Mini Philly Film Festival RECAPS: Moore College Women Artists FF & Philadelphia Jewish FF CineMondays
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Early Spring Round Up of 3 Documentaries
Screened in Philadelphia
Guerrillas In Our Midst (1992) by Amy Harrison about the Guerilla Girls an anonymous group of Women's art activists who started in 1985 to call attention to the large disparity between the number of male visual artist vs female visual artists in terms of getting their work shown in galleries, exhibitions and museums. Of course, even less opportunity for showings of minority female artists. Although, they're called the Guerrillas Girls spelled like resistance fighters, they've never been militant, instead they use the power of humor and sarcasm to get their point across and bring attention to underrepresented artists. When they came on the scene, the Guerilla Girls wore Gorilla Masks and continue to wear them when speaking in public. The group felt anonymity was important to protect themselves from too much backlash, it was also important that their message not become diluted by the press zeroing in on the individuals spreading the message. It also became a great signature for the group allowing for more exposure.
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I feel out of touch, as I wasn't familiar with the group, although, the original Guerrilla Girls are still in effect, making a recent appearance on Late Night with Stephen Colbert, where they mentioned they've expanded to other women's issues. Perhaps Hillary Clinton should use them in her campaign. Follow @guerrillagirls on Instagram.
The film was preceded by a presentation by Women Make Movies Executive Director, Debra Zimmerman which you can listen to below:
Thank you @tinseltine for your in depth review of #LTSFilm. Captivating, just like Patsy. :-) @womenmakemovies https://t.co/ZYn90fRWXc— Danielle Beverly (@daniellebeverly) April 6, 2016
Learning to Swallow by Danielle Beverly (2005) I watched this film more like an engrossing movie than a documentary, something about this story keeps haunting me. Partly because I'm such a hypochondriac, and as such tend to be both fascinated and horrified by extreme medical conditions, but it's also a film that delves into our dance with survival vs the release we hope may come with death. I also found myself thinking about my own destructive compulsive disorders, nothing as severe as Patsy's but my relationship to food is way too tied to my happiness and my finances, lack thereof.
The documentary begins with Patsy Desmond in a nursing home shortly after her devastating suicide attempt. Patsy was an "It" girl, an artist and photographer...
She was gregarious, hyperactive, game for anything, and at times obnoxious. She once kissed a stranger on the street because she thought he was a dead ringer for Isaac Hayes. She persuaded Ozzy Osbourne, Allen Ginsberg, and George Clinton to sign the back of her driver's license as organ-donor witnesses, after meeting them at (respectively) a video shoot, a lecture, and a concert at Metro... Fabulous things just seemed to happen to Patsy, things that would make her friends shake their heads and wonder how on earth she'd gotten such a lucky break. But in reality, says her friend Janet Bean of Eleventh Dream Day and Freakwater, "it wasn't a lucky break, it was something she'd put herself forward for."... She was hired as an assistant by photographer William Wegman and then she went to work for a commercial photographer who shot movie posters and celebrity portraits. For the first time in her life, she was making good money... - Tori Marlan ChicagoReader.comBut as it turned out she wasn't just one of these people who knows how to live life big and make things happen, she was also bipolar, diagnosed but un-medicated, and during a particularly bad episode she drank drain cleaner and destroyed her stomach and esophagus, just burned out the majority of her digestive system. In the film, Patsy says she remembers the doctors asking her if she wanted her stomach pumped and she told them no, because at the time she still wanted to die. That if she'd said yes, the damage wouldn't have been so severe. However, the article says by the time she arrived at the hospital the lye had eaten through, which is more plausible. After all, doctors don't ask you what procedure you want in a medical emergency like that, it's not the same as a living will that allows them to pull the plug.
Learning to Swallow follows Patsy through the next couple of years of her life, obviously not every day, but the fact that she'd allow a camera into her world on some of her darkest days attests to her sensibilities as an artist and as someone who still longed for the limelight. The film takes you through Patsy's struggles and resilience to survive and thrive despite no longer being able to eat or drink or swallow, yet she still possessed the urge to want to taste and chew, so against doctor's advice, she'd put food and drink into her mouth, only to spit it out knowing she couldn't ingest it. Can you imagine? It would be like constant sexual foreplay without ever having intercourse! The article more so than the film, touches on the fact that she'd already been bulimic and had other eating issues before her stomach was destroyed, so you almost wonder if she didn't realize on some level even in her manic/depressive state what she was creating by taking that Draino. Almost like a self-fulfilling prophesy on some level.
Patsy does finally admit acceptance of her bipolar disorder and begins medication and therapy, but seeing as there's no cure, there's times when she goes off the rails again, telling the camera that on more than one occasion she poured a 6 pack of beer into her feeding apparatus. Yet, more than the tragedy of Patsy's story, what kept me invested was her likable persona, and her incredibly strong life force, which showed through even during her weakest moments.
Tinsel & Tine helped promote the kick off film In Search of Israeli Cuisine (click for original post) for Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival's CineMonday Series. In turn they made T&T a Community Partner, which included a link on the #PJFF35 website, being thanked at the opening event and our logo and bio was a prominent part of the pre-screening slideshow!
The film directed by Roger Sherman follows Philly Restaurateur (Zahav, Federal Donuts, Abe Fisher and Percy St. BBQ) and James Beard winning Chef Michael Solomonov as he returns to Israel to interview chef's, foodies and restaurateurs on what defines Israeli cooking, as so much of it is influenced by Arab countries, Palestinian culture, Eastern European and Sephardic Jews now living in Israel, but bringing their cooking traditions from their birth places. And yet the combination of it has created a vibrant restaurant scene in Tel Aviv that rivals New York, San Francisco, London and, yes, Paris. Israel also has 350 boutique wineries that are gaining international acclaim. Of course we see Michael eating a lot through the whole movie and everything just looks so fresh and wonderfully ethnic and full of spices and cheeses made where you've seen the goat that provided the milk.
My only criticism of the film is that I feel they made too many stops; yet they also cut back to the same people too often, which ruined the effect of a trek through the towns & countryside of Israel.
The below (6 min) video are excerpts of the post screening Q&A with Sherman & Solomonov, moderated by Sierra Tishgart of @grubstreet
(Note: the Below video will not be visible to those receiving T&T via RSS feed. Click HERE to view)
Illustrations Courtesy of artist/draw-tographer Diane Roka
"In Search of Israeli Cuisine" Q&A
POST UPDATE 4/26.16
Zahav Wins Book Of The Year At James Beard Awards A World Of Israeli Cooking took home both Best International Cookbook and Book Of The Year at this year’s James Beard Awards READ MORE
PJFF CineMondays continue:
Monday, April 4 - Wedding Doll
Monday, April 11 - Most Likely to Succeed
Monday, April 18 - Centerpiece Film The People vs. Fritz Bauer
Monday, May 2 - Carvalho’s Journey;
Monday, May 9 - Demon;
Monday, May 23 - Closing Night Film Princess Shaw.
Tinsel & Tine (Reel & Dine): Philly Film, Food & Events Blog