Going … Going … Going out

The Bracket Theory

Short film review-Downtown Urban Arts Festival

Written and Directed by Katia Kuziara

Produced by Katia Kuziara, David Barrett and John Mabry

Reviewed by Jen Bush-5/18/18

bracketThe dating scene in New York City makes arranged marriages seem fun! Boy meets girl, boy gets girl, etc. etc. is out the window. Now it’s swipe left, swipe right, make a connection and hope there’s no duct tape and chloroform in the trunk!

In this film we meet Lucy, wonderfully portrayed by Meghann Fahy. Lucy has been struggling to find love in the big city. She ponders the trials and tribulations of dating very diligently and comes up with her own personal theory that she calls the bracket theory. This theory postulates that individuals can fit into 4 brackets having to do with intelligence, social aptitude, physical attraction and wealth. If either partner exceeds the parameters of their brackets, Lucy feels they are no longer compatible.

Lucy keenly observes interactions between couples and internalizes her findings. The thing that I especially liked about Lucy was that she didn’t blow off any potential suitors. A lot of men and women do an initial once over of a person, make a snap judgement and close themselves off to who could possibly turn out to be the love of their lives. Lucy’s character smiled sweetly and was open to all possibilities. Maybe that was naïve and even a bit dangerous, but it was nice in comparison to the brusquely dismissive nature of dating.

As likeable as she was, it was slightly difficult to believe that Lucy had trouble dating. She was the poster child for her own theory. She was stunningly beautiful whether she was dressed down, dressed up, wearing makeup or not wearing makeup. Her physical attraction bracket was on fire. Her intelligence was obvious in her dialogue and since she was always reading books. She scored high with social aptitude being so friendly and outgoing throughout the film. The only thing difficult to discern was her wealth. We saw she worked in an office in an unrevealed capacity. This woman was a catch and any N.Y.C. male would have been lucky to date her.

Luck goes on a few dates with Matt played by Nicko Libowitz. He’s a seemingly nice guy who takes Lucy for a romantic walk. In what was perhaps the most beautiful scene in the movie, Matt takes Lucy’s hand, spins her around and both characters are standing at a railing, staring at the N.Y.C. skyline behind the East River. It’s unbelievably romantic and spoiler alert, they kiss. You’re so woozy with glee from that scene that it’s hard to be prepared for the next jarring scene. Let’s just say Matt obliterated his bracket in a negative way and consent was dubious. Kudos to Nicko Libowitz for doing a 360 with his character. After that encounter, I might have hung it up for a while yet the ever optimistic Lucy, shaken but undeterred, forged ahead. By the end of the film, we know Lucy will be just fine and will eventually ride off into the sunset with her prince charming.

The cinematography of this film was stunning. Using N.Y.C. as a backdrop, you can never go wrong. The film captured the vibrancy and the heartbeat of the city with deft skill. The story is easy to relate to no matter what your background is. Everyone has dated. Everyone who has dated has an anecdote to tell and an theory of navigating the dating world. It looked as if the film had a very healthy budget with multiple locations, excellent lighting, props and costumes. The actors were well chosen and executed their parts believably. The film left me with a quote that deeply resonated with me. “You can’t love somebody in a bubble. You have to love how they interact with the world and how the world interacts with them.” It’s a beautiful sentiment that rings so true. Living by that could have saved us all some heartache in life. It’s a beautiful thing to witness acts of kindness in your partner and to see others crave positive interactions with them. Heed that advice because if all of your friends think your partner is a nitwit, that might be a red flag! This film was both a cautionary tale and a tale of hope that loves exists and can be found with cognizant patience.

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Brother vs Brother

Brothers

Short film-Downtown Urban Arts Festival

Written, directed and produced by Troy Elliott

Reviewed by Jen Bush-5/18/18

brotherIf war suddenly hit your city, would you be prepared? Are you prepared to serve your country? Are you prepared to make painful sacrifices? This is the premise of Brothers.

Brothers is the inaugural film for Troy Elliott who wore multiple hats of writer, producer and director. It examines the bond and devotion between two orphaned brothers in the face of extreme adversity.

