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Posts tagged ‘movie’

A “Real” Cowgirl & Her Dog

Romeo, Juliet, Petie & Me by Melinda Matthews.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

61zgBqTDlxL._SY346_The narrator tells the tale of her dog Petie and she, as they move from Georgia to Hurley Mississippi in 1961. She’s a young girl, and Petie is a young collie. She has two older sisters, and parents who let her roam free on their property in the countryside. Romeo, Juliet, Petie & Me called forth my childhood and swept me into its bosom. It is very well written. Whether taken from real life or completely fictional, becomes irrelevant.

She imagines being a cowgirl and having a horse. It’s almost like being in the kitchen and watching her act out her dreams. “I thought it a very useful and productive thing, my walking them. A real cowgirl must do what a real cowgirl must do, right? I’d spent HOURS in our big kitchen riding the broomstick astride like a horse around the kitchen table, dark ponytail flying like a flag, making little clucking sounds for an even more realistic ambiance, and the occasional nay or snort added reality to my virtual, as appropriate.  AND I practiced my cattle calls, gleaned straight off Bonanza and Rawhide, so I was qualified to steer cattle, I was sure.”

It turns out that Petie isn’t any ordinary dog. He saves the storyteller from a Brahman bull, walking into the street when a toddler, and growls accordingly when there is danger present. As both ages, Petie begins to slow down and inevitably comes to the end of his dog days. The day it happens is the same day the girl’s older sisters, and Mother, are going to see the film, Romeo and Juliet. The grief and family reactions are palpable.

With Romeo, Julie, Petie & Me the author has shared a part of life that feels so real, vivid, and emotional, that readers’ will feel like part of the family, and as attached to Petie as much as anyone. Though a lot of years pass in the narrator’s first-person account of her relationship with Petie, the story feels complete and significant. Someday, when Ms. Matthews goes to heaven, I’m sure Petie will be at her side once again (imagined or not).

 

You Can Do Better

15085511-571384093053277-7761181997008017758-nSo, this was interesting. After a few years writing the screenplay for my story “Sorrow’s Embrace“, it was finally optioned by Breezeway Productions, and is now in development with Breezeway and Buffalo 8 Productions. I thought this was the beginning of the end for this screenwriting journey and it would soon be in distribution. Thankfully, my head got pulled out of the clouds before I floated away.

Just as directors, actors, actresses, producers, and others are lining up to get involved, the casting director, Nicole, tells me the script needs some work, and isn’t good enough to send out to “named talent”. At first, I thought, “Okay. Let me know what needs to be fixed and I’ll get it back to you in a day or two.” What needed “fixing” turned out to be much more extensive and time-consuming.

After grumbling to myself about all the work it would take, I started the rewrite using her suggestions, comments, and insight. Two weeks later, I am proud to say that this is now a story that will not only attract “name talent”, but be well worth watching, when it is released. Though I was reluctant at first, and skeptical, I am happy to admit that she was right on all accounts.

Now, it is on to rewrite my other screenplays (Buddha’s Wife, and The Last Conception), which are based on my books of the same names. I thought they were good already, now I can see how to make them much much better.

Story of Buddha’s Wife

BuddhasWifeThe publisher told me that Kindle versions of my novel Buddha’s Wife is on sale for a week, starting today.

Here is the direct link: BUDDHA’S WIFE Here’s the Amazon description:

Buddha’s Wife is a novel about compassion, inspiration and forgiveness. Thousands of books, texts and stories have followed Siddhartha’s teachings and his path to becoming The Buddha, but little has been written about his wife Yasodhara, their child Rahula or their relatives, until now. Yasodhara was the first woman in Siddhartha’s life, but not the last to follow in his footsteps. Why did he call his son “a hindrance” and believe women were a trap of desire and attachment “not fit to follow or understand my teachings”? How did Yasodhara and the nuns fight for equal treatment and rights? How could The Buddha have such compassion for others, yet be so scared of intimacy, emotion and love?

