About this historic week…

I don’t know about you, but the past week has been rough.

I spent the 2008 and 2012 Election Nights in Los Angeles at AFI FEST (which is happening now by the way). In 2008 I was still living in Texas and was away from home for the evening. In 2012, I had moved to California four months earlier. Each night was different, but they were memorable. Los Angeles felt alive. Watching the results with fellow art and film lovers was the best place for me to be.

Watching Tuesday’s results surrounded by Denver staff and patrons started with the same mood, but as the night wore on the room became somber and quiet. I texted friends and family as each state’s prediction rolled in. At some point I couldn’t hold back my tears any more. A feeling of deep dread and loneliness sunk in. I found Britta and we hugged and cried.

The next morning, I wondered if audiences would show up. Thankfully they did. My eyes puffy and red from hours of crying, I stood in front of a room full of Denver locals who bought a ticket to see short films. It was a sliver of restored hope. I wanted to be in a movie theater that day to see stories about diversity and overcoming struggles. They did too.

Being in a theater that day wasn’t about avoiding an issue or the situation. It was about remembering who we are; remembering humanity, respect and love. I love curating films because it sparks conversation. And now more than ever we need to communicate with each other, to listen. Not point figures or walk away. Cinema and art are a tool for respectful dialogue. The films created out of this dark moment in our culture will be powerful and that brings me hope.

Wednesday night I stood in the wings of the theater for all 90 minutes to watch the short films again with the audience. This was a place of community and inspiration. It was where I needed to be. I grieved for the dreams I had before Tuesday night as each short played. I remembered how important my part is in a larger movement. I’m so thankful to have been working at a film festival this week.  We may not be curing cancer (which is what us veterans say when problems occur during the event), but we are making a difference in promoting and showcasing art.

To any filmmakers reading this, I am so excited for how this week will inspire you. Use this energy to make something special. Use your unique voice is important. And if you’re from the city, explore the stories of rural areas. (Lord knows there are plenty of LA-based stories out there already.) If you’re from the country, visit the city and see the diversity.  Our country is desperate for change and we all feel abandoned in some sort of way. Now is the time for film to create community and conversation, so let’s get to work.

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Shorts & Snacks: The Black Belt (2016)

One more day. We just need to get through tomorrow. Then figure out the rest and how to move forward from there.

In honor of Election week, I’m highlighting one of my favorite shorts from the 2016 festival circuit: The Black Belt directed by Margaret Brown. In this short film, Brown travels to Alabama (her homeland) where the state closed 31 DMVs across the area for budget reasons. Many of these DMV closures were through the Black Belt, a predominantly African-American and poor region, impacting voter enfranchisement as the state requires photo ID to vote.

This short was commissioned through Field of Vision, a cool project of original short-form content from Laura Poitras, AJ Schnack and Charlotte Cook. I highly recommend checking out their site to watch other great shorts if you have some time to spare.

Brown is an incredibly smart filmmaker – one to keep your eye on for the future. The Black Belt sneaks up on you. It showcases keen insight of a social issue, created with great care and fortitude. Brown sets the mood, capturing beautiful and rare moments of rural Alabama life. The Mobile ID unit scene is proof. That scene has been burned in my brain for months. It is an example of humor in frustration; the absurdity of systems that should be efficient. The Black Belt empowers us to continue, to move forward when it’s hard to fight. And in what has been an ugly and fairly absurd election year, The Black Belt reminds us why your vote tomorrow, and in every election, matters.

Grab a snack (I’m in the mood for fried pickles, a yummy Southern treat. See below for a recipe), check out this short and let’s all take a deep breath. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. And please go vote!

