Release Form. A complete list of the Official Rules is also available on the site.

"About the Film Society of Lincoln Center: The Film Society of Lincoln Center was founded in 1969 to celebrate American and international cinema, to recognize and support new directors, and to enhance the awareness, accessibility and understanding of film. "

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007



If you are up for the challenge of making a short film in a week or two,

Quick Flick World's
current month's theme is "Labyrinth" (with optional parameter "Loop"). Films (in NY) are due on May 5 (Derby Day!) and the screening party is (currently) scheduled for May 9 at MonkeyTown in Brooklyn, New York, with other parties in London, Sao Paulo, Berlin, Barcelona, Mexico DF, Buenos Aires, Mumbai, Beijing and Tokyo.

Participation is free. Some selected films may be screened at other parties around the world and featured on the website. Film must be 3 minutes or less. AVI MOV DV-NTSC. Check with the
curators for exact specs.

Note: The location for the preliminary get-together where films will be submitted has not been announced; and information on the website may not be correct . Even the screening party is subject to change at the last moment. CHECK WITH THE CURATORS for exact information before the submission date and screening party!

Monkey Town -- 58 North 3rd St, btwn Kent + Wythe, Williamsburg, NYC


Monday, April 16, 2007



A recent program note from a concert at Carnegie Hall that included Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata, claimed that "... this music, of an intensity rare even for Beethoven, formed the basis for Tolstoy's novella about a passionate, adulterous love affair between a violinist and a pianist."

Seemed like it would enrich my appreciation of the music! ... so I decided to read the story.

I discovered the program note is completely wrong about the subject of the Tolstoy novella, "The Kreutzer Sonata". In fact, Tolstoy's story is about a hateful, jealous, narrow-minded, delusional, paranoid man who suspects -- imagines -- his wife (an amateur pianist) is having an affair with a (semi-professional) violinist who has played a few times with her, and performed (at the husband's request) a private concert where they played the Kreutzer Sonata, among other pieces. There was no affair. There was no passionate love.

Rather than casting a glow of love, this story spins a web of hate. It should definitely not be read to illuminate and enhance the music.

It may be read, however, to provide insight into murderous pathology. It is a fierce and uncompromising story.



, the new show on Fox about an illegal, cross country, $32M & you get your wife back, cross country road race, doesn't make much sense, and has a bumpy narrative flow, but it has a lot of attractive characters and cheerful energy. It also has a vicious tease. One character is given a gun and asked to remove another character from the car in which she's riding. (We all know what that means!) Well, it turns out all she needs to do is move the character into her own car and everybody's happy. But there are other, frequent intimations that this is (a story about) a real reality contest/show in which winning is everything and murder is not just tolerated, it's actually, often actively, encouraged.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007



TSI / Playtime theater has on-going opportunities for writers and directors and actors.

They have a beautiful theater space in NYC with two theaters (99 & 44 seats) and rehearsal halls. In the smaller theater they present many programs of short plays each week.

They are constantly accepting participation from new actors, writers and directors.

Shows typically get two performances. The arrangement is: no pay, no fee. They expect each short piece to bring in some audience. With several pieces each evening, plus TSI's own list, shows are often sold out with standing room only and a few seats crammed in near the stage.

Shows are not reviewed -- it's technically a "workshop" where you are given a chance to experiment and develop a piece.

The theaters and rehearsal spaces are available for rental as well -- I've used them for several film projects.

Currently, they are developing a themed series: the TSI/PlayTime Classics Series with scenes and adaptations (15-30 minutes) from Shakespeare’s plays: Othello, Measure for Measure, MacBeth, Hamlet, The Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing and The Rape of Lucrece.

Rehearsals begin as soon as possible, with performances scheduled the last week in April, thru mid May or June.

They have another Shakespeare project coming in the late summer and early fall: the TSI/PlayTime "Shakespeare as YOU like it’' Series.

They often have themed series going (usually related to classics, but not always -- the previous series was about sports -- and only occasionally WS), but you can bring in any kind of project you like. It does not have to be part of a series.

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Personal note: I have a short (about 2 min) video

On The Lot of Shakespeare's Sonnet 65, together with a short intro. I have a great writer (Shakespeare) and a beautiful actress, and I'd love to have you come visit and check it out!


Eric from QPORIT

FRAGILE (Sonnet 65) with Intro

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