“Casting able-bodied actors in roles for characters with disabilities is offensive, unjust, and deprives an entire community of people from opportunities,” Octavia Spencer says in a new public service announcement with the Ruderman Family Foundation
Appearing in a newly released public service announcement, Spencer recounts Hollywood’s long history of inauthentic representation and exclusion of marginalized populations — from men playing women until 1660; to white actors playing Black, Asian, and Native American characters; to LGBTQ stories getting left out of film and television until the last two decades.
“All of these communities of people had to endure not only their stories being told inauthentically, but also seeing themselves portrayed inauthentically,” says Spencer in a message filmed for the Ruderman Family Foundation. “But nothing can replace lived experience and authentic representation. That’s why it’s imperative that we cast the appropriate actor for the appropriate role, and that means people with disabilities as well. Casting able-bodied actors in roles for characters with disabilities is offensive, unjust, and deprives an entire community of people from opportunities.”
She continues, “I am joining with the Ruderman Family Foundation to call on the entertainment industry to increase casting of people with disabilities. There is no reason that we should continue to repeat the same mistakes of the past. Together, we should and can do better.”
Spencer’s call amplifies the Foundation’s series of initiatives to foster greater inclusion in the entertainment industry.
Last December, the organization circulated an open letter calling on studio, production, and network executives to pledge to create more opportunities for people with disabilities, and to make more inclusive casting decisions. Among those who signed the pledge were Oscar winners George Clooney and Joaquin Phoenix, Oscar nominees Ed Norton, Bryan Cranston and Mark Ruffalo, Golden Globe winner Glenn Close, Oscar-winning director Peter Farrelly, accomplished actress Eva Longoria, and acclaimed filmmaker Bobby Farrelly.
A separate Foundation-initiated pledge to commit to auditioning more actors with disabilities was signed by CBS, while the BBC pledged to implement more authentic and distinctive representation of people with disabilities on screen. The Foundation also released a white paper showing that half of U.S. households want accurate portrayals of characters with disabilities, and despite that only 22% of characters with disabilities are authentically portrayed on television.
“As an Oscar-winning actor, Octavia Spencer embodies Hollywood’s vast potential to serve as a powerful catalyst for positive social change if studio, production, and network executives commit to more inclusive and authentic representation,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “We are gratified that Ms. Spencer has joined our call and we look forward to have other actors and actresses, filmmakers, producers and studios continue to create unprecedented momentum that brings about greater casting of people with disabilities.”
To view Octavia Spencer’s video message in full, please see here.
In a new interview with CMRubinWorld, Locarno Film Festival’s Artistic Director Lili Hinstin says Federal Council in Switzerland and Locarno will adopt measures to support culture and filmmakers.
The global recession following the pandemic has impacted arts funding all over the world, but in Switzerland, the government wants to help. In a new interview with CMRubinWorld, Lili Hinstin, Artistic Director of the Locarno Film Festival, tells C.M.Rubin, Founder of CMRubinWorld, that “the Federal Council has decided to adopt a package of measures to support culture in the country, and that includes the cinema sector as well.”
Hinstin says the film industry in Switzerland is suffering serious consequences because of the pandemic and the economic crisis. Locarno has decided to launch “The Films After Tomorrow,” an initiative that “aims to help filmmakers who had their project put on hold because of the pandemic.” 10 international and 10 Swiss projects will be selected by juries and will award a 70,000 CHF prize for each international and Swiss selection that will be used to finish the films.
Lili Hinstin is the Artistic Director of the Locarno Film Festival. The Festival, one of the longest-running film festivals in the world, is known for its prestigious platform for art house films where filmmakers such as John Waters, Albert Serra and even Parasite duo Song Kang-ho and Bong Joon-ho have been featured. The Festival is held every August in Locarno, Switzerland. Read more about Locarno here.
