Fall is Latino film season in New York City

Autumn in New York means filmmakers from across the country will get a chance to showcase their talents in a handful of Latino-centric festivals. Returning on Oct. 6 for a third straight year is the Official Latino Short Film Festival, which focuses on works three to 45 minutes long as a way of giving emerging directors an industry “calling card,” says founder Danny Hastings. “Short films are usually the first attempts by film makers, and that’s what I want to nurture with this festival,” says Hastings, a Mexican-Panamanian visual artist and photographer from Queens who has seen the festival grow to about 120 films on this year’s slate from 50 in its first year. All screenings will be at Teatro LATEA (107 Suffolk St.; officiallatino.com) through Oct. 8. Also back — after a four year hiatus — is the New York Latino Film Festival, the HBO-backed event that ended in 2013 after a 13-year run and gave filmmakers high-profile exposure. Its new incarnation is considerably smaller in scale — about 40 films will be screened this year instead of the 100 or so at its peak. But NYLFF, which runs Oct. 11-15 at Manhattan venues, hopes to regain its cultural significance, especially in these turbulent times when “we need to show the power of our voices, of being united,” founder Calixto Chinchilla tells Viva. The two festivals come on the heels of the Urbanworld fest last month — which featured a load of Latino talent both behind and in front of the camera — and ahead of the International Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival from Nov. 8-12, which specifically highlights Puerto Rican actors and directors. And once a month, theater venue Teatro LATEA on the Lower East Side is holding its new “Open Screen” events where about a half-dozen films by local directors will be shown in addition to live performances, including by LATEA’s house comedy troupe Teatro 220. For more VIVA Continue Reading

LGBT issues will be at the forefront of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, with movies like ‘About Ray’ and ‘The Danish Girl’

Issues facing the LGBT community will be front-and-center at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The films themselves — “The Danish Girl,” “About Ray,” “Freeheld” and “Stonewall” — were in production before many of the issues (and Caitlyn Jenner) were prominent in headlines. But such titles at TIFF, running Thursday through Sept. 20, will be more topical than ever. “About Ray” stars Elle Fanning as a young girl transitioning to a boy, as mom (Naomi Watts) and grandma (Susan Sarandon) give love, support and space in their New York City apartment. Fanning — who, since 2011’s “Super 8” has given one great turn after another — should blossom into full-blown stardom with this, and may score an Oscar nod. In “The Danish Girl,” Eddie Redmayne, last year’s Best Actor Oscar winner, stars as transgender woman Einar Wegener, who in 1930 became one of the world’s first people to have sex reassignment surgery. The film is from director Tom Hooper, who worked with Redmayne in “Les Miserables.” The legal rights of same-sex couples is explored in “Freeheld,” based on a true story and a documentary of the same name. The story involves the 2006 legal fight that cancer-stricken New Jersey police officer (Julianne Moore) enters into to have her pension transferred to her domestic partner (Ellen Page) after her death. Steve Carell and Michael Shannon co-star. An earlier fight for gay rights is invoked in “Stonewall,” which dramatizes the riots that began around the Stonewall Inn bar in Greenwich Village and soon reverberated around the country. It’s a serious movie for director Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day,” “Godzilla,” “2012”). There are other movies at TIFF focusing on Continue Reading

Caribbean guidance joins New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s Transition NYC team

With former City Councilwoman Una Clarke and Haitian-Americans United for Progress executive director Elsie Saint Louis in the mix, Caribbean New Yorkers have prominent representation on the team helping to craft the administration of Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. Last week, the 60 leaders and experts selected to de Blasio’s transition committee were revealed and Clarke and Saint Louis were among the group. Clarke, the first Caribbean-born woman elected to the New York City Council, represented the 40th Council District in Brooklyn. Elected in 1991, the Jamaica-born leader served for 10 years. Saint Louis runs the 38-year-old Queens-based Haitian-Americans United for Progress, a not-for-profit organization that helps low-income families and individuals. Begun to help Haitian refugees and immigrants, the group has expanded to assist constituents regardless of nationality, ethnic origin or background. Ken Goldfield Executive director Elsie Saint-Louis (center), standing with the staff of the Queens-based Haitian-Americans United fo Progress organization in 2005, will contribute the building of the de Blasio administration. Mark Bonifacio/Daily News Bill de Blasio has assembled diverse group of individuals for his transition team. Below, Christian Cultural Center pastor Rev. A.R. Bernard (r.), seen with Mayor Bloomberg, is also among the 60 persons named to mayor-elect's Transition NYC group. Todd Maisel/Daily News “These leaders are volunteering their expertise in every issue and area of municipal affairs,” said Mayor-elect de Blasio. “Together, they will join Transition NYC co-chairs Carl Weisbrod and Jennifer Jones Austin in helping me to assemble a team that’s devoted to building one great city where everyone shares in our prosperity.” “My charge to the transition team is to identify women and men from every part of our city and walk of life that share a commitment to progressive and competent city Continue Reading

