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  • Wenders, J. R. Salgado, S. Salgado

    Wim Wenders, J. R. Salgado, S. Salgado; courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

    For 40 years, the Brazilian-born photographer Sebastião Salgado has been documenting people and events around the world, driven by curiosity, adventure, and deep empathy for the human condition. Trained as an economist, he left the security of that profession to travel to such farflung places as the Arctic Circle, remote Andes villages, Kuwait, and several African nations, where he lived among locals and immersed himself in the culture. The resulting collections of stunning black and white images include his books Other Americas, Workers, Terra, Exodus and Africa.

    At one point, soul-sick from the tragedy he had witnessed in Rwanda, Salgado lost his desire to work, but regained it when he and his wife/work partner Lélia decided to replant the forest around the family ranch. That project ultimately became Instituto Terra, a thriving ecological reserve. Salgado’s current work involves the discovery and documentation of untouched landscapes, a tribute to the beauty of the planet.

    When Sebastião’s son Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, a documentary filmmaker, decided to make a movie about his father, he enlisted the help of renowned German auteur Wim Wenders, a friend and admirer. The result of their collaboration, The Salt of the Earth, is a beautiful, profound work about a remarkable artist, his family, and the bonds he forges with his subjects. Following are excerpts from a recent roundtable discussion with Wenders and Juliano Salgado:

    Did you think about the differences between documenting via photography versus film when making The Salt of the Earth?
    Wim Wenders: I don’t think I would have dared get involved in a film about a photographer if I hadn’t already known that this man – who I had become friends with – was a great story teller. Because photos in a movie need protection; without protection they become a slide show. That’s why I like them as prints or in a book but on the screen I feel they’re sort of standing naked. I only got involved in the adventure with Juliano realizing that Sebastião himself was the answer; the wealth of his story and the political, sociological, psychological knowledge of all the places he went to.
    Juliano Salgado: That’s what we shared when we started, the idea we weren’t going to make a film about a photographer, but one of the great witnesses of the last 40 years; someone who had lived so much and had so much to pass on.

    Salgado2

    Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

    You would say the story is what is protecting the photography?
    W: Yeah, Sebastião has this uncanny ability to become part of the humanity he’s witnessing and I was curious about how this was possible because I saw something in his photographs that I hadn’t seen in any others. I saw an empathy and an immersion and I wanted to understand that. I finally found out that it’s time; this man spends more time with these people and he doesn’t take the next plane out because it’s uncomfortable. He stays and lives with these people; he shares the same food and he comes back, sometimes countless times, because he feels he made friends and he can’t abandon them. I realized I only had a right to make a film about this man if I did the same. That meant I had to spend three and a half years with him and his son.

    Wim, you’re photographer as well. What did you learn from watching Sebastião work?
    W: I learned one thing more than anything else: he invested time. When he was photographing, he forgot about time and he forgot about his own life and he gave as much time as was necessary for a project and sometimes it took years. There are other things he does very differently from other photographers; it’s the uncanny ability to connect via his photographs.
    J: I really think that is Sebastião’s great talent. It’s that he manages to connect with people and intuitively he knows where to put the camera so you feel emotionally the thing that’s happening between him and the person. Even in the landscapes, you feel that. When you see his photos, you don’t really feel distance with people who have such different lives.

    Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

    Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

    Juliano, you needed Wim for the film to create some distance from your subject; what did that help you gain?
    J: At first I thought I’d never make a film of my father because our relationship was so difficult; then I went with him to Amazonia to visit the Zo’e tribe. When Sebastião was back in Paris to edit the photos, he was very touched by them and we started some kind of healing process of our relationship. It also gave me the certainty that maybe it was the right time to make a film. I realized that the important thing was sharing those stories. Wim had the same intuition, but for me it was completely impossible to do those interviews because of how close my father and I were and because of the complex nature of our relationship. When Wim accepted to be part of this adventure, it was amazing, not only the guarantee that there was someone with an outside perspective who knew about images, but also that there would be so much more to the film.

    How much do you think the film represents the man you know as your father?
    J: Very close actually. I discovered Sebastião, to be honest. I knew the stories, but when I saw it through Wim’s eyes, I understood so much about Sebastião; it helped to actually complete our healing process.
    W: I became the family therapist (laughs).

    When you have such strong images, how do you create the narration?
    W: We thought as we were editing the film that there was only one voice and that’s Sebastião telling these stories, so the two of us completely refrained from interfering. And it took us the longest time to realize that was the wrong approach; we needed to also appear as narrators. I actually brought this young man in with a dirty trick when I realized the arc of the film wasn’t holding. I had all these family photos that they had gathered and I started putting a couple in, starting with a little picture of a baby boy lying there as a bundle. I cut it in; and the next time you (Juliano) saw the cut, you were in it.
    J: And that was awful actually… I was thinking, “I’m going to cut it out, I’m going to cut it out!” But then at end it was so sweet and it belonged to the film.
    W: It was a great way to introduce you as a voice. It was a huge learning process for the two of us; how two men can make one film.

    Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

    Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

    Tell us about this process.
    J: It took us a year before we found how to work together on this film, editing-wise. I would try for two months, Wim would see the results and hate it; then he would take the material, edit for three months, and the result wasn’t that great either. Then we decided we would try to sit together at the editing station.
    W: We knew we both had material to make respective films. But deep in our heart, we both knew that the film we could make together would definitely be better than the one each of us could make on our own. Eventually we said, I’m going to cut your stuff and you’re going to cut mine and we’ll see what that looks like; and that was painful and not the solution. The solution was, forget whose is whose; this is not yours and this is not mine. We sit together at editing table and cut together and that took us so long and we fought to the bone. When we finally gave up each and every ego tendency any director can have on this planet, we made it our common film. But boy was it painful, I’m never going to do this again (laughs).

    What does Sebastião think of the film?
    J: He [and Lélia] saw it for the first time a few months ago. When we were about to finish the film we sent them an edit, a little lo-res file; wanted to make sure there wasn’t anything they couldn’t go with, and there wasn’t. And when they saw it for the first time at the Rio Film Festival, it was so emotional. They were holding it together until the moment when Sebastião’s father starts talking about what he thought Sebastião should have been—a lawyer, an economist—and suddenly he starts to break down crying; Lélia too. It was really beautiful actually; a great moment.

    The Salt of the Earth opens this Friday.

    Marina Zogbi

  • Speedy Ortiz SXSW Shows

    South by Southwest (SXSW) is the Coachella of the American South. Much like over-hyped Indio music festival, this Texas alternative has skyrocketed in size and popularity in recent years. What began in 1987 as a local music festival has grown into an epicenter of not only music, but also culture. The SXSW events calendar has expanded exponentially and now includes film premiers, like Bridesmaids and Tiny Furniture, and speakers, like Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash and Jimmy Wales.

    The coverage of the festival has grown at an equally alarming rate as well. Now-a-days it seems everyone has a tent, a representative, a something at Southby. This year’s festival in particular, which began on the 13th and will conclude on the 22nd, seems to be THE place to be. From McDonalds to Meerkat, brands have coated the festival in free gear and hashtags. This has been a rising trend, year to year, and in response, some claim SXSW has lost some of it’s original purpose amidst all this commercialization. The same or similar was said about Warper Tour, Burning Man and Sundance once they outgrew their underground status. It was only a matter of time before people started claiming the same of SXSW.

    In 2013, Andrea Swensson wrote a piece for NPR’s the record entitled “Why I’m Not Going To SXSW This Year“. In her piece, Swensson admitted, “I can’t help but feel that it has strayed far away from its original premise as a grassroots gathering place for new, undiscovered talent and increasingly feels like a big ol’ Times Square billboard-sized commercial.” Swensson makes a valid point. SXSW is no longer the guarded secret of music community. As a result everyone knows about it and everyone wants a piece or to take part. The problem is not everyone joining the conversation and/or the community of SXSW subscribes to its intentional message. They might just want to attend so they say they did. This isn’t to say that everyone new to SXSW has come down with a bad case of FOMO, but undoubtedly some have.

    The Guardian, in a recent SXSW show review, poised the question, what is SXSW “actually for: is it a festival, a music industry showcase for new bands or an opportunity for the local hipsters to demonstrate that their new outfits are on fleek?” The author, Alex Needham, makes a similar point to Swensson. They both point out how much SXSW has changed. Needham focuses specifically on the increasing hipster population specifically rather than the overall demographic shifts in the types of festival attendees. Another person to acknowledge the out-of-control hipsterdom was Jimmy Kimmel. The comedian returned to the festival for another series of Lie Witness News. In the segment, Kimmel quizzed SXSW attendees on bands that didn’t exist and watched as they desperately and blatantly lied about knowing the acts.

    We’ve all done it. Fibbed about knowing this opening band or that obscure act. Of course we have that album, know that band, heard that track. No one wants to get caught not knowing what the new big thing is. As listeners, we all want to seem cool and knowledgeable, especially on the days when the music community and surrounding conversation feels a bit more like high school. Kimmel’s segment (which may have marked the peak of the commercialization of SXSW) called us out on this behavior and rightfully so. People need to stop pretending that they’ve always known about Diarrhea Comet and just go to shows, because even amongst all this popularity there are still bands of all genres finding genuine exposure at SXSW.