SCREENPLAY:

For the film version, we have the script, two well-known actresses attached, as well as a wonderful director. If anyone knows a producer, production company or investor interested in helping to bring this story to the screen (a contemporary drama in the screenplay version), please get in touch.

Review of American Saint

51DSeMoivLLAmerican Saint: The Life of Elizabeth Seton
Written by Joan Barthel
Reviewed by Gregory J. Wilkin
New York Journal of Books

“Characters like these, and scenes from the siege of New York, as well as the flirtation between Elizabeth and the handsome Antonio Filicchi, along with a very good death . . . all make this perfect fodder for a movie. It’s also perfectly suited to a book.”

Joan Barthel, whose earlier work dealt with murder cases in Connecticut and California that only an act of God could keep from turning into movies, seems to have a winner here with her timely and largely adulatory biography of Mother Elizabeth Seton.

After watching Meryl Streep’s despairing turn as Sister Aloysius in John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt and Barbara Jefford’s as the enragingly venomous mother superior in Judy Dench’s Philomena (as I’m confident He did, on a very big screen), Our Lord may want to get this book made into a movie Himself.

Publicity for the book emphasizes Seton’s wealthy upbringing, her political connections in the young republic, the sad tale of her husband’s early death in Italy, and the way she “resisted male clerical control of her religious order, as nuns are doing today.”

The life Barthels recounts counts in different ways for different folks: Maya Angelou in her foreword to the volume says “Seton’s life and achievements are proof that courage is the most important of all the virtues.”

True enough, Seton had to fight off the harshly overbearing Father Superior, John David, but in doing so, she worked closely with two other French priests and Bishop John Carroll. Courage it took, but to bill her as an early Catholic flouter-of-male-privilege is certainly to engage in a rather crass kind of book mongering.

In her introduction, Barthels situates her biography in the fraught context of the current administrative dispute about American nuns. The Vatican “doctrinal assessment,” which Sister Maureen Fiedler called on NPR “a hostile takeover,” will take five years to be prepared “and no one knows,” Barthels writes, “what will happen in the end.” In one of the least successful segues she pauses, indents, and gives us: “But Elizabeth Seton was there at the beginning.”

These beginnings bring out the best in our author: the early days in the Bayley family in New York are vivid and convincing, full of period detail and useful cultural background. As the young widow and mother takes her charges to Emmitsburg, the narration begins to rely on her letters, at one point quite a few of them rather wearily strung together. But some of this was heroic, loving effort by Seton herself, carried on despite fevers and worsening tuberculosis.

This is a lady who went through a lot. The accounts of the death of her daughters show her face to face with doubt:

“‘Eternity’ had long been her beloved word, her hope and belief. Now she was “uncertain of reunion.” She was kneeling at Anna’s grave when she saw a large, ugly snake stretching itself on the dried grass. Elizabeth was desolate, seeing Anna as ‘the companion of worms and reptiles! And the beautiful soul, where?’”

The takeaway here: doubt for the faithful, even for the saints, is one’s daily bread. Despite it all, Elizabeth Seton keeps her wits and her charm.

Read entire review and more at NEW YORK JOURNAL OF BOOKS

Feminism Behind Bars

TheGreyArea_DVDinhouse_V3.inddThe Grey Area: Feminism Behind Bars
A film by Noga Ashkenazi
US, 2012, 65 minutes, Color, DVD, English
From Women Make Movies

THE GREY AREA is an intimate look at women’s issues in the criminal justice system and the unique experience of studying feminism behind bars. Through a series of captivating class discussions, headed by students from Grinnell College, a small group of female inmates at a maximum women’s security prison in Mitchellville, Iowa, share their diverse experiences with motherhood, drug addiction, sexual abuse, murder, and life in prison. The women, along with their teachers, explore the “grey area” that is often invisible within the prison walls and delve into issues of race, class, sexuality and gender.

