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Sunday
Oct092016

German Food Truck The Flying Deutschman Shares Rolling Movie Theater Plans for Philly and shnit Film Festival Picks 

Made in Switzerland, the shnit International short Film Festival selection BON VOYAGE is about a couple on a holiday cruise and their encounter with a sinking refugee boat.Did you know the 14th Annual shnit International Short Film Festival is the largest of its kind, taking place simultaneously in multiple cities across five continents? On Saturday October 15, Philadelphia is joining this global community of movie buffs who are coming together to share the excitement of world cinema.

Head chef Stirling Sowerby at The Flying Deutschman, a German food truck calling on your vote to become a finalist in the 2016 Brassys (Square’s Small Business Awards celebrating the boldest businesses in America) recently took a moment with me to discuss his transnational encounters and most anticipated films in the shnit CINEMAS lineup for Philly.

During our Q&A it quickly became clear that Sowerby’s extensive travels demonstrate the shnit International Short Film Festival’s mission of embracing diversity and exchange between creators and audiences from different cultures and backgrounds. “I have been in England, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, France, Spain, Turkey, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Bahamas (that's where I met my wife); I traveled almost all states up and down the east coast and some of the central states; Mexico, I think that's it” he says. 

The Flying Deutschman and his main crew are in the running to become one of 35 finalists in the next round of the Brassys, in the food and drink category.Honored as a local Vendys finalist, The Flying Deutschman shared that he would also love to hike up to Machu Picchu in Peru, Tibet, and “experience the equator somewhere in Africa.” As a presenter for one of the few shnit Film Festival screenings in the United States, I not only have the pleasure of bringing epic films to the city, but also making it possible for Philly to have a voice in picking the winner of the shnit CINEMAS Audience Award.

Here is a further sneak peek into the films you can expect to see at this year’s show, some of the innovations that illustrate why you should tell everyone you know to vote for The Flying Deutschman in the Brassys, and more from the chef who has successfully carved out a space for himself in the culinary arts world.

Madlab Post: What kind of adventures did you experience during your time abroad?

The Flying Deutschman: There are many, how about when I was in the Bahamas where I met my wife.  It was me and 3 friends of which one of them was a pilot.  So we had this rental plane and planned to fly from Miami to Nassau; the problem was that with 4 of us and the luggage we were too heavy. So Frank, the pilot, flew me and the luggage over to Nassau with the mission to find a hotel for us while he would fly back and pick up the other 2. This was in 1989, so contacting people was still a little more complicated and as hours passed and no one showed up at the airport I got nervous and asked someone about my friend; he had left Miami but had not landed yet.

So they look into it and tell me that they had no idea where he was and that he had declared an emergency 20 minutes into the flight; that's all they had. Let's just say now I was really nervous -- all kind of scenarios went through my head. It took until 10pm that night ‘til Frank finally got a hold of me through the number I had left at the Airport and he told me that he had a Generator problem and returned back to Miami to get it fixed. Somehow the tower in Miami forgot to log that and that's what caused all that confusion. So those were some hell-raising hours thinking I had lost 3 of my friends.

MP: Is film a universal language?

TFD: Pictures speak a thousand words. I think that says it all.

MP: How many languages do you speak?

TFD: I speak German and English. I would like to become better at Spanish.

Made in Germany and Austria, the shnit International Short Film Festival selection DIE BADEWANNE (The Bathtub) is about three brothers trying to re-enact a childhood photo to prepare an original present for their mother.MP: Which film in the shnit Cinemas lineup for Philly interests you the most?

TFD: Die Badewanne (The Bathtub), for obvious reasons, but also the Swiss one – Bon Voyage,  I think the subject matter is very timely and deals with the biggest problem The European Union has faced in a long time, far greater than anything they have seen since WW2.

MP:  What is one of your favorite foods from another country or culture?

TFD: Thai by far; the food is clear, fresh, crisp, light and healthy.

MP: Can you describe one of your favorite foreign movies?

TFD: I know I saw many movies with subtitles, but I just can't recall them anymore. I keep thinking of Metropolis by Fritz Lang but to me that's not really foreign.

MP: What inspired you to want to add giant LED screens to The Flying Deutschman and what kind of movies are you planning to show on your food truck?