In this film, war is about to hit the California coast. The details of the war are non-existent. We never see a presence of militia nor do we hear explosives going off in the distance. The filmmaker was so good at ensuring that the audience adhere to the focal point which was the relationship between the brothers, that it made that all those details irrelevant and unnecessary.

The adult brother Jack was poignantly portrayed by Jeff Pridgen. He did a very good job of portraying a character in crisis, driven by responsibility. The younger brother Teddy was adorably portrayed by child actor, Bradley Bundlie. He was a positive ray of sunshine in a film with such a dismal theme. The chemistry between the two actors was excellent.

Jack, who is the legal guardian to Teddy, is about to be mandatorily deployed. He frantically searches for housing options for the safety and security of the little brother. He loves Teddy and has taken impeccable care of him. The daycare worker portrayed by Tanya Alexander turns him away because she already took in too many children. We surprisingly learn that Jack has a married sister named Lucy, portrayed by Eva Swan. In what is an absolute standout performance as her chilling and creepy husband Bill, played with frightening conviction by Gregory Lee Kenyon, we soon fully understand why the adult siblings have not kept in touch. The dysfunctional couple reluctantly agree to take Teddy in. In a scene that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, Bill pokes, prods and examines little innocent Teddy thoroughly. He interrogates Jack about his overall health such as the state of his “insides”. Luckily it was clear to Jack and the audience that Bill was going to either traffic Teddy or sell off his internal organs. It was a time of frantic desperation for all in this film. Fortunately, Jack changed his mind about leaving him there, took him back home but still was left with a major conundrum with deployment looming overhead. Ultimately, Jack makes a difficult decision to ensure Teddy’s wellbeing. In my estimation, the child is better off anywhere than with that psycho brother in law.

This film was shot simply yet effectively. It was an impressive first turn for this new filmmaker. The cinematography was accurately reflective of the dim and dreary theme of the film. The actors filled their shoes well and were convincing in their roles. Being an orphan myself, I made a personal connection to the film. It was thought provoking and really made one think about the level of preparedness that is required for an emergency of this grand scale. Always be ready!

FILM @ DOWNTOWN URBAN ARTS FESTIVAL

FILM @ DOWNTOWN URBAN ARTS FESTIVAL

Reviews by Robert Viagas

The annual Tribeca Film Festival in New York City always make a special place in its lineup for film shorts, and this year’s selection included a night of four internationally-sourced movies, from France, Canada, Niger, and the U.S.

The outstanding entry was the Canadian, film, The Suitcase,about the power of imagination. The film tells the story of the life-threatening odyssey of a young girl (Lori Phun) who travels from China to Canada crammed into a suitcase by her mother (Tabitha Tao), a poor prostitute, who is desperate to smuggle her child to a better life in the New World. Using only a cell phone, the mother soothes the terrified and suffocating child by explaining that the barking of airport guard dogs, the snarling of customs officials, and the whining of the jet engine are actually the sounds of benevolent supernatural creatures who are shepherding her on her journey across the sky. These fantasy sequences, set entirely inside the young girl’s imagination, are animated by director Philip Leung and his team. A whole intercontinental journey is crammed into the film’s turbulent, heartbreaking 12 minutes.

WATCH THE TRAILER: https://vimeo.com/192445667

Playing like a punchy Twilight Zoneepisode, Fremont shows us what could havehappened during a white policeman’s armed pursuit of a black suspect (Phillip Johnson), and then, just as we’re caught up in their confrontation, abruptly shifts to what actually happened. The seven-minute film, directed by Ryo Jepson, is not pat in its depiction of either the cops or their quarry. There is plenty of room for shading and interpretation. But it also dramatizes how an itchy trigger finger can shut out all shading, nuance, and possibilities for redemption. The film is inspired by an actual February 2017 police shooting in Fremont, California.

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Léa Frédeval’sFrench-language film The Rehearsal (La répétition) works its brief magic with only two characters in an unusual setting—a bathroom. Soulemane Sylla plays an aspiring actor who pays his bills as a toilet cleaner in a public rest room. He gets his big chance to help direct a performance when he comes across a woman (Delphine Montaigne) who is using a bathroom mirror to practice her speech asking her boss for a desperately needed raise. Though their lives couldn’t be more different, they both seem to benefit from their momentary meeting of the minds. Their story ends just as it seems to be getting going.

