Monday, January 31, 2011

I am an old lady.

Evidence: Sheer joy over the inheritance of my grandma's scarf collection. I wear one almost every day.

Also her old eyeglass frames and brooches.

Nevermind the nightly Golden Girls marathons, daily old movies, old man drinks and Werthers Originals in the bottom of my purse. It doesn't help that I live with someone who may actually think she was born in 1907. Last night Swinny and I saw a Fritz Lang in Hollywood double feature at Film Forum with a gentleman I'm seeing and then we all sat around at the Brooklyneer basking in our elderliness. 

I'm okay with the fact that the lines in my forehead no longer go away when I relax my eyebrows because, clearly, I will be a bomb old person. Now back to my jazz vinyls and tea.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Homestead Declaration

(Picture from the Aurora Picture Show Facebook)

Just wanted to share with you guys this awesome indieWIRE article on Michael Moore's closing remarks at the Homestead Convergence. I'll never forget it or the kind things he said to me. I've copied it below.

As the Art House Convergence came to a close on Thursday not far from Park City, UT, Michael Moore took the podium for more than an hour for an off the record keynote speech. The address concluded with the presentation of a declaration, blown up on a large poster board, that Moore urged each of the 200 attendees to sign. The declaration, in support of Art House Cinema, follows:
Michael Moore’s Homestead Declaration
• The Cinema is our great American art form—and nurturing the art of the motion picture should be a prime cultural priority of our nation. We expect the Hollywood system and our government (a government of, by and for the people) to nurture and sustain filmmakers and the art of filmmaking, and to promote public understanding and appreciation of the art and craft of cinema. We need to encourage filmmaking that challenges, ignites, excites, questions and wondrously entertains. We reject the notion of mediocrity and cookie-cutter filmmaking and we won’t show them in our theaters.

• Monopolies and restraint of trade are killing the Art Houses. We demand that our State Attorney Generals and our US Attorney General and the Justice Department enforce the laws of this land to prevent the restraint as it affects the exhibition of motion pictures.

• Participating Art House Convergence theaters will not let great films go undistributed. We will work cooperatively to play great films that are not reaching audiences through traditional distribution outlets.

• The public grows less and less aware of what a good movie is, and has little or no awareness of foreign films, documentaries or American independent films. We the Art Houses of America will put together a curriculum for film literacy. We will ask our local schools to teach film literacy and we will open our theaters to them—that is our commitment as Art Houses.

• Every community deserves to have an Art House. Currently operating Art Houses will adopt a town and help them create their own Art House, save an Art House that is about to go under, or help to re-open an Art House that has closed.

• Financially, operating an Art House is barely sustainable. We will help provide community-based, mission-driven Art House theaters tools to survive. These tools will include: 1) teaching best practices for operating a community Art House; 2) providing education about operating local Art Houses as effective institutions partially supported by philanthropic and volunteer resources; 3) finding a collective way to negotiate favorable prices for equipment and concession supplies; 4) confronting the greed-based commercial distribution system of Hollywood as a unified front; and 5) considering new business models for operating Art Houses, such as nonprofits and worker-owned and run cooperatives.

• Movies are meant to be seen in movie theaters—not on TV, not in the back seat of a mini van and not on a cell phone. A movie is a film projected in the dark on a big screen in a theater filled with strangers and an “Everyone Welcome!” sign on the door. Filmmakers should be consulted on how their art is exhibited in theaters and should have a hand in how they are designed. Filmmakers need to visit Art Houses across the country. Art Houses and the Directors Guild of America need to establish a partnership that will take down the wall created by the Hollywood system and encourage personal contact between filmmakers and Art House audiences, because it is in filmmakers’ self interest that Art Houses not just survive, but thrive.
• We as Art House people love the movies. We will do everything in our power to see cinema thrive and grow in the 21st century. We will work every day to ensure that Art House cinema is exhibited in movie theaters with high quality projected images on BIG screens, with clear, multi-channel sound, in dark rooms with comfortable seats, full of passionate movie-loving customers.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sundance 2011