New York City’s best free and cheap summer entertainment

Don’t feel trapped in the city this summer. Feel lucky. You have access to a wide range of talented people and artistic expressions. Here’s a look. Concerts SummerStage SummerStage mixes city parks with meaningful music. And this year SummerStage features more than 100 free performances. Featured performances include: “The Zombies” at Central Park”, “Joan Baez and the Indigo Girls” and “Jon D and the Hi-five.” When: from June 4 through August 29. Where: 17 parks throughout the five boroughs. For more information, go to www.cityparksfoundation.org/summerstage/about   Seaport Music Festival Pier 17 will be hosting an electic music festival throughout the month of June. Featured shows include: “Paws,” “Fear of Men,” and “Unknown Mortal Orchestra.” When: June 7, 14, 21 and 28. Where: Pier 17. For more information, visit seaportmusicfesitval.com   Target Free Thursdays Lincoln Center Theater is offering free concerts every Thursday in July. Featured performances include a traditional goroup of Ethiopian musicians and dancers, a multi-media concert by the African- American performer Sekou Sundiata, and a jazz night called “Let Freedom Swing.” When: Every Thursday night, July 4 through July 25. Where: David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center.   Naumburg Orchestral Concerts in Central Park In the lineup of park performances this year: Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, The Knights and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. When: Opheus Chamber Orchestra, July 9. The Knights, July 30. The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, August 21. Where: Central Park, south of the 72nd Street cross-drive.   “GMA” concert series “Good Morning America” is bringing some of the biggest names in the industry to Central park for free public concerts this Continue Reading

Jordan Brand Classic, HS basketball all-star event featuring best players from New York City, the U.S. and around world, to be held at Barclays Center on Saturday

Michael Jordan is coming home. The Brooklyn native will be in the house on Saturday when the 12th annual Jordan Brand Classic — a high school basketball all-star event sponsored by Jordan’s famous shoe company — is played at Barclays Center. The Classic, which began in 2002, called Madison Square Garden home from 2005-2010 after three years in the Washington, D.C. area. In 2011 and ‘12, the event was held at Time Warner Cable Arena, home of the Charlotte Bobcats, the team Jordan owns. Saturday’s Classic begins with an International Game at 3:30 p.m., followed by a Regional Game at 5:30 p.m. and the All-America Game at 8 p.m. The Regional Game will feature numerous players from the city, including Christ the King’s Jon Severe — the state’s Mr. Basketball. Part of choosing a venue has to do with giving players a unique and memorable experience, which New York City does — in a big way. “We’ve always prided ourselves on this event being an experience for the kids and being able to provide them with stuff off the court during the week that’s interesting,” Brian Facchini, global communications director for Jordan Brand, told the Daily News on Thursday. “So obviously the Brooklyn area, has a lot to offer. They’re going to experience a lot of Brooklyn through off-court events while they’re here.” One of those events was Spike Lee showing the players director’s cut versions of some of his films Wednesday night. Visiting players are staying in Manhattan and will get a taste of both Manhattan and Brooklyn all week. The Classic will be a fixture at Barclays Center for the foreseeable future, as the two parties have reached a multi-year agreement. Part of the move to Brooklyn, instead of a return to the Garden, was Barclays Center’s desire to host the event. “A lot of it has to do with scheduling,” Facchini said. The Garden is Continue Reading

