THIS WEEK: DANCES WITH FILMS FESTIVAL, WONDERWORLD LA
DANCES WITH FILMS
The opening night green-carpet event for the Dancing With Films indie film festival took place in the gorgeous and historic lobby of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, directly across from the TCL Chinese Theatres where the short and full-length works were set to screen over the next couple of weeks in multiple theaters. As directors, producers and on-screen talent made their way down the carpet, each group shepherded by a protective publicist, such as seasoned L.A. flacks Henry Eshelman and Diane Brown, cameras flashed and interviewers held up mics under the glaring lights. For many of these indie filmmakers from around the world and around the U.S., this was their very first brush with Hollywood glamour!
Now that the Los Angeles Film Festival has ceased hosting an annual event, Dances With Films — so named in its debut year by co-founders Leslee Scallon and Michael Trent to support a feature film they had made called Indemnity, in the wake of Sundance hosting a plethora of “dance” monikered film festivals — i.e., Slamdance, Digidance, No Dance, and several more with similar monikers.
Twenty-two years later, Leslee and Michaels’s Dances With Films is going stronger than ever while still sticking to their motto of “No politics, no stars, no sh*t.”
DWF has risen to fill the breach left by the L.A. Film Festival in supporting and featuring primarily indie film projects of all kinds, some of which this year included the heartbreakingly excellent The Land, which features a terrific star turn by actor Herman Johansen; the girl-centered video-gaming short Would You Like To Try Again?; Wowsers, produced by and starring the party’s most fabulously dressed guest Sam Fox, about a club where the BDSM isn’t always safe, sane and consensual; and the surprisingly witty horror-comedy Driven, starring the film’s writer, Casey Dillard, along with Richard Speight Jr. of HBO’s Band of Brothers and the CW series Supernatural.
Just down the street from where DWF was hosting their opening night festivities, the fabulous magical interactive pop-up museum that is Wonderworld LA was throwing their own soiree to introduce the Wonderworld brand of visual genius to celebrities and local media influencers, sweetening the pot with drinks, donuts, a cotton candy station, complimentary nail art, and swag bags for attendees. Even Fox 11 news showed up to cover it!
Co-founded by venture capitalist Hua Wang and businessmen Jay Yue and Jie Wang, Wonderworld first popped-up in New York’s Soho district where the threesome gathered a cabal of creative designers who were seeking a platform for their work. Wonderworld Soho ran for a year before coming to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame just this month, where local artists such as Josh Wong collaborated in customizing the build-out to be unique to L.A.
Pop-up museums may be a new concept in Los Angeles, but they’re a big — and lucrative! — trend in NYC, where the trio behind the original and L.A Wonderworlds is set to launch Wonderworld Brooklyn any day now.
In NYC, Wonderworld is something of a fashion brand, but here in L.A., they’re not targeting the nightlife set. Rather, Wonderworld is open only during daylight hours and is bracing for a steady stream of both the legitimately young as well as the so-called young at heart, who will no doubt be completely entranced by the Alice-in-Wonderland-esque rabbit-warren of 11 differently themed interconnecting rooms, all housing art installations in various crazy-wonderful themes, all of which are meant for extreme posing and photographic shenanigans. Memory-making shots of patrons climbing in, on, and around the various oversized and decorative props, and Instagram-worthy photo ops with your posse are highly encouraged. We can’t help thinking that kids, both little and big, will take to Wonderworld LA as if it were a more sophisticated version of a Disney theme park!
Wonderworld LA is set to pop at least through the second week of August. For tickets and information call (747) 284-9616.
In the recent Finding Neverland documentary, the long term effects of childhood trauma are clearly demonstrated. The two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck (who tell of the chronic sexual abuse they suffered at the the hands of Michael Jackson), only started to deal with what had happened to them almost 20 years later. Sometimes it takes that amount of distance from the pain to be able to deal with it, but the awful things that happen to you as a child do not simply go away. No, instead those experiences fester within and influence you in multiple ways, playing out in poor choices, addictions, ill health and a possible host of health and behavioral problems. Why does that happen? How does it happen? What does it look like? And how does one make it better?