I only spent a few days at the actual Sundance Film Festival after my conference wrapped up, but it was a good few days. The few films I managed to snag tickets to were: GRAB (a doc from the Indigenous Showcase), Shorts Block 5 (in which PIONEER, a film produced by my good friend James who was also at the Convergence, premiered) and Doc Shorts 1 (in which my friend Walter's film, NEGATIVIPEG, premiered) and Miranda July's THE FUTURE. I woke up early and rushed to meet Walter who was waiting with my ticket to the 8:30am screening of THE FUTURE. The film is about fear, but those intangible fears that resonate with anyone who is uncomfortable with the notion of getting older and facing what lies ahead. Worse yet, the story is guided along by a cat who ends up being the one (unheard) voice for love in its purest form. Yes, it's very sad. I cried many tears at an earlier hour than I typically like to, but I did really love the film and left feeling refreshed. I think I connected with it because the deepest, most complex emotions in the film are expressed abstractly, through dance, movement and symbolic imagery, and that's how my brain tends to work. The rest of my time at Sundance was spent going to parties and catching up with friends from Dallas and all over, hanging out with Walter and getting free massages. It was hard to leave when there were so many films and friends left to see, but my last semester of grad school and pitifully empty bank account would not permit me to stay any longer. Sigh.

(photo by Missy)

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Utah

The Convergence and Sundance were fun and inspiring, but this is my Utah

Brunch with Missy at our favorite place, Eggs in the City, watching the genius that is Will & Grace (no one appreciates that show like we do) and finally laughing about the things we said we'd laugh about one day.
My sweet Jesse who would give me the shirt off his back and cancel a trip with his friends to spend an evening driving me up and down the canyon. I feel most at home sitting under the stars with him in silence as we have done every time we're together for the last six years. I feel like I offer very little in return for his willingness to be there for me at the drop of a hat and yet, there he is. My trusty friend. 
Seeing Katie and her beautiful children that I love like my own. If you've read this blog for long you know that Jaren is B's best friend forever and so on. He's also the sweetest kid I know. Lainey and I would definitely be best friends if I were around more. I love being their "Britty." Katie has always loved me like a sister and I miss her so.
My Utah has always been riding horses, hiking, being outdoors and thinking about family. My own little family and my extended family in Utah and elsewhere. I was lucky on this trip to see friends from New York, L.A., DFW, Utah and all across the country, but it's these people who make Utah the home I'll never actually live in. 


(These last four photos by Missy.)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Art House Convergence

I spent my week at the Art House Convergence, part of the Sundance Art House Project. It was a chance to meet with art house theater operators, programmers and distributors to share ideas and make connections. I was a sponge all week, soaking in all the information I could that will eventually make its way into my thesis and theater project in Denton. One of my favorite moments of the conference was the opening key note speech by Russ Collins, which you should definitely read here:

"At this Art House Convergence our vision of the Art House is to be a special place that celebrates the richness of the cinema experience. It is a rich and special experience because people gather there to connect with insightful creative expressions, to be in a community and to risk the chance to have their minds, maybe even their lives transform through the power of art." - an excerpt - 
Michael Moore's closing key note speech was equally inspiring, but we were asked to stay off the record so (I'm assuming) no transcript exists. I had the opportunity to moderate roundtable discussions (Borrowing Film Prints from Archives: What to Expect, What You Need to Know – Moderator, Brittan Dunham, Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program at NYU) that challenged my ideas and knowledge of a subject that's very important to me, and opened the door for more communication and, hopefully, progress. There were so many moments throughout the week that fueled the thought process, the ongoing debate in my head about film vs. digital (or film and digital) projection, and the motivation to increase the availability to the art form that has so touched and shaped my life. I'll be sharing them here as I pour back through my notes and start shaping my ideas into a coherent thesis paper. It was also awesome to spend the week hanging out with my friends James and Amy of the Citizen Theater in Fort Worth and making new friends. So many people offered their support throughout the week that I feel like I can move forward with confidence.

Finally, the Homestead Resort was just. GORGEOUS. 
 (above: my cabin)

Friday, January 21, 2011

conferencing in the mountains

I walked out of my room the other morning to these guys and about ten more of their friends hanging out on my porch. By the time I got my camera all but these had scattered. They watched me for a minute and then scampered off, leaving little trails of prints in the glittering snow. I felt like Snow White.

