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AFTER EXTENSIVE AND SOMETIMES USELESS DISCUSSIONS, THE ENTIRE ‘FROM SCRATCH NEWSWIRE GROUP’, IN FACE OF A POSSIBLE GENERAL STRIKE WITHIN THE GROUP, DECIDED TO TAKE A COLLECTIVE VACATION … SEE YOU FOLKS IN MARCH … AND BY THE WAY, OUR COLLECTIVE VACATION HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS PRESENT GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS …

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on February 1, 2009

Sunday, February 01, 2009

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THE FROM SCRATCH NEWSWIRE GROUP IS ON VACATION 'TIL MARCH

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FIXA E MÓVEL, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE WORK MARKET, TO, USA, VEREADORES | 1 Comment »

KEVIN BACON REVEALED AS AMONG THE VICTIMS OF THE £33BILLION BERNIE MADOFF SCHEME

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 31, 2008

9:29 AM on 31st December 2008

by Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY MAIL’ (UK)

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY MAIL’ (UK)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, CINEMA, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FINANCIAL SCAMS, FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRIES, FRAUD, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA, USA MOVIE PRODUCTIONS | Leave a Comment »

BRAZILIAN UTILITIES AES SUL AND ELETROPAULO SIGN ENTERPRISE LICENSE AGREEMENT WITH ESRI – Contract Ensures Access to GIS Software, Updates, Maintenance, and Support

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 22, 2008

December 18, 2008

GISCafé

PUBLISHED BY ‘GISCafé’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘GISCafé’ (USA)

Posted in A BOLSA DE VALORES, A PRESIDÊNCIA, A QUESTÃO ENERGÉTICA, BRASIL, CINEMA, ECONOMIA - BRASIL, ECONOMY, EXPANSÃO ECONÔMICA, EXPANSÃO INDUSTRIAL, FLUXO DE CAPITAIS, HIDRELÉTRICAS, O MERCADO FINANCEIRO, O PODER EXECUTIVO FEDERAL, O SISTEMA BANCÁRIO - BRASIL, POLÍTICA EXTERNA - BRASIL, POLÍTICA REGIONAL, RELAÇÕES DIPLOMÁTICAS - BRASIL, RELAÇÕES INTERNACIONAIS - BRASIL | Leave a Comment »

PELÉ SERÁ PERSONAGEM PRINCIPAL DE FILME DE ANIMAÇÃO INDIANO (Brazil)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 18, 2008

17/12/2008 – 08h26

Das agências internacionais – Em Mumbai (IND)

PUBLISHED BY ‘BRASIL ON LINE’

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PUBLISHED BY ‘BRASIL ON LINE’

Posted in CINEMA, COMMUNICATION INDUSTRIES, ECONOMY, INDIA | Leave a Comment »

KNOWLEDGE BEGETS WISDOM: A LIST OF RECOMMENDED DOCUMENTARY FILMS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 4, 2008

Wednesday, Dec 3 2008

by Craig Morse

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE VOICE OF EYE’

 

Have you ever had one of those moments when you just wanted to sit back and relax to some informative variant or another about the beauty, mystery, and/or stupidity of our strange existence?

Does anyone remember 1970’s public television? When some disaffected scientist’s voice would describe the mating habits of the Australian Dingo? Well, the documentary film has come a very long way since those slow days when making the choice to spend your free time learning was painfully boring, and those audio samples are relegated to the likes of music by Boards Of Canada. Whether it be the works of Michael Moore’s biased dissertations, Ron Fricke’s audio/visual tapestries, Danny Schechter’s brilliant investigative journalism, or the new age revelations of glorified infomercials, such as “The Secret”, learning about ourselves, our world, and our universe has never been so enjoyable as well as informative.

Now, I’ll be the first to say that I truly look forward to a day when soulless corporations, at least as we know and understand them, will meet their demise. But one company, Netflix, has actually managed to enrich my life through providing me with a quality array of great films and documentary, both quickly and inexpensively. With that said, I’d like to recommend the following films with hopes that you won’t have to waste too much time trying to figure out what to watch. I too hope that you will gain and put to use the knowledge and wisdom you are sure to acquire about the oft overlooked reality that stealthfully affects us everyday.

If you have any great recommendations, please let me know so I can add it to the list…

Politics and War…

No End In Sight: This in-depth, Oscar-nominated documentary from filmmaker (and former Brookings Institution fellow) Charles Ferguson examines the decisions that led to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and the handling of the subsequent occupation by President George W. Bush and his administration. Featuring exclusive interviews with central players and detailed analysis, the film pulls no punches as it chronicles the twists and turns America took on the path to war.

WMD: Weapons Of Mass Deception: Independent investigative reporter and filmmaker Danny Schechter’s documentary focuses on how the media shaped people’s views of the Iraq War through their intense coverage from the war’s inception through February 2004. Schechter’s film examines provocative theories such as the Pentagon’s involvement in media messages, how new methods such as satellites and embedded journalists affected media coverage, and the competition between media outlets.

Zeitgeist: Produced by Peter Joseph, was created as a nonprofit expression to
inspire people to start looking at the world from a more critical perspective and to understand that
very often things are not what the population at large think they are. IMPORTANT NOTE: The first ten minutes, or so, really suck.

Iraq in Fragments: Honored with an Oscar nod and prizes for editing and cinematography at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, director James Longley’s striking portrait of a nation divided presents a collage of images and commentary from ordinary Iraqi citizens coping with the effects of war, political unrest, religious feuds and an uncertain future. Moving beyond the abstract, the film powerfully captures the indelible humanity of those living in a country defined by conflict.

Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers: Private contractors are getting rich while everybody else is suffering: This is the point director Robert Greenwald makes — passionately — in this 2006 documentary. Using whistleblower testimony, firsthand accounts, financial records and classified documents, Greenwald levels charges of greed, corruption and incompetence against private contractors and shows the subsequent devastating effect on Americans and Iraqis.

War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death: Based on Norman Solomon’s revealing book and narrated by actor Sean Penn, War Made Easy exposes the government’s and the media’s purported history of deceiving the American people and leading us into war after war. Using archival footage of past presidents, including Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon and both Bushes, and media correspondents like Walter Cronkite, the documentary sheds light on propaganda pushing and draws parallels between the Vietnam and Iraq wars.

The Weather Underground: A sobering documentary about a group of 1960s “committed freedom fighters” known as The Weather Underground. A radical offshoot of the Students for a Democratic Society, the Weathermen didn’t just march or sit in; they rioted and bombed — not to change the American political scene but rather to destroy it. The organization was part of a global trend of revolution that sprang from the belief that not acting against violence is violence.

Why We Fight: Filmed during the Iraq War, this documentary dissects America’s military machine with a keen eye to answering the question: Why does America engage in war? Through personal stories of soldiers, government officials, scholars, journalists and innocent victims, the film examines the political and economic interests and ideological factors, past and present, behind American militarism. Winner of the 2005 Sundance Grand Jury Award.

911 In Plane Sight: This provocative documentary probes the theories behind the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, focusing on live video footage captured that day that aired only once on TV and was never shown again. The film examines alternative causes of the crash on the Pentagon and questions whether the damage was inflicted by a 757. The documentary also asks if explosives might have been already present in the World Trade Center and aboard United Airlines Flight 175

Orwell Rolls in His Grave: Documentary filmmaker Robert Kane Pappas presents a riveting argument for his theory that America is under an Orwellian watch with the rise to prominence of the radical, right-wing Republican party, an ascent aided, unwittingly or not, by the mainstream media. Here, Pappas interviews an impressive roster, including Center for Public Integrity director Charles Lewis, legal analyst Vincent Bugliosi and liberal filmmaker Michael Moore.

Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties: Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Congress passed a series of legislations known as The Patriot Act, which is designed to assist law enforcement in preventing future terrorist attacks. Take an inside look at this controversial bill through the eyes of legal analysts and constitutional experts as they examine the possible dangers The Patriot Act poses to our civil liberties and individual freedoms.

The Peace!: Amid an escalating war in Iraq, rising terror levels and the threat of nuclear attack, a growing body of intellectuals, religious leaders and community organizers are getting tough with their questions about peace — and that’s no oxymoron. To shed light on the answers, filmmakers Gabriele Zamparini and Lorenzo Meccoli record a variety of speakers, including Noam Chomsky, Desmond Tutu, Scott Ritter, Pete Seeger, Howard Zinn and Gore Vidal. NOTE: The first half is good, but it loses all of its steam toward the end.

Bowling For Columbine: Famed filmmaker and left-wing political humorist Michael Moore tackles America’s obsession with firearms in this Oscar-winning documentary. Focusing mainly on the Columbine massacre in April 1999, Moore also visits a Michigan bank that gives new customers a free gun, recites statistics for gun deaths in the United States and interviews folks ranging from National Rifle Association spokesman Charlton Heston to shock rocker Marilyn Manson.

Business and Economy…

The Corporation: This documentary charts the spectacular rise of corporations as a dramatic, pervasive presence in our lives. Filmmakers Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott present a timely, entertaining critique of global conglomerates as they chronicle the origins of corporations, as well as their inner workings, controversial impacts and possible futures. The pros and cons are weighed via interviews with social critics such as Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore.

In Debt We Trust: Filmmaker and former journalist Danny Schechter (WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception) investigates Americans’ ongoing love affair with credit cards and the staggering level of personal debt it’s created, paying special attention to the relationship between Congress and the credit card industry. In a modern society that’s increasingly “financialized,” consumer debt is so common that extending credit has become highly lucrative.

Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room: Based on the book of the same name by Peter Elkin, director Alex Gibney’s documentary takes a behind-the-scenes look at the powerful energy company whose downfall forever changed the landscape of the business world. With a blend of fascinating footage, fast-paced interviews and a wealth of information, this film is a serious lesson in the potential trappings of dishonesty and unethical behavior dogging corporate America today.

Roger and Me: In this blistering, satirical documentary, ex-journalist Michael Moore gives a personal account of the tough times in his hometown of Flint, Mich., after the General Motors plant was closed in the mid-1980s. The film revolves around Moore’s dogged attempts to gain an interview with Roger Smith, the elusive and well-insulated head of GM and the man responsible for massive layoffs that eliminated more than 30,000 jobs and left the town destitute.

America: Freedom to Fascism: Acclaimed filmmaker Aaron Russo directs this thorough investigation into the creation of the Federal Reserve and the controversial legislation (or lack thereof) that requires all American citizens to pay income taxes. Through revelatory interviews with key members of Congress, a former IRS Commissioner, tax attorneys, agents from the IRS and FBI, and various authors, Russo demystifies federal income tax and the creation of money. NOTE: It’s not a particularly well produced film, but the historical information and interviews are excellent.

A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash: Produced by award-winning filmmakers Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack, this documentary examines the world’s dependency on oil and the impending chaos that’s sure to follow when the resource is depleted. Straight from the headlines, this hot-button topic may represent the world’s most dire crisis. Through expert interviews, the film spells out in startling detail the challenge we all face and underscores our desperate need for alternative energy.

Maxed Out: Investigating both the personal and the national debt owed by Americans, this thought-provoking documentary explores the staggering financial burden we live with every day and exposes how the contemporary financial industry is set up in ways that can harm unwitting customers. With both sobering facts and black humor, Maxed Out unveils the consequences of our debt addiction, including its contribution to the vanishing of the American middle class.

Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price: Producer, director and activist Robert Greenwald takes aim at the corporate giant that’s come to symbolize big business in America: Wal-Mart. Blasting the box-store Goliath for allegedly paying substandard wages, skimping on employee health benefits and eviscerating communities, this hard-hitting, emotional documentary profiles the struggle of everyday folks from around the country who’ve committed themselves to fighting the mega-retailer. NOTE: Though I believe this documentary is poorly produced, the interviews and information is invaluable.

Media…

Outfoxed: Rupurt Murdoch’s War on Journalism: Finally, a no-holds-barred documentary on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, which has been criticized in some quarters as running a “race to the bottom” in television news. Offering an in-depth look at the dangers of burgeoning corporations that take control of the public’s right to know, the film explores Murdoch’s ever-expanding media empire and its impact on society. Media experts such as Jeff Cohen and Bob McChesney are interviewed.

Control Room: This documentary peers into the controversial and often dangerous operations of the 7-year-old Al Jazeera news network. Although it often enrages its own people, the news outlet has become the most accepted informational resource in the Arab community. Filmmaker Jehane Noujaim gains extraordinary access to Al Jazeera journalists and examines the risks they confront on a daily basis.

Science…

The Elegant Universe: Brian Greene, a Columbia University physics professor and best-selling author of The Elegant Universe, hosts this fascinating exploration of string theory. Beginning with an overview of general physics concepts, Greene moves on to a straightforward and visually stimulating explanation of the more recent string theory that unites relativity and quantum mechanics. A profile of Einstein and an explanation of his theory of relativity are included.

Connections 1: How did a test of gold’s purity in 500 B.C. lead to the invention of the atomic bomb? James Burke, host of this beloved 1978 TV documentary series, makes this and other beguiling connections between history and science. Combing through 12,000 years of history, this Sherlock Holmes of science finds clues that led to various modern inventions. Burke’s droll humor, careful reenactments and stirring use of classical music helped to make this a BBC hit.

Connections 2: History links seemingly disparate past events to form a fascinating whole in this intriguing show featuring British intellectual James Burke, who makes connections between such moments as the invention of the French loom and the creation of computer giant IBM; the naissance of the steam pump and the production of carbon paper; and the use of water pipes and the streamlining of carburetors. What results is nothing short of educational magic.

Connections 3: Intrepid host James Burke connects the seemingly random dots between one scientific or historical event and another, creating a fascinating, weblike tableau of the past in this popular Learning Channel series. Learn how the invention of the superconductor and the study of oceans are linked and how the exploration of a plethora of other topics, including geysers and handwriting analysis, helped shape the world as we know it today

Environment…

Baraka: The relationship between humans and their environment is the subject of this mesmerizing visual study from Ron Fricke, the cinematographer and editor of Koyaanisqatsi. The images — which Fricke gathered from 24 countries — range from the daily devotions of Tibetan monks and whirling dervishes to a cigarette factory and time-lapse views of the Hong Kong skyline. Diverse world music accompanies the visuals.

The 11th Hour: Actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary on the global environmental crisis paints a portrait of a planet at risk while also offering some exciting and radical solutions for making life on earth sustainable. Tapping the brains of leading scientists and thinkers — including Stephen Hawking and Mikhail Gorbachev — the film ultimately delivers a hopeful message: Our planet may be in crisis, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late change.