Free and Cheap in New York City: Monday, Feb. 25, 2013

HERE’S THE ONE THAT YOU WANT. Round up your Pink Ladies and T-Birds and get cozy, drive-in style, for the retro musical “Grease” at the Citi Pond Winter Film Festival. 7 p.m. Free. Citi Pond at Bryant Park, 40th-42nd Sts. at Sixth Ave. (212) 661-6640. SOULFUL SOUNDS . NYU jazz student Peter Wise, plays Arlene’s Grocery, fusing different musical genres with intricate rhythms and funky melodies. 7 p.m. Free. Arlene’s Grocery, 95 Stanton St. (212) 358-1633. RAGING GOOD READ . Best-selling author Adam Mansbach returns to the literary scene with the new blockbuster tale “Rage is Back.”Billy Rage, one of New York’s greatest graffiti taggers in the 1980s, tries to navigate the realms of art, crime and spirituality. Mansbach will discuss the novel’s themes of rage and redemption. 7:30 p.m. Free. Greenlight Bookstore, 686 Fulton St. Brooklyn. (718) 246-0200. PIZZARELLI IN PLAY. Internationally known jazz guitarist and author of “World on a String: A Musical Memoir,” John Pizzarelli, will give a rare solo performance at a Sandy benefit concert. Pizzarelli tells stories of icons like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and James Taylor, and will share photographs that take you into his life and music. 7 p.m. $20. PowerHouse Arena, 37 Main St., Brooklyn. (212) 604-9074. BELLY GOOD WORKOUT. Get up and get ready to dip low and bring it up slow during Belly Dancing class With Jennifer. All levels of ability are welcome to learn s in a fun and friendly atmosphere. 7 p.m. $10. Mind, Body and Soul Studio, 2031 Forest Ave. Staten Island. (718) 727-9862. MOMENT OF ‘TRUTH.’ Debut novelist John Kenney will discuss his fictional work “Truth in Advertising.” In the novel, Finbar Dolan escapes his blue-collar Boston background to start a new career at a Madison Avenue ad agency. He’s forced to cancel a long-overdue vacation in order to write, produce and edit a Super Bowl commercial, and then he gets a Continue Reading

Film Festivals in New York: Sikh International, Hamptons International, NYC Food, Paley DocFest

The New York Film Festival comes to a close on Sunday with Alexander Payne's dramedy "The Descendants," starring George Clooney as an overwhelmed dad (filmlinc.com). But don't fret if you couldn't get tickets. There are more film festivals this weekend than even the most dedicated cinephile could possibly attend. (One of them will even offer another shot at "The Descendants.")Screen International Film Festival (gsiff.com), which will present eclectic entries like the thriller "40 West," costarring Wayne Newton, and "Shuttlecock Boys," about four friends in Delhi.India at the Sikh International Film Festival, including "A Little Revolution," about the challenges of farming families (sikharts.com). The New York City Greek Film Festival will show the award-winning coming-of-age drama "Attenberg," (nycgreekfilmfestival.com), and the Imagine Science Film Festival starts tonight with "Mr. Nobody," featuring Jared Leto as the world's last mortal man (imaginesciencefilms.com).NYC Food Film Festival, of course (nycfoodfilmfestival.com). Each screening offers corresponding edibles, so choose wisely between "The Best Thing I Ever Done," which chronicles Brooklyn's Di Fara pizzeria, and the doc "Rockaway Taco," which ought to be self-explanatory.Hamptons International Film Festival (hamptonsfilmfest.org), which will offer another shot at many of the sold-out titles recently seen at the New York Film Festival—including "The Descendants." Jennifer Garner/Hugh Jackman comedy "Butter," "The Deep Blue Sea," an intense romance starring Rachel Weisz, and "My Week With Marilyn," featuring Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe.  Harry Belafonte, Matthew Broderick and Susan Sarandon, and many of the stars will attend their own films. (Though we'd be surprised if Donald Trump turns up at the screening of "You've Been Trumped," which chronicles his attempts to bulldoze a small Scottish community.) Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

New York International Latino Film Festival celebrates Latino culture, showcases diverse films

