Thursday, July 31, 2008



Well, not all wet, but (after about 67 days on the surface of the planet) lab tests on board Phoenix have confirmed water-ice two inches below the surface of Mars, and a panoramic image indicates water-ice all around.

Latest results:

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has moments of wit, humor, hope, joy, fantasy and beauty.

The rest of the film presents a bleak picture of unpleasant and struggling people in a bleak landscape of rundown parts of Israel.

Almost no-one is nice to anyone else, and bad luck fills in to add misery when people fail to create problems for themselves and each another.

Beginning with a child who mysteriously walks onto the beach, apparently from the sea, and later, just as strangely, disappears, the film follows the (really bad) waitress who finds the child, a Filipino care giver, a couple that just got married, and some other characters who interact with them.

Except for the care giver, who is the one sympathetic character in the film, just about everyone is either a schlemiel, a schmozzle, or both. (Yiddish: The classic definition: A schlemiel is the waiter who slips and drops a bowl of soup in the customer's lap; a schlemozzle is the customer with a lap full of soup.)

The film is well acted, original, was a prize winner at Cannes, and was shown at Lincoln Center in New Films / New Directors.

Nevertheless, its sprinkling of dark humor, buried in a dark vision, is not likely to cheer up most people, or do much for the Israeli tourist industry.

For anyone on a holiday going to the beach and looking for some happy times, perhaps the best advice would be to avoid both jellyfish and Jellyfish.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008



is a simple action/chase movie.

The premise is that this guy, David Rice, played by
Hayden Christensen, discovers he can somehow teleport himself (ie jump) to anywhere he chooses. And he can even take objects and people with him on the trip. And there are these other guys, he discovers later, who try to kill Jumpers; and Jumpers and their enemies (Paladins) have been fighting for thousands of years. (Note: Although not an obvious connection, see the Wiki article on Paladins for antecedents to "Paladin" characters and their roles in history and fiction.)

The movie doesn't even try to explain it. In fact, David himself keeps asking people what's going on, and they only give him (and us) tidbits of information.

Often the commentaries on the DVD explain a lot about a film: sometimes they fill in the mysteries of the plot, not made clear in the film itself; sometimes they explain the stylistic choices. The commentary on this film explains a lot about why the film is as it is (but nothing about how David got to be a jumper; IMDB, by the way, says it's a "genetic anomaly"; I don't remember that in the film itself). Basically, the director (
Doug Liman), the producer, and the writer took the character that came from the original book and wrote an action/chase movie around the character. They worked long and hard to develop a theory of the physics of jumping, backstories for the characters and the history of Jumpers, and enough action for three movies. Then they selected part of the story for the first movie (hoping for sequels). And they systematically eliminated exposition, explanation and drama in favor of keeping the story moving. And, at the last moment, they decided (partly because the studio suggested it), changing the age of the love interest from 18 to 25 and recasting the part. That probably eliminated some story which never got replaced.

The film, unfortunately, does not have much of a dramatic relationship among the characters. The most potentially interesting may be the relationship with, and story of, David Rice's mother (a Paladin, and therefore her son's mortal enemy), which is barely hinted at in this movie. However, (hinted in the DVD commentary), this story may be the soul of one or both of the other potential sequels (or prequels).

Because they did so much work on the backstory and theory of Jumping, the film does seem to work on a basic action level. Because they actually visit and shoot exotic locations on location, the film does have a rich realism about it.

The result then is pretty much what you would expect from this development process: it doesn't have much emotional drama; and the love story is pretty tepid. The good things about the film are fast moving chases and action, lots of exotic locations, a pretty girl, a pleasant enough hero, and a strong, virile antagonist (
Samuel L. Jackson as Roland, the Paladin).

Note: The filmmakers say -- on the DVD -- that they shot unique footage inside and underground at the Colosseum. If so, historians who do not have such special access and want to see these nether regions, may want to contact the filmmakers for photos and film -- that did not get included in the picture itself -- of the inside and undergound regions of the Colosseum.

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The Public Theater
is now accepting applications for the 2009 Emerging Writer's Group.

Playwrights in the Writer's Group will:

--Receive a stipend of $3,000
--Participate in a biweekly writers group led by The Public’s Literary Department
--Receive at least one reading at The Public
--Participate in master classes led by established playwrights
--Observe rehearsals for productions at The Public
--Receive an additional stipend for theater tickets to productions at other theaters
--Receive complimentary tickets to Public Theater shows, invited dress rehearsals and other special events
--Receive career development advice from mid-career and established writers
--Receive artistic and professional support from the literary department and artistic staff.

