Zebrahead (1992) - News Poster

(1992)

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The Second and The Fourth of July and Movies of the Moment

The 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act is this July 2nd, two days before Independence Day commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence of the United States of America from the Kingdom of Great Britain (now officially known as the United Kingdom).

As an independent nation we went our own way even when The Slavery Abolition Act throughout the British Colonies was passed in 1833. Cynically one might say their act was motivated less by altruism than by what had become political and economic realities. However, the abolitionists on both sides of the sea saw it the same way that those of us with eyes are seeing the issues of economic inequality today. It is immoral and unjust that one human should own another, whether in slavery, in economic servitude or in sexual servitude.

However, fifty years ago, such unequal and inhuman treatment of fellow human beings was still being justified and upheld by a powerful elite, and it took almost super-human fortitude for those opposed to persevere to break the stranglehold of that group. As a young girl, a “Freedom Rider” came and spoke to my class at Temple Isaiah Religious School in West L.A. and I was inspired to do all I could for the ongoing fight for civil rights, which of course changed the world for everyone – from it came “women’s lib” and Glbt’s fight for equality (Stonewall was 40 years ago June 29). And yet, the economically poor African American and Latino populations are still objects of discrimination today. The repeal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the South freeing nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval is seeing discrimination at the polls reasserting itself.

This January when I saw “Freedom Summer” directed by Stanley Nelson in Sundance, I felt inspired once again to do something!

But, all I can do is write and so I take pen to hand and invite others to be aware and to act wherever they are.

At the 2nd Louisiana International Film Festival this spring, “Freedom Summer” won the Best Documentary Award and it will open in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

The Louisiana Ff parenthetically has two cineastes, well-known to all of us film folks, as Artistic Directors: Jeff “The Dude” Dowd and Dan Ireland.

Read: New Louisiana Film Festival to Launch With Dan Ireland & Jeff "The Dude" Dowd as Artistic Directors

Jeff could be subject of a book, but for now, suffice it to say Jeff Dowd ("Zebrahead") is famously the inspiration for the Dude in the Coen Bros.' "The Big Lebowski,"

Dan Ireland on the other hand, is the subject of this blog because he has done something beyond just showing a great film. Dan, a man of action, also co-founded the Seattle Film Festival with Darryl MacDonald who is Director of the Palm Springs Int’l Film Festival. The Seattle Film Festival just had its own anniversary of 40 years and it featured a retrospective of some of Dan’s 22 films which he has exec produced, produced or directed.

And now, he has produced a new film, a short film called “Hate From A Distance” which will be the center piece of a special event this Wednesday, July 2nd, on the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act at The Museum of Tolerance in Beverly Hills

The film is an adaptation of a short story inspired by Civil Rights in America, set in Savannah, Georgia in 1963, told through the innocent eyes of an eleven-year old boy who is witness to the bitterness and hatred his father has for an African American dairy farmer living on the other side of a fence, separating physically and racially the very state of America during a most disgraceful and turbulent period in history.

The film was made and dedicated to the memory of and the 50th anniversary of The Civil Rights Act and as a voice that though we live by the Act, there is so much more that needs to be done to establish unity and equal rights in this country and the world.

Seen through the innocent eyes of eleven-year-old Danny Baker, racial tensions run rampant and deep in 1963 rural Georgia. Danny’s father Ned and neighbor Clyde Fellow, once childhood friends, are now divided over a land dispute in an era of inequality. Ned’s escalating anger, fueled by his own distorted righteousness, ultimately destroys his family and tears the community apart.

“ Hate from a Distance” reflects the injustices of a painful chapter of American history while honoring and 50th anniversary (July 2, 1964) of the Civil Rights Act abolishing segregation.

The film had its world premiere Saturday June 7th in a retrospective of Dan's history with “The Whole Wide World”, at Seattle Int’l Film Festival.

It will show again this Wednesday at The Museum of Tolerance in Beverly Hills. The 19 minute screening will be followed by an introduction of the cast and a brief panel discussion and audience Q&A with Dr. Robert and Helen Singleton, Freedom Riders, activists and educators, Dr. Max Felker-Kantor, USC graduate with PhD in History (emphasis on race, civil rights and social movements) and moderated by journalist-author-activist David Ehrenstein. David is an American critic who focuses primarily on Lgbtq issues in cinema. Ehrenstein was born in New York City. His father was a secular Jew with Polish ancestors, and his mother was of African-American and Irish descent.[1] His mother raised him in her religion, Roman Catholicism. Among those invited are educators, students, members of organizations such as Aclu , NAACP , U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, journalists and activists.

Writer/Producer Dennis Yares's grandparents left Poland prior to the German occupation and most remaining relatives perished under Nazi regime. He was born in Israel and moved to N.Y. as a young boy. He made his professional reputation as an art gallerist, in addition, he also wrote the screen adaptation of E.L. Doctorow's classic short story, “Jolene”, which was directed by Dan Ireland.

He wrote a short story as one of his collection of 52 stories and when he realized it was the 50th anniversary this year. He and Dan as the director, stepped up and co-produced the film in the spring - in three weeks.

It features a score by composer Harry Gregson-Williams and Tom Howe, who will also attend the screening.

