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Entries in Art (5)


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?


The Xanax of My TBR Pile: Companion Books to Spike Lee Joints!

Jeff Balsmeyer's storyboard from Do the Right Thing: A Spike Lee Joint; companion book to the Universal Pictures film.Popping a Xanax -- the miracle chill pill for symptoms of stress and anxiety -- will dissolve all your worries, according to NYMAG. Although I’m no medical expert, I would argue that listening to music is also an effective alternative solution for those of us trying to get out of the funky mood we find ourselves dealing with from time to time. Speaking of alternative remedies, reading books can be just as beneficial to combatting periods of stress and anxiety, as music.

Besides being cheaper than Xanax, books last longer and have more user-friendly side effects. This is one of the reasons why I look forward to each title in my (growing) TBR pile, such as books written by famous director Spike Lee; chronicling what it took to get a number of his films including She’s Gotta Have It, School Daze and Malcolm X off the ground. I’m currently working my way through one of them and enjoy Lee’s journal entries about how the movie characters were developed, viewing pages from the storyboards for a major scene and learning about the impact that making his film(s) had on actors.

  • Spike Lee’s Gotta Have It: Inside Guerilla Filmmaking (1987)
  • Uplift the Race: The Construction of School Dace (1988)
  • Do the Right Thing: A Spike Lee Joint (1989)
  • Mo’ Better Blues (1990)
  • By Any Means Necessary: The Trials and Tribulations of Making Malcolm X (1993)

At times on this blog, I’ve been clear about my frustrations with the experiences I’ve had so far pursuing a career in the film industry. Sometimes just the mere thought of going through the stages of production budgets, casting, location scouting, post-production, etc. again makes me want to hurl. That’s not to even mention the uncertainty that comes when a movie is in the can and there’s another uphill battle of distribution, promotion and all that comes with getting people to watch it. So, I have a good feeling that reading the companion books to Spike Lee joints will help me take a step back to understand that every single film production comes with its own sets of challenges.

Something borrowed...For some reason when I read about other people’s movie making journey, especially someone as accomplished as Spike Lee, there’s a new sense of excitement for how they put a film together out of ideas in their heads and legal pad scribblings.

Suddenly, movies don’t seem too far out of reach and are fascinating again like they once were before I was logging hours of video footage into a cohesive document for the editing stage, and sitting in empty movie theaters.

Thanks to people like Spike Lee who pull back the curtains on show business from time to time, I have a good reminder that movies -- although a grueling undertaking from start to finish – are a powerful medium when treated as such. So the next time I’m feeling bad about filmmaking and the many challenges that come with this path, it’s nice to know there’s relief at the library or bookstores like Barnes and Noble rather than the nearest pharmacy.

X is for Xanax


How many books are in YOUR TBR pile?

Regardless of genre, what movie would YOU recommend to cure stress and anxiety?


Monday Movie Meme - Waiting Tables #Etsy #RedCross #Handmade

#IndieFilm writer/director Nicole Ayers fundraising for the American Red Cross. Photo by Cameron Avant. During a recent tour stop at Jake’s Pizza and Grill for my Red Cross fundraiser, I met with Cameron Avant, a podcaster and television camera operator who joked that I looked like a waitress.

The vendor apron I wore that day could understandably double as a uniform for serving food, given the location we were in and the nature of this Dinner-and-a-Movie style fundraiser. Having Avant’s comment in mind, the theme for this week’s Monday Movie Meme is made to give a nod to SunFlowerFreckles, a handmade clothing and accessories shop on Etsy that sells aprons like the one I wore as well as character bowtie clips.

In addition, let’s use this week’s Monday Movie Meme to recognize the sometimes unappreciated work of restaurant staff everywhere: Waiting Tables.

Share on your blog or in the comments section, movies featuring people who work as a member of the wait staff at a restaurant, diner or some other eatery.

Here are my selections for this week’s Waiting Tables theme.

Personal Velocity

A woman gets a waitressing job in a diner after fleeing with her children, from an abusive husband in this romantic drama starring Kyra Sedgwick.

Set It Off

A waitress gets stiffed with the bill by a group of friends planning what is supposed to be their last and final bank robbery in this action crime drama starring Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Blair Underwood.

Lighten Up

An unassuming waiter gets caught between a couple’s unfulfilled desires during a birthday celebration at a diner in this comedy, made by yours truly!

What movies have YOU watched that feature scenes where people are waiting tables?

Also, shop for handmade bowties, fabric wallets, toys, handbags and additional items by SunFlowerFreckles on Etsy!