The big-time, high-end New York Film Festival kicks off at the end of next month, but until then the city has a few other great collections of flickering images to send the summer out. Here are three to put into your calendar: The New York International Latino Film Festival opened its 12th year this week with an animated film, "Chico and Rita," for the first time in the festival's history, and will present films from 15 countries. NYILFF founder and executive director Calixto Chinchilla created the fest in 1999 as a forum for films by Latinos and works dealing with Latino culture. "When we started, there wasn't anything specifically [spotlighting] Latino filmmakers," says Chinchilla. "So we said, 'How can we acknowledge what's come before us but also create something different?'" Thursday's highlights include "Ashes," about a New York man struggling to make a better life for himself and his mentally ill brother, and the documentary "Rubble Kings," a look at city gangs in the 1960s and '70s. Friday's slate includes the world premiere of the drama "Carmen G," and Sunday sees "The Lost City," actor Andy Garcia's celebration of Cuban culture. Monday's finale is a free showing of "To Be Heard" in St. Nicholas Park. The New York City International Film Festival kicks off its second year Thursday night with over 300 shorts and features from 48 countries. Founded by artist Roberto Rizzo, the fest boasts a screen set in the middle of Times Square. Rizzo is also a filmmaker, and the festival includes a film-distribution market at the midtown Millennium hotel. "From being on the other side, I understand the frustration with getting things seen," says Rizzo. Thursday night's black-tie opening gala is at the Hudson Theatre, 145 W. 44th St., and is followed by an 8 p.m. screening of "The Last Gamble." Other films include the documentary "Finding Francis," "The Wedding Party" and a selection of horror shorts (on Sunday). Beginning Sept. 1, the first New York Continue Reading

BAM’s World Cinema Foundation series to feature important international films

As soon as it starts getting cold and dark, you know it's time to leave New York. Just for the day, that is - or even a couple of hours. For intrepid travelers, BAM is the place to begin (bam.org). Its World Cinema Foundation series, sponsored by Martin Scorsese, is presenting restorations of important international films through next week. The acclaimed African crime caper "Touki Bouki" is set in Senegal, while Brazil's "Limite," from 1931, was a favorite of filmmakers like Orson Welles. And if you'd like to start your trip tonight, "The Night of Counting the Years" delves into Egyptian history and identity. The Middle East is also the setting for the Other Israel Film Festival, which screens around the city through the 21st (otherisrael.org). If you see only one movie it should probably be the Oscar-nominated crime epic "Ajami," about neighbors in Jaffa. But other films of note include "Adama," concerning a Moroccan-Jewish family of farmers, "Back and Forth," a collection of shorts by Bedouin directors, and "Lone Samaritan," about Samaritan women who take the controversial step of assimilation. Also on the lineup are episodes of several popular television shows, including the Israeli edition of "The Office." Lincoln Center heads for India this week, to pay tribute to Smita Patil, a native superstar through the '70s and '80s (filmlinc.com). Patil pushed hard to expand women's roles in both film and society, with movies like Satyajit Ray's "The Deliverance," which challenges an entrenched caste system, and "Spices," in which she leads a rebellion against her oppressive factory foreman. If you're in a Soviet state of mind, the Maysles Institute has the perfect double bill on Tuesday night (mayslesinstitute.org). First is 1957's "Russian Close-Up," in which directors Albert and David Maysles ride their motorcycle across Eastern Europe to a Communist youth festival. Two years later, Albert Maysles returned with Shirley Clarke and D.A. Pennebaker to make Continue Reading


THE OBSESSED woman wanted for allegedly shooting the leader of a Staten Island commune is dressing like a man to escape capture, police said yesterday. Rebekah Johnson - who has been one of the city's top 10 fugitives since the May 29 shooting of Jeff Gross - hung out in the East Village after she was caught on bank surveillance tape withdrawing $2,000 from a midtown bank last week. "It is disturbing to think she is still in the city," said Gross. Johnson was caught on tape waiting in line at the Commerce Bank on 42nd St. and Madison Ave. on Sept. 20. She was dressed to look like a man, and hid her face beneath a baseball cap and sunglasses. She appeared to have lost weight and either cut her bushy gray-streaked hair or hid it under her cap, a source said.Alison Gendar Rome, NYC reel pals THE TRIBECA FILM Festival has forged a partnership with the newly minted Rome Film Fest, Mayor Bloomberg and Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni said yesterday at City Hall. "This exchange will not only expose our respective audiences to new films, but also help both festivals become truly international events, and, in turn, help New York and Rome become even greater movie towns," Bloomberg said. As part of the agreement, the Rome Film Fest, which makes its debut Oct. 13 to 21, will screen six films from this year's Tribeca Film Festival. Next year, Tribeca plans to show a selection of films from Rome. Actor Robert De Niro, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, said, "I look forward to a long relationship."Michael Saul More homelessness? HOMELESSNESS is back on the rise, an advocacy group warned yesterday. "Family homelessness in New York City has increased by 11% this year," said Coalition for the Homeless senior policy analyst Patrick Markee. He said more than 8,700 families are in city shelters, the highest number since November. 2004. But Mayor Bloomberg and city Department of Homeless Services officials disputed the report. The mayor said the group Continue Reading