Thursday, July 7, 2016

Shakespeare in an Xbox?: A Chat with EK Theater’s Eddie Kim

I first encountered the work of Eddie Kim and his EK Theater — comprised of students from the Pierrepont School in Westport, CT — over half a decade ago at The Brick Theater in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Until then I’d never heard of, much less conceptualized, what Kim has christened Machinima Theater (or “video game puppetry,” as he now prefers to call it). The director-gamer’s innovative idea places classic texts within a live video game setting in an effort to actively engage with today’s audiences, both young and old. I recently spoke with Kim about the effect of gaming technology on traditional theater, his upcoming summer camp workshop “Grimm’s Fairy Tales: Retold in Video Games” at The Brick (open to middle school students possessing laptops and Minecraft accounts), and how he consistently mashes up the seemingly unmixable (yes, even “Grand Theft Ovid” was a critical hit).


To read my interview visit Global Comment.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

WHEN CLOTHES DON’T MAKE THE MAN: WHAT SUITED LEAVES OUT

Jason Benjamin’s HBO documentary Suited, produced by HBO’s Girls co-creators Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, is an eye-opening journey into the niche subject of dressing for success when you’re a gender nonconforming individual. Brooklyn bespoke tailoring company Bindle & Keep is a no-frills, two-person operation consisting of straight, cisgender male founder Daniel who fell into his calling through his non-binary, apprentice-turned-colleague Rae (née Rachel). Mixing cinema vérité with interviews, Benjamin’s film is fairly standard in approach — alternating between surface-deep snapshots into the lives of Bindle & Keep customers and the actual fitting process. It’s the clients themselves that are the true revelation — at least to me.

To read the rest visit The Rumpus.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Feminist Filmmaking Shines at The Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Running June 10-19th at NYC’s Film Society of Lincoln Center and the IFC Center, this year’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival is spotlighting films both by female documentarians (over half the lineup is directed or co-directed by women) and focusing on women’s rights issues. The 27th edition will open with Nanfu Fang’s Hooligan Sparrow, which follows Chinese activist Ye Haiyan, nom de guerre “Hooligan Sparrow,” as the subject herself (along with filmmaker Fang, who rightly will receive the festival’s 2016 Nestor Almendros Award for courage in filmmaking) is likewise trailed by the secret police. Speaking out against a corrupt government system – which has allowed a school headmaster to get away with pimping out several of his young students (to government officials, naturally) – Sparrow proves as fearless as her friend Ai Weiwei. Though lacking in the international art world stardom that can often serve as a protective shield.



To read the rest of my wrap-up visit Global Comment.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Exploring gender identity at the Trans Theatre Festival

For nearly a decade and a half, The Brick Theater in Williamsburg, Brooklyn has been a hub of cutting edgy innovation. (Just check out my interview with Mariah MacCarthy about last year’s inaugural F*ckfest.) And 2016 is no exception. For this summer’s Trans Theatre Festival, running June 7-26, co-curators Maybe Burke (a director/choreographer/writer/performer/trans advocate) and MJ Kaufman (a longtime playwright and recent Yale School of Drama MFA graduate) have put together an incredibly eclectic lineup, everything from plays to docs, to paintings to web series – all conceived by trans artists.

I spoke with the duo a few weeks before the festival’s (free) cabaret preview and opening party on June 7th.


To read my interview visit Global Comment.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Kitty Genovese had a life, not just a death: “She wasn’t just this murder victim”

Salon talks to her brother Bill about "The Witness," that "Girls" episode & 50 years of questions about her murder

While the media these days counts bullets fired in unjustified shootings, the journalistic landscape was vastly different a little over half a century ago, when the New York Times reported that a Queens resident by the name of Kitty Genovese had been stalked and stabbed to death in full view of 38 neighbors who chose to look away rather than call the police. Suddenly, those 38 do-nothing eyewitnesses, like shots fired, morphed into legend, shorthand for urban apathy (even after the notorious number had been debunked years later) – and continuing down in time to that “Girls” episode in April, Kitty’s killer dying in prison mere days before the show aired.

But James Solomon’s “The Witness” is not about the myth of the 38. Instead, the doc focuses on Kitty’s life, and the dogged search for the hard facts surrounding her death by her brother Bill, who was only 16 at the time she was murdered. William Genovese was kind enough to chat with Salon shortly before the film opens at NYC’s IFC Center on June 3.


To read my interview visit Salon.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Monday, May 9, 2016

Tony Robbins Is Definitely Not My Guru

Seeing Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in April marked the first time I ever walked out of a Joe Berlinger film. I’ve been a fan of the Paradise Lost trilogy co-director (along with the late Bruce Sinofsky) since discovering the team’s 1992 doc Brother’s Keeper decades ago. And in fact, my fleeing from the theater 40 minutes into the sold-out screening of Berlinger’s behind-the-scenes look at the non-guru’s yearly “Date with Destiny” mega-seminar had nothing to do with the skilled documentarian’s filmmaking.

It had to do with his subject. Tony Robbins, in case you’ve been living under a rock, is a superstar in the motivational speaking and self-help world. His Wiki page cites his naming to the Forbes “Celebrity 100” list back in 2007, the year he earned around $30 million. Though his subject did not attend the screening, Berlinger did, joking in his intro that this was not “another feel-bad Berlinger film,” and further urging us not to sit there “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” Unfortunately, I found myself praying for the other shoe to drop.


To read the rest visit Hammer to Nail.