The longest of the shorts, clocking in at 16 minutes, Vagabonds is another film about people who find their wildly different worlds suddenly intersecting. Magaajyia Silberfeld serves as both director and co-star of this movie about an African student in Los Angeles who finds herself forced to live out of her car. Sharing her predicament (and the same beach parking lot) is a down-and-out former movie star (Robert Richard) who retains his good looks, but is now strung out on drink and drugs. The movie plays like the pilot for a Netflix series with lots of loose ends begging to be tied up. Lethal Weapon star Danny Glover has a cameo as the girl’s vacillating uncle who is shown to be firmly under the thumb of his domineering wife.

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Something Fishy

Bob jr.

Written and Directed by Dilek Ince

Reviewed by Jen Bush

WATCH THE TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=OBeMTxYHJB0

slideshow5.jpgFor many of us, our first pet was a fish.  A fish is not a particularly interesting pet, especially because you can’t really interact with it.  For some it’s a glorified decoration.  For the main character in the film whose name is Bob, the fish, Bob jr., was a comforting companion and the last emotional connection to Bob’s deceased wife.  The film which was well written and directed by Dilek Ince, examines the impact of grief on the life of a man who even after 3 years, is not ready to move on.  Scott Rinker gives a poignant and heart wrenching portrayal of a man broken by loss.  Throughout the film, Bob routinely calls the cell phone of his deceased wife to talk about Bob jr. and other things on his mind.  He has detached from his friends and any form of social life since his wife’s death.

slideshow1.jpgBob is crippled with guilt whenever he must leave the fish alone.  He ends up taking Bob jr. with him everywhere he goes.  This includes a loud party where Bob jr. nearly meets his demise as a result of beer almost poured into the bowl.

It seems that an underlying theme in the film is the way humans perceive and treat animals.  You have Bob who is inseparable from Bob jr.  There is the owner of the tropical fish establishment played perfectly crustily by Bob Ornstein.  The shop is closed for the day.  Bob begs him to open the doors, so he can buy some food.  He tells Bob, “your fish looks healthy enough, he can wait a day to eat.”  Finally, you have the young clerk Rebecca portrayed in a sweet and quirky way by Elizabeth Brissenden.  She cares very much for the welfare of all the fish and tries to convince Bob that Bob jr. needs a bigger and more embellished environment so he can thrive and be happier.

The exquisitely composed music by Andrew Stamp and Justin Cordero had a starring role in the film beautifully underscoring the drama and emphasizing the pathos of the main character.

As the movie unfolds, there are more and more small increments of Bob being able to let go.  Rebecca is an integral component of this.  At one point in the film where Bob could have become completely unraveled and had an irrevocable breakdown, instead he chooses the path for an opportunity that could ultimately lead to healing.

The film was easy to relate to as we have all experienced loss.  The cast did a very good job of portraying their respective roles.  Good choices were made for set design and locations.  All the elements were in place for this to be a well-made and enjoyable short film.

In the end, as the frost upon a bud, slowly melts allowing a flower to bloom, Bob is slowly on his way to having the love in his heart bloom once again in this wonderfully cohesive commentary on what is sometimes the very long process of grief and healing.

 

 

 

 

 

DUAF LOGOThe five-week art & culture showcase supplying audiences with live stage works, independent film, cutting-edge music and envelope-pushing poetry, will take up residence in some of lower Manhattan’s most thrilling and celebrated spaces.

Running from April 7 through May 12, artists with their finger on the pulse of what the city is thinking will present their works at Theatre 80 St. Marks, Tribeca Film Center, New York Live Arts, Joe’s Public at The Public Theater, and Nuyorican Poets Café.

The original theater series (Downtown Urban Theater Festival) was founded in 2001 for the purpose to build a repertoire of new American theater that echoes the true spirit of urban life and speaks to a new generation whose lives defy categorizing along conventional lines. That purpose has since been realized in more than 200 plays created and refined for the stage by more than 170 writers from America’s burgeoning multicultural landscape. The addition of film and culture has made DUAF a marriage of the original Fringe Festival and Cannes.