This sounds like a tremendous opportunity for new playwrights!

Applications will be accepted through August 29.

Details and application information are available at:

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Sloan Foundation is providing grants through the Tribeca Film Institute for films that "dramatize compelling stories about science and technology."

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is very active in programs that support scientific research, and also in support of cultural projects related to science. Many important plays and films with elements related to science have been supported in part by the Sloan Foundation.

The Filmmaker Fund includes grants for development, finishing, and other purposes, for narrative feature-length films. There are many other

Applications are currently being accepted, with August 1, 2008 the deadline for 2008 grants.

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Monday, July 21, 2008



While the prime issues in the US are the economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an election (now in low gear until the conventions), and what is the best superhero movie of the summer, Europe has been dealing with some major issues of organization.

As the world continues to globalize, the structure of European government will have an impact on our own daily lives. Indirectly. Not immediately. But definitely.

American newspapers and television do a very spotty job of reporting on Europe (or anywhere else outside their local area... unless there is a war, a natural disaster, or a sports event), so here are some pointers to information about two major events.

Earlier, (June 12, 2008) Ireland rejected a treaty (called The Lisbon Treaty... or just "Lisbon" for short) changing the structure of the European Union. According to the rules, for the changes in the Lisbon Treaty to take effect, they must be ratified unanimously by every nation involved in the EU. The rejection by Ireland is therefore a big deal. The treaty is vigorously supported by Nicolas Sarkozy, the current President of France, who is taking a larger and larger role in international diplomacy.

Today, just a few hours ago, the "biggest change in 50 years" in the constitution of France was narrowly approved. (See **note below.). It gives the President some new powers and the French Parliament some new powers.

Here are some articles about both events:

The Lisbon Treaty:

French Constitutional Reform:

**Note: The vote was 539 to 357; 60% of the vote was required to win; 60% of (539+357) = 537.6. So there was one vote more than necessary to win.

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Coffee, in a restaurant, deserves more attention and more respect!

Restaurants usually serve many types of tea. By name.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns actually has a cart with fresh herbs they will bring to your table. You choose the herbs you want. They snip them from the live plants on the cart, and steep them at your table, for a custom cup of tea.

Coffee, however, is served anonymously. "American? or espresso?" "Regular or decaf?" (Maybe, "cappucino?" -- which is just made from the same espresso.) That's all they ask. That's all they tell you. And that's all you can get.

Yet we know, for example from Starbucks or Zabars or Citarella, that there are many types of coffee, roasted differently, from different countries, each with a distinct flavor and of varying strength.

(Oddly, even Starbucks, which has all those varieties of coffee in bags on the shelf, only serves a limited variety of brewed coffee at any one time.)

My first experience with really good coffee in a restaurant was at Arizona 206 (long gone), where I was moved to ask, for the first time in my life, "What is this coffee?" (It came from Kenya.)

A good meal deserves a good cup of coffee. Restaurants (certainly the top restaurants) should have a coffee menu as well as a tea menu. (Varying countries, different roasts, a range of strengths). And for the best results, the coffee beans should be very fresh, recently roasted, ground just before they are used, and the coffee prepared at the table, individually (by French press, for example, or a filter drip). Coffee should be served with a choice of milk, half and half, or heavy cream, or (my favorite) ice cream. A cinnamon stick should be an option.


Friday, July 18, 2008



Stony Brook Film Festival (SBFF) got off to a fine start last evening with a screening of Emotional Arithmetic at the Staller Center at Stony Brook University (SUNY SB).

To get to the screening, the amenities begin with a huge, clean and free parking garage, then you walk through a pleasant courtyard to the Staller Center, past the opulent ($40M 125,000-square-foot cultural center on 4.5 acres) Wang Asian American Center.

Before the screening, there was a slideshow of advertisements for an impressive calendar of significant cultural events during the 2008-2009 season of the Center. The Staller screen is big and clear, and they could not have chosen a better looking film for the opening of the Festival. The Festival director was energetic and cheerful, coping and dealing nicely with the long, long list of people and companies who are essential to thank. The audience was enthusiatic and responsive, and filled a large, pleasant, comfortable theater to capacity. The after-screening party in the Art Center was elegant and an easy place to mingle and talk.