The End of Suburbia: This provocative documentary, a regular on the film-festival circuit, examines the history of suburban life and the wisdom of this distinctly American way of life. A post-World War II concept, suburbia attracted droves of people, giving rise to sprawl and all that comes with it — good and bad. How has the environment been affected by this lifestyle, and is it sustainable? Canadian director Gregory Greene dares to ask all the tough questions

An Inconvenient Truth: Director-producer Davis Guggenheim (HBO’s “Deadwood”) captures former Vice President Al Gore in the midst of waging a passionate campaign — not for the White House, but for the environment. Laying out the facts of global warming without getting political, Gore makes a sobering impression in this Oscar-winning doc on the audiences who hear his message, urging them to act “boldly, quickly and wisely” … before it’s too late to act at all.

Microcosmos: Critters of the small kind are featured in this interesting look at the seldom-explored world of insects, snails and other undersized creatures as they go about their daily lives. By using unique microscopic cameras and powerful specialized microphones, this highly praised French documentary gives new meaning to “a bug’s life.”

Culture…

Baraka: The relationship between humans and their environment is the subject of this mesmerizing visual study from Ron Fricke, the cinematographer and editor of Koyaanisqatsi. The images — which Fricke gathered from 24 countries — range from the daily devotions of Tibetan monks and whirling dervishes to a cigarette factory and time-lapse views of the Hong Kong skyline. Diverse world music accompanies the visuals.

The Story Of Weeping Camel: This unique documentary follows a Mongolian camel that’s rejected her newborn white colt. Throughout her difficult delivery, the camel is aided by a family of shepherds, who instantly notice the mother’s rejection and make valiant efforts to warm the mother to her child. Now, all hope lies with the family’s two young boys, who must travel across the Gobi desert to find a healing musician. Will the violinist’s ritual do the trick?

The Up Series: In 1964, Michael Apted interviewed a group of 7-year-old kids in England, all from different backgrounds and with big dreams, and has tracked their lives every seven years since. Now, those kids are 49 years old, and this intriguing documentary series reveals how their individual journeys are a microcosm of Britain as a whole. You’ll see how the kids who once had goals of going to college ended up living the dream or falling by the wayside. VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a series that should be seen in succession like such: 7 Up, 14 Up, 21 Up 28 Up, 35 Up, 42 Up, 49 Up… and in 2012 it will be followed by 56 Up.

Born Into Brothels: This Oscar-winning documentary is a portrait of several unforgettable children who live in Calcutta’s red-light district, where their mothers work as prostitutes. Spurred by the kids’ fascination with her camera, Zana Briski, a photographer documenting life in the brothels, decides to teach them photography. As they begin to look at and record their world through new eyes, the kids awaken to their own talents and sense of worth.

Religion…

Zeitgeist: Produced by Peter Joseph, was created as a nonprofit expression to
inspire people to start looking at the world from a more critical perspective and to understand that
very often things are not what the population at large think they are. IMPORTANT NOTE: The first ten minutes, or so, really suck.

Jesus Camp: This riveting Oscar-nominated documentary offers an unfiltered look at a revivalist subculture where devout Christian youngsters are being primed to deliver the fundamentalist community’s religious and political messages. Building an evangelical army of tomorrow, the Kids on Fire summer camp in Devil’s Lake, N.D., is dedicated to deepening the preteens’ spirituality and sowing the seeds of political activism as they’re exhorted to “take back America for Christ.”

Fall From Grace: For years, the Rev. Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church have preached a message of intolerance and hatred, aimed at homosexuals. This compelling documentary shines a spotlight on Phelps and his followers, widely condemned as a hate group. K. Ryan Jones’s debut takes a hard look a church that claims that everything from the poor economy to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks can be tied to God’s wrath over so-called sexual deviance.

Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple: How could one man persuade 900 people to commit mass suicide by drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid in the jungles of Guyana? That man, of course, was Peoples Temple leader Jim Jones, and this film tries to answer that question by providing a portrait of the demented preacher. Using never-before-seen footage and audio accounts of two Jonestown survivors, documentarian Stanley Nelson paints a chilling picture of a social experiment gone horribly awry.

Health…

Super Size Me: On the heels of recent lawsuits against McDonald’s, director Morgan Spurlock takes a hilarious and often terrifying look at the effects of fast food on the human body. For one month, Spurlock eats nothing but McDonald’s food, ordering everything on the menu at least once and “super-sizing” his order if asked. With obesity on the rise, Spurlock’s film begs the question: Where does personal responsibility end and corporate responsibility begin?

Sicko: Michael Moore sets his sights on the plight of the uninsured in this eye-opening, Oscar-nominated documentary. In the world’s richest country, 45 million people have no health insurance, while HMOs grow in size and wealth. Moore also explores the widespread use of antidepressants and their possible link to violent behavior. With his trademark humor and confrontational style, Moore asks the difficult questions to get to the truth behind today’s health care.

Art…

Rivers and Tides: This amazing documentary from Thomas Riedelsheimer won the Golden Gate Award Grand Prize for Best Documentary at the 2003 San Francisco International Film Festival. The film follows renowned sculptor Andy Goldsworthy as he creates with ice, driftwood, bracken, leaves, stone, dirt and snow in open fields, beaches, rivers, creeks and forests. With each new creation, he carefully studies the energetic flow and transitory nature of his work.

Personality…

The Eyes Of Tammy Faye: Tammy Faye Bakker’s journey from traveling evangelist to weepy, scandal-scarred cult icon is chronicled in this tongue-in-cheek documentary from Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. The film (which was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival) details the affair that ended the PTL Ministry of Tammy and husband Jimmy Bakker as well as Tammy’s emergence as a hero to alternative-lifestyle communities. RuPaul Charles narrates.

Pumping Iron: In 1977, this independent documentary shone a light on the world of bodybuilding, unaware that it would launch one man’s multimillion-dollar career and forever change the face of bodybuilding and physical fitness. Starring five-time Mr. Olympia winner (and now mega-movie star) Arnold Schwarzenegger, the movie follows the then 28-year-old bodybuilder as he competes for his sixth title. Includes interviews with Schwarzenegger, outtakes and more.

When We Were Kings: Legendary boxers Muhammad Ali and George Foreman travel to Zaire for the 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” heavyweight title bout in director Leon Gast’s Oscar-winning documentary. At the time, Foreman was world champion, and Ali was supposedly past his prime. Financial and legal issues shelved the film for two decades, but this glimpse of Ali in the years after his moral opposition to U.S. military service showcases a sporting and cultural milestone.

New Age…

What the $*! Do We Know!?: The neurological processes and “quantum uncertainty” of life are explored in this film. Thrust from her mundane life into an Alice in Wonderland-like world, Amanda (Marlee Matlin) must develop a brand-new perception of the world and the people she interacts with. Interviews with various experts are interspersed throughout the film, which combines narrative, documentary and animation. IMPORTANT NOTE: This film is so poorly acted and produced it’s laughable, however the interviews and general message are invaluable.