The number of women in prison has grown by over 800% in the past three decades, two thirds are mothers and are incarcerated for non-violent offenses and more than 80% have been victims of domestic violence or sexual assault at some point in their lives. THE GRAY AREA is an important look into the complex factors behind these statistics and how feminism sheds light and brings hope to those incarcerated. This is an excellent film to prompt discussion in women’s studies, courses that include prison reform or violence against women, American studies and sociology.

Read about The Grey Area and other films at WOMEN MAKE MOVIES

Women Come Marching Home

Service_DVDinhouse_V2.inddService: When Women Come Marching Home
A film by Marcia Rock and Patricia Lee Stotter
US, 2012, 55 minutes, Color, DVD, English
From Women Make Movies

Women make up 15 percent of today’s military. That number is expected to double in 10 years. SERVICE highlights the resourcefulness of seven amazing women who represent the first wave of mothers, daughters and sisters returning home from the frontless wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. Portraying the courage of women veterans as they transition from active duty to their civilian lives, this powerful film describes the horrific traumas they have faced, the inadequate care they often receive on return, and the large and small accomplishments they work mightily to achieve.

These are the stories we hear about from men returning from war, but rarely from women veterans. Through compelling portraits, we watch these women wrestle with prostheses, homelessness, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Military Sexual Trauma. The documentary takes the audience on a journey from the deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq to rural Tennessee and urban New York City, from coping with amputations, to flashbacks, triggers and depression to ways to support other vets. An eye-opening look at the specific challenges facing women veterans with a special focus on the disabled, SERVICE can be used for courses in military studies, women’s studies, peace and conflict courses and veteran support groups.

See more about women making movies at: Women Make Movies

Judy Blume’s First Movie

Judy Blume Talks Screenwriting and Adapting ‘Tiger Eyes’ to the Silver Screen by Vicki Salemi on June 7 from Media Jobs Daily

In Tiger Eyes, Judy Blume’s new movie based on her 1981 novel – check that, her first movie – the best-selling author collaborated with her son and filmmaker, Lawrence Blume, to bring it to the silver screen.

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After a recent screening concluded in Manhattan, she explained to the audience, “We always said if we were going to work together on a project, it would be Tiger Eyes. It was Larry’s favorite.”

There were some concerns, however, about translating one of her books onto the screen. She revealed, “It just needs to be emotionally true to the story and the characters and we didn’t want to make a schmaltzy movie.”

There were challenges, too. For instance, he mentioned remaining steadfast to the goal of doing ”something about real kids having real life problems and trying to make it as genuine as we could do it.” Plus, the book was written in the first person and “turning that inner emotional stuff into behavior that you can film was complex.” Next, the director put it into a three-act structure and added, “And then I wrote some stuff and Judy fixed it.”

And then fear set in. He confessed, “I like to work in a fearless way but I was afraid of people who read and loved the book saying I can’t believe they ruined it. So I was operating in a little fear of not straying too much away from the book. We tried really hard to keep as much as we could as possible while making it a movie.”

To which point, she quipped, “Did I not say to you all along, Larry, if he doesn’t feed her fruit in the canyon, we’re going to hear about it?”

As for the screenwriting process, the best-selling author explained, “Well, I’m not a screenwriter, this was screenwriting 101. I’ve written other screenplays but I don’t think the way a screenwriter does though I’m learning, but Larry does. Larry knows structure and he comes at it from an editorial, he’s been a film editor so he guided me to do the structure. He guided the structure of the film and I do people and dialogue.”

Read complete story and interview at Media Jobs Daily.

Story To Script To Screen

BuddhasWifeThe story, as seen at this time. So close and yet so far and so far and yet so close.

Write a book based on the life of the woman (Yasodhara) who was married to the man (Siddhartha) who became known as The Buddha. Rewrite and edit the book a zillion times.

Find a publisher who will publish book, now known as Buddha’s Wife.