DUAF is produced by Creative Ammo Inc. (CA), a nonprofit community development organization for artists focused on building stronger communities founded in 1998. CA has created solid programs to strengthen communities, foster creativity and celebrate life through art. Artists are an important leverage point in its work. Its mission is to cultivate vibrant communities by connecting artists with the skills and services they need to develop their talent into a marketable skill to pursue a career in the arts. Its programs are inclusive, open and embrace diverse ideas and art forms, and target communities of color and other underrepresented multicultural, women and LGBTQ populations.

This year, the opening night celebration will feature The Voice finalist and teenage sensation, Wé McDonald, who will perform live at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater.

DUAF’s film series features the finest works from a search that yielded more than 1,400 submissions for around the world.

And finally, this year’s poetry season, called WORDS MATTER, will be a community poetry slam and forum on current social issues. Local poets and audience members can recite their best poems and compete for a cash prize. 2016 Nuyorican Grand Slam Champion Jaime Lee Lewis is the host and special guests have included Lifetime Achievement American Book Award winner, Miguel Algarin.

For further information, contact Jay Michaels at 646-338-5472 or at JMAE.events@gmail.com

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE FOR INDIE FILM, LIVE THEATER, and, POETRY &  MUSIC

JOE’S PUB @ THE PUBLIC
425 LAFAYETTE ST, NEW YORK CITY
SATURDAY, APRIL 7
7:00 PM (TICKETS: $30)

Wé McDonald – NBC TV’s “The Voice” finalist, Wé McDonald, brings her jazz & pop artistry to this much-anticipated, one-night-only performance.  Opening Season 11 of The Voice with a four-chair turn, Wé went on to represent Alicia Keys in the finals and finished third for the season.

NEW YORK LIVE ARTS
219 W 19TH STREET, NEW YORK CITY
TICKETS: $20

FRIDAY, APRIL 13 @ 7:00 PM

THE VAST MYSTERY OF WHO YOU ARE BY KIM YAGED
An irreverent, hard-hitting exploration of love via sex parties and philosophical sparring about the nature of relationships.

SATURDAY, APRIL 14 @ 7:00 PM

GAY.PORN.MAFIA BY JOE GULLA
Bronx, LA, SoHo to Ibiza! Porn Stars, Gay Priests, Mafia Dons and Abstract Expressionists! Smart! Fun! Funny! Fearless! “Gay.Porn.Mafia” has it all! Grab your ticket! Leave the gun! Take the cannoli! You’ll feel like “family” and laugh out loud (emphasis on “out”!) It’s the same-sex, Italian-style, x-rated offer you can’t refuse!

THEATRE 80 ST. MARKS
80 ST MARKS PLACE, NEW YORK CITY
TICKETS: $20

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18 @ 8:00 PM

SUBLET BY ALISA ZHULINA
Christy, an overworked hospital resident, new to New York City, sublets a room from an artist working on a mysterious sculpture. Things start to get scary, or is it just Christy’s imagination? What’s really going on in this express journey to NYC roommate hell fueled by outsized artistic ambition.

AMERICAN TRANQUILITY BY DANIEL DAMIANO
A southern retiree, an Iranian subway station poet and percussionist, a talk-radio show host and a Brooklyn existentialist reflect on the human divide in 21st century America.

THURSDAY APRIL 19 @ 8:00 PM

STRINGS BY CHARLES CURTIS
A detective turned modern day vigilante, a lawyer with an ulterior motive, and the strings that bind them both. They each find that neither is truly innocent, and that no matter how fast we run our past catches up with us eventually.

FRIDAY, APRIL 20 @ 8:00 PM

THE STRONG MAN BY J.E. ROBINSON
Decades ago, at the head of his gang, Pearl Crabtree was strong enough to kill any man. Is he now strong enough to kill one of his own?

CORPORATESTHENICS BY BAINDU DAFINA KALOKOH
From unsuccessfully climbing the corporate ladder to fearlessly summiting Mount Everest, Black Television Network’s favorite physical trainer premieres the newest edition to her record selling fitness program. Her unique strength and conditioning techniques are essential to breaking glass ceilings in every profession. 