Emotional Arithmetic was a powerful film to open the Festival, dealing with the scars of the horrors of the holocaust, family and inter-generational relationships, and the conflict between remembering and forgetting -- things too terrible to remember and too important to forget. A superb cast, including Gabriel Byrne, Christopher Plummer, Susan Sarandon, and Max von Sydow, deliver a complex, understated story. (More about this film in another post.) The Canadian location and cinematography are especially beautiful.


Returning to the parking garage, after the after-party, on a hot night, with a full moon and the path illuminated with colored lights shining on almost tropical style plants, accessorized with a water fountain, the campus reminded me of a posh conference center in Florida. This was my first time on campus since I worked as a post doctoral fellow at SUNY SB many years ago when it was almost barren.

This is the way a modern, growing university should look, with the promise of comfort, dedication, and the cultivation of cultural arts and all knowledge. It was great to see the Staller auditorium full of people; and it would be great to see the intellectual and cultural experience in and around SUNY SB continue to expand.

I have a strong personal interest in the fusion of intellectual activities with entertainment. Given the support of a major university, the large enthusiastic audience, and the outstanding physical environment, this is a terrific place for a film festival, and for a film festival to contribute to that fusion. The growth of the film festival can benefit the university, the film industry and, in a larger sense, intellectual popular culture generally. It’s a great place to showcase important films.

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Monday, July 14, 2008



Mary Stuart Masterson directing
The Cake Eaters

Mary Stuart Masterson,
is charming, ebullient and intelligent... and an actress and the director of The Cake Eaters, to be shown on Saturday evening (July 17, 7:00 PM) at the Stony Brook Film Festival (SBFF) (see our post on SBFF below).

In this film, she tells an interesting, romantic story, about difficult and troubled people. The acting, especially by
Kristen Stewart, is dead-on. Kristen plays an adolescent girl with a serious disease and, thinking about the film, I kind-of had to keep reminding myself that Kristen was an actress and not a patient recruited for a film role.

Mary Stuart (that seems to be what she likes to be called) said that she cast Kristen (fifteen when this film was made), remembering having seeing her in The Panic Room in 2002 (which she made when she was just nine). Meeting her, she found Kristen was "so poised and intelligent and ... had such a ferocious... love for the character, that I just knew that it had be her." (Poised, intelligent and ferocious: great qualities for an actress!)

Mary Stuart Masterson with her brother
cinematographer Pete Masterson

What makes the film most special, it seems to me, is that it is uniquely American in a way that few films are. It was shot on location upstate in New York, and has an authenticity that comes from being firmly rooted in the present time in a real place in this country. The film was shot with understated realism by Mary Stuart’s brother,
Peter Masterson.

Mary Stuart Masterson and Bruce Dern

The story is contemporary and gently treats of romance and relationships, difficult and otherwise. The character’s talk, and the action proceeds, with a rhythm that is genuine to the place, the time and the story. The script, by
Jayce Bartok, who also appears in the film, has not been formulized the way studio films are.

Mary Stuart comes from a family and milieu of actors and directors. Her mother is the Tony winning actress
Carlin Glynn. And Mary Stuart has appeared as an actress in films which are something of a family affair, such films as The Trip to Bountiful, written by the playwright, Horton Foote and directed by her father, Peter Masterson (who is Horton Foote's cousin). Mary Stuart's father is a charming, and intelligent (Note: it's not a coincidence that I used the same adjectives to describe Mary Stuart) actor, writer and Tony nominated director (for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas). That understanding of family, and that tradition of crafting film and theater which is in her background history, seems to inform the decisions and structure that were made in crafting a film that portrays sophisticated relationships, and that looks and feels unique and genuine.

There is likely to be a Q&A with Mary Stuart after the screening on Saturday. With a diverse and interesting schedule of films, the Stony Brook Film Festival seems like a very good place to visit between Thursday (July 17) and Saturday (July 26), with the first Saturday night (July 19) a particularly fine time to attend, for the screening of The Cake Eaters.

Note (July 25, 2009) -- The Cake Eaters is now out on DVD. Below is a link to watch the film online or buy a DVD. Also, Mary Stuart has produced a new film, Tickling Leo, written and directed by her husband, Jeremy Davidson, which is being shown today at the Stony Brook Film Festival 2009.

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Alan Cumming & The Bacchae
From the2008 international tour of
The Bacchae.
National Theatre of Scotland
Photo credit: Rhuary Grant

The Bacchae of Euripedes dramatizes themes and issues that are as important today as they were 2500 years ago, and does so with a style as modern as if it were just written.