The Secret: Believed to have been in existence for thousands of years, The Secret is only now being shared to the world. It’s supposedly what brought success to such greats as Plato, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein and Andrew Carnegie. In this video, The Secret is revealed and taught by over 50 teachers, including writers, philosophers, doctors and scientists, to empower viewers to achieve success in their careers, relationships and health. IMPORTANT NOTE: This too is very poorly produced, almost to the effect of being a sappy infomercial. I also think it’s message is misdirected, putting too much effort into convincing the viewer that what should be “attracted” is superficially material in nature. All this aside, if the viewer can understand the message that lurks beneath the surface this revelation can be life changing.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE VOICE OF EYE’

Posted in CINEMA | Leave a Comment »

WINE, WOMEN AND ROSES by Billy Rose – Illustrations by Salvador Dali

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 25, 2008

 

 


 

First published in 1946

Chapter 11

Iron Butterflies

Mr. Louis B. Mayer Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Culver City, California.

Dear L. B., The last time I saw you in New York, you offered me a job. I explained that I was working on a big popcorn deal and asked for a raincheck. You told me that if I ever hit on a good movie idea to get in touch with you. Hence this letter.

I have a notion which ought to keep the M-G-M lion in tender-loins for a long time to come. It’s a plan for a cycle of movies called “Iron Butterflies.”

I don’t have to tell you, L. B., that cycles make plenty of shekels. When the Brothers Warner were producing biographies of doctors and inventors, they had money in all six shoes. And when the same brothers arranged for Alexis Smith to marry every composer from Gershwin to Gounod, they needed hip boots to hold the dough. But before I blueprint the “Iron Butterflies” cycle, I think it only fair to say that it’s going to cost you a pretty penny—or rather, a pretty painting.

Some years ago, I saw a picture by Rembrandt at the Knoedler Galleries on 57th Street. It was called “Aristotle,” and the catalogue said it was owned by a Mrs. Erickson. Since that time I haven’t been able to get the painting out of my head. I want it like Caesar wanted Gaul, like Stalin wants Oak Ridge, like boy wants girl.

So here’s my proposition: Get me the picture that doesn’t move and I’ll present you with four pictures that will.

The flickers I have in mind are made to order for your dream factory. They’re full of maids, music, madness and malarkey— the four M’s that Hollywood would do well to rediscover. I think you’ll agree, L. B., that it’s about time your writers stopped looking into the crystal hail and shifted their gaze to the navel. An occasional political picture is fine, but it will never replace the fluttering eyelash and the half-minute clinch.

The cycle I have in mind concerns itself with the lives of four talented, tough, and tetched babes who did all right for themselves in the four big branches of show business—opera, circus, theatre, and dance. The opera singer was as dizzy as the heights she scaled. The circus performer was a mixture of sugar and dynamite. The actress—the only member of the quartet still functioning—can do more with an audience than Georgie Jessel can with a date. And as for the dancer, the lady may have said “yes” too often, but she never took “no” for an answer.

I call this cycle “Iron Butterflies” because the gossamer wings of these ladies are made of spun steel and the ends of their feelers are tipped with molybdenum. (Incidentally, the phrase “Iron Butterflies” isn’t mine. Some syllable-happy guy once bestowed it on your old artiste of the aria-ways, Jeanette MacDonald.)

Getting these four scripts in shape shouldn’t be much of a problem. You have a building full of writers who are kept in sterile compartments and forced-fed on the hour. Though these script- writers are shy on plots, they’re long on pencils, and when given something to write about, they turn out many a pretty participle.

In this cycle, they won’t even have to dream up those torrid touches which sell tickets. Their only problem will be to get the scripts down to shooting size. In fact, you may have to caution them not to dip into their adjective bags at all, for gilding the lives of these four dillies would be like adding salt to the Atlantic.

The heroine of the first picture is Mary Garden, the opera singer. If Lana Turner has stopped making like a B movie, she should be ideal for the role. And don’t tell me she can’t sing. They said the same thing about Larry Parks, and look how he sang in The Jolson Story.

We pick up Mary Garden in Scotland where she was born in 1877. (Business of bagpipes and heather on the hill.) When she was six, her family moved to Chicopee, Massachusetts. (Snow-storms and her first plate of baked beans.) Next Chicago, where she gave a violin concert at 12. Then Paris and the Left Bank. (Students, sidewalk cafés, and talk about an upstart named Debussy.)

The next sequence is pretty corny but surefire. The date— April 13, 1900. Scene—the Opéra Comique. Mademoiselle Rio-ton, the star, collapses during the second act of Louise. Without an orchestra rehearsal, Mary Garden is rushed onstage. Sensation! Flowers, diamonds, supper at N’Iaxirn’s. Mary continues in role for a record two hundred performances.

Our heroine becomes “The Toast of the Continent.” She is tall, bosomy, and beautiful. Kings sit in boxes and applaud, and queens give them a good talking-to when they get home. (Fadeout on this sequence with King George of Greece giving Mary a necklace worth $100,000.)

1907. (Establish by fluttering pages of calendar.) Oscar Hammerstein’s grandpappy engages Mary for season of opera in New York at $1,800 a night. Mary opens in Thais. Critics not overly kind, but audiences go mad about opera singer with only one derriere. (Better check on this with Eric Johnston office.)

Miss Garden’s antics in the next couple of reels will have to be played down to make them believable. Especially her flair for publicity. In Louise she introduces the twenty-five-second kiss. When a steampipe bursts backstage of the Manhattan Opera House, she continues singing and averts a panic. In Boston, she announces she will appear in Salome without benefit of veils. Beantown bans the show, but it sells out in sixty-one other cities. The following year, she climbs Mont Blanc, and on her first day back in New York, poses with Andrew Carnegie.

That evening she meets the press and says, “American women don’t worship their men. They merely skin them.”

For the next twenty years, our heroine is seldom off the front page. (Suggest you let Vorkapich montage this.) Show Mary Garden giving out statements about caring more for art than men. Then letting it leak out that she’s going to get married. Then announcing she’s going to become a nun. Show her introducing the hobble skirt, kissing seventy Shriners at a banquet, carrying a cane full of liquid dog food for her pooch, paying $7,600 for eight hats, and telling reporters she yearns to meet a cold-blooded murderer.

During World War I, there’s another socko sequence. When the shooting starts, Mary disguises herself in Zouave garb and tries to enlist in the French Army as a boy. When her curves give her away, she turns her Versailles home into a hospital for wounded soldiers. And now for the wow finish, which is worth a million domestic, L. B., because it’s got a moral.

When Mary gets into the big dough, her father insists on his share of the loot. Says it’s coming to him for the piano lessons he once staked her to. Mary is a good girl, and rather than bite the hand which once walloped her with a hairbrush, she kicks in regularly. At one time she’s making as much as $200,000 a year. But the more she makes, the more her old man demands as his cut. (If Bela Lugosi will work without makeup, he’d be dandy for the father.)

Whatever money Mary Garden manages to hold out, she invests in the stock market. Then comes the crash of ‘29. She’s wiped out. And by this time, her voice has developed some rough edges and good paying jobs are none and far between.

Mary writes her father and asks him to come to see her. She’s almost glad of the chance to tell the old buzzard the well has dried up. But before the postman can deliver the letter, her father ups and dies. A few days later, his lawyers notify Mary she is his only heir and he has left her well over a million dollars!

It’s the same money, of course, that her father had whined and wheedled out of her over the years. The old man had always been haunted by the story of the star who ends up broke.

Mary Garden is still living. In 1942, the papers said something about her writing an autobiography. Your Paris office can check on where to contact her. You might open the picture with a shot of the Mediterranean, the sun sinking in the sea, and the old opera singer signing a contract to let M-G-M make a picture of her life.