Well, Rita Ciolek and Marianna Mankowska, both survivors of child abuse, have teamed up to do an in depth feature-length documentary film entitled Child Not Releasedto find those answers. The film will explore long-term consequences of child abuse and neglect by examining diverse survivor stories. The emphasis is on the effects of trauma on early childhood brain development including developing susceptibility to addictions, problems related to building healthy relationships with oneself and others, and repeating cycles of abuse in the context of intergenerational trauma. The film will also offer innovative approaches to healing, cutting-edge treatments, and experimental programs to help survivors re-wire their brains and overcome trauma. Rita and Marianna share a vision for this film to be a conversation starter on the difficult and often stigmatized issues related to childhood trauma. They want the survivors to know that they are not alone, that resources are available, and that any trauma can be healed.
Due to its hot topic issues, the project is gaining momentum and attracting top experts in the field of childhood trauma including Dr. Ramani Durvasula (psychologist), Dr. Regina Pally (psychiatrist), and Jenica Morin-Pascual (domestic violence expert). The project is also in talks with Dr. Gabor Maté (renowned speaker and bestselling author with expertise on addiction, stress and childhood development), and Dr. James Doty (Clinical Professor of neurosurgery at Stanford).
Interviews with these experts will discuss:
Re-wiring of brain circuits to overcome trauma Recovery from addictions
Learning to give language to emotions
Forming healthy relationships
The third stage of self-esteem development – evolution
The producers are currently looking for collaborators and survivor stories in the local communities. Correspondence can be send to [email protected].
Kazia Productions is a Santa Monica media production company, founded by Rita Ciolek, MFA, CPA,
Rita Ciolek (Founder & Creative Director) is known for collaborations with prominent figures in the entertainment, business and humanitarian worlds including Barbra Streisand, Linda Cruse, Keith Merrill, and David Rudd.
Marianna Mankowska (Co-producer and Lead Animator/Graphic Artist) is a multi-award winning animator and illustrator. (Scenes from the film demonstrating physical, psychological and emotional abuse and neglect will be depicted with animations).
The Hollywood Stars Gala Oscars® event was held on Sunday, March 4, inside the elegant ballroom of the newly completed Beverly Hills Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Celebrities and guests filled the ballroom in support of the evening’s theme “Women in Entertainment.”
“It was so great to see so many celebrities, producers, music industry people, guest support this fabulous event, and especially gratifying to see everyone here stepping up to bring female filmmakers onto equal standing, as they should have always been” said Steven Nia, Chairman and CEO of Wardour Studios. “We here at Wardour Studios are committed to aggressively keep the movement going forward as the industry enters this new era.”
Tables in the ballroom were decorated with gorgeous floral arrangements by George Ortega, Creative Floral Director of “Square Root,” which matched the elegance of the evening only the Waldorf Astoria could provide.
During the hosted VIP Cocktail Reception guests were able to catch glimpses of the Oscars® red carpet arrivals at the Dolby Theater on the screens around the room. While waiting for the Oscars® ceremony to begin, guests had the chance to smile and pose for the camera in the Socal Mirror Photo Booth, creating a memory of the nights’ celebration for them to take home.
When the Academy Awards hosted by Jimmy Kimmel started, those in attendance were invited to indulge in an exquisite dinner created by the Waldorf Astoria’s celebrity chef Jean-George, while watching the winners receive their Oscars® on large screens located around the ballroom.
Announced at the event was one of Wardour Studio’s newest Hollywood China co-productions, “Crossroads to Shaolin”. It is the story of a young American boxer who discovers how to be the true champion that he is at a Shaolin temple, helping him to go on to become world champion. Lee Baker is writing and directing the film, with Stephen Sobisky as visual effects supervisor, and Dan Katzman as producer.