In fact, The Bacchae was written in about 407 BC (2008+407 = 2415 years ago) and had its premiere, some two years later, about a year after Euripedes died, posthumously winning first prize at the Dionysia.

The play was written in
Greek Macedonia where Euripedes had moved from Athens (on the invitation of the King of Macedonia) about a year before writing the play.

It is helpful to understand some of the background of the creation of the play: the world as seen from Athens in 407 BC. It was written during the
Peloponnesian war between Athens and Sparta, and war was coming to a climax. It was a bitter conflict. In addition to the dangers of war, politics in Athens were very unstable. Among other events, for example, a coup, about 3 years before Euripedes’ departure from Athens, overthrew the Athenian democratic system in favor of oligarchic rule by a group of 400 prominent and wealthy Athenians.

In Macedonia, Euripedes was removed from danger and from the politics. Also, it has been suggested that he was exposed to Dionysian Mysteries and rituals in Macedonia which were much more intense than the -- rather tame -- ceremonies in Athens.

The play takes place in
Grecian Thebes in ancient times. During the Peloponnesian war, Thebes was Athens’ enemy, allied with Sparta. Thebans may also have been regarded by Athenians as a bit dense or stupid.

Persia, Lydia and Phrygia, which are described as the lands from which Dionysus has just arrived from the East, were important kingdoms when the play was written. Lydia and Phrygia lay Northeast of Athens in what is now Turkey, and in the direction of Persia, which had, not long ago, attacked Greece, but had been repelled.

The Bacchae is a very powerful play. The conclusion is very shocking, and the developments that lead to the conclusion are very theatrical, with both humor and spectacle, and an ever-present suggestion of sex.

Much of the power of the play is that is not a perfect play. Most productions of the play seem to succeed on one level, and yet be incomplete and unconvincing on some other level. It touches on many themes, but is not a simple exposition of any one. Given any interpretation, it could equally be taken to support a different or even opposite interpretation. The freedom of directing the play from any one of many thematic emphases is part of the reason the play is often presented, and often presented at a time of national stress, when one or another of the issues with which it deals become matters of popular relevance and importance.

There is also the issue of language. Ancient Greek drama is said to have been written in a form of poetry which has strong rhythm (without rhyme). Last summer I saw and heard Euripedes’ Medea at Cambridge University in England presented in Ancient Greek. The sound of the language was a revelation. Without understanding the language (but following along: a running translation was provided on an overhead screen), the beauty and power of the sound of the language was evident.

(Note: Cambridge produces a play in Ancient Greek every three years (in years divisible by 3). Oxford also produces a play in Ancient Greek every three years and will be presenting Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, (the first play in the Oresteia trilogy) in Oxford in mid-October this year. It will be directed by Claire Catenaccio who has just graduated with numerous honors and prizes from Harvard, directing and studying ancient Greek drama. I recommend a visit to Oxford this fall!)

There has been a major production of The Bacchae playing in a theater in New York: The
National Theatre of Scotland at the Lincoln Center Summer Festival. And at least one more is in development. Later this year, JoAnne Akalaitis is scheduled to present a production at The Public Theater.

Some of the fundamental themes of the play are:

=> Androgyny and possibly homosexuality
=> Sexual, spiritual and emotional liberation and freedom
=> Empowerment of women
=> Spiritual liberation

=> The need to honor a god
=> The cruelty of a god
=> The history and true nature of the god of wine

=> The need for a government to respect the laws of human nature. Here, the human spirit and the need for liberty is embodied in the god Dionysus. (Note: This is directly suggested in the play by Tireseus, and takes as implicit the notion that a Greek god is an embodiment of some aspect of human behavior, and worship of the god is respect for the corresponding laws of human nature.)
=> The attitude of the chorus to the events
=> The conflict between a liberating political movement and a repressive political government, and the notion that a liberal movement can turn vicious when it meets with excessive resistance
=> The importance of moderation
=> The need to honor both the stability of law and the liberation of the spirit
=> The fall of a government when it does not pay due respect to the gods
=> The hypocrisy of those who repress sex in others but secretly lust themselves; and the hypocrisy of those who profess liberation, but when they are challenged become more cruel and repressive than the repressors; (This theme of hypocrisy could also have been listed under the sexual themes!)

=>The difficulties of family relationships, especially in the ruling class

That is quite a load of themes, any of which can be the basis for an interpretation.