SATURDAY, APRIL 21 @ 8:00 PM

HELP ME GET OVER YOU BY ROLLIN JEWETT
John is in love with Phyllis. Unfortunately, he only realizes it after he breaks up with her. Now she’s moved on and John can’t seem to get her out of his mind. What’s a lovestruck fool to do? Ask her to help him get over her, of course. The question is: What’s in it for her?

A CIVILIZED WORLD BY ANGHUS HOUVOURAS
An opioid addict is sentenced to death in the near future where being an unproductive member of society is a capital offense.  The play centers on the condemned, Eleanor Reed, and her final conversation with Andrew Goodman, a life long government shill tasked with explaining the value of her sacrifice.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25 @ 8:00 PM

BLOOD ORANGE BY MARCUS SCOTT
Blood Orange explores the fetishization of black male bodies, hook-up culture, the nature of interracial gay relationships and sexual encounters, power play and upward mobility.

MIRRORS BY AZURE D. OSBORNE-LEE
Mirrors is the story of two women mourning the death of a loved one while sifting through the secrets of a shared past.

THURSDAY, APRIL 26 @ 8:00 PM

TRASH TALK BY ALANO P. BAEZ
Trash Talk is a taut and troubling tale of two dregs of society who rap, scrap, quip and play craps while slowly suffocating under the weight of wasted lives.

SAILING STONES BY JUAN RAMIREZ, JR.
At rock bottom, Jaime forces his god-fearing best friend, Charlie, out into the Death Valley desert to finally prove once and for all if a god exists. Who will save them?

FRIDAY, APRIL 27 @ 8:00 PM

THE FAN BY ADAM SEIDEL
A famous novelist sits on a park bench reading when she is approached by a fan who wants more than just an autograph. 

THE DIPLOMATS BY NELSON DIAZ-MARCANO
Two days before election night 2016, close friends Annie and Carlos are having a little reunion on his first visit back in New York City. It can only take one person to change world events, but at this reunion two days before the 2016 Presidential election – it’s world events that do the changing.

SATURDAY, APRIL 28 @ 8:00 PM

ATACAMA BY AUGUSTO FEDERICO AMADOR
Thirty years after the dirty wars waged by the General Pinochet regime on the Chilean people. Two strangers; a mother and father, search the Atacama Desert for their buried loved ones and discover there are darker truths awaiting them underneath the hard sands of the Atacama.

SATURDAY, APRIL 22 @ 7:00PM

NUYORICAN POETS CAFÉ
236 E 3RD ST, NEW YORK CITY
TICKETS: $12

WORDS MATTER POETRY SLAM
Repair! Reform! Transform! Calling all poets with poetic words about today’s social issues and social conscious people. Hosted by Nuyorican Poetry Slam winner Jaime Lee Lewis with special guest poets include Reg E. Gaines, Tony nominated writer/poet, and Miguel Algarin, the founder of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Sign up for poetry slam starting at 6:30pm.

 

TRIBECA FILM CENTER
375 GREENWICH ST, NEW YORK CITY
TICKETS; $15

TUESDAY, MAY 8 @ 7:00 PM

FREMONT (OREGON/7 MIN.)
Directed by Ryo Jepson
Inspired by the numerous news headlines in late 2016 and early 2017, Fremont examines the repercussions of an exhausted police officer’s split-second decision while pursuing a suspect. Following the suspect’s capture the nature of the crime and the suspect’s role in it reveals both the profound and unexpected effect it has on everyone involved in the case. 

THE REHEARSAL (FRANCE/7 MIN.)
Directed by Léa Frédeval
Stephane dreams to become a comedian. Carole dreams of a pay raise.

THE SUITCASE (CANADA/12 MIN.)
Directed by Philip Leung
Discover how a little girl uses her imagination to conquer the darkness during a turbulent journey inside a suitcase.

VAGABONDS (USA/NIGER/16 MIN.)
Directed by Magaajyia Silberfeld
Starring Magaajyia Silberfeld, Robert Richard, Daniel Marley, Danny Glover
A homeless African student in LA meets a washed-up movie star whose life is surprisingly similar to hers.

