Thursday, October 30, 2008



Election results -- for anything except President and hot Senate races -- are sometimes hard to come by.

So it's great that CNN is providing a page for users to track in real time their own customized list of races (President, Senate, and House).

Go to

You have to register and log in to save your races, but then you can pick up to 35 races to track.

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Dael Orlandersmith has won a $50,000.00 prize from the
Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation.

As a playwright, Dael has won a Guggenheim, a Pen/Laura Pels Foundation Award and a Lucille Lortel Playwrights Fellowship, and she was a Pulitzer prize finalist; as an actor, she was a Drama Desk Award nominee.

Dael has been teaching a class in writing for solo performance at
HB Studio. I've been to the class. She is informative, helpful, and encouraging.

Along with Dael,
nine other writers received prizes for their work.


Mischa Berlinski, fiction. His first novel, Fieldwork, was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2007. He is at work on a second novel and living in Haiti.

Rick Hilles, poetry. His first collection, Brother Salvage, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. He is an assistant professor in the MFA Program at Vanderbilt University and lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

Donovan Hohn, nonfiction. His essays have appeared in Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, Agni, The Bedford Reader, and Internazionale. His first book will be published by Viking in 2010.

Douglas Kearney, poetry. He is the author of Fear, Some (Red Hen Press, 2006) and the forthcoming collection, The Black Automaton, which will be published by Fence Books in 2009. He has an MFA in writing from the California Institute of the Arts, where he now teaches.

Laleh Khadivi, fiction. Her first book, The Age of Orphans, will be published by Bloomsbury in 2009. She is currently the fiction fellow at Emory University in Atlanta.

Manuel Muñoz, fiction. He is the author of two collections of short stories, Zigzagger (Northwestern University Press, 2003) and The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue (Algonquin Books, 2007). He lives in Tucson, where he is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Arizona.

Dael Orlandersmith, plays. Her plays include Yellowman, The Gimmick and her Obie-Award winning Beauty’s Daughter, in which she also starred. She is currently an artist-in-residence at Sarah Lawrence College, has been teaching at HB Studio, and is at work on a memoir..

Benjamin Percy, fiction. He is the author of two short story collections, The Language of Elk (Carnegie Mellon, 2006) and Refresh, Refresh (Graywolf, 2008). He teaches in the MFA program at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

Julie Sheehan, poetry. She is the author of two collections of poems, Thaw (Fordham University Press, 2001), and Orient Point (Norton, 2006). She teaches in the graduate Writing and Literature program at Stony Brook Southampton and lives in East Quogue, New York.

Lysley Tenorio, fiction. He has recently completed a collection of short stories and is working on a novel. He lives in San Francisco and teaches at Saint Mary's College in Moraga, California.

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I've met Dennis Shulman and heard him speak.

He is very intelligent, very well informed with a moderate approach to political issues, very well spoken.

Running for the US House of Representatives from the Fifth Congressional District in New Jersey (the Fifth cuts a swath across northern New Jersey, beginning in Bergen County in the East, then going due West), he would be an important voice for this mixed upscale and rural constituency.

In Congress, he would be an informed and hard working advocate on many issues important to this district, with a special expertise on education and social causes.

Elected, he would likely be one of the most important and influential members of Congress.


Monday, October 20, 2008



The 16th Annual
Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) presented its Golden Starfish Awards at a ceremony held at the Regal Cinemas in East Hampton, NY on Sunday, October 19, 2008.

Golden Starfish Narrative and Shorts Competition jurors include: Elvis Mitchell (Film Critic, Host of “The Treatment”), Chistoph Terhechte (Director of International Forum of New Cinema, Berlin International Film Festival), Victoria Burrows (Casting Director – Burrows / Boland Casting).

Golden Starfish Documentary Competition jurors include: Claudia Landsberger (Managing Director, Holland Film), Kate Pearson (SVP Programming, The Documentary Channel), Rachel Grady (Director, Oscar Nominated Jesus Camp).

Conflict and Resolution Competition jurors include: Giulia d’Agnolo Vallan (Author, US Programmer, Venice Film Festival), Carsten Siebert (Executive Director,
Byrd Hoffman Water Mill Foundation & Robert Wilson), Bob Aaronson (Director of Acquisitions and Distribution at Netflix).


The Golden Starfish Best Narrative Feature, carrying an awards package of over $185,000 of in-kind production services, was presented to: TROUBLED WATER (Norway/Sweden, North American Premiere), Dir. Erik Poppe.