In addition, the play has humor, violence (which is off-stage in the text, but can be brought on-stage by the director), magic, special effects, drugs (alcohol at least), madness, tragedy, cross-dressing, music and dance. And any of these can be the stylistic basis for an interpretation.

None of these themes or styles are developed completely enough in the script to determine the obvious, completely satisfying interpretation; each one of them competes for attention when any other is taken as the primary focus. That is one reason why the play is a failure, and why it is an enduring success.

The director, John Tiffany, of the Scottish National Theatre presentation at the Lincoln Center Festival has taken as his primary interests the cross-dressing, androgynous nature of Dionysus, and the musical and visual potential of the chorus. Stylistically, he emphasizes the theatrical spectacle, and humor. Serving these decisions, Alan Cumming as Dionysus is terrific; the rest of the cast somewhat less so. Cal Macaninch as Pentheus, the ruler of Thebes, and the primary antagonist to Dionysus, is simply not a strong enough presence to challenge Cumming in a dramatically effective way. Paola Dionisotti as Agave and Ewan Hooper as Cadmus, Pentheus grandfather, are not dramatically powerful enough in the final scenes.

There are many terrific elements in this production, and many things that don’t go quite right.

Among the most effective elements of this production are:

=> The special effects and spectacles, especially the initial entrance of Dionysus
=> The clarity of the production in the script, the direction and the acting, making it always possible to understand the characters’ meaning (when you could hear them – the volume level was a bit low and with traces of Scottish accents and a strange play, not all the words were clear)
=> The costumes, which were colorful, bold and interesting, especially effective at making the first entrance of each character exciting
=> The choral music and dance which had a gospel style and nice melodies
=> The comedy
=> And the effective delivery of an interpretation which stressed the androgyny and sexual identity issues in the play.

The clarity of this production probably stems in part from the manner in which it was created. First a literal translation of the play was created by Ian Ruffell. Then a writer, David Greig, was commissioned to turn the literal translation into a play that directly served the director’s interpretation. The script was neither archly old fashioned, nor jarringly modern (two problems most scripts fail to avoid), but seemed ideally suited to the director’s intentions.

Some things were not so effective:

I’ve already mentioned the weak supporting cast, and the low volume sound design, which made words difficult to understand, (a particular problem when the chorus was singing, since the text of what they say is important to the development of the play’s themes).

Although the costumes were stiking and impressive, most characters wore the same thing throughout the show, so that the visual excitement began to fade. I also found the costume design somewhat confusing: some of the costume choices seemed wrongly conceived. This play is set in ancient Thebes, yet the clothes are conspicuously modern and not-Greek. When Cadmus and Tireseus set out for the mountain to join the maenads, they seem to say that they are in fawnskin (or soon to change) and they are carrying the thyrsus; but they are dressed in tuxedos with strangely decorated hats and carrying walking sticks. I also thought Pentheus could have used a uniform or other clothes that marked him as the king -- to give him more gravitas in his encounters and conflicts with Dionysus.

One special effect -- a huge bank of spotlights aimed at the audience -- seemed both pointless in terms of the play, and dangerous to the audience’s eyes.

The play takes place in one location, near Pentheus’ palace. This production sets it firmly there, and never tries to even suggest the licentious behavior of the maenads in the mountainous forest. Only the bacchae that came with Dionysus from the East are seen. Portrayed as gospel-like singers, these women in the chorus seem to have no visceral connection to Dionysus, and there is no chemistry between them and Alan Cumming. So the whole element of the liberating nature of the god of wine, of the Bacchic Mysteries, is almost completely lost.

But the main weakness of the production is that it did not do justice to the tragedy of the play. Aside from the weak acting by the two main characters in this section of the play, the use of a patently fake plastic or rubber head was a disastrous dissipator and destructor of the tension, surprise and horror that should characterize the climax of this play. Agave does not treat the head as the lion’s head she believes it to be, or as any important object at all. It has no reality because of the way it is carried and treated by the actress. In addition, it is introduced too early. There are specific lines in the play which seem designed to be the ideal place to make the reveal, to maximize the shock value and horror of bringing on-stage the severed head of her son, which she believes to be the head of a lion she has killed. Displaying the head earlier dilutes the intensity of the climax.

While the play can be presented in many ways, for me the most brilliant and modern and lasting insight in the play is its depiction of the nature of the political cycle of (1) a movement of liberation, then (2) attempts at repression and then (3) a counter reaction or co-option of the liberation movement with radical violence. It is, for example, the story of the French Revolution; and we saw it in the sixties in the journey from Woodstock to Altamont. It happens in big ways, and it happens in small ways, and it is a cycle that we must always beware of.