The second picture in our cycle is about a queen—the only one I ever knew. Her name was Josie De Mott Robinson and she was the greatest equestrian star in the history of the Barnum & Bailey Circus. I think Judy Garland could play Josie beautifully. You can use a double for the bareback riding and get around the thrill sequences with long shots. (There are quite a few horses in this movie, L. B., and what you haven’t got in your stable you can always borrow from Harry Warner.)

I first met Josie in 1934 when I was lining up a cast for Jumbo. The Hecht-MacArthur script called for some old-time circus stars, and Nagafy the Fire-eater suggested I look up Josie De Mott.

“She’s past seventy,” said the diavolo, “but don’t let that throw you. She can still do more tricks on a horse than I can on a sidewalk.”

I dropped Josie a note and she showed up a few days later at the Hippodrome—a gray-haired kewpie doll about five feet tall.

“Can you still ride?” I asked.

Josie smiled a sweet-old-lady smile. “Try me,” she said.

We went down to the basement where the horses were stabled and she selected a dappled percheron. Rehearsals stopped in the arena as the old girl went into her auditic-n. I looked and blinked. The three- score-and-tenner was performing with the same limp, kittenish speed that had been hers as a girl. I got the feeling she was doing more than ride the horse—she seemed to inhale the darned thing through the soles of her feet.

When Josie dismounted, the performers and roustabouts addressed her the way I imagine Elizabeth’s husband addresses the Queen Mother. I got an even better idea of what Josie meant to circus tradition when Dick Maney, my press agent, brought me the Jumbo program copy to okay. This flinty Broadway broadsider had devoted as much space to the has-been as he had to Durante and Whiteman, and he had written about her with a degree of feeling and respect I never knew was in his typewriter.

Josie De Mott was born a sawdust princess, and no Bourbon or Hapsburg had a better background. Her ancestors were doing horseback high-jinks when the center box was reserved for Napoleon I.

Josie made her debut at three in her father’s horse-drawn caravan. According to the yellowed clips on my desk, the audience at first thought the tot was a mechanical doll. By the time she had galloped into her teens, she was a headliner with Barnum & Bailey. Swedes toasted her in glogg, and Mexicans in tequila. She was as well-known in Paris as she was in Paterson.

In 1890, Josie fell in love with Charles Robinson, part owner of the Robinson Brothers’ Circus. Everyone thought it was a fine match—the impresario and the star. But it didn’t turn out that way. The impresario got interested in politics and became a gillie (a gilhie is a person who thinks there is something in the world more important than the circus). For fifteen years, Josie did her best to be a gillie too, but she never quite made it.

One day she got stuck on a cream-colored gelding pulling a milk- wagon, bought him, and went back into training. Robinson divorced her. Nobody had ever come back to bareback riding after a fifteen- year lay-off, but Bailey, who owned 90 percent of the Barnum Circus, gave her a contract.

A month before the circus was to open at the old Garden, Josie missed a somersault and broke two ribs. The doctors taped her up, and the morning after opening night she was again the biggest five feet in Circusdom.

That is the saga of the sawdust sweetie who performed for me at the Hippodrome and went along with the troupe to Fort Worth when I presented Jumbo at the Centennial. And now, L. B., for one of those vignettes which explains why we’re both in show business.

One spring evening a few years back, I went to the opening of the circus at Madison Square Garden. As Merle Evans picked up his baton for the preliminary fanfare, he turned, faced a center box and bowed. Then, as the performers trotted out for the opening spec, I noticed their eyes were on the same box.

The riders saluted with whips as they pranced by. The aerialists signaled a jaunty two-fingered hello, and the clowns did an extra flip. Prodded by their trainers, even the elephants waved their trunks. “What gives?” I asked myself. “Is the President in the house?”

I followed a Crackerjack salesman down the aisle to the box. Seated in it was you-know-who. Her white hair had been primped and curled until it looked like a platinum tiara.

After the finale, I went backstage and looked up Pat Valdo, who has been major-domoing the Greatest Show on Earth for a quarter of a century. “Who arranged the big fuss for Josie?” I asked him.

“Nobody arranged it,” said Valdo. “It’s been happening like this for years.

“You mean Josie attends every circus opening?”

“Yes,” said Pat, “and all the other performances too. You see, the old lady lives in a hotel down on 23rd Street. Not much of a place—one of those bed, dresser and chair jobs. The walls are covered with her old circus posters, and on the mantel are the decorations she won—the medal from the President of Mexico, the miniature horse presented by Edward of England.

“Every year when the Big Show plays New York, Josie puts on her best dress and hires a limousine. She doesn’t have any trouble getting into the Garden—she still has the gold lifetime pass that Barnum himself gave her. The management reserves the center box for her, and every afternoon and night for six weeks, Josie is in that box. And if she wasn’t, I guess the performers would get worried and figure something was wrong . . . .”

When the Barnum show opened at the Garden this year, L. B., I was there as usual with peanuts, popcorn, and pennant. But Josie De Mott Robinson wasn’t. She had died a few weeks before.

And what happened at the Garden that night would make a fine closing sequence for your movie. Throughout the show, the performers played to the center box as usual, and at the finish, nodded their heads in memory of a lady whose life was a little sad, a little gallant and a little remarkable.

You won’t have to go off the lot, L. B., to cast the heroine of the third picture in our cycle. Greer Garson should be able to do a fine job as Gertrude Lawrence. And if you don’t think Greer can handle the songs, you can always use Gertie’s voice on a sound track—that is, if you want to get documentary all of a sudden.

Gertie was born on July 4, 189— none of your business. Before the braces were off her teeth, she was doing pirouettes on the sidewalks of Clapham (wherever that is) and turning a pretty ha’penny at it. Between semesters at the Convent of the Sacré Coeur, she was a child dancer in a pantomime called Babes in the Wood.

But this babe didn’t stay in the woods long. At the age of 15, she played a white-robed, gilt-winged angel in a Gerhart Hauptmann opus. The angel next to her was a lisping adolescent named Noel Coward. A few years later she was featured in Max Reinhardt’s London production of The Miracle.

New York fell in love with her in 1924 when she sang “Limehouse Blues” in Chariot’s Revue. In 1926, she played Kay in Gershwin’s Oh Kay. Two years later she was the star of Icebound, which won the Pulitzer Prize. In 1931 she played opposite Noel Coward in Private Lives and teamed up with him again five years later in To-Night at Eight-Thirty.

Some of her other successes include Susan and God, Liza Elliott in Lady in the Dark, and the street girl in Pygmalion. She’s been married twice and, according to her autobiography, has had several stylish sweeties.

Recently I caught Gertie in a revival of To-Night at Eight-Thirty. As I watched her take charge of the audience, I asked myself:

“What makes this babe worth five thousand a week? Is she funny? Yes, quite funny, but Nancy Walker is funnier. Can she act? Sure, but not any better than a little gal named Barbara Bel Geddes. Is she a great singer? Well, it’s a matter of taste, but personally I prefer Pearl Bailey. Is she an outstanding hoofer? Heck, no. Any of my chorus kids dance better.”

What, then, makes Gertie Lawrence? What kind of light and heat does this star give out that makes her a bigger draw at the box office than all the other girls I’ve mentioned put together?

Well, that’s a question more easily faced than fathomed. Ask any five producers why one person is a wow and another a walk-on, and you’re a cinch to get five different answers. Ask me and I’ll mumble about some mysterious quantity I call “X”—the ability to turn it on when you need it.