The Golden Starfish Documentary Feature Film Award, carrying a cash prize of $5,000 was presented to: HERB AND DOROTHY (USA, NY Premiere), Dir. Megumi Sasaki.
Ø The jury announced a Special Recognition to the Documentary Film, THE RED RACE (China/Germany, NY Premiere) Dir. Chao Gan.

The Golden Starfish Short Film Award with a prize of $5,000 cash was presented to: I AM SO PROUD OF YOU (USA, East Coast Premiere) Dir. Don Hertzfeldt.

The Kodak Award For Best Cinematography, worth $6,000 in kind services and product, to: VASERMIL (Israel, East Coast Premiere) Dir. Mushon Salmona; Cinematographer Ram Shweky.

The Zicherman Family Foundation Award For Best Screenwriter, carrying a $5000 cash prize was awarded to: BOOGIE (Romania, North American Premiere) Dir. Radu Muntean; Screenwriters Alexandru Baciu, Razvan Radulescu, Radu Muntean.

The Brizzolara Family Award for Films of Conflict and Resolution, carries a $5,000 cash prize each, was presented to: SNOW (Bosnia/ Herzegovina/Germany/France/Iran, US Premiere) Dir. Aida Begic.

The RoC® Gold Standard Award for Female Feature Director was presented to: Elissa Down for her film THE BLACK BALOON (Australia, US Premiere).

The Caroline’s Comedy Emerging Talent Award which carries a $7,500 award was presented by Board Member and long time Festival supporter Caroline Hirsch to: Michael Spicer, Writer & Star of HOW I LEARNED TO LOVE RICHARD GERE.

The Heineken Red Star Award created to provide increased exposure and visibility to independent film by recognizing and rewarding filmmakers and their work. The Hamptons International Film Festival, on behalf of Heineken presented this 2nd annual award to: Patrick Read Johnson for his film ' 77.

For the 9th consecutive year, the $25,000 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Film Prize in Science and Technology for a feature-length film that explores science and technology themes in fresh, innovative ways and depicts scientists and engineers in a realistic and compelling fashion was presented at the Hamptons International Film Festival. This year’s recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan award is Marc Abraham’s, FLASH OF GENIUS. The Award was presented by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Doron Weber.

The ¡Sorpresa! Youth Film Competition in its second year is a signature program developed by HIFF and ¡Sorpresa!, the nation's first Hispanic children's television network and digital community, that showcases Hispanic culture and identity and played at the Festival as part of the Youth Media Program. The winner is: I WANT MY PARENTS BACK made by a group of 9 teenagers under the guidance of Media Arts Center San Diego Teen Producers program. Their names are: Argenis Herrera, Euniz Gonzalez, Garrett Hayes, Khirye Rice, Omar Flores, Cody Marshall, Aaron Dominguez, Melly Jenny, Nathan Villalobos.

Undergraduate and Graduate Student Film/Video Awards, carrying a $1,000 cash award each, were presented to: AMERICAN DREAM, Dir. Joseph Mann; CLOUDED, Dir. Ajae Clearway; ONE MORE GAME WITH YOU, Dir. Ryan Parma; ROSALIE, Dir. Nicholas Berger; THE HOLLOW TREE, Dir. Patrick Steward.

The Golden Starfish Award for Best Young Videomaker went to: IMAGE OF CONTAMINATION: SAN ANTONIO'S TOXIC TRIANGLE, co-directed by young filmmakers Liz Gonzalez and Antonio Rodriguez from San Antonio, TX.

The Lifetime Movie Network Everywoman Filmmaker Award was presented to Negin Farsad for her film HOT BREAD KITCHEN.

The Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature was presented to: TROUBLED WATER (Norway/Sweden, North American Premiere), Dir. Erik Poppe,

The Audience Award for Best Documentary was presented to: HERB AND DOROTHY (USA, NY Premiere), Dir. Megumi Sasaki.

The Audience Award for Best Short Film was presented to: THE PIG (Denmark, US Premiere) Dir. Dorte Hoegh.

This year’s Festival features 122 films including - 14 World Premieres, 23 North American Premieres, 18 US Premieres, 15 East Coast Premieres and 15 New York Premieres.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008



Lauren Bacall, Ben Gazzara and Olivia Thirlby in EVE

Director Natalie Portman working with Lauren Bacall and Ben Gazzara
on location at the Firebird Restaurant in New York
for the scene illustrated in the top photo above.

First, a slight digression...

...Those little star-like things on the
Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) logo are apparently Golden Starfish. And so,the acronym is translated as the "Golden Starfish Award Shorts". (Note: See the post below for more about "Golden Starfish".)

Back to the films...

