Archive for April, 2009

Inside Tribeca | Will’s Mustang film in NY

Will Parrinello is in NY this week, screening his new film, Mustang-Journey of Transformation, at the Tribeca Film Festival (story here). I asked him to share the experience, as I have gained new appreciation for the tremendous work a documentary filmmaker has post-production and post-premiere. It’s one thing to make the film, another to get folks to actually see it.

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Steve, Will and Kate Littleboy (Will’s wife)

“My composer and cousin, Steve Messina, sat between Kate and I as we watched the premiere of the film at the Tribeca Film Festival. Mustang opened the excellent shorts program Time Will Tell. Tribeca Shorts Programmers Sharon Badal and Maggie
Kim did an excellent job programming the films thematically. This group of documentary shorts will leave a lasting impression on the heart and mind… A sacred Tibetan cultural site is restored in Mustang – Journey of Transformation. Flooded with memories, Home is where the heart is. Will you root for Team Taliban? In The Last Mermaids, a story swims beneath the surface about generations of women divers. A filmmaker chronicles his personal experience with multiple sclerosis in First Steps. Finally, in Skin, beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.

I loved all the films in our program but was particularly taken by the lyrical quality to Liz Chae’s Last Mermaids about the generations of the women of Jeju Island who have survived by becoming Haenyos (women sea divers).  For 2,000 years, the Haenyos of Jeju have fought men, governments, and armies to protect their right to make a living from the sea. It’s a sensitive look at little know and fast disappearing culture.

We had an appreciative full house and attending filmmakers Benjamin Kegan, Liz Chase, Jason DaSilva and I had a great time answering the audiences questions, led by Sharon Badal.

Today we attended a seminar titled, Tools of the Trade : Alternative Distribution, Marketing 2.0, and Beyond, that more or less told us how many more opportunities there are to distribute films, with outlets like YouTube and other internet services like video downloading, cable and satellite video on demand, as well as a variety of specialty outlets but that there’s really no more money unless you produce a commercial hit or a film with a built in audience and marketing potential. As a filmmaker who makes films on small budgets and often has to market and distribute them myself, I was disappointed that the seminar wasn’t more grassroots oriented. I was hoping to learn about strategies for viral marketing and other alternative solutions that would allow independents to sell their own product to specialty audiences found on the web.”

It looks like the magic really is in the film. No magic bullets, not even social networking.  It looks like the opportunity for support really does belong to the rest of us, the filmgoers.

So let’s do our job, so they can keep doing theirs.

Mustang~Journey of Transformation

Ever have a friend whose talent, adventures and pure productivity takes your breath away? Who always has a story that leaves you in awe? Who inspires you to reach just a little deeper into your own creative toolbox?

imagesWe’ve known Will Parrinello for over 30 years. He was a “radio guy”  when we were all students (we were newspaper folk) in Chico in the 70’s. He’s one half of Mill Valley Film Group, along with his partner John Antonelli. Their films all have a spirit of curiosity, adventure, creativity and inspiration, and it’s been a thrill to watch them (the filmmakers and the films) over the years. Will’s latest film, Mustang—Journey of Transformation, premiered at the Aspen Short Film Festival earlier this month. And now it’s headed to NY to screen in competition  at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival on April 27. Tribeca was started by Robert De Niro and his producing partner Jane Rosenthal in the wake of 9/11.

Mustang – Journey of Transformation tells the story of the Himalayan Kingdom of Mustang, a Tibetan culture saved from extinction through the restoration of its most sacred sites. It is narrated by Richard Gere and is truly inspirational. Mustang lies on a windswept plateau between Nepal and Tibet in one of the most remote regions in the world. Isolated by both geography and politics, Mustang–known as the Forbidden Kingdom–has been completely off- limits to westerners for 50 years. This starkly beautiful place is home to one of the last surviving repositories of Tibetan sacred art from the 15th century. In 1991 Nepal opened Mustang’s border to the outside world.

What the first visitors found was shocking: the ancient monasteries were on the verge of collapse; the Buddhist wall paintings were disintegrating; the community was deeply impoverished. The people needed health care, education, and jobs. Surprisingly, the King’s first plea to outsiders offering help was to save the monasteries. The King understood… saving the art would save the people, because without cultural identity there is nothing. Mustang -Journey of Transformation is a tale of hope and rebirth told by the people who helped save the Forbidden Kingdom.

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Restoring Mandala by J. Sanday

Will describes my favorite character in the film, Luigi, the Italian art restorer. “Luigi Fieni is the head art conservator on the Mustang restoration project. Luigi is like a beacon of light, and his energy jumps off the screen. Through his work in Mustang, Luigi has become, what I call a guileless Bodhisattva… through his open heart – we met dozens of his Loba friends. You have to see Luigi in Mustang – because he’s like the Pied Piper – everywhere he goes young men and women… and more women, come running to greet him. He’s universally loved for the great work he’s done, for his generosity as a skilled teacher and for the professional knowledge he’s shared with the Lobas, and for his amazing spirit.”

Interesting. I think Will’s energy and spirit are pretty amazing, too.

Please keep your eyes open for this film at your local film festival. And if you’re in NY, please consider attending one of the Tribeca screenings (April 27, 30, May 1 and 3). Then find Will and tell him you’re a friend of mine. I guarantee you’ll become a friend of his.

To learn more about this region and the people , check out the American Himalayan Foundation.

Urban Sketchers

The internet is a wonderful thing. It transports you, distracts you, delights you, and enables you to waste more time than is really healthy. Like a mini-vacation. And the site, Urban Sketchers, makes that vacation even more tangible, in a virtual way, of course.