CMRubinWorld’s award-winning series, The Global Search for Education, brings together distinguished thought leaders in education and innovation from around the world to explore the key learning issues faced by most nations. The series has become a highly visible platform for global discourse on 21st century learning, offering a diverse range of innovative ideas which are presented by the series founder, C.M. Rubin, together with the world’s leading thinkers.
Read the full article here and follow @CMRubinWorld on Twitter.
Netflix released Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé, which presents an intimate look at her historic 2018 Coachella performance that paid homage to America’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Interspersed with candid footage and interviews detailing the preparation and powerful intent behind her vision, Homecoming gives a peek into the process and emotional physical sacrifices it took to conceptualize and execute a performance of that magnitude that became a cultural movement. This stand-alone Netflix original is now available globally on Netflix.
As the first black woman to headline Coachella, Homecoming recognizes the African American visionaries who inspired Beyoncé, including HBCU alums Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, activist Marian Wright Edelman, and scholar W.E.B. Du Bois, in addition to cultural luminaries such as Nina Simone, Maya Angelou, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Audre Lorde. Beyoncé’s personal knowledge of the relevance and celebration of HBCUs started with her father, Mathew Knowles, an alumnus of Fisk University. Shot over eight months, the film follows the global entertainer as she returns to the stage after the birth of her twins, highlighting the comprehensive preparation involved in creating her groundbreaking performance, which included four months of band rehearsals followed by four months of dance rehearsals with over 150 musicians, dancers, and other creatives, — all of whom were hand-picked by the artist herself. In juggling dual roles as both the director of her live performance and the film that captured the process of making it, Beyoncé says, “It was one of the hardest jobs I have taken on but I knew that I had to push myself and my team to go beyond great to legendary. We knew nothing like this was ever done on a festival level before and it needed to be iconic beyond compare. The performance was an homage to an important part of African American culture. It had to be true to those who know and entertaining and enlightening to those who needed to learn. In making the film and re-telling the story, the purpose remained the same.” Many in the cast; band, singers, dancers and steppers are former HBCU students, immersed in the HBCU marching band tradition. They joined Beyoncé’s own group of performers, some who have toured with her for years. Viewers not only get to see the intense dance rehearsals and talent of these amazing artists, but hear their personal journey from HBCU student to artist and the lifelong impact that comes with performing alongside Beyoncé in this historic concert. “So many people who are culturally aware and intellectually sound are graduates from historically black colleges and universities, including my father,” she says in the film. “There is something incredibly important about the HBCU experience that must be celebrated and protected.” As a treat to her fans, the film also includes, in the end credits, her remake of “Before I Let Go” by Frankie Beverly and Maze, a 1981 R&B classic that’s commonly performed at HBCU games. The single will be available on the film’s soundtrack, Homecoming: The Live Album, available today from Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records. smarturl.it/BH9102 Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé was directed and produced by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. Longtime collaborator Ed Burke served as co-director. Steve Pamon and Erinn Williams are executive producers. Set List
“Crazy In Love”
“Lift Ev’ry Voice And Sing”
“Sorry”/”Me, Myself and I”
“I Been On”
“Drunk In Love”
“Don’t Hurt Yourself”
“Mi Gente (Remix)”
“You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)”
“Check On It”
“Déjà Vu”(featuring JAY-Z)
“Run the World (Girls)”
“Lose My Breath” (featuring Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams)
“Say My Name” (featuring Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams)
“Soldier” (featuring Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams)
“Get Me Bodied” (With Solange Knowles dancing)
“Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”
“Love On Top”
About Netflix Netflix is the world’s leading internet entertainment service with over 148 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials or commitments. About Parkwood Entertainment Parkwood Entertainment is an entertainment and management company founded by entertainer and entrepreneur, Beyoncé in 2010. With headquarters in New York City the company houses departments in music and video production, management, marketing, digital, creative, philanthropy, fashion, publicity and a record label. Under its original name, Parkwood Pictures, in 2008, the company released the film Cadillac Records (2008), in which Beyoncé starred and co-produced. The company also released the film, Obsessed (2009), with Beyoncé as star and executive producer. Parkwood Entertainment produced The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour (2013-2014) and The Formation World Tour (2016), and co-produced the ON THE RUN TOUR (2014) and ON THE RUN II (2018).