    It is still a space where you can wander into a show and find your new favorite band. Whether you’re in Austin right now, flying in for the final weekend, live streaming sets off of Twitter or stuck elsewhere still doubting the purity of SXSW, here are some acts that prove that the festival even in 2015 is still a place for good music:

    girlpool

    This California duo capped their lengthy winter tour with a series of SXSW shows. Pre-order their LP “Before The World Was Big”, which comes out June 2nd via Witchita Recordings, now so that by summer (at which point Cleo and Harmony will have no doubt won the world over) you can say you knew them when.

    Deerhoof

    After two successful shows at SXSW, Deerhoof is still kicking and there is still sort of time to see them (if you run.) The indie rockers will continue on their US tour with Of Montreal after the festival if you miss their show today. The band plays the Breakthru Radio Party at The Liberty at 4:30PM. The show is free with a RSVP, but 21+.

    Courtney Barnett

    Courtney Barnett’s album releases in three days in the US, but is already out in Australia and we should be jealous. If her past EPs, A Sea Of Split Peas (2014), How To Carve A Carrot Into A Rose (2013) and I’ve Got A Friend Called Emily Ferris (2014), are any indication of the Melbourne native’s talent, Barnett’s debut may be one of the best of the year. Catch Barnett at the Radio Day Stage Austin Convention Center on Friday at 5:00PM if you haven’t already.

    Best Coast

    Best Coast is just what we need as we enter this reluctant spring. They give us cheery, pop tunes while we’re stuck in winter. If you’ve managed to escape to Austin, catch them at the UPROXX House on Saturday at 11:30PM and be sure to listen to their upcoming album California Nights.

    Speedy Ortiz

    Speedy Ortiz has already played a half dozen or so SXSW shows with bands like Failure, Spoon and Pile, including the Spotify Party at The Spotify House and the Pitchfork Party at The Mohawk. Catch their sets TONIGHT at the Exploding In Sound Records/Stereogum Party at HOLE IN THE WALL at 5:25 and/or at the Yahoo Showcase at  Brazos Hall at 11:20PM.

  • Gina Brillon is incredibly funny. Since jumping on the comedy scene at age 17, the Bronx native made appearances on Comedy Central’s “Live At The Gotham,” ABC’s “The View,” E!’s “Chelsea Lately” and comedian Gabriel Iglesias’ theatrical release, “The Fluffy Movie.” She’s also the first (and only) Latina winner of NBC’s “Stand Up for Diversity Showcase.” Discover more about her at GinaBrillon.com

    GinaBrillon_AK_0069_Touched

    And, if you are in the Denver-area, Brillon will be performing at Denver Improv from March 19 to March 22, 2015. She’ll be doing a college tour in April, and then performing in San Antonio, Texas from May 27 to May 31, 2015!

    Click on link below to find out more about this comedic artist’s most prized fashion items after the jump.

    Jacqueline Colette Prosper, @yummicoco

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  • We Deliver Presents Homegrown

    Join us for another excellent night of live music featuring NYC based artists that stretch across all genres of music and style.

    This month we’re very pleased to have The Tall Pines performing for our HomeGrown series. They’ve played with the likes of Charlie Louvin, Norah Jones and Justin Townes Earl among other greats, and their first self-titled album was named one of top ten best albums of the year by NPR’s Meredith Ochs.

    We’re equally pleased to have Daughter Vision performing the late set. When they take the stage you can expect a multimedia, theatrical, sexy, philosophical experience.  Blythe Sword is a new project featuring the vocals of Blythe Gruda and the music of Anton Sword. The band recently returned from a European tour where they delighted fans with their electronic textured dark ballads.  Skunkmello returns to follow up on their great performance at HomeGrown last year.  The band will be fresh off their date at SXSW and energized for a top notch set at Bowery Electric.

    –March 18thThe Tall PinesBlythe SwordDaughter VisionSkunkmello

    8:00pm – Skunkmello,   9:00pm – The Tall Pines, 10:00pm – Blythe Sword,  11:00pm – Daughter Vision

    Doors: 7pm,  Music: 8pm,  Cover: $10

    The Bowery Electric, 327 Bowery Street, NY, NY

    Hosted by Art for Progress

    April 22nd

    We Deliver presents “Mother Earth Jam”

    In celebration of Earth Day…

    Featuring:  WylandPolyvoxBlythe GrudaIdgy Dean

    Doors:  7pm, Music8pm,  Cover: $10

    Special Mother Earth Cocktails

    The Bowery Electric, 327 Bowery Street, NY, NY

  • Frank Whaley is probably best known for his acting roles in Pulp Fiction, Swimming with Sharks and The Doors, but he’s also written and directed a few movies over the years, most notably 1999’s gritty Joe the King, about the hellish life of an abused boy from a badly broken home.