Remember that World Series game in Chicago when Babe Ruth turned to the booing fans, pointed to a spot in the bleachers and smacked the next pitch right where he had pointed? That was “X.” Remember that day at Forest Hills when a fairish tennis player named Jones banged four successive aces past Fred Perry? The fabulous Fred was never noted for his serve, but he saluted Jones and then aced him right back with four of the fastest serves of his life. Another example of X-appeal.

Let me tell you, L. B., about one of the times Gertie Lawrence turned it on. In Lady in the Dark, she played the boss lady of a slick fashion magazine. The plot of this musical concerned itself with her neuroses which were sprouting neuroses. Moss Hart fashioned the libretto with the English star in mind, and the sainted Sam Harris, who produced the show, had to guarantee Gertie $5,000 a week against a double helping of the gross. Like Cornell and Hayes, she was the show, and was in a position to call all the shots. And from what I heard around Broadway, Gertie frequently called them at the top of her voice.

During the last week of rehearsals, Moss got worried. Gertie had some cute ditties, but no slam-bang comic song had been written for her. On the other hand, a kid out of the Borscht Circuit named Danny Kaye had been handed a clever lyric called “Tschaikowsky.”

The script called for Danny to sing this song in Act Two while Gertie relaxed in a swing upstage. Well, Moss knew his show business well enough to know that the star wasn’t going to sit by happily while a newcomer took the theatre over. “Tschaikowsky” was a cinch to be yanked after the opening performance out of town.

The worried Moss cornered composer Kurt Weill and lyricist Ira Gershwin, locked them in a room, and stood guard. At 6:30 next morning, the boys emerged with a little number called “Jennie.” Hart didn’t think much of it, and neither did Gertie. The star pointed out that it was only moderately funny and not her style. It might do for a shouting songstress like Sophie Tucker, but after all, Gertie was a lady.

“Look, my pet,” Moss pleaded, “we’re going to Boston to try things out. Learn the song and see how it goes. If it doesn’t click, Kurt and Ira will write another for you.”

“Okay,” agreed the star, “but it’s a waste of time.”

Miss Lawrence memorized the lyric, but during the dress rehearsal in Boston made no secret of her belief that “Jennie” would be jettisoned before the New York premiere.

And then came opening night at the Colonial Theatre. In Act One, Danny Kaye gave a good account of himself, but Gertie was the star and the audience was given no chance to forget it. But down in Act Two, Danny stepped to the footlights and let go with “Tschaikowsky.” As Moss Hart tells it, Danny was scared—scared he was going to stop the show with this murderously good piece of lyric writing. And then have it cut out by order of the star.

But the lyrics of “Tschaikowsky” were too hot to be cooled down, and Kaye had too much of what it takes not to give. When he finished the funny tongue-twister, the crowd applauded for two solid minutes—practically a lifetime in the theatre. The distressed Danny tried to shush the audience, but this was mistaken by the customers for modesty and they clapped all the louder.

In the back of the house, Hart, Weill, and Gershwin gave each other the old “that-does-it” look. Moss was already speculating on what he could substitute for Danny’s show-stopping specialty. And then “X” took over.

When the applause finally tapered off, Miss Lawrence slipped off the swing, saluted Danny with a deft gesture, took stage center and went into “Jennie.”

Now remember, L. B., she was singing a song that wasn’t her style and which she didn’t especially like. But the crowd had cheered somebody else—some smart Alec had whipped four.r service aces past the champ.

Suddenly Gertie stopped being Miss Lawrence and became Sophie Tucker, Fanny Brice and Gypsy Rose Lee. As she reached the end of the first couplet of “Jennie,” Gertie let go with a Beale Street bump. During stanzas two and three, she did things with her aristocratic Sitzfleisch that had the audience in a wall-eyed trance. And down near the end of the song, the star went into the most magnificent mock strip-tease ever seen inside a theatre or out.

When Gertie finished, they had to do everything but turn on the sprinkler system to quiet the crowd. And “Jennie,” the song nobody liked, went skyrocketing into theatrical history.

Miss Lawrence cashes a pretty big check on payday, but as far as I’m concerned, she doesn’t have to blush when she hands it to the bank teller. If I were the teller, L. B., she wouldn’t even have to sign her name. Her “X” would be sufficient.

The last picture in our cycle is based on the career of the hottest hunk of woman who ever stepped out of a slip-on—Lola Montez. When I say that a movie about her might outgross Gone with the Wind, I’m not kidding.

Lola should be played by Joan Crawford, and, even if the Warner Brothers want Clark Gable in return, I think the swap will pay off. Hecht and MacArthur would be my choices to put this one on paper. As you’ll see in a minute, getting Lola ready for Technicolor is not a job for kids.

Hold on to your seat, L. B., here we go!

Lola Montez was born in Ireland in 1818. Her square moniker was Marie Gilbert. When she was two, her father took her to India, and I guess the curry powder got in her blood. When she was seventeen, her mother arranged for her to marry a rich man. But Lola decided to do her own arranging, and eloped with a subaltern named James. I don’t know what happened to James, but a year later she turned up in England with a six-footer named Lennox.

In London, she bought a mantilla and a pair of castanets in a pawnshop and changed her name to Lola Montez. Then she sweet- talked the manager of His Majesty’s Theatre into giving her a job. Halfway through her Spanish dance on opening night, a young nobleman she had cold-shouldered got up and hollered, “Swindle! She’s from Ireland!” The British audience hooted the hockshop señorita out of the theatre.

Lola went to Brussels and sang in the streets for pennies. A young student sold his books to pay her fare to Warsaw. There she wangled an engagement at the Opera House. Prince Paskievich, a sixty-year- old dwarf who had conquered Poland, saw her dance and offered her a palace. She told him to go take a flying jump in the Baltic.

Next night the Prince sent a claque to hiss her off the stage. Lola stopped the music, stepped to the footlights and told the audience the story. The Poles pitched the hecklers into the alley and carried her on their shoulders through the streets, singing songs of independence.

Paskievich ordered her arrest. Lola barricaded her door and threatened to shoot the first soldier who entered. They were about to burn down her house when the French Consul came along, claimed her as a French subject, and whisked her out of Warsaw.

We next meet up with her in St. Petersburg. The fellow who kept her in caviar that season was the Czar of All the Russias.

In Dresden, Franz Liszt walked out on his wife and children for Lola. In Paris, she bewitched Alexandre Dumas. Then for the first time, Lola fell in love. Her boy friend was a radical journalist named Dujaurier. Her story might have ended here, but the young radical talked out of turn and was killed in a duel.

Henry, Prince of Reuss, offered to make her a Princess, but she patted him on the cheek and kept moving.

Lola was twenty-seven when she turned up in Munich. They told her she wasn’t important enough to dance at King Ludwig’s favorite theatre. She scratched her way past the palace guards to the King’s room and—get this, L. B.—without music, went into her dance. Ludwig of Bavaria was enchanted. She took over his heart and, with it, his kingdom.

Under her influence, Ludwig liberalized schools, canceled censorship, and kicked out his reactionary cabinet. When his sister, the Empress of Austria, tried to bribe Lola to leave him, she showed Ludwig the letter and tossed it in the fire. He made her a Baroness.