“Steven and I are extremely grateful for all the wonderful participants, this evening, and we hope to be working with many of them soon”, said Angelina Leo, COO of Wardour Studios.
Pictured L-R: Directors -Jon Shenk, Bonni Cohen, Former Vice President Al Gore, and Interviewer, John Anderson Q&A Following a screening in New York – Photo credit: Bronwyn Berry
An Inconvenient sequel: Truth to Poweris a ‘follow’ movie in the true sense of the word. Not only is it the follow-up documentary to Al Gore’s hard-hitting An Inconvenient Truth, but this time round we get to ‘follow’ Gore on a worldwide tour of the disastrous consequences of climate change– from the dripping icecaps of Greenland to the rain bombs of India and the flooding streets of Miami. He travels the world teaching future climate leaders. We witness change in action at the 2016 Paris Accord as Gore brokers a deal between developing country, India and SolarCity, the world’s leading manufacturer of solar panels, a turning point in getting India to agree to the Accord. There are heart warming moments— Georgetown, Texas “the reddest city, in the reddest county” is about to get 100 percent of its energy from wind and solar; Gore and conservative Republican mayor celebrate a victory for renewable energy. This is an emotional journey for Gore and he admits to sometimes feeling “it was a personal failure on my part” that the world’s leaders were not stepping up. Despite the harrowing visuals, grim statistics and the trump-astrophe of November 2016, this is an overwhelmingly positive film. We’re immersed in Gore’s journey, inspired by his passion and dedication. Most importantly, we witness that change is possible; we have a responsibility to halt the effects of climate change. Use your voice. Use your choice. Use your vote. #beinconvenient
Started in 1979, John Ramirez and the late Stuart Timmons, two students at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) founded a gay film festival. By 1982, it had become known as the “Gay and Lesbian Media Festival and Conference”, later as the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. The name was changed to Outfest in 1994. Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival is eleven days of world-class films, panels, and parties. This year, the roster has some outstanding films including documentaries, KEVYN AUCOIN: Beauty & The Beast in Me, (tonight at Director’s Guild of America (7920 W Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA). PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOHN SKALICKY
The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) will be celebrating it’s 25th anniversary this year in Los Angeles at the Cinemark Baldwin Hills Crenshaw 15 Theatre. This year’s monumental event will showcase a total of 202 films comprising of both feature-length and short firms. PAFF is known to screen the largest selection of Black films among any other film festival in the World.
“It’s been an incredible experience to witness the growth of this PAFF and at the same time witness the tremendous development of the Pan African film Industry,” says Ayuko Babu, PAFF Executive Director. “Both have allowed me the pleasure of working with thousands of filmmakers and honoring the artistry from South Africa to Atlanta – all of whom tell their own stories and present their images to the world; so beautifully. So now in our 25th year, PAFF will again present the largest selection of Black films ever to be screened at one event and honor the best storytellers and artists for their work.”
This year’s festival is also packed with special events including the “Conversations With…” series featuring Sanaa Lathan, Mara Brock with Salim Akil, and a special edition of the series will honor actress, Alfre Woodard, with the The Lifetime Achievement Award during the Opening Night Gala.
“I get excited every year right about this time because I know the Pan African Film Festival is coming. This means that I have felt this exhilaration 25 times!,” says honorary Alfre Woodard. “PAFF always delivers artfully curated entertainment and information in diverse genres. This year I’m particularly thrilled that they have invited me to represent their legacy of bringing engaging stories from filmmakers of the African diaspora to Los Angeles, the birthplace of American Cinema. As always, Feb 9-20th promises stimulating conversations and lively celebrations; you won’t want to miss it!”
For a complete list of events, screenings, and panels, and to reserve tickets, please visit www.PAFF.org Ph: 310. 337-4737 ~ Fax: 310. 337-4736