The Black Belt
Directed by Margaret Brown
2016 / 11 minutes / USA
Watch The Black Belt here.

theblackbelt
The Black Belt (2016)


Panko Fried Pickles

Recipe from Spoon Fork Bacon

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:
2 cups ridge cut pickle chips, pressed between paper towels
1 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups seasoned panko breadcrumbs
salt and pepper to taste
2 quarts vegetable oil for frying

Directions:
1. Preheat oil to 350°F.
2. Place flour, eggs and panko in three separate shallow dishes.
3. Dredge pickle chips in flour, shaking off any excess, followed by the egg and finally in the panko until fully coated. Set coated pickle chips onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and place in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
4. Remove pickle chips from freezer and fry in batches, for about 5 to 6 minutes.
5. Drain onto paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Repeat until all the pickle chips have been fried.

Sunday Mornings

Good morning from (a warmer-than-normal) Denver!

I’m at the Denver Film Festival this weekend, so today is a work day for me. I needed that extra hour of sleep too. There are 39 films screening today and I’ll be hanging out with my shorts filmmakers. Day 4, let’s do it!

Did you watch game 7? I snuck away to watch the final innings of the Cub’s win. Nothing like being in a bar with people cheering with every little moment of drama. Even though I’m not much of a baseball fan, it was fun. And this sums up my thoughts on that night too. I hope you felt like you were part of a special night in history. Hoping for that same feeling on Tuesday night. (There may be tears. #ImWithHer).

Here’s a corner of the internet to peruse during your morning coffee ritual.

  • I listened to This American Life’s recent episode “Seriously?” on my flight to Denver. Take a listen here.
  • Another place to stream movies, but this time for the diehard film fans. The Criterion Collection and Turner Classic Movies launch FilmStruck. Curious to see how this platform performs…Will you sign up?
  • Dave Chapelle and A Tribe Called Quest on SNL November 12! Watch it for me (because I’ll be working).
  • I was honored to be on the nomination committee again this year for Cinema Eye Honors and the nominees have been announced!  If you haven’t seen OJ: Made In America (all seven hours of it!) or I Am Not Your Negro yet… get on it.
  • Looking forward to checking out Anthony Bourdain’s new cookbook, Appetites.

Short list this morning. Off to the festival.

Enjoy the day!

Sunday Mornings

For me, weekends are not always the relaxing type. As a consultant, work is whenever it needs to be. And sometimes that means a Sunday morning feels like a Tuesday morning.

But then there are those Sunday mornings that are exactly as they should be. Quiet streets outside. A cup of coffee (or tea) by my side. Magic hour sunlight. Sweet and cool tunes play through the hallway. An entire day lies ahead, ready to be seized. Those are the best mornings.

I’m on the older side of the millennial generation. Just the cusp of it. My parents read the paper on Sunday mornings. I grabbed the comics. While the internet boom quickly phased out that newspaper tradition for me, I appreciate the concept. Taking time to review the world from you robe. To reflect. To inform. To celebrate. To mourn. To educate. To be mindful of being alive and get lost in your thoughts.

This is that kind of post. Inspired by Joy the Baker, on Sundays-when possible-I’ll share a collection of cultural highlights. Not necessarily food or film related, but always something that sparks curiosity and life.

  • Have you listened to Radiolab’s side project More Perfect yet? Great listening for long road trips or flights. Or Sunday mornings. (One of my earlier summer binges.)
  • It’s boot season y’all. I can not allow myself into a DSW this time of year.
  • A dear friend of mine (who encouraged me to start this blog) and fellow crafter makes beautiful quilts. Putting in my quilt-of-the-future fabric request early with this and this. Dreamy!
  • VR is all the rage. Filmmakers, jump on it. It is the wild west of filmmaking. (More on that topic to come.)
  • Launch Vidiots into the next era!
  • Ask A Manager is one of my favorite blogs. And this is a fantastic post.
  • If you can vote on November 8, do it. Not just for the big crazy presidential election, but for your local leadership and propositions. That’s where real change happens and your vote matters most. (And if you’re working in another state like I am on Election Day, make sure you’re signed up for early or absentee voting.) Californians, there are a ton of Props on the ballot. Get informed here.

 

Thanks for reading.
Enjoy the day!
It’s going to be a great one.