Every once in a while pop culture encounters a rip in its continuum. The latest breach comes from one of the most effervescent entertainers of all time, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter, as the first Black female to headline one of the most prolific festivals since the iconic Woodstock. Introspective yet intimate, Homecoming is positioned to be one of the most immersive concert series in the history of music and streaming services. Beyoncé, the Director and Executive Producer of the film, creates a visually captivating story from the beginning to end. The documentary answers a plethora of questions, at which the infamous Beyhive has had about the historical moment.
With intermittent quick cuts of her family before, during and after the epic performance, Beyoncé gives herself permission to exhibit her vulnerability. After all, she planned to take the stage at Coachella in 2017 before she was pregnant with her twins. The tour was postponed and we fast forward to ‘Mrs. Carter’ having to deal with the aftermath of a complicated pregnancy, which ultimately ends in a c-section. Similar to friend, and professional tennis superstar, Serena Williams, Beyoncé bounced back harder than ever after her tough pregnancy. Throughout the piece she digs deep and pummels through some of the most difficult days she has ever encountered. She even speaks to her weighing 218 lbs and how she was only able to zip her costume up after months of hard work alongside of a dedicated clean/raw food diet – no meats, carbs, sugars. The director of photography expertly captured an extremely intimate and vulnerable side to the strong and flawless Queen Bey.
Having family members as graduates of some of the prominent HBCU (historically black colleges and universities), Beyoncé was able to tap into the most celebrated moments of their collegiate life. Her full show not only highlighted the history of these schools but also their social networks and fraternal organizations; transforming the stage into one of the most dynamic Black Southern spaces of cultural legacy and pride. Much of it was enunciated with their boot dancing, a traditional dance style for HBCU called J-Setting, in between transitions. These dance formations visually anchored the performance. Contortionists contributed an urban Cirque du Soleil vibe to the display which can be more accurately described as an infused gumbo of Chicago (the musical), Moulin Rouge! and the Off-Broadway play Stomp. To date, the pyramid stage has been persevered onsite at this year’s Coachella as an art installation.
A group of 200 people shared the stage with Queen Bey including Jay Z, Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams and Solange Knowles. The expansive crew that Beyonce worked and practiced with for 8 months is featured in the documentary, as each individual had their own part in making the event a success. The dancing in her set is not technical, but emotional. The crowd, as well as audiences watching the documentary at home, are meant to feel something from just the way Beyoncé and her dancers, who she handpicked herself, move with each other. The concert experience not only exhibits the immense talent of HBCU musicians but works towards using this heightened exposure to aid these institutions that have been struggling with little resources and grants since their establishment.
After the the release of Homecoming, Netflix will more than likely notice a spike in downloads/subscriptions; Beyonce will notice an increase in her fan base and HBCU enrollment rates will most likely skyrocket. Overall, most audience members will be thrashed into a world of black honor, history and preservation. While the Pew Report notes that there is a varying “black/white digital divide” concerning internet usage, (87% whites, 80% blacks), there is little divide when it comes to mobile platforms. The growth of black presence in media, such as on social media, in streaming services and more, will only continue due to the imminent success of Beyoncé’s partnership with Netflix. Her myriad of success as a dominant Black woman breaks down barriers in the same way Jordan Peele has done for young Black filmmakers across the diaspora. This will become one of the most treasured pieces of mass media and should offer encouragement to both women and minorities to bust through the glass ceiling on all fronts especially digitization and technology.
SP Releasing will release writer/director Alex Keledjian’s horror thriller HIGH VOLTAGE, set within the gritty and competitive Los Angeles music scene, releasing in limited theaters and on-demand on Friday, October 19th through SP Releasing’s output deal with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film will open in at least ten cities, including New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, and more, and will also be available on all major digital platforms same day. DVD and Blu-Ray release will follow November 20th.
