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May 19, 2007

Still in Motion

High school science teachers tell us that everything is always in motion. The movement might be so minute that it appears to be motionless, but in reality it still moves. We understand that standing still really is an illusion. We are all in motion.

newtonscradle.jpgAt times, this last week has felt like slow motion. Events have transpired that have made us stop in our tracks and take a look at this last year. We have spent moments remembering our goals for FILM ZAMBIA. We were so naive. We really believed we could accomplish so much. And in reflection we have discovered we accomplished more then we even intended. It is almost time to move on to new and more productive projects. As we complete these we feel such gratitude for all who have supported our efforts and encouraged us along the way.

We will continue to blog about what is happening with the film. Additionally, we'll be writing about our projects on our own individual sites. CyndiGreening.com and PamelaBowman.com. Please feel free to keep up with us and our ambitious goals. We love the feedback we get, even the negative stuff! Really!

So keep moving and ponder on Confucius. "It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop." We know there is no stopping. We are still in motion.

May 18, 2007

Character Development

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, USA – We have distracted ourselves lately by writing. That is really what we want to do, write. So today we took a field trip to Sacaton. We visited with people who live on the reservation. We asked them questions about their lives and their perspective on reservation life. We visited the library. We read histories and legend books and scientific research on land development and water resources.

It was an interesting day as we were able to discuss one of the many stories we are working on. We discussed the characters in our story. Learning about reservation life in 2007 is completely different than what I imagined it would be. PapagoWoman.jpgMy frame of reference has been movies like DANCES WITH WOLVES and THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. As a child I loved watching John Wayne movies on Dialing for Dollars. I have always loved the "Cowboy and Indian" movies. Today's excursion made me realize how those movies tried to capture many cultures and traditions that in most cases don't even exist anymore and probably never existed then. My romantic notions of Indian life has been altered to reflect the reality of reservation life. They are not the mysterious strong independent people I had imagined. No, it is worse, they are human just like me. They have problems and issues and concerns, just like us.

We appreciated the candor and the honesty of which they spoke to us. Montana Sunrising enlightened us on many aspects of Indian life here and in more obscure locations. The librarians were helpful in locating books of our subject matter. Our minds are working and we are anxious to finish our first screen play. We are also anxious to finish the other 20 stories on our slate.

We returned and shared our experience with our friends and my family. Distractions. Sometimes they benefit us when the alternative is immobility. Sometimes distractions enable us to see more clearly what needs to be done, how to do and then gathering the strength to do it. We are clear. We are ready. Our best work is yet to come as we document our experiences and write our stories. The ones who continue to benefit the most, of course, is us.

May 08, 2007

An Enigma Wrapped in a Cypher

BY CYNDI GREENING, PHOENIX, USA – I got home LATE Sunday evening. Flight delays out of LaGuardia. Missed flight in Denver. Two hour Super Shuttle trip home. No wonder I was wiped out yesterday. I was finally able to get my head back into work today. reflectioningMaryMag.jpg After two good meetings with distributors and broadcasters in NYC last week, I'm feeling eager to get going on this project and others. We were back at editing today and also started working on new scripts. I wish there were more hours in the day. There just isn't enough time to do all of the things I want to do. And my phone call return is far worse than usual. Even five minutes is precious these days.

Last week, at the Met, I snapped this photo of Pam looking at a painting of Mary Magdelene. I ended up liking the photo so much that I wanted to use it even though I didn't really have anything to write about it at that moment. Pam got me going with this whole "Where are all the women in art history?" question ... not to mention, where are all of the women in history. This photograph evokes the gestalt of the inquiry. We've got a woman, taking a picture of a woman who is looking at a woman who appears to be hiding herself from view ... the painting an interpretation by a man. An enigma wrapped in a cypher buried in a puzzle struggling to find the light of day. Or the organic form of one of those infinite mirror photos.

May 07, 2007

Enlightened Art in the Dark

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MANHATTAN, USA – She went into teacher mode before we even arrived at the museum. I had to tease her and asked if there would be a quiz at the end of the field trip! She wasn’t sure if I was serious until she saw me trying to hide my smile.cgpjMet.jpg “My apologies. It’s just that I want to suggest how you might want to look at the work as we … blah, blah, blah.” How she rambles!

To sustain ourselves, we bought an ice cream before we entered the museum. Good thing, because I needed that Ben and Jerry! That museum is HUGE!!