The Tiffany version from Scotland, as we’ve noted, stresses other themes, which the director has said he has been interested in for 20 years. For even longer than that - (!) - I’ve wanted to do an adaptation that stresses the political elements of the story, especially this issue of achieving liberation without descending into violence. I hope some day I get to do that!

The National Theatre of Scotland has brought to life The Bacchae in one of the many ways it’s possible to experience this extraordinary drama. Despite some faults, I highly recommend a visit to this production wherever in the world it may travel to, for its spectacle and theatricality, its clarity, humor and, given its intentional focus on the themes of androgyny and sexual identity, its success in accomplishing what it set out to do.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008




July 17 through July 26

The 13th annual
Stony Brook Film Festival (SBFF) will run from July 17 through July 26, with films from around the world... And Long Island!

Films at SBFF are projected on a large screen, to a large audience, with a single film shown in each time slot (no competing venues; no hard decisions about which film to see of the films playing at the same time) – three quite unique attributes at a film festival.


Among the many, very interesting films to be shown at SBFF is The Cake Eaters, the sensitive and interesting directorial debut for actress Mary Stuart Masterson. Shot in upstate New York (with cinematography by her brother), it is a drama, both realistic and romantic, with a cast that includes Bruce Dern and Elizabeth Ashley.

Lot's of great movie stars! World premieres! Many languages spoken in the films to be presented at SBFF. Here are a few of the highlights (grouped loosely by language) ......



N.Y. Premiere—Taiwan/China/Hong Kong—In Chinese with subtitles.

Directed by Alexi Tan.

Written by Alexi Tan, Jiang Dan and Tony Chan.

With Daniel Wu, Chang Chen, Shu Qi, Liu Ye, Sun Honglei, Tony Yang and Lulu Yi.

1930s Shanghai: a glittering city of vice and decadence.



N.Y. Premiere—Australia/Singapore—In English, Mandarin and Cantonese with subtitles.

Written and directed by Tony Ayres.

With Joan Chen (the extraordinary actress from Lust, Caution), Qi Yuwu, Joel Lok, Irene Chen, Steve Vidler and Kerry Walker.

A glamorous Hong Kong nightclub singer meets an Australian sailor and migrates with him to the state of Victoria along with her two children.


WIND MAN- a film by Khuat Akhmetov;




East Coast Premiere—Spain—In Spanish with subtitles.

Directed by Miguel Ángel Calvo Buttini.

Written by Álvaro Lión-Depetre and Miguel Ángel Calvo Buttini.

With Andoni Gracia, Txema Blasco, María Galiana, Merce Llorens and Teresa Gimpera.

An emotional comedy. Somewhere near a beautiful river, salmon, frogs and other species coexist with the inhabitants of a small and quaint village.

Irish Gaelic

KINGS (Ireland’s official entry to the Foreign Language Oscar 2008).

Hungarian –


Directed by Krisztina Goda.

Written by Joe Eszterhas and Éva Gárdos

With Kata Dobó and Iván Fenyö.

In Budapest 1956. During the brewing anti-Soviet Revolution, a fiery student, Viki, catches the eye of Karcsi, A young waterpolo star.




N.Y. Premiere—Canada—In French with subtitles.

Directed by Simon Olivier Fecteau and Marc-André Lavoie.

Written by Marc-André Lavoie, Simon Olivier Fecteau and David Gauthier.

With Emmanuel Bilodeau, Isabelle Blais, Raymond Bouchard, Nicholas Canuel and Eve Duranceau.

Tenants with things to hide…



Written and directed by Richie Mehta.

With Rupinder Nagra, Koel Purie, Naseeruddin Shah, Roshan Seth and Seema Biswas.

...“Sometimes the poorest of men are the richest.”






German, Polish

AND ALONG CAME TOURISTS takes place in the present-day town of Oswiecim, Poland, site of the Auschwitz extermination camp. A young German chooses civil work over military service and finds himself helping out in Auschwitz, where tour buses unload a million visitors a year.

Hebrew –


An adult film that explores the place of women and sexuality in Orthodox Judaism with Fanny Ardant, Ania Bukstin and Michal Shtamler.