Written, produced and directed by Alex Keledjian (Project Greenlight; FEAST), the film stars David Arquette (SCREAM 1-4; EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS), Allie Gonino (The Red Road; GEOGRAPHY CLUB), Perrey Reeves (Entourage; OLD SCHOOL), and Luke Wilson (OLD SCHOOL; Roadies).
A struggling rock band, led by washed-out rock star Jimmy Kleen (Arquette), strikes a deal with cynical record executive Rick (Wilson). Things take a sinister turn when the band’s lead singer, Rachel (Gonino), and her controlling stage mother, Barb (Reeves) both get struck by lightning and killed. Rachel is brought back to life, but she is different than before: confident, sexy, with an irresistible stage presence. Lightning courses through her veins and she uses her new supernatural electrical powers to drain the life from men and turn it into electrifying stage performances. Her bandmates, including guitarist Scott (Donowho), discover her dark secret, and have to decide just how far are they are willing to let her go to help them succeed. As Jimmy says, “You can’t have rock n’ roll without electricity.”
HIGH VOLTAGE, formerly known as HOLLOW BODY, was produced by Michael D. Jones (CABIN FEVER; KILL THE IRISHMAN), Ryan Gibson (Stan Against Evil; Fear the Walking Dead), Dwjuan Fox (XX; ARMED) and Mitch Waxman (FREAKS). The film is also making a world premiere festival debut at the first-ever Film Fest 919 (http://filmfest919.com), taking place October 3-7 in Chapel Hill, NC.
HIGH VOLTAGE is a mashup of genres combining horror, thriller, musical, and noir into a bloody and beautiful rock n’ roll fantasy. Industry vet Keledjian, creator of Project Greenlight—no stranger to behind-the-scenes drama—also wrote the rocking soundtrack: “The script and the score are based on my experiences of living and working in Hollywood, and the scope and spectacle of film is the perfect vehicle to tell this story. SP Releasing just ‘got’ that, and is releasing it in theaters, which for me is a dream come true.”
Shot in luscious anamorphic widescreen, with vivid colors and extreme angles, the film drapes a golden sheen over the seedy business of show, slowly piercing the veil of the glamour of Hollywood and revealing the broken dreams, dark secrets, and unholy pacts that power the klieg lights.
SP Releasing chairman and CEO Steven Paul, whose previous credits include Marvel’s GHOST RIDER and Paramount’s GHOST IN THE SHELL, is thrilled to partner with the filmmakers for the US release of the picture. He says, “[Alex] Keledjian brought together a wealth of cast and crew, and their efforts have resulted in a powerful movie, with a relevant story, and we couldn’t be prouder to be a part of the journey.” The deal was negotiated for Keledjian by David Pierce of Pierce Law Group, LLC, and Jason Price on behalf of SP Releasing.
SP Releasing’s recent theatrical release slate includes the adaptation of The New York Timesbestseller THE PIRATES OF SOMALIA, staring Evan Peters and Al Pacino; the western-thriller THE SCENT OF RAIN & LIGHTNING with Maika Monroe (It Follows) and Maggie Grace (Lost); and the drama-thriller MADTOWN, toplined by This is Us star Milo Ventimiglia.
Genre: Musical Thriller, Horror, Drama
Running Time: 91:30 Minutes
David Arquette – Jimmy Kleen
Allie Gonino – Rachel Swann
Ryan Donowho – Scott Welles
Perrey Reeves – Barb Swanovski
Luke Wilson – Rick Roland
Director: Alex Keledjian
Written by: Alex Keledjian
Producers: Alex Keledjian | Michael J. Jones | Ryan Gibson | Dwjuan Fox | Evan Astrowsky
Curated by Sara Driver, Carlo McCormick, Mary-Ann Monforton and Howl! Happening
Opening Sunday, May 13, 2018 / 6–9 PM / Free
Exhibition: May 13–June 10, 2018
Robert Carrithers, 1979
Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project is pleased to announce Zeitgeist: The Art Scene of Teenage Basquiat, a group exhibition focusing on the artists and scene around Jean-Michel Basquiat’s teen-aged, pre-fame years. Curated by Howl! Happening, Sara Driver, Carlo McCormick, and Mary-Ann Monforton, Zeitgeist complements and amplifies the theatrical release of Sara Driver’s film BOOM FOR REAL The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiatfrom Magnolia Pictures .