Urban Sketchers is a network of artists from all over the world who sketch and post daily. The site is constantly being updated, making it possible for you to visit the cafes in Italy, the shops in Paris, or the streets of India, anytime.

I visit almost every day, and it’s always a worthwhile meander. See you there.

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Gabi Campanario, Seattle, USA

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, Taipei, Taiwan

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buy:design | ReForm School

It’s been a serious week here at re:design, so it’s time for a little Friday shopping therapy. Headed straight to ReForm School, and I confess, I want it all.

The website is a treat, like hanging out with the cool-clever-nerdy-arty-vintage-kids, drinking espresso, listening to obscure jazz, and smoking clove cigarettes. But without the cigarettes (because that really isn’t cool).

My picks:

The Non-Planner Datebook by Keri Smith. It promises me a sense of framework, without feeling constricted or bound by predictability. That’s good, I think.

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The Skateboard Clutch by Beck(y)

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Polite Cards by Bob and Roberta Smith

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And in a lovely full circle moment, the 1000 Journals book (Voyeuristic. Inspirational. Entertaining.), chronicling a project I wrote about here (and reminding me to order my 1000 Journals film from Andrea Kreuzhage).

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Easy to get into trouble here. And I didn’t even touch the hammock made from seatbelts. Honest.

Girls for a change

Some of my most meaningful work has been with Reach India, an organization that works with poor women and adolescent girls in rural India, helping them develop the life skills to change their own lives and create their own future. I visited the program last year, and it was an inspiring experience that will always stay with me.

Reach India is supported by Nike Foundation, and they have a true understanding of the power and potential of girls. This video, done by Wieden + Kennedy has been around, but it’s so important to my work, that I want to share it here.

As a communications piece, the video is simple, clear, powerful and inspiring.

For more information, check out girleffect.org.

Sabotaging the saboteurs with art

My good friend, copywriter Leslye Wood, has been valued companion in the journey of making-sure-our-work-matters for about 12 years.  Leslye’s path took her Nigeria, and she has spent the last several years committed to researching, writing, promoting, negotiating, pushing, and doing everything she can to support the documentary film, Sweet Crude.

Sweet Crude is the story of the Niger Delta. It’s a story of vast oil wealth and abject poverty. Of greed and corruption. Of the failure of nonviolent protest to right injustice and the dismaying success of militancy to bring attention to the crisis.

The film is finally finished and premiered last Saturday (April 4) at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina.

But this story is about the poster in the midst of the journey.

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On April 18, the crew walked out of military prison – but their footage remained behind.  The Nigerian government intended to sabotage Sweet Crude and suppress the truth about the Niger Delta, and they failed.

But the detainment did cost the film crew thousands of dollars, at a time when every dollar was needed.

The answer was in art, of course.

In the first moments of the detainment, crew member Tammi Sims used her cell phone to call Leslye Wood in Seattle. For the next seven hours, Tammi managed to surreptitiously send a steady stream of text messages. By the time the JTF took Tammi’s phone, Leslye knew enough about the situation to have already begun critical release efforts.

The Sweet Crude team developed and sold a poster, created from the actual text messages Tammi and Leslye exchanged – on the day the crew were captured and just before they boarded the plane home to Seattle a week later.  The  18″ x24″ posters were designed by Seattle graphic artist Gabriel Stromberg, and  hand painted and silk screened on archival stock. They’re powerful and arresting (pun intended), and yes, I have one.

This is what I mean by visual voice. Literally.

This is my favorite line (the poster came with the full text attached to the back):

Friday 8:17 am (US) Leslye: Sending huge love. Big fat faith. Impenetrable strength. I am right with you in spirit.

Leslye described the Full Frame premiere to be as amazing and gratifying. She was thrilled that the audience was so engaged, and responding exactly as they had hoped and imagined they might. The audience gave the film a standing ovation, and equally (perhaps more) important, they stayed engaged, asking smart, thoughtful questions during the Q&A. Leslye is proud of the film, and I am so proud to be her friend.

Sweet Crude’s fund raising efforts continue. If you are in the Seattle area, check out RAISE IT! SWEET CRUDE FREEDOM MIX BENEFIT CONCERT, April 15, 2009,  The Triple Door, Seattle, WA.

For more information about the concert and Sweet Crude, visit www.sweetcrudemovie.com.


Golf, art, and old friends

Illustrator Mark Ulriksen and his wife, Leslie Flores, are two of our best friends from college, and our starter years at the Chico News and Review. We’ve stayed close, and have watched Mark  become one of the country’s most successful editorial illustrators. His paintings of dogs, musicians, politicians, and athletes are just slightly tweaked, and always get you to take a second look.

My partner, Steve, is  fairly obsessive golfer, and did an admirable job of containing his envy when Mark was invited by Golf Digest to visit the Masters Tournament last year and create illustrations for this year’s issue.

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All illustrations by Mark Ulriksen for Golf Digest.

Mark told me this was one of the great weeks of his life. He was staying in a house with writers (including Dan Jenkins, John Feinstein and Tom Brokaw) and photographers, and was able to walk the course and sketch for seven days. He gave the photo editor his requests, and photos were taken for him to use as drawing reference  later (he was in the limbo-land between the pubic who could take photos, and the media, who needed photo passes, so this was the best solution). Mark started the project in September, submitting twelve ideas, and painting ten. Eight were published.

And he hasn’t been on a golf course since. Steve will have to remedy that, because that’s what old friends are for.

The 2009 Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, starts today.