 

WEDNESDAY, MAY 9 @ 7:00 PM

ELENA (COSTA RICA/22 MIN.)
Directed by Ayerim Villanueva
Some people irreversibly change your present.

ALMOST SAW THE SUNSHINE (UNITED KINGDOM/30 MIN.)
Directed by Leon Lopez
Rachel is a young aspiring transgender woman. After a series of coincidental encounters with a handsome man, she impulsively takes a chance on a one-night stand that will change her life forever.

AYSHA (COSTA RICA/20 MIN.)
Directed by Fon Cortizo
Aysha is a young energetic voice emerging from the Middle East. Poetry and creativity are her weapons with which to change an expectant post-Arab-Spring society.

 

THURSDAY, MAY 10 @ 7:00 PM

SOÑADORA (CALIFORNIA/10MIN.)
Directed by Maria Altamirano
A hardworking high school senior faces circumstances beyond her control that may hinder her path to college.

SONGS OF WILD ANIMALS (MEXICO/12 MIN.)
Directed by Mara Weber
Songs of Wild Animals is the story of a young girl who lost her brother, best friend and mentor. With a lot of fantasy she relives him in another dimension as the eagle he always dreamed to be.

THE VIRGIN AND THE PROSTITUTE (FLORIDA/16 MIN.)
Directed by Maria Jose Noriega Pedroza
A nun who works at a hospital and a prostitute who’s visiting her diseased child get trapped together in an elevator. While their prejudices drive them apart, at first, their similarities will ultimately bring them together.

THE SECOND PROVINCE (NEW YORK/19 MIN.)
Directed by Zorinah Juan
Two estranged Filipino-American siblings are forced to reunite when their offbeat mother elects death with dignity before the end of the week.

AND STILL WE LOVE (NEW YORK/8 MIN.)
Directed by Erika Santosuosso
Amidst a tumultuous political climate, a couple fights to find the beauty in the face of an indefinite separation. 

 

FRIDAY, MAY 11 @ 7:00 PM

SPIN (FRANCE/15 MIN.)
Directed by Leticia Belliccini
One evening in Autumn, Mallard and his wife are assaulted at the corner of a street. There ensued an infernal race where he will be successively the witness, the author and the victim of what would prove to be the key of its existence.

ASYLUM PARK (INDIA/20 MIN.)
Directed by Shanu Sharma
A chance meeting in a park in Berlin proves to be fortuitous for two strangers, faced with uncertainty of their immigrant status and scraping circumstances. 

9.58 (FRANCE/15 MIN.)
Directed by Louis Aubert
Djal is sixteen years old. Like his idol Usain Bolt, he dreams of running.

THREE TIME WALTZ (FRANCE/16 MIN.)
Directed by Caroline Pascal
When a man and a woman meet on a tune of the 50s. A musical interlude in three stages, to see this man and this woman fall in love, separate and finally find each other back.

MECHANISM OR: HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF (GERMANY/11 MIN.)
Directed by Michael Chlebusch
This is a story about solidarity and the fine line between self-sacrifice and individual responsibility.

 

SATURDAY, MAY 12 @ 7:00 PM

BOB, JR.  (CALIFORNIA/23 MIN.)
Directed by Dilek Ince
After losing his wife and developing an unhealthy attachment to her goldfish, Bob makes an unexpected connection that changes his life. 

BROTHERS (CALIFORNIA/15 MIN.)
Directed by Troy Elliott
When war hits the California coast, a 19-year-old takes desperate action to get his little brother to safety in the final hours before his deployment.

IN PRIVATE (NEW YORK/14 MIN.)
Directed by Clem McIntosh
Two couples get together for Christmas dinner, and are put at odds when a texting error reveals more than intended

THE BRACKET THEORY (NEW YORK/20 MIN.)
Directed by Katia Koziara
Lucy longs for love: a perfect, equal partnership that she’s never had. But she’s not a hopeless romantic – she’s rational, logical, and determined to find her objectively best match. So she has crafted a foolproof theory: The Bracket Theory.