We began in the Renaissance area. Now, in all fairness I have taken art history classes. Cyndi calls them “Art in the Dark.” I called it almost flunking my first college course in my senior year! So I am wandering around looking at the artwork that I had studied and I immediately realized that it would have been much more impactful, memorable and understandable for me to have visited the Met for my class. I would have been able to see how artists, their skills and styles evolved through the centuries. It was enlightening to see how (and when) artists discovered how to represent perspective, human form, texture, light and atmosphere.

Sometimes, in seeing the work of these great artists I realized many of their pieces were just practice works or efforts at honing their craft. Each time we entered a new room, I noticed that I would be immediately drawn to a painting or sculpture or mural because I could “read” the story in the eyes of the subject. hokusai.jpgThe posture of the body, the placement of hand or the attire of the subject would make me see what the artist was trying to evoke. It was amazing and inspiring.

Having my own personal tour guide did not hurt, except my feet! We ended in the Asian wing. I have always loved Japanese art. I am drawn to its simplicity and its complexity. It was a very peaceful and joyous way to end my tour.

And yes there was a full blown verbal test that afternoon. As we walked down Central Park East and through the streets of New York, we discussed artists, movements, color and light. The discussion continues as we apply the work and knowledge of those artists to our current film project. Ever notice how sfumato and chiaroscuro in film is as powerful as it is in painting? Now, how …

Lao Tzu

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength;
loving someone deeply gives you courage.

Where the Girls Aren't

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MANHATTAN, USA – I walked through the halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art experiencing the work of great artists through the ages. It was an overwhelming experience. On each wall, in each crevice and around every corner was a record in some form of our history. I kept searching because I felt it was not complete. It was not whole. Finally I couldn't stand it any longer.

“Cyndi, where is the artwork of the women? Where can I see paintings by women?” My question did not surprise her, but she did take a moment to answer. “There were very few women artists during the Renaissance period. It was not thought that women could be great artists. They were expected to stay home and tend to the children and take care of the house.”

“But wait, I have seen movies where women are tutored in art ... like Sense and Sensibility."

“Tutored as a school exercise yes, but not seriously taught as a career. Men could take the time to develop their skills, women did not have the luxury of time.”

She was trying to diplomatic. I was appalled.

“How can human history be really accurate without the perspective of women? You have got to be kidding me? There were no women artists? What if they wanted to pursue art? Would they be allowed to?” Later research revealed that there were a few women painters of the Renaissance but most of them were taught by famous fathers and created only miniatures. It didn't appear that any women were making their living creating art. Surely there must have been women who wanted to create art as a way of living. The only famous woman artist she could come up with was Artemisia Gentileschi.

Cyndi brought me to a room where there were sculptures by Auguste Rodin and his confidante and lover, Camille Claudel. camilleclaudel.jpgAs a young woman, she studied at the Académie Colarossi with sculptor Alfred Boucher. At the time, the École des Beaux-Arts barred women from enrolling to study. A gifted sculptor and graphic artist, she caught Rodin's eye in 1883. An idea of how women artists were received? The famous art critic Octave Mirbeau wrote that Claudel was "A revolt against nature: a woman genius."

My heart was heavy as room after room showed the meticulous work of male artists. It seemed that so many of the pieces lacked warmth. The level of skill was exquisite but there was a dimension that was often absent. Perhaps it was the lack of feminine interpretation of life. How much richer our history might be if we all are encouraged to participate equally.

My first thought was, "Good thing I live in the world today." But then we started the discussion of today. Is it much different? We find more women artists in the world of art than at any other time. But, how many is that, really? In my medium of film, how many women are represented? How many women directors do we have? Producers? Cinematographers? How are they received? The small numbers reflect the truth.

This is NOT a discussion of division but of inclusion. What would be possible if we all were included. I would NOT want people to look at my work simply because I am a woman any more than I would want to have my work NOT taken seriously because I am a woman.

The difficulty is that in the past many women behaved more masculine in order to pursue their dreams. While women entered the art (and other) arenas, the feminine was still missing. Everyone has something to offer this world. It seems that we should embrace our differences and relish in the three-dimensional realm of possibility when all are represented. I believe that I have something to offer and each of you do as well. It is the contribution of all of the points of view that is important.

Today we have the choice to support and nurture each other. It is my hope that one day, my grandchildren will be walking those same halls of that same museum but it will be different as the scope of art becomes wider and deeper. The artwork of today will reflect a fuller spectrum because we're all represented. The picture it provides will be more complete. Wholly representative of the human experience.

