Friday, August 21, 2015

Building Trust with the Gringo Mariachi: Aaron I. Naar on Mateo

The story of Matthew Stoneman, “America’s first gringo mariachi singer,” at first sounds more like fodder for the next Will Ferrell vehicle. But in the hands of IFP Doc Lab alum Aaron I. Naar this weirder-than-fiction tale transforms into something far deeper. After a prison stint led to the New Hampshire native’s education in both the Spanish language and Cuban music, the unassuming Stoneman turned his life not just around, but upside-down. With both patience and compassion Naar follows this truly remarkable artist with the voice of an angel as he battles his demons, and ultimately sacrifices everything to realize his magnum opus: a Buena Vista Social Club-level album recorded in Havana.

Filmmaker spoke with the first-time feature director prior to the doc’s L.A. theatrical release at Hollywood’s Arena Cinema on August 21st (to be followed by its iTunes debut on August 25th).



To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Monday, July 27, 2015

Revisiting Milgram and Zimbardo’s Human Behavior Experiments

Several years ago I happened upon a Rolling Stone magazine article that put forth a fascinating idea. It described a little known “experiment” done in the 80s just as the AIDS epidemic had begun its chokehold on the gay community. Gay Men’s Health Crisis and other likeminded organizations desperately needed money for research. However, unless the public was personally touched by the disease (at that time largely confined to homosexual men, Haitians and drug addicts – not a particularly influential lobbying contingent), resources were bound to go to more mainstream causes like cancer and heart disease, which personally affected the majority of donors. So the AIDS fundraisers did something ingenious, repositioning the disease in the public mind. Instead of stating the facts – that unless you were a gay man, an IV drug user or a blood transfusion recipient your chances of getting AIDS were slim to nil – they focused on the idea that “anyone” can get AIDS, from the littlest Ryan White to the oldest Arthur Ashe. AIDS doesn’t discriminate with regards to race, age, sex or sexual persuasion, which is technically true. If you’re a human being you can get AIDS, just like if you skydive you can get killed jumping from a plane. We’re all equal opportunity employees for death, but what this truth conveniently ignores is that most of us will not die skydiving because we don’t skydive – just like most people in the 80s were never going to get (nor know of anyone afflicted with) AIDS.

I thought of this marketing strategy as I revisited Alex Gibney’s 2006 documentary The Human Behavior Experiments, which explores how otherwise good, decent, law abiding citizens will do the unthinkable when guided by a strong authority figure, or not do the right thing when given “permission” by the presence of others reacting unconscionably.


To read the rest visit Hammer to Nail.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Hot in The City: Mariah MacCarthy on The Brick Theater’s First Ever F*ckfest

As a writer who’s authored an erotic memoir, and a filmmaker who’s an alum of CineKink NYC, it didn’t take much for The Brick Theater’s recent press release that landed in my inbox to grab my attention. Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s little theater that can-do was trumpeting their inaugural F*ckfest – a “sextival” that opened with a free cabaret on June 9th and runs all the way through July 3rd. In between those dates The Brick would be packed with nearly 20 shows of all sexual shapes and sizes – from comedy sketches, to multimedia performances, to an audio installation, to even an opera. And because I don’t normally receive invites that conclude with, “As noted scholar and professor of sexology Dr. Marvin P. Gaye, Jr. put it, ‘Let’s get it ahwnnn,’” I was lusting to find out more.

Fortunately, I was able to speak with The Brick’s Associate Artistic Director, and the event’s curator, Mariah MacCarthy halfway through the sexy fest.

To read my interview visit Global Comment.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Queer Film Pioneer Monika Treut on Of Girls and Horses

A legend in lesbian cinema, Monika Treut has been making films for 30 years, starting with her 1985 narrative feature Seduction: The Cruel Woman (featuring Udo Kier – not bad for a debut film), and right through to this year’s Of Girls and Horses, a poetic coming-of-age tale that also serves as a celebration of nature’s transformational power. Along the way Treut has also explored the nonfiction realm, turning her lens on everything from gender identity (1999’s Gendernauts) to Taiwanese food (2012’s The Raw and the Cooked).

Filmmaker was fortunate enough to catch up with the Hyena Films co-founder (along with Elfi Mikesch, her co-director on Seduction) during post-production on her latest documentary, which was shot in Brazil – her head still “buzzing with Portuguese favela slang.”


To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

“The Wolfpack” hype: When the line between documentary and “reality” blurs, we see the story we want to see

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Crystal Moselle’s debut feature “The Wolfpack” is “the incredible true story of six teenage brothers raised in isolation in New York, with movies as their only outlet to the world,” according to the press notes that could also serve as a reality TV pitch. The film focuses on the Angulo brothers — eldest Bhagavan, the twins Govinda and Narayana, Mukunda (called the “alpha” of the pack), and younger siblings Krsna and Jagadisa (who now go by Glenn and Eddie, respectively, according to an interview they gave to Vogue) — whom Moselle first encountered not far from their Lower East Side apartment as they raced past her, catching the fashion filmmaker’s eye with their long hair and striking looks. She chased them down, struck up a conversation, mentioned she was a filmmaker, and voilĂ ! — a friendship was born.

To read the rest visit Salon.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Caitlyn Is The New Clint: Why Jenner Matters

In all honesty, I’ve been out of the loop when it comes to the reality TV star formerly known as Bruce. Too young to recall Jenner’s decathlon-winning heyday, which launched him onto Wheaties boxes and into media stardom, and having neglected to keep up with the Kardashians, I’ve really never given a moment’s thought to the spotlight-loving sexagenarian. However, as someone who’s long identified as genderqueer, and is quite curious about cisgender reactions to the trans community, I figured I should finally get around to taking a look at that infamous “coming out” interview Jenner gave to straitlaced Diane Sawyer, especially now that the Bruce who gave it is no more.

To read the rest visit The Rumpus.