The film premieres on May 11th at IFC, New York.
The period covered in the exhibition and film tells the story of Jean-Michel’s early work, peers, and creative community in gritty, pre-AIDS, downtown New York—before the rise of the 80s art and real estate juggernaut. It was a time when decay, drugs, and dissolution fueled a boom in creativity where the definition of fame, success, and power was not based on money, Facebook likes, and self-promotion. For these creators, to be a penniless published poet or a musician gigging at CBs was the height of success. In the rawness of the work, the focus on street art and graffiti, and the experimentation and cross-pollination of styles and disciplines, the era has become a flash point for younger generations seeking to learn about and understand the authenticity, closeness, and community expressed in the work of the artists in Zeitgeist.
The exhibition—and a series of special events—illuminate Basquiat’s work and that of his friends and other artists, writers, filmmakers, and musicians who emerged from that scene, including:
Brett De Palma
Fab 5 Freddy
Robert Goldman aka Bobby G
Special events will include:
· A panel discussion featuring Alexis Adler, Felice Rosser, Lee Quiñones, Al Diaz, and more
· A screening of Howard Brookner’s 1983 documentary Burroughs: The Movie from the Criterion Collection
· An evening of films featuring an experimental film by Basquiat’s bandmate Michael Holman, with a soundtrack by Gray, the band he and Basquiat formed; David Schmidlapp’s film of Walter Steding playing beneath the Brooklyn Bridge; and Paul Tschinkel’s film about New York/New Wave, curator Diego Cortez’s groundbreaking exhibition at PS1 in 1981
· A performance by Felice Rosser
· A special series of film screenings in collaboration with Anthology Film Archives
For over fifty years, the American Film Institute has flourished as one of America’s great cultural entities. Its graduates, faculty, supporters, and trustees have included such acclaimed individuals as Steven Spielberg, Maya Angelou, Gregory Peck, Sidney Poitier, Meryl Streep, Les Moonves, Patty Jenkins, David Lynch, Jane Fonda, Edward James Olmos, Shonda Rhimes, James L. Brooks, and many other respected leaders in the worlds of film, television, digital media, and philanthropy.
In their new book, Becoming AFI: 50 Years Inside the American Film Institute (Santa Monica Press/October 2017), Jean Picker Firstenberg and James Hindman provide a candid look at how this remarkable organization brought together aspiring filmmakers, educators, and artists who helped AFI become the foremost national champion for moving images as a vibrant art form.
From its early years operating out of the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and the legendary Greystone mansion in Beverly Hills under the leadership of George Stevens Jr., through its incredible growth into an influential cultural institution at its landmark Hollywood campus under the guidance of Jean Picker Firstenberg, to its continued excellence today under the dynamic leadership of Bob Gazzale, the organization and its history are chronicled in Becoming AFI through in-depth essays written by those who have been involved in its adventures, growth, and success.
“After being asked so many times what our book would be about, we decided to put together AFI’s history as we experienced it personally,” explain Firstenberg and Hindman. “As we structured the book with the stories we wanted to tell from those years, we realized that some of those stories really belonged to other voices. So, we went to several former colleagues and asked them to join our band. Each chapter tells a stand-alone story about an aspect of AFI, but together, they add up to the full picture.”
Becoming AFI provides an insightful, behind-the-scenes look at how AFI, with passionate determination, overcame the hurdles of advancing technology, political shifts, and new audience dynamics to turn its aspirations into a substantial and highly successful organization, becoming a tireless advocate of moving images as one of America’s most popular forms of art, and maturing into one of the world’s most respected educational and cultural institutions.