TFD: Turning the truck into a rolling Movie Theater is another way to create revenue. I am open minded as far as movie selection goes. I would start with old music movies….Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads,  Live in Pompeii by Pink Floyd,  She's the Boss by Mike Jagger, Help by the Beatles, Tommy by The Who, Breaking Glass by Hazel O'Connor. 

I would surely be on board for showing movies from independent filmmakers; it's publicity, so hell yeah. I am open minded regarding genres. The whole thing is new and I have to see what will and will not work. 

Thanks a bunch to The Flying Deutschman for discussing shnit short films, food and culture with me! Cinema fans can GET TICKETS to see some of the world’s best films.

The Flying Deutschman menu. Jaeger Schnitzel with Dumplings and Red Cabbage Foodie fans in South Philly can find The Flying Deutschman at The Navy Yard this month:

  • Tuesday October 18th 11am – 2pm
  • Thursday October 27th 11am – 2pm

*The Flying Deutschman might also run a solo down at Clark Park on short notice. Get updates on the truck's Facebook page.

Which country do YOU think produces the best films?

What is YOUR favorite food from another country or culture?

Did YOU vote for The Flying Deutschman yet?

Thursday
Oct062016

Jed Williams Gallery on First Fridays in Philly, Traveling Europe by Train and shnit Film Festival Picks 

Made in Belgium, the shnit International Short Film Festival selection 'Drôle D'oiseau (Strange Bird)' is a portrait of a man with bipolar disorder, told through the eyes of his 11 year-old daughter. In keeping with Couch Fest’s long-standing tradition of bringing movie lovers together, I am proud to be presenting the 14th Annual shnit Short Film Festival next weekend. It is an exceptional twelve-day event taking place simultaneously in eight cities across five continents worldwide. As part of the shnit family, I have the pleasure to give the Philadelphia community further access to a selection of award-nominated films in the shnit CINEMAS lineup.

The 2016 programming block showcases films from countries such as Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Russia, Belgium and the United States. Knowing the birthplace of America offers many fun activities to keep film fans occupied in the meantime, I welcomed several locals on the Philly arts scene to let you know what’s happening in and around town; while also sharing their transnational experiences, interests and…of course…most anticipated films playing at the shnit International Short Film Festival.

Damon McCloskey's work in the 'Here We Are Now' exhibition is on display at Jed Williams Gallery.Jed Williams Gallery (at 615 Bainbridge Street) is hosting a First Friday reception on October 7th from 4pm-7pm for HERE WE ARE NOW, an exhibition exploring themes of contemporary abstraction through paintings by Damon McCloskey, TJ Walsh and Ethan Dahl. Philly locals and visitors alike are invited to come over and mingle with new friends over free wine and refreshments – right in time for the unveiling of an official, limited edition, HERE WE ARE NOW t-shirt.

Having attended grade school and high school in France (part of his family is French), Gallery owner and artist Jed Williams’ exploration of the world around him began early on.

Though Williams has since been to Israel, Italy, studied abroad in Germany and spent most of his time in Edinburgh -- a place he considers “a really cool city” -- during a visit to Scotland, he still “would like to travel somewhere, maybe in the East, like Russia.” Continuing below is a sneak peek into the shnit CINEMAS lineup during my Q&A with the man behind one of the top art galleries in Bella Vista.

Madlab Post: What kind of adventures did you experience during your time abroad?

Jed Williams: I was traveling around Europe by train, and, while going from Germany, there was a man sitting across from me who looked like a straight-laced businessman, but then somehow we started talking and had this incredible conversation about life in general, psychedelic drugs, our families, the important things in life and so on. It was really a great traveling encounter. All the more because I never saw him again.

MP: Is film a universal language?

JW: That is a really fascinating question, because it almost suggests another question -- that of whether or not there actually is a universal language at all. I would say film is a universal language in that people of all countries/cultures/spoken languages can enjoy it and be inspired by the dramatic conjunctions of moving images and sounds the best films offer; however I would also say that, one can go even further by thinking that when speech/spoken language is added to a movie, movies featuring particular languages become dialects of the universal language.

So film is such a powerful experience because there is so much being expressed, on so many levels simultaneously; and in ways that make us use different parts of our consciousness.