US, Canada –

EMOTIONAL ARITHMETIC opens the Stony Brook Film Festival. It charts the fateful reunion of survivors of the Drancy transit camp on the outskirts of Paris, where Jews were detained before being sent to Auschwitz. Melanie, played by Susan Sarandon, lives in the scenic countryside of Quebec with her history professor husband, Christopher Plummer. Max Von Sydow also appears. Emotional Arithmetic is directed by Paolo Barzman, and is based on an award-winning novel by Matt Cohen.

TRU LOVED -- Tru, a teenager played by Najarra Townsend, is growing up with gay mothers and fathers. The film, with Alexandra Paul, Jasmine Guy, Nichelle Nicols, and Matthew Thompson, includes music from Melissa Etheridge, Rufus Wainwright, Janis Ian, Roslyn Kind, and youthful newcomers Lanky and Sheva, and is directed by Stewart Wade.

In THE STONE ANGEL, a film from Canada in English Ellen Burstyn portrays a feisty and unconventional woman. The Stone Angel is written and directed by Kari Skogland based on the novel by Margaret Laurence.

ROUTE 30 -- World Premiere—U.S.A

Written and directed by John Putch.

With Dana Delany, David DeLuise, Curtis Armstrong, Kevin Rahm, Christine Elise, Robert Romanus, Lee Wilkof, Nathalie Boltt, and David Cowgill.

“Three stories. One highway…”



World Premiere—U.S.A.—

Directed by Brent Huff.

Written by Brent Huff, William Shockley and Douglas L. Walton.

With Rebecca Pidgeon, Julian Sands, Brian Dennehy, Alano Massi, Shawn Huff and William Shockley.

A lawyer, a mistress, a corrupt politician, lying, cheating,… A thriller


N.Y. Premiere—U.S.A.

Written and directed by Daniel Barnz.

With Elle Fanning, Felicity Huffman, Patricia Clarkson, Bill Pullman and Campbell Scott.

Phoebe in Wonderland was made on the North Shore of Long Island.

The festival will close with CAMILLE, an East Coast premiere directed by Gregory MacKenzie. The film features Sienna Miller (Stardust), James Franco (Pineapple Express - August ‘08 release), David Carradine, Ed Lauter and Scott Glenn. Camille is a twisted adventure about a young couple on their way to Niagara Falls for their honeymoon. (Note: the director married his wife, and screenwriter Nick Pustay proposed to his girlfriend while filming at the Falls.)

For complete descriptions of all the films, click on the links to the films in the calendar at:

Here is the schedule in brief:

STONY BROOK FILM FESTIVAL SCHEDULE (running times in parentheses)


8:00 pm - Emotional Arithmetic (89)
NY Premiere – Canada


5:00 pm - Amal (101)
NY Premiere – Canada/India

7:00 pm - Children of Glory (123)
NY Premiere - Hungary
Short: The Wall (8) USA

9:30 pm - On Broadway (100)
NY Premiere - USA
Short: And Then She Was Gone (7) USA


3:30 pm - Wind Man (98)
East Coast Premiere - Russia

7:00 pm - The Cake Eaters (95)
Short: Little Pumpkin (7) USA

9:30 pm - Route 30 (88)
World Premiere - USA
Short: Barbara Broadcast (15) Belgium


3:30 pm - The Secrets (120)

7:00 pm - Cat City (93)
World Premiere – USA
Short: Triple Concerto in D Minor (8)

9:30 pm - Tru Loved (99)
Short: For a Few Marbles More (11) The Netherlands


7:00 pm - Bluff (88)
NY Premiere - Canada
Short: Bunny Games (28) Belgium

9:30 pm - Unfinished Sky (91)
NY Premiere – Australia
Short: In the Name of the Son (25) Bosnia and Herzegovina/India


7:00 pm - And Along Come Tourists (85)
East Coast Premiere - Germany
Short: Maine Story (24) USA

9:30 pm - Blood Brothers (95)
NY Premiere – Taiwan/Hong Kong/China
Short: Bookie (18) USA


7:00 pm - Twins for President (93)
East Coast Premiere - Spain
Short: Plainview (24) USA

9:30 pm - Summit Circle (90)
East Coast Premiere - Canada
Short: The Puzzle (16) USA


7:00 pm - Kings (88)
NY Premiere – Ireland/UK
Short: The Drummer (18) USA

9:30 pm - Home Song Stories (103)
NY Premiere – Australia/Singapore
Short: Artistic Closure (14) USA


7:00 pm - Phoebe in Wonderland (96)
NY Premiere - USA
9:30 pm - The Stone Angel (115)
East Coast Premiere - Canada


8:30 pm - Camille (91)
East Coast Premiere - USA

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Saturday, July 05, 2008



The road leading to Stone Barns

This weekend there is cuisine and chamber music:

Sharon Roffman and friends are playing a terrific concert at Stone Barns' Center for Food and Agriculture this Sunday (July 6) from 5 PM to 6 PM.