Sign contract with Robert D. Reed Publishers for book to be published.

Obtain quotes and advance reviews for novel.

Book published.

Book signings, promotions, connections and marketing for over two years (before and after novel is released).

Meet Navyo Ericsen at book signing. A musician, web designer and film and video producer who wants to bring Buddha’s Wife to the screen.

Work with Navyo for a year trying to find a screenwriter to write screenplay on spec, since we have no funds for film. Several possible, but all fall through.

Decide to write screenplay ourselves and change historical setting into a contemporary story. One of my previous screenplays (Stellina Blue) was made into a film.

Work on screenplay for a year, with wonderful feedback and suggestions from a famous screenwriter/director.

Workable, moving and entertaining screenplay completed.

Write up logline, summary of film and treatment.

Start approaching well-known actresses, executive producers, directors and production companies.

Write and develop estimated budget.

Elapsed time, from book being published to presenting screenplay to others for film (so far) is four years.

Presently, five well-known actresses are reading the script, as are four production companies/executive producers and two directors.

The challenge is to get the film financed without a name actress yet attached and vice-a-versa, to get a well-known actress attached without first having the picture funded.

This is a scene that thousands of novelists, screenwriters and filmmakers find themselves in, so we are not babes in the woods, but it has been an interesting situation with infinite possibilities for Buddha’s Wife to come into being as a movie.

To those in the film industry, this story will be anti-climatic and familiar, but I hope for those just starting out or venturing to put your toe in the water, it provides a little preparation and insight into the amount of patience, persistence and ordered chaos that can await many on the journey to bring their story to screen.

From Trauma To Peace

From Trauma to Peace

Can we transform TRAUMA and its debilitating states of anger, violence and hate, to PEACE – compassion, forgiveness, hope and love? We can, and it’s beginning to happen in isolated regions of Africa.

Kamal, a young Rwandan boy, suffered many atrocities. The scenes of his mother dying of AIDS and his uncle being killed in front of him during the 1994 genocide were always before his eyes. A massacre he witnessed in a refugee camp in Uganda added to those terrifying images; images that were always in front of him, like they were happening today. The traumas of the past haunted him. They gripped him in fear and limited his ability to move into a hopeful future.

Then, a team of therapists brought TFT or tapping (a unique healing modality using the body’s meridian system) to the orphanage. Kamal began tapping, struggling to focus on the horrid past, but within minutes, he jumped up and shouted, “It’s gone! It’s gone!” He danced around the room. He pulled his therapist up and danced with him. He dashed outside and ran around joyfully. He came back in and hugged his therapist. He became free of the past. Kamal can now feel joy, and he can focus on his future.

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Jean Pierre, a Rwandan man, was forced to watch his wife and children being massacred. He was then attacked himself and left for dead. He bears the wounds from the machete on the back of his head. He heard about the miracle tapping the orphans were doing and came to ask for help. He too had nightmares and flashbacks for over 12 years. One of the therapist team members tapped with him, and he too got over his nightmares and his anger and hatred toward others. But the real telling change was not just relief of his suffering, it was his spiritual transformation. Three days later, he attended a church service at the orphanage where he said he had been given the gift of healing, and he volunteered to take three orphaned children into his home and raise them. He had his life back and was now reaching out with love and forgiveness.

There are now over 100 Rwandan community leaders using TFT to treat members of their communities, members like Jean Pierre and Kamal. The mission of the TFT Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is to spread the use of TFT and its profound benefits throughout the world. Many Rwandan and Ugandan therapists are already trying to help us do that.

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The TFT Foundation has developed and proven a model that can bring TFT training to any traumatized community, where the leaders can be trained to help their fellow countrymen. In three random controlled studies (two in Rwanda and one in Uganda – one published and two being prepared for publication), the results have been highly significant. Two-year follow-ups have demonstrated that the results not only last, but the symptom reduction improves over time.