Made in Russia, the shnit International Short Film Festival selection 'The Very Lonely Cock' is about a charmingly stupid, very timid and very lonely rooster and his encounter with a rope.MP: Which film in the shnit Cinemas lineup for Philly interests you the most?

JW: It's a tie between ОЧЕНЬ ОДИНОКИЙ ПЕТУХ (Very Lonely Cock) and Drôle D'oiseau (Strange Bird). Very Lonely Cock has an interesting visual look and it deals with the theme of loneliness, to which I can relate.  

Drôle D'oiseau, on the other hand, seems like it would be a fascinating psychological dialogue/portrayal and the story line appeals to me; I used to be a counselor as well.

MP: How many languages do you speak?

JW: I speak 3 languages. English, fluent French and pretty good/intermediate German (I learned German all through high school and college, and I guess it stuck with me!). I would like to learn Russian. In fact, I'm trying to teach myself Russian right now, as a kind of hobby, with books, internet sites and a Russian-learning app!

MP:  What is one of your favorite foods from another country or culture?

JW: I like Chicken Biriani; it's Indian. I have no idea how to make it myself!

MP: Can you describe one of your favorite foreign movies?

JW: I loved Woman in the Dunes by Hiroshi Teshigahara. I liked the psychological depth with which it portrays the different characters, like the main character, a Butterfly catcher. The atmosphere of the film is very seductive, and particular, somewhat hushed and dream-like but at the same time dealing with intense, sometimes violent feelings. The black and white photography is also amazing.

MP: What can Jed Williams Gallery visitors expect during the Here We Are Now exhibition and t-shirt unveiling?

JW: The Here We Are Now t-shirt is a way to promote the show while also offering some cool merch for people. I am indebted to Brian Spies, the curator of Here We Are Now, for designing the t-shirt. I love the stark simplicity of it.

When visitors come to the show they can expect a wealth of different types of art, from TJ Walsh's colorful, complex abstract mixed media/oil paintings to Ethan Dahl's giclees (a type of printing process) mounted on panels that have a kind of brilliant, pop-like color and over-all design sensibility; and also not to forget Damon McCloskey's more tonal mixed media works on paper in which one can get lost in omni present, labyrinthine details and a rich color sense.

The First Friday reception for HERE WE ARE NOW at Jed Williams Gallery is October 7 from 4-7pm.I think it is an exceptional show and represents a collaboration between the gallery and Brian Spies, the curator, as well as the gallery reaching out beyond artists from Philadelphia (as 2 of the artists are from central PA.)

 

 

Much thanks to Jed Williams Gallery for spending time with me to discuss film, art and culture; all in preparation for when shnit International Short Film Festival hits Philly!

World cinema buffs can now GET MOVIE PASSES to see some of the world’s best films.

Things to Do in Philly Right Now: If you’re in town, be sure to visit First Fridays at Jed Williams Gallery’s reception for for HERE ARE WE NOW, October 7th 4pm-6pm at 615 Bainbridge Street in Philadelphia, PA.

What is the last foreign film YOU watched?

How do YOU celebrate First Fridays?

Monday
Sep262016

7 Best Moments from the Urbanworld Film Festival

The Urbanworld Film Festival wrapped up its 20th Anniversary this weekend with Blurred Lines: Artistry and Activism, a conversation with women whose work connects art, culture and community. Keeping up with as many movies playing at AMC Empire in Times Square as lobby chats, Q&A sessions and panels – not to mention all of the red carpet action -- is quite an adventure. Here is a roundup of the best moments that happened at this star-studded event.

'Destined' star Cory Hardict on the red carpet at the 20th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival. Photo by Deb MarcanoMooz-lum director Quasim Basir returned with a new film called Destined, about the alternate paths that exist for one man who grew up in Detroit’s housing projects. I almost skipped this movie and am glad to have changed my mind because it’s a great piece of work that depicts some harsh realities about the way life is shaped by the choices you make.

Cory Hardict gives a stellar performance in two roles, as men who are faced with dilemmas that affect whether they will build up their family and community or destroy them. “Rasheed” is an architect rising through the ranks at his firm. “Sheed” runs a drug empire while under investigation for murder. After a little confusion with Basir’s interweaving of multiple storylines early on, I was eventually drawn to the journey of his characters. Urbanworld alum R. Malcolm Jones even walked out of the teenage love drama Honeytrap – what he considers to be an equally captivating and well-constructed film – to enjoy a second viewing of Destined.