(I am at Sundance. More soon.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

a part of the main

Hello there. After many early bedtimes and not enough words typed, here I am. I feel stressed, yes. I haven't been extremely productive. But I feel calm again. I retreated into my shell for just long enough to regroup and prioritize. It's funny, the things that I prioritize rarely seem to be the practical, physical things that I need to do. Or, I suppose, those things organize themselves naturally. No, for me this meant retreating into my heart--so I could really listen to it without any distraction--and then deciding who needs me most, what I need and where I can devote my passion right now. 

I feel I should tell you that I haven't been sad. Quite the opposite, in fact. I just got overwhelmed and thought I needed someone to help me carry it all. Silly. You see, I have this habit of going back to the same places when I get like that, places where the well is dry and there is no support. I beg and grasp at straws when there was never any hope there to begin with, then I feel immensely let down. It would take more therapy than I care to invest in to figure out why I do that but, thankfully, I always end up snapping out of it and realizing what's true: 1.) I don't need anyone but myself. I am fully equipped to handle anything and all of those anythings all at once if I have to. 2.) If I look around at the blessings (they are, I believe, divine) and the people in my life (those who choose to be) through calm eyes, I see that I have not just one person to lean on but an entire forcefield surrounding me. No man is an island. I am able to see this faster and with more clarity than I ever have before. From as early as I can remember I was always working at being happy but now I see that I didn't know what happiness was. I really just needed be okay. I wish I could explain to my son, the emotional spitting image of myself, that contentedness really will come with age and experience.

I'm in Utah now and have some stories to share.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

allowing myself a hiatus

I need a break. Not a particularly long or definite one, just the chance to have one. If I'm being honest, I feel utterly crushed under the expectations people have of me right now. I'm sad that I can't turn to someone who loves me and ask them to be here for me through this. I am fine, really. I just need to work on my thesis and nothing else for awhile, and let my personal life take a back seat. Back soonish.

Before I go, a video of B that melts my heart (until the end):

Lavender's Blue from Brittan on Vimeo.

I miss Bonnie.

Watching her play with our kiddos...
Feeling like a mom again myself...
(I look good with a baby, don't I?)

Drinking her Mexican hot cocoa and laying around watching movies in her colorful, inviting living room...
Then staying up all night chatting after our kids fell asleep.
I wish I could have her around all the time.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

RIP Pete Postlethwaite

Pete Postlethwaite has been one of my favorite actors since I was very young for his work in a little movie called Romeo + Juliet.
As I grew up and explored his work in more depth (and had the opportunity to meet him and learn more about him as a person), I gained so much respect for him. I thank Twitter for forcing me to be concise about things like this.
I'll leave it at that.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

1.1.11 in ATX

As you can probably tell from my NYE photos, I had a really good time in Austin this weekend. I woke up on the first of 2011 (first, naturally, as I am the non-drinker of the group) to a hung over best friend Gregg wearing my shirt. Confusing.
Then he tried on my NYE shoes and looked better in them than I did, which was decidedly less confusing.
We spent the rest of the day laying around with our friends, being excessively affectionate and hilarious. We took a trip to show Daniel (our resident Australian by way of Brooklyn) Zilker Park and then made an HEB run for dinner provisions. Gregg promised to make me a vegetarian version of his famous chicken tortilla soup (which Justin claims is half his, just saying...) and we cooked and gorged while watching Mean Girls. Pretty perfect.
How amazing does that look? Maybe I had three bowls...

I took prom pictures with Robin, got some late-night storytelling from Adam (the best story teller you will ever meet) and played with the ugliest dog ever.
Also this happened...
I would like to add that that story is 100% true. It was a nearly-perfect start to the new year. The only thing missing was Justin, but the next day we came back to Dallas and had a nice, super nerdy night with him and Will, touring a historic movie theater, playing arcade games at Barcadia and trying out the sais he got for Christmas.
(Sidenote: I severely beat everyone at skeeball. It was a massacre.)
As I tweeted that night: My best friend is a late-twenties mutant ninja gay. Yep, dancing, eating, laughing and geeking out with your favorite people is a great way to start a year. Coming down with the flu like I did later that night is less great, but at least I got some good partying and loving in before I had to be quarantined. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

NYE in ATX

My friends > Everyone else