An organized mob appeared under her window, jeered and threw stones. Lola stepped out on the balcony and poured champagne on their heads. Finally, the generals told Ludwig to choose between Lola and his kingdom. The old King reluctantly ordered her arrest.

When a mob came to get her, she put on her jewels and walked proudly through her enemies to a waiting barouche. No one could bring himself to molest her. When she had driven off, the hooligans made a shambles of her boudoir. Ludwig, watching, was knocked over and trampled.

In Switzerland, she married an Army officer and was arrested for bigamy. She jumped bail and came to America. Here she danced and married her way right across the continent. During the Gold Rush, Lola was the Texas Guinan of the Barbary Coast. On a sidetrip to Australia, she horsewhipped an editor and clawed a prima donna who had snubbed her.

In 1861, she returned to New York, got religion, and died. She did all this living in forty-three years. And unless I’m daft, hers was the wildest ride on the romantic merry-go-round in the history of this planet Earth.

That’s the package, L. B. And if your hirelings use the sense that God gave geese, they can’t go wrong when they make these pictures. It’s my hunch that there’s nothing but gold in these Iron Butterflies, and that their shenanigans on celluloid should have the movie houses using ice packs on their cash registers.

Of course I know I’m offering you a lot for one little Rembrandt. But if this cycle grosses more than two hundred million, I know you’ll do the decent thing and throw in a frame.

Cordially, Billy Rose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in CINEMA, ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY - USA, HISTORY, THE MEDIA (US AND FOREIGN), USA, USA HUMOR, USA MOVIE PRODUCTIONS | Leave a Comment »

RAINER SIMON ON HIS LOVE OF ECUADOR AND MAKING MOVIES IN THE FORMER EAST GERMANY

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 16, 2008

Nov 14, 2008

Renowned German film director Rainer Simon has been on a fall 2008 tour of North American Rainer Simon - © DEFA Film Libraryuniversities organized by the DEFA Film Library at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Simon began his career at the DEFA Studio for Feature Films and became one of the most important East German directors. He is also the only GDR (German Democratic Republic) director who was ever awarded with the Golden Bear at the International Berlin Film Festival.

Six of his most important films and his Latin American documentary trilogy are part of the presented film program: The Airship (1982), a fantastic, experimental film about the dream of flying; the German family saga Wengler & Sons. A Legend (1986); and The Ascent of Chimborazo (1989), which is about Alexander von Humboldt’s expedition to Ecuador.

Simon’s comedy Till Eulenspiegel (1974), the banned film Jadup and Boel (1981), and The Woman and the Stranger (1984), which was awarded the Golden Bear in 1985, were newly subtitled into English by the DEFA Film Library and are celebrating their North American premiere on this tour.

Germany.info caught up with Simon during a stopover at the Goethe-Institut in Washington, DC, which also screened several of his films as part of his tour.

You are currently on a North American tour during which your films are being screened in various The Colors of Tigua - © DEFA Film Librarylocations and you are discussing them with viewers. What kinds of questions are you most frequently asked?

I spent three weeks in Canada and then moved on to the US, where I have been exclusively at universities.

For the youngest people memories of a time before the Fall of the Wall are minimal. So I always have to start from the beginning and explain what the GDR was and what the DEFA was. It’s different of course with the more mature graduate students, who tend to ask more detailed and interesting questions.

Mostly of course there are questions about what it was like to make movies in the GDR – how much of a role did censorship play?

In the socialist countries there was the censorship of the ideologues, but now there is the censorship of money. Based on my own experiences and the experiences of many of my colleagues that is really much more difficult than the censorship of the ideologues. It is not as if you can just do whatever you want today.

How would you describe you life’s work until now? Would you refer to two phases – in Germany and later in South America?

My films are devoted to very different topics. They run the gamut from a historical comedy like Till Eulenspiegel to a contemporary story like Jadup and Boel to other themes drawn from German history, and then there are my three documentary films from Ecuador, so luckily I do not always have to speak about the same topic (grins).

And it is in particular regarding these films made in Ecuador that people often ask me about what it was like to work with the indigenous people. And it seems to me they are always surprised when I say our collaboration was excellent and how important it was to me that they wanted to work so hard at being so actively involved in these projects. So we did not just go there and use them. And that is precisely what attracted me.

How would you describe the legacy of the DEFA film studios? Were there particular regulations that Till Eulenspiegel - © DEFA Film Library you and other filmmakers had to follow, or were you given a lot of artistic freedom? Why could you, for example, only screen your film Jadup and Boel years after it was made? Were legendary German figures like Till Eulenspiegel easier to portray?

Till Eulenspiegel is based on a story written at the time by (East German writers) Christa and Gerd Wolf. I was in particular interested in Till Eulenspiegel as an anarchic figure, who clashed with the powerful people of his time in a very blunt and direct manner. He tore the masks from their faces but at the same time exposed the stupidity of the little people, over and over again. Till Eulenspiegel was a contemporary figure in his time and still is today. Who would really take it up the way he did today with the people in power in our own time?

The film was a really big hit in the GDR at the time with over one million viewers in such a small country. So people understood that this was not really a historical film, but that the attacks of Eulenspiegel were also attacks against the regime of the GDR, that they applied just as well to the ruling classes in our country, or anywhere else for that matter. And when you watch that movie today it is relevant all over again – people apply it to their own era.

We only had one state-run film production company at the time, not 100,000 or more different producers like here, and that was the DEFA. And so the money for these films came exclusively from the state. And like always the sponsor wants to see his ideas realized (grins ironically).

It was more difficult to make the movies you wanted in the early days, in the 1950s, when I was luckily not involved yet. That was the toughest time, during and right after the Stalin era, when the mindset was the most propagandistic. Later it became much easier to make movies. Although it is true that during the entire history of the GDR the DEFA studios produced at least two anti-fascist films annually. That was just something which always happened every year – those kinds of films just had to be included on the annual agenda.

But the films which led to the toughest disputes with the authorities were those that portrayed real life in the GDR. And those weren’t made until a younger generation born during or right after the war that grew up in the GDR – my generation – started to make movies. We wanted to make realistic films about life in the GDR. And that led to conflicts with the authorities. But screenplays were generally heavily scrutinized during the entire production process. And so films were rarely forbidden after 1965 – a censored film was really more the exception than the norm.

So what happened in 1980 with my film Jadop and Boel was unusual. They didn’t pay enough Jadup and Boel  - © DEFA Film Libraryattention with that one. It’s about a mayor in a small town in the GDR who realizes in the middle of his life that his socialistic ideals no longer work. And the main critique against us at the time was: “Our lives are not so ugly, so grey, so triste as you portray them!”

But we did not exaggerate at all. It was a realistic study of this time, without us having to expand upon anything in particular. And all the people knew that things were really like this – only the authorities did not know it was really like this.

After Jadop and Boel I decided that I would not do anything else about the GDR, because “you will forbid me from doing it again.” And so I only made movies featuring historic topics that did not address contemporary problems, and luckily I was allowed to continue doing that. And that was when I made some of my most important films, like The Woman and the Stranger, which won the Golden Bear at the Berlinale, like Wengler and Sons and The Ascent of the Chimborazo. Those were all very important films for me.

The Ascent of the Chimborazo was also the first, the only and the last co-production between the The Ascent of the Chimborazo  - © DEFA Film LibraryGDR and the Federal Republic of Germany. In the 1980s both sides wanted to make a co-production, as there had a already been a lot of collaboration before. And we were looking for a topic that would be politically palatable to both sides and so we hit upon Alexander von Humboldt (the film chronicles the famous 19th-century German naturalist and explorer’s ascent of this South American mountain). And so we got really lucky with that and were happy that the film was not just funded by GDR money.