May 03, 2007

Walking, Talking and Eating in NYC

BY CYNDI GREENING, MANHATTAN, USA – bagelPam.jpgWhen I lived in Wisconsin, it wasn't essential to own a car. There was NO mass transit system so it wasn't that it was so convenient or easy to get around. The truth was that there wasn't that much to do so it didn't really matter if you couldn't get around. When I moved to Phoenix, there was no way to live without an automobile. It was over 75 miles from one side of the Valley to the other. Again, mass transit was non-existent but now it became vital to be able to get to and from work, to and from interesting things to see and do. Now, I'm in NYC and vehicle-less again. I'm in the city that is the zenith of things to do and see AND the pinnacle of mass transit.

bagelCyndi.jpgIt is odd but in some ways, NYC reminds me of Zambia. Everyone walks every where. There is a feeling of everything being in perpetual motion. As in Zambia, we eat while we're in motion. Now, to be fair, the food in NYC is quite a bit more American, so much more familiar to us. I've found the best bagel sandwich at a deli near Broadway. It's a bit of heaven on a bun. After my first visit to NYC, the thing I missed the most when I returned to PHX was the deli meal on the run. It's so New York.

Where the Boys Are

BY CYNDI GREENING, MANHATTAN, USA – We're happy to be in Tribeca because we get to see two of the FilmZambia crew members who now live and work in New York. They're both in the film industry now and, like all beginning filmmakers, they're struggling to make a civilized living and get the all important credits necessary to move upward and onward. guysNYCsubway.jpg They've been dutiful about showing us around and making sure we understand the subways. They're veterans, of course. We newbies are just proud when we arrive at the place we expected.

FilmZambia cinematographer, editor and swing crew member Jacob Felix is working with Jonathan Demme, the director of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and PHILADELPHIA and THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE. He's working as a personal assistant and learning a ton. He's starting to read scripts for Demme, now. FilmZambia cinematographer and editor Alec Hart is working at Subvoyant, a post-production house on Broadway and Spring in Soho. I enjoy visiting them at work just to see what is going on.

I've only got three days left here in the city. Que lastima.

May 01, 2007

TOWARDS DARKNESS Shines at Tribeca

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MANHATTAN, USA – Yesterday we went to the press conference for TOWARDS DARKNESS. Written and directed by Antonio Negret, it is the story about a disastrous Columbian kidnapping. While there have been several films about the rampant kidnappings in Latin America, this film is unique because Negret’s family has experienced the phenomenon firsthand. Rather than being an action film about the event, it is an exploration of the desperation faced by the family and the victim. Because of the strength of the script and, undoubtedly, the connections of Producer America Ferrera, Negret was able to get many talented actors to participate. tonyplana.jpgAmong them, the incendiary William Atherton (of DIE HARD fame), delicious David Sutcliffe (from HAPPY ENDINGS) and Tony Plana (as the earnest Della Serra in AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, officer Ray in LONE STAR and Martinez in PRIMAL FEAR).

Plana was eloquent and erudite during the conference. He's the first actor I've known to make an argument FOR politics ... politics of the people, of course. “If there is no political solution, the citizens are left in an existential hell. There is no future for the people," said Plana, "And everybody is forced to sacrifice integrity for survival. They must destroy their enemies or be destroyed.” Plana voiced what Negret’s film reveals about the personal consequence of political impotence and antipathy.

In the film, while Jose, the victim, is physically bound, his mind is still free and he spends moments pondering his past while those who are physically free spend their moments paralyzed with fear and desperation. Negret said that he edited the film to show this contradiction. As more of the past is revealed, there is less and less time to handle the problem in the present so the cutting style is very aggressive. This viewer perceives the passage of time not as an opportunity for greater understanding but fewer choices. The film is worth seeing just for the editing.

alejandra.jpgOne of our most exciting discoveries at Tribeca is Colombian actress Alejandra Borrero. Borrero was luminous as the mother of Jose and wife of Tony. She plays the mother with both tenderness and fierceness, a mixture that Borrero feels is typically Colombian. “What I loved about the part of Jose’s mother is that it shows Columbian women being strong. They never know if their husbands will come home again. They never know if they will see their children again. Columbian women are always prepared for independence.” Alejandra admitted to succumbing to the fear and reality of living in Columbia. “I left and lived in a different country for a few years. I discovered I wasn’t happy. I missed my home. I am now living in Columbia. I do not want to live my life like that. I choose not to live my life like that. My country is really a beautiful place with kind people.”

The audience faces the reality of this situation in a shocking conclusion and discovers that we all have to choose every day to be strong and live and love like there is no tomorrow. Catch the film!