The Foundation has documented the changes and healing of this region in Rwanda, and the beginning of the healing process in Uganda, over the last six years. The completion of the documentary, “From Trauma To Peace,” will enable us to share this model of healing trauma with many more regions of the world. The film will be of the quality needed for PBS and film festivals.

A mayor in the Northern Province of Rwanda commented: “People who I have never seen smile, are smiling. People who were not productive, are now productive.”

Please help the TFT Foundation continue sharing and expanding this transformational healing on a global scale. This film will help us create the awareness that entire traumatized communities can help themselves and others end suffering.

The film and its distribution will serve as a way to raise money to help the Rwandans, Ugandans, and others use TFT to help their countrymen. Your donation will go toward the completion of the filming, editing, promotion, and distribution of this important documentary. Additional funds from the campaign will go directly to the centers actually helping the people, assisting them to become self-sufficient and productive. People CAN break the cycle of violence and feel hope and joy again. Please help us in our efforts to bring peace to our world, one person–and one community–at a time, through TFT.

See more at Trauma2Peace.

A Birthday Like No Other

A BIG birthday at the ROP
Posted on June 25, 2012 by Sean
From ROP Stories

Every June 16th Africa celebrates the International Day of the African Child, a day for people within the continent celebrate and honor children of all ages, backgrounds and cultures. Last year we were honored when the government ask us to host their celebration at the ROP Center.

This year, however, we wanted the day to be all about our children, and we wanted to do something extra special for them. You see, most of our boys don’t know the day they were born. In fact, many don’t even know with certainty which year they were born. Because of this we decided that we wanted to make June 16th the birthday for every child at the Center and start by celebrating it this year. Now we just needed to scrape together some money for the event. We tapped local businesses for donations but unfortunately none of them came through for us. But just a couple of weeks before (when panic was beginning to set in) our fantastic donor Line from Norway, and her organization Metamorfose, came through for our boys once again. She told us that she would pay for catering for all the boys and staff to enjoy as well as paying for the Kwetu Film Institute to bring us a GIANT movie screen to watch films on in the evening. Obviously we were thrilled now that it was all coming together. We didn’t tell the boys anything about a party. We only told them the day before that we were having some visitors coming the next day so they needed to be prepared.

Saturday arrived and Jenny and I arrived at the Center in the morning with crates of drinks. The boys started asking what was going on, but all the staff were tight-lipped. We gathered everyone in the dining hall and let them just sit and wait for several minutes before Elizabeth and Alex, two of our staff, came rushing in with buckets of water and began splashing all the boys (a Rwandan birthday tradition). They all took off running, wondering what the heck was going on.

Now that the boys knew something was up it was time to tell them the true reason we gathered them all together. Jenny and I reminded the boys about the Day of the African Child and informed them that it was now the official birthday of all the boys in the Center. We told them there would be dancing, singing, food and plenty of fun, all capped off with some films on a very big screen outside. As you can imagine they were all very excited.

So as the day went on we had dancing competitions, some boys read poems and sang songs they had written. We shared food, gave out all sorts of goodies like marbles and sweets, and waited for the sun to go down. When it was dark we showed two films; first a version of Cinderella that was in Kinyarwanda, their native language, followed by Africa United, a hugely popular kids movie about four struggling children trying to make their way from Rwanda to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup. We ended the night with some Charlie Chaplin films, which are easy to understand and universally funny for anyone of any age and culture.

When it finally got dark Jenny broke out one last surprise for the boys. She had collected dozens of glow in the dark bracelets and had been saving them for an important occasion. This was the perfect time, but before we handed them out I had to show them how they worked and explain to them that they weren’t allowed to break them open or put them in their mouths. When I cracked the first one and it became luminous a wave of “wowwww” came from the group. They couldn’t wait to get their hands on them and were fascinated with this new novelty.

Finally it was finally time to show the films. Some boys sat on benches and chairs while the small boys laid out on the freshly cut grass.

Read entire story and see more photos at ROP Stories.

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