Was there any other kind of creative exchange in this regard between East and West Germany? How easy was it for you and your crew to travel?

There was cooperation before, as in for my films Wengler and Sons and The Airship, where certain scenes had to be shot in the West – and the GDR of course had no western money. So deals were struck in advance between DEFA and (West German) public broadcaster ZDF, for instance, with rights sold in advance so that we could go shoot in the West, including some scenes in Italy and Spain. We always traveled with a small crew. These were generally short scenes and did not involve huge sums of money. Every now and then there was a problems for someone not being allowed to travel, but mostly it worked somehow.

What do you think of German film today, and of the next generation of German directors, like The Airship  - © DEFA Film LibraryAndreas Dresen, who is also originally from the East? And what did you think of Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s megahit The Lives of Others? Some East Germans seemed to think the film did not accurately portray life the way it really was in the GDR. Do you agree?

I know all about this criticism against Donnersmarck. This film was condemned by many in the East, including many of my colleagues, who claimed “but life was not really like that then.” I am not that much of a fundamentalist about it. I think it’s a really good film as a thriller – not necessarily as a realistic film about daily life in the GDR, although it does of course tell you something about the GDR.

And I think that 20 years after the fact we have to tolerate this kind of creative freedom. If I had made a movie about World War II and the fascist time in Germany 20 years after the end of the war, then it would probably look different than a movie made by someone who was actually really there.

Otherwise I do no think that German cinema is in a great place. In the United States it is only possible to see German films in art house theatres in a few locations. There are a lot of very good small German films, but nobody gets to see them!

Andreas Dresen is pretty much the only young East German director who has really made a name for himself since the Fall of the Wall, and he makes very good films.

How do you view the future of German film? Are you pleased that big, international productions The Woman and the Stranger  - © DEFA Film Libraryare being made in Berlin-Babelsberg again? Will Berlin once again become a more important center for the global film industry?

All of that with Babelsberg is a joke. Before the Fall of the Wall films were being shot there around the clock and all the studios were perpetually occupied. Afterwards a French water company came and bought it up and then closed it. And then, with the eager support of Volker Schlöndorf, they made it what it is now: Every few years a Hollywood director shows up and makes a movie there. That is a joke.

You spend a lot of time in Ecuador, where you have made several documentaries and conducted filmmaking classes. Are you working on any new projects right now?

The Ascent of the Chimborazo was released two months before the Fall of the Wall. I fell in love with this country and its people. I made three low-budget films there with Indians in the mountains and in the jungle. I organized workshops, I was at their film festivals and I presented this films all over South America. For me my work in Ecuador was much more satisfying than my work in Germany …

And now I’ve started writing. In 2005 I published my autobiography Die DDR, die DEFA und der Ruf des Chimborazo (The GDR, the DEFA and the Call of the Chimborazo).

And that same year I published my first novel, Regenbogenboa (Rainbow Boa), which is about a German man who has spent the last 30 years in Ecuador and in which I refer back to my own experiences there.

I have also taken up photography and have an exhibition on in New York called “Living with Mother Earth.”

How do you perceive Germany’s role globally? Do you think Germany is a role model when it comes Talking With Fish and Birds  - © DEFA Film Libraryto modern environmental technologies? What about the United States? Do you think we are about to enter a new era of change here?

Germany is definitely among the countries that try the hardest in this regard. And Germany really does have a lot to contribute here.

In the former GDR we had a lot of pollution and environmental problems that thankfully have been mostly cleaned up now. When I was driving in a car between Iowa and Illinois I suddenly saw and industrial site that looked just like these things did back then in the GDR and suddenly it stank extremely just like it did in the GDR, and I was quite surprised and really wondered about that.

Regarding change in America we can only hope that Obama will have the strength to push through the necessary measures (to help protect the environment).

The indigenous people in Ecuador understand that human beings are part of nature. This means that they do not see human beings as the pinnacle of conception, as we do in the Christian tradition, but really one part of the whole that makes up the natural world. In their world, human beings are worth just as much as a plant or an animal.

We could learn a lot from them.

DEFA Film Library at the University of Massachusetts Amherst

Goethe-Institut USA

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PUBLISHED BY ‘GERMANY INFO’

Posted in CINEMA, ECUADOR, GERMAN FILM PRODUCTIONS, GERMANY, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS | Leave a Comment »

FILME QUE DISCUTE QUESTÕES INDÍGENAS ESTRÉIA EM DOURADOS (MS)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on October 27, 2008


Domingo, 26 de Outubro de 2008 15:23

por Jefferson da Luz

O filme Terra Vermelha (Birdwatchers) teve sua pré-estréia ontem em Dourados, município onde foi TERRA VERMELHAfilmado. O diretor Marcos Bechis, disse que a sociedade sul-mato-grossense é que tem de dar uma solução para os conflitos indígenas no Estado.

O filme retrata o drama dos conflitos pela posse de terras, na região sul do Estado, da perspectiva das populações indígenas de Dourados. E ainda mostra o estado degradante em que muitos índios vivem.

“Quem têm de encontrar uma solução são vocês, o filme tira debaixo do tapete e coloca sobre a mesa as questões a serem resolvidas”, destaca Bechis.

Terra Vermelha tem tido uma grande repercussão fora do país, já que a temática é de grande interesse da comunidade internacional.

O suicídio de duas meninas Guarani-Kaiowá desperta a comunidade para a necessidade de resgatar suas próprias origens, perdidas pela interferência do homem branco. Um dos motivos do desaparecimento gradual da cultura reside no conflito gerado pela disputa de terras entre a comunidade indígena e os fazendeiros da região. Para os Kaiowás, essas terras representam um verdadeiro patrimônio espiritual e a separação que sofreram desse espaço é a causa dos males que os rodeia. Uma disputa metafórica é criada. A compreensão e o diálogo buscam espaço nesse antigo conflito. Enquanto isso, o jovem Osvaldo, que vive um terrível embate contra o desejo de morrer, vai furtivamente buscar água no rio que corta a fazenda e conhece a filha do fazendeiro. Um encontro em que a força do desejo transpassa e ao mesmo tempo acentua o desentendimento entre as civilizações.

O filme estréia em todo Brasil no dia 28 de novembro.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘CAMPO GRANDE NEWS’ (MS)

Posted in A CRIMINALIZAÇÃO DOS MOVIMENTOS SOCIAIS, A QUESTÃO AGRÁRIA, A QUESTÃO ÉTNICA, BRASIL, CIDADANIA, CINEMA, COMBATE À DESIGUALDADE E À EXCLUSÃO - BRASIL, DEFESA DO MEIO AMBIENTE - BRASIL, DEPUTADOS ESTADUAIS, DIREITOS HUMANOS - BRASIL, O MOVIMENTO DOS POVOS NATIVOS, O PODER EXECUTIVO ESTADUAL, O PODER EXECUTIVO MUNICIPAL, O PODER JUDICIÁRIO, O PODER LEGISLATIVO ESTADUAL, OS GOVERNADORES, OS JUDICIÁRIOS ESTADUAIS, OS PREFEITOS, POLÍTICA - BRASIL, VEREADORES | Leave a Comment »