The short will also qualify for Academy Award consideration after having a short commercial run.
See full article at SydneysBuzz »

New Louisiana Film Festival to Launch With Dan Ireland & Jeff "The Dude" Dowd as Artistic Directors

  • Indiewire
New Louisiana Film Festival to Launch With Dan Ireland & Jeff
The "Beasts of the Southern Wild" effect continues. The Louisiana International Film Festival will hold its inaugural event April 18-21 in Baton Rouge and New Orleans to celebrate indigenous and international films. Filmmaker Dan Ireland ("The Whole Wide World") and producer Jeff Dowd ("Zebrahead"), famously the inspiration for the Dude in the Coen Bros.' "The Big Lebowski," have been named co-artistic directors of the new fest. The first submission deadline is January 7 through WithoutABox.com. Liff also involves a mentorship program and will present a special photo and multimedia exhibition by civil rights movement photojournalist and author Bob Adelman. The launch comes at a time when Shreveport has become one of the highest-profile locations for outside-of-Hollywood film production. "We founded the Louisiana International Film Festival and Mentorship Program to act as a conduit for our state's...
See full article at Indiewire »

Circumstance Review

  • HeyUGuys
Arguably a natural progression from her freedom-focused 2004 directorial debut, The Colour Of Love, Maryam Keshavarz’s Circumstance is a political yet personal account of two young girls’ strongly frowned upon love and their longing for acceptance in a place where women are making significant progress in regards to wealth and stature.

A fascinating and often very fun insight into the lives of school friends Ati (Nikohl Boosheri) and Shireen (Sarah Kazemy), Circumstance has a lot to say about Iran’s corrupt use of influence and money, but this is woven in as an accepted part of everyday life instead of as a way to make a damning and shocking condemnation of the Iranian system.

For a film with little physical conflict, Keshavarz surprisingly maintains an underlying sense of threat and tension to proceedings, never letting you feel too safe in the girls’ happiness, displaying her more than adequate ability to balance fear with youthful bliss.
See full article at HeyUGuys »

Kickstarter Campaign For 'El Sistema USA!' Documentary

No need to tell you that there are a lot of Kickstarter campaigns for films nowadays, but, once in whilem there's one for a project that is too special and worthwhile to ignore. And one such project is for the the currently-in-post-production documentary El Sistema USA! Directed by Anthony Drazan, who directed the interracial romance drama Zebrahead back in the 90's that some of you may remember, and produced by Jamie Bernstein (the daughter of the legendary conductor Leonard Bernstein), the film chronicles the efforts by Stanford Thompson to start up an El Sistema music program in Philadelphia public schools, which he calls Play On Philly!, and the extraordinary positive...
See full article at ShadowAndAct »

The Punch Drunk Interview: Michael Rapaport and Pfife Dawg talk Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest

It couldn't have been easy for Michael Rapaport. The actor who got his big break in urban crossover flicks like Zebrahead and later in Higher Learning, has spent the last few years chronicling the on again/off again friendship between the members of A Tribe Called Quest. It couldn't have been easy, because Rapaport is a New York native, raised on the sound of the Brooklyn rap quartet I like to
See full article at Punch Drunk Critics »

New poster for A Tribe Called Quest documentary, Beats Rhymes & Life

Michael Rapaport is an actor who has always been just a hair's breadth away from being unwatchable. Not that he's a bad actor per se, but I hated how he always tried so hard to make us believe just how hip hop he was. How much of a B-Boy he was. If you ever saw the underrated(even by me) 1992 film, Zebrahead, Rapaport wasn't that far off from being that guy in real life. But the truth is that
See full article at Punch Drunk Critics »

Beats Rhymes & Life Acquired by Sony Pictures Classics

Sony Pictures Classics announced today that they have acquired all North American rights to Michael Rapaport's directorial debut, Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest. Rival Pictures and State Street Pictures produced the film, which was in Documentary Competition at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Sony Pictures Classics brokered the deal with The Paradigm Motion Picture Finance Group and Steven C. Beer at Greenberg Traurig.

Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest documents the inner workings and behind-the-scenes drama that follow the band, A Tribe Called Quest, even today and explores what's next for a group many claim are the pioneers of alternative rap. Having helped to pave the way for innovative hip hop artists, A Tribe Called Quest has kept a generation hungry for more of its groundbreaking music since the group's much-publicized breakup in 1998. A Tribe Called Quest has three platinum albums - Midnight Marauders,
See full article at MovieWeb »

Rift Between Rapaport And Q-Tip Remains At Sundance Premiere

  • IFC
Rift Between Rapaport And Q-Tip Remains At Sundance Premiere
On the eve of the premiere for Michael Rapaport's documentary, "Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest," tensions still seem thick between the group and the first time feature director. The ongoing public airing of disagreements began with a comment made by Q-Tip via twitter after an unofficial trailer leaked out in December -- at the time he said he was "not in support" of the documentary.

Rapaport dismissed the rapper's "little Twitter thing" as nerves, reminding everyone that Q-Tip was a producer on the doc and was surely still in support of it. But Q-Tip recently tweeted "The director of the film cannot speak to what is in my head about the documentary," according to MTV. "Nor can this director ever say I don't speak for the group. When I say I do then believe me I do," he continued. "Tribe is no different than any other collective.
See full article at IFC »

Special

Michael Rapaport (Zebrahead, True Romance, Higher Learning, The Naked Man) stars as Les an underconfident and lonley "Metermaid". Les decides to take part in a medical trail for a drug named "special" which is meant to increase confidence, much in the way that modern antidepressants like Seroxat or Prozac are said to. Les how ever has a serious psychotic reaction to the drug, which is in its final stages of human testing before it goes public. Not long after ingesting the first dose Les an avid comic book fan begins to believe he is developing super powers. The first power that manifests itself is flight or more to the point the ability to hover. Les returns to the offices of the doctor running the trails and while discussing his new found hovering skills he notices the development of telekinesis. Though the Dr tells him to immediately cease taking the medication,
See full article at LateFilmFull »

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