“No matter how divisive life in this country may become, the movie theater has always been a place where we can discover what unites us.”
—Vernon Jordan Jr., New York Times“AFI saved our film history. AFI celebrates filmmakers. AFI trains the next generation. Thanks to Becoming AFI for telling us the fascinating story of its fifty-year history. And a big thank you to Jean Picker Firstenberg and James Hindman for documenting all of it! Here’s to the next fifty!”
―Edward James Olmos, actor and AFI trustee
About the Authors
Jean Picker Firstenberg served as president and CEO of the American Film Institute from 1980 to 2007, overseeing the development of AFI as one of America’s greatest national, cultural, and educational resources. She received an AFI Life Achievement Award for Service to the Institute and was named president emerita and a lifetime trustee. In 2016, Firstenberg was named to the California State University Board of Trustees by Governor Jerry Brown, overseeing the largest four-year public university system in the United States, with twenty-three campuses educating the most diverse student body in the nation. Prior to serving at AFI, Firstenberg spent four years as a program officer at the John and Mary R. Markle Foundation. She also served as director of Princeton University’s Publications Office. Firstenberg is a summa cum laude graduate of Boston University’s College of Communications. She has served on several boards, including that of Boston University (1984–1996), the George Foster Peabody Awards at Georgia University (1985–1997; board chair 1991–1997), and the United States Postal Service Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (2002–2014; committee chair 2008–2014). She has won numerous awards and honorary degrees.
James Hindman, PhD, has spent his career in cinema and performing arts, creating and leading professional and public education programs at major institutions. During his twenty-four years at the American Film Institute, where he served as co-director and chief operating officer, he was provost of the AFI Conservatory, which he nurtured through WASC accreditation. He was also the uncredited producer of the award-winning feature documentary Visions of Light and the television series Starring the Actor. He developed the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Springs, Maryland, as well as numerous television projects and international film and television festivals. Subsequent to AFI, he developed and led film schools in the U.S. and internationally, including the Red Sea School of Cinematic Arts in Aqaba, Jordan, and New Mexico State University’s Creative Media Institute in Las Cruces. He is currently on the board of the New Mexico School for the Arts in Santa Fe, charged with creating a new cinematic and media arts program and facilities for the school. Prior to AFI, he served as head of graduate studies in the Performing Arts Department at American University in Washington, DC, having previously taught at the University of North Carolina. Hindman holds a PhD in drama from the University of Georgia and has served on the boards of the AIDS Service Center and LAMP in Los Angeles. He currently splits his time between Santa Monica, California, and Taos, New Mexico.
Patty Jenkins made history in 2017 when she directed her second film, Wonder Woman, becoming the first woman to direct a studio superhero movie and earning the biggest domestic opening of all time for a woman director. Jenkins wrote and directed her first film, the crime drama Monster, in 2003, launching Charlize Theron’s career with many awards, including an Oscar for Best Actress. Jenkins graduated from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in 1993 and the AFI Conservatory in 2001.
Dana Gioia was appointed Poet Laureate of the State of California in 2015 by Governor Jerry Brown. An award-winning poet who has published five collections of poetry, Gioia served as chair of the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003 to 2009, and was named a USC Judge Widney Professor in Poetry and Public Art in 2011.
David Lynch, born in 1946 in Missoula, Montana. Eagle Scout.
BECOMING AFI: 50 YEARS INSIDE THE AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE
By Jean Picker Firstenberg and James Hindman
Foreword by Dana Gioia
Preface by Patty Jenkins
Afterword by David Lynch
Santa Monica Press/October 2017
FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES, REVIEW COPIES AND INTERVIEWS CONTACT:
Trina Kaye – The Trina Kaye Organization
TrinaKaye@tkopr.com / 310-915-0970
email@example.com box 361566los angeles, ca 90036213.841.1841
firstname.lastname@example.org box 361566los angeles, ca 90036213.841.1841