I ran into The Same Difference director Nneka Onuorah on my way to see the World Premiere of Gina Prince-Bythewood’s new FOX series Shots Fired. She came to support a documentary called The Revival: Women and the Word about queer women poets and singers who embark on a road tour, paying homage to the Harlem Renaissance. The Nwas surprised to learn about another lesbian film in the festival lineup – Loved Like This. It’s the one film that convinced me to attend the Young Filmmakers Showcase, presented by Revolt. Yet, my favorite shorts in this programming block ended up being Madaran, Hush and The Bench.

Clocking in at ten minutes, Hush features a clever blend of art, fiction and real-life monsters in this disturbing tale about a young ballerina who performs as Little Red Riding Hood. The Bench, a heartfelt film about a random encounter, restores a bit of my faith in humanity. Jones made it to the theater in time to share in the glory of watching Madaran, an emotionally heavy tale about an Iranian mother who must decide whether to end or spare the life of her son’s killer. When the end-credits rolled, he leaned over and happily whispered “now THAT’S how you make a film!” which I endorsed with a good ol’ fashioned high-five.

'The Magic City' director R. Malcolm Jones heading to the 'Honeytrap' film screening at Urbanworld 2016.The premise for Madaran is dark, yes, but it brings together the right fusion of talent, technical chops and musical score that brings significance to each passing second. Since the only other mini-flicks I heard people raving about were Mast Qalandar, Samaria and The Suit, it seems that Revolt’s Young Filmmakers Showcase was the strongest program of shorts at Urbanworld this year.

The Urbanworld crew member who served as MC for the post-screening activities of Revolt’s Young Filmmakers Showcase did a great job instructing audience members on how to vote for these films via text messaging. Between quick jokes and karaoke-style singing, he added some fun to a tedious task, as attendees had to vote for each film separately, using a scale from 1-5.

One audience member had difficulty voting due to cell phone signal complications, and yelled “Don’t go with Sprint!” out loud. It was the most engaged crowd of moviegoers (who took the time to participate in Urbanworld’s audience voting process) that I’ve ever seen at a film festival. Let’s just hope Sprint didn’t cost any of the filmmakers the Audience Award.

Dar Noir director Hamadi Mwapachu flew from Tanzania to New York, whipped out a laptop and showed clips of his film to anyone within reach. Having attended screenings in previous years where there were between 9-15 people at AMC theater (in Times Square!), I’ve seen firsthand how Urbanworld filmmakers can learn a lot from his tenacity in making sure Dar Noir was on everyone’s radar. Photographer Deb Marcano, who supports independently produced work made in Africa, missed much of Queen of Katwe to check out Mwapachu’s film.

After emphasizing the production value of a key scene, Mwapachu also described New York as a “beautiful city” full of nice people; while informing me of Tanzanians’ reservations about traveling to the U.S. due to the way the media portrays people and places here.

'She's Got a Plan' Director Fatima Washington attends the Urbanworld Film Festival 2016. Photo by Deb MarcanoThe World Premiere of Fatima Washington’s dramedy She’s Got a Plan reignited the drive in Marcano, who is producing an Ethiopian documentary.

Starring Faizon Love, Paula Jai Parker and Golden Brooks, She’s Got a Plan examines class and culture in Hollywood through an aspiring writer-director who has given herself 30 days to make her dreams come true. Marcano cites the film as being just what she needed to watch for motivation in doing work that she loves as an photographer and filmmaker.

Executive producers Gina Prince-Bythewood and Reggie Rock Bythwood gave up their seats to fellow attendees at the highly anticipated screening of their upcoming series Shots Fired.

It was a standing-room only event, as AMC reached capacity for festivalgoers eager to get a first-look at this prime time drama that examines racially charged shootings in a small southern town. Those who weren’t positioned along the walls of the theater found a spot to sit on the stairs. The program, starring Sanaa Lathan, Helen Hunt, Stephan James, Tristan Wilds and Will Patton, is presented by FOX.

What (traditional) medium do YOU think best represents the world we live in – Film or Television?

What are YOUR favorite movie moments from the month of September?

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