    His latest directorial effort, Like Sunday Like Rain, is about an entirely different sort of boy. Twelve-year-old Reggie (played with remarkable poise by newcomer Julian Shatkin) is a New York City rich kid and all-around prodigy who not only plays cello beautifully, but composes serious music. The film centers on the growing rapport between him and his 20-something nanny Eleanor, an equally lost soul played with nice understatement by Leighton Meester. Like Sunday Like Rain is a somewhat conventional film about an unconventional relationship. Though bumpy in places, this buddy movie/love story is elevated by Jimi Jones’ languid cinematography and the two leads’ performances and repartee.

    Courtesy of Monterey Media

    Courtesy of Monterey Media

    At the movie’s start, Eleanor breaks up with her boyfriend Dennis, an undependable musician who causes her to lose her barista job. Played by Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong in his feature film debut, Dennis is a bratty loser type and Armstrong doesn’t add much to the part. Meanwhile Reggie’s distant, preoccupied mother (Debra Messing in a one-note role) is planning to visit her husband — Reggie’s stepfather — overseas and needs a new nanny pronto. With no real experience or references, Eleanor is sent by an agency and hired on the spot. (What agency in litigation-happy NYC would do that?!) At least this unlikely scenario is acknowledged when Eleanor discusses her surprising luck with a friend. Somewhat mitigating the situation is the presence of an affectionate housekeeper and her temporary replacement, who provide meals and additional supervision.

    Eleanor, who is tasked with making sure that Reggie – a strict vegetarian — eats and gets to and from school, is visibly moved when she first hears him playing cello with his quartet (Ed Harcourt’s haunting piece, the film’s title, is repeated throughout). Though clearly talented, he doesn’t plan to become a professional musician. “‘When I grow up?,’” he chuckles indulgently at her question. “The prospect of ending up a bitter and lonely drunk does not appeal to me.” In fact he’s lost his appetite for music, declaring that “Art as a language is dead” and that he’s “burnt on the cello.” Slatkin is very natural as an intellectually gifted kid expounding on various ideas with great confidence. This could have come off as obnoxious but the character’s self-awareness and lack of arrogance make him likeable.

    Courtesy of Monterey Media

    Courtesy of Monterey Media

    When the enterprising Reggie buys his way out of attending summer camp, he and Eleanor roam around Manhattan and develop a deep friendship. The hapless Dennis keeps appearing in an attempt to win Eleanor back and Reggie becomes increasingly curious about her life. In one amusing scene he offers to talk to his driver about using the guy’s mob connections to take care of Dennis. Later, upon hearing that her father has been hospitalized, Eleanor travels upstate to reconnect with her estranged working-class mother and stepfather, bringing Reggie along to witness some difficult scenes. We find out that she had a promising musical career cut short by financial woes.

    Due to various circumstances, the friendship cannot continue, much to Reggie’s dismay. The movie ends on a sweet if somewhat tidy note. Not until now do we see Reggie displaying any kind of emotion. Though we’re thankfully spared typical scenes of him being bullied by classmates, etc., there hasn’t really been much indication that he might be suffering through what must be a difficult childhood.

    It apparently took six years for Whaley to raise financing for the film and his tenacity is commendable. Despite uneven acting and some lack of character development, Like Sunday Like Rain is notable for the performances of its two main characters and their obvious chemistry. It’s also gratifying to see an unusual, unclichéd relationship onscreen. It reminds us that love comes in many forms and that it should always be valued, as it clearly is in this film.

    Like Sunday Like Rain opens on Friday at Village East Cinema, 189 Second Ave., Manhattan.

    Film Fests

    Through March 15, the Film Society of Lincoln Center hosts its 20th annual Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, North America’s leading showcase for new French film, co-presented with Unifrance Films. Among its many worthwhile selections are Love at First Fight, a coming-of-age story directed by Thomas Cailley; and Party Girl, the debut feature from Marie Amachoukeli-Barsacq, about an aging nightclub hostess’s decision to settle down. They and other directors will be present for Q&As.
    Films are screened at the Walter Reade Theater (165 W. 65th St.), IFC Center (323 Sixth Ave.) and BAM (30 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn).

    From March 18 -29, the Society holds its annual New Directors/New Films Festival, at which the work of emerging filmmakers from around the world is shown. Co-presented with the Museum of Modern Art, the festival opens with Marielle Heller’s directing debut The Diary of a Teenage Girl, which depicts the adventures of a 15-year-old in 1970s San Francisco.
    Films are screened at MoMA (11 W. 53rd St.) and at the Walter Reade Theater (165 W. 65th St.).

    Marina Zogbi