Stone Barns is a beautiful working farm, with rolling hills, walking trails and animals, situated on the spectacular grounds that were once a Rockefeller estate. "Come early and walk around, have a snack in the cafe (run by the incredible restaurant Blue Hill), or bring your own picnic (there are picnic tables galore!)"

Just across from the concert is Blue Hill at Stone Barns, one of America's very top, top restaurants. If you can't get a reservation at the restaurant (they're usually sold out a month or two in advance), stop in and make a reservation for a future treat!

These great works of chamber music reflect or were inspired by nature. Here's the program:

Haydn's "Sunrise" Quartet
Brahms' Viola Quintet in F Major

with Sharon Roffman, Jasmine Lin, Melvin Chen, Jacob Braun, and Mark Holloway.

Stone Barns is a short train ride or drive from New York City.

To reserve tickets go to

Also the website for the Blue Hill cafe is it is open until 5.

Sharon adds: "Please join us for some great music in the beautiful environment that inspired this concert."

Next weekend, there is Shakespeare & Wine:

Long Island Wineries Serve Up Shakespeare & Chardonnay with
July 11 & 12

This July, two Long Island wineries will serve up FOOD OF LOVE, a light-hearted look at love with words by William Shakespeare and wine by the glass.

Produced by Spitfire Theatre, this unique theatrical experience is created and directed by Abigail Anderson, an English director who has worked at Shakespeare's Globe in London and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Anderson has been described by The Oxford Times as "one of the most exciting and eclectic young directors in the UK."

Laugh with Benedick and Beatrice, sigh with Romeo and Juliet, get steamy with Petruchio and Kate! FOOD OF LOVE brings together some of Shakespeare's most romantic love scenes, songs, and poems in a specially created show for some of Long Island's most picturesque outdoor locations.

Audiences will have the chance to sample the local wines as part of a relaxed summer evening, in addition to exploring the vineyards and enjoying the show.

Director Abigail Anderson says, "The beauty of Shakespeare's language is perfectly complemented by the beautiful surroundings of Long Island's wineries. We're delighted to have the chance to perform here and, in doing so, throw the spotlight on to the flourishing wine-growing community on the North and South Forks."

The 50 minute performance showcases the talent of four professional actors, all experienced Shakespearean performers, who will move in and around the audience to create an unforgettable and intimate theatre experience. The cast is: Khris Lewin, Adam Mastrelli, Amy Prosser, and Laura Rikard.

FOOD OF LOVE is the beginning of a long term project by Spitfire Theatre to bring high quality, accessible and inspiring Shakespeare performances to Long Island.

Performances will take place rain or shine as follows:

Friday, July 11 at 7:00pm
Palmer Vineyards in Aquebogue, Long Island
Located at 5120 Sound Avenue Aquebogue, NY 11931

Directions: Take the LIE to last exit (exit 73). Continue east on RT 58 to Osborne Ave. Turn left. Drive to end (Sound Ave). Turn right. Drive 6 miles to Palmer Vineyards, on the left.

Wine writer Howard Goldberg once described Palmer as, "Long Island's most important winery." Palmer wines are sold in many states across the country and can be found in many top restaurants such as Gallaghers Steak House, Fultons Crabhouse, The View Restaurant, and many more.

Saturday, July 12 at 7:00pm
Castello di Borghese in Cutchogue, Long Island
Located at 17150 County Route 48, Cutchogue, NY 11935

Directions: Take the L.I. Expressway I-495 to Exit 73 toward Greenport/ Orient. This is CR-58. Follow for 2 miles until reaching roundabout. Take 2nd exit off roundabout, continuing on CR-58. Turn left onto Northville Turnpike/CR-43 at traffic light. Turn right onto Sound Ave. at stop sign. Castello di Borghese will be approximately 9 miles on your right.

Winner of "Best Winery" Editor's Choice Award from Long Island Press. Borghese Vineyard has the oldest vines producing the finest wines in this winemaking region. Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc are their signature wines, along with many award winners including Meritage and Chardonnay.

All tickets are $55.00 in advance and $60 at the door. Tickets are available at or toll-free 1-866-811-4111.

Doors open 30 minutes prior to each performance.

For more information visit

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