There were five shorts shown in the program:

Fingers is a simple film about a young musician who travels to Nashville to play a gig.

I Am So Proud of You is a hand-animated, manually photographed story of a life, which alternates between sardonic wit and depressingly dark humor.

JerryCan is a little bit of Austrailian boys' nasty mischief gone even worse than they planned.

Glory At Sea is a mess of a movie, but once you realize -- not made clear in the film itself -- that it is kind of a metaphor for the disaster in New Orleans; that it is made in New Orleans, with survivors of Katrina, with detritus from the storm, the film becomes more interesting. Indeed the mess of the movie becomes, itself, a metaphor for the mess that was Katrina.

All these films above are interesting short films. They feel like short films. Short films often feel like "short films".

The fifth film in the program, however, is not a "short film". It is a film. It is also a minor masterpiece. It is perhaps the best short film I've ever seen. The film is beautifully shot and edited, and brilliantly written and directed, by Natalie Portman (the actress).

Eve is the story of grandma who goes on a date with a widower. Her granddaughter, who has come over to visit and talk about her mother (Eve), ends up as chaperone and chauffeur, and otherwise somewhat ignored. Grandma is played superbly by Lauren Bacall, and the widower by Ben Gazzara. The iconic performers give iconic performances that make this an iconic film, a celebration of the power of life as people age.

(I thought of Vicki Christina Barcelona (VCB) , when I saw this film. VCB uses the iconic personalities and iconic performances of Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, and Scarlett Johansson to make an iconic film about a summer romance abroad.)

Eve (the grandma's daughter, the young woman's mother) appears in the film only as a photograph. That is a brilliant device. "Eve" is the perfect name for the film and the photograph is the perfect place for her to appear. The film is in some profound sense not just about the date, but also about the entire backstory and subtext and life that precedes the film. Eve, the missing mother/daughter provides a link to that world.

Interestingly, according to the producer, Eve was not the original title, nor was the photo of the mother in the original script. I think that illustrates why in film (as opposed to theater) it works so well to have the writer and director be the same person. In theater, every performance is a different interpretation of the script, so a director needs to let the actors free themselves from the words and own the characters. In a film, the script is just a suggestion, or notes, or a crib sheet. The film is the film. So a director can work with the material as the edit is being constructed and continue to sculpt the project until it is in its final form. The film is the only performance that counts. When the writer and director are the same person, that performance can be perfected.

With a rich and beautiful story, outstanding cinematography, and brilliant writing, directing, and acting, Eve is (one of the few times I've ever said this about a short) a film not to be missed!

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Friday, October 17, 2008



Those little star-like things on the
Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) logo are apparently Golden Starfish. And so, GSA apparently stands for "Golden Starfish Awards," and GSA Shorts for "Golden Starfish Award Shorts."

But what is a "Golden Starfish"?

A Google search of "golden starfish" provides definitions that range from an award for clean European beaches, to noble behavior, or vulgar behavior, and to a popular design for jewelry. Whether there is an actual variety of starfish called the "golden starfish" is not clear.

In fact, it seems the jewelry reference is closest to the likely answer. The Hamptons being noted for their beaches, with starfish perhaps close by or suggested, the idea is to geld the starfish to make a golden starfish, then put it in caps and quotes, bold and italics, to make an award, the "Golden Starfish".

As an award, it is analogous to other golden film festival awards: the "Palme D'or" at Cannes, the "Golden Lion" at Venice and for Berlin, the "Golden Bear".

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Thursday, October 16, 2008


HIFF 2008 DAY 1

The Hamptons International Film Festival
(HIFF) opened Wednesday Oct 15 with Valentino: The Last Emperor (and then a party at the beautiful Gurney's Inn). With its parties, premieres, previews, panels, prizes and generally relaxed and pleasant presence, HIFF can be one of the most enjoyable of the major festivals. Here are a few random images from this year's festival:

Greg Kinnear stars in Flash of Genius, the winner of the Sloan Prize, and the subject of a panel discussion on Friday.


The director, Patrick Read Johnson, with the editor of 77.


Kate Pearson, from the Documentary Channel.


Pete Schuermann, the director of Haze.


Matt Tynauer, the director of Valentino: The Last Emperor.


Hannah Herzsprung, the charming and beautiful star of Werther,
last year a "rising star," this year returns as a risen star
(specifically a "shooting star").
Hannah is fast becoming an actress of major stature,
with great success this past year.
She appears this December with Ralph Fiennes and Kate Winslet
in The Reader.


Plum TV at work.

All photos by Eric Roffman for QPORIT.

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