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inside news about Asians and women on stage


Ping Chong's "Blind Ness: the Irresistible Light of Encounter"

PING CHONG'S BLIND NESS…: "Blind Ness: the Irresistible Light of Encounter," a new multidisciplinary theater work written and directed by Ping  Chong & Michael Rohd, will have its New York premiere at La MaMa, 74A East 4 Street, June 18-27. A gala benefit for Ping Chong & Company will be held on June 23. "Blind Ness…," is a prismatic theater work exploring Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," colonialism in the Belgian Congo and their reverberations into the present. For tickets, call 212-475-7710 or visit www.lamama.org.

Using text, movement, performance, shadow puppetry, object theater, and stunning visuals that have been the hallmark of Ping Chong's work for more than 30 years, "Blind Ness…" intercuts the dramatic saga of Conrad's classic characters, Kurtz and Marlow, with such real-life figures as King Leopold II of Belgium, Roger Casement, Edmund Dene Morel, William Sheppard, Henry Morton Stanley, Patrice Lumumba and other heroes and villains of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The show explores the historical events in the late 19th century that led to the acquisition of the Congo as a personal colony of King Leopold II of Belgium, the exploitation of the Congolese people, and the human rights movement that arose when Belgian abuses were brought to light. That movement ultimately became a worldwide cause, resulting in the removal of the Congo from Leopold's personal control and ultimately, the colony's independence.

The play is rewarding from a historical standpoint, as it shows how Europe exploited Africa in 19th century and thereby inspired a protest movement which was the precursor to the international human rights movement. The piece displays the theatrical artistry expected from a work by Ping Chong. It also sizzles with contemporary political urgency: there are striking parallels to current events, including the systematic use of torture and the pivotal role played by photography in revealing crimes committed in the name of "progress."

"Blind Ness…" is conceived by two time OBIE winner Ping Chong. It is written and directed by Ping Chong and Michael Rohd in collaboration with Bobby Bermea, Jeff Randall and M. Burke Walker. "Blind Ness…" reunites Chong with several long time artistic collaborators: Randy Ward (sets, lighting and projections) and Stefani Mar (costumes). Joining the production team is Stephen Kaplin (puppetry design and construction), creator of shadow puppet sequences for Broadway's "The Lion King," and Stephen Zapytowski (sound design). The cast includes Bobby Bermea, Jeff Randall, Michael Rohd, M.Burke Walker and students from Kent State University's School of Theatre and Dance.

Ping Chong was born in Toronto and raised in New York City's Chinatown and is now considered one of the foremost directors of American performance art. La MaMa has premiered Ping Chong's "Nuit Blanche" (1981, 1985), "Anna into Nightlight" (1982), "A Race" (1984), "Nosferatu" (1985, 1991), "Kind Ness" (1986), "Skin A State of Being" (1989), "Brightness" (1989; two Bessie Awards, 1990), "Elephant Memories" (1991), "Deshima" (1993), "Interfacing Joan" (1996), "After Sorrow" (1997), "Kwaidan" (1998) and "Pojagi" (2000). In 2002, La MaMa presented "SlutforArt, a.k.a. Ambiguous Ambassador," a collaboration of Ping Chong and choreographer Muna Tseng, and "UE92/02," a work with Talvin Wilks that was part of Chong's "Undesirable Elements" series on immigration issues.

Ping Chong's awards also include two Obie Awards, five National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Playwrights' USA Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two McKnight Playwriting Fellowships, a TCG Pew Charitable Trust Fellowship and a 1992 Bessie Award for Sustained Achievement. Altogether, he has created over 30 works for the stage, seven visual arts installations and three videos. His work has been presented at major museums, festivals and theaters throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia.

JOSE RIZAL ADAPTATION: Ma-Yi Theatre Company celebrates Philippine Independence Day with a staged reading of "Noli Fantasiya" by Ralph Pena, a modern adaptation of Jose Rizal's "Noli Me Tangere" on Saturday, June 12, 6PM, at the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center at 556 Fifth Avenue and 45 Street. Seating is limited. RSVP 212-764-1330, EXT. 310 OR 336.

This funny and irreverent new play relocates the central action to present-day Manila, where a colorful array of politicians, church figures, and media types jockey for position on the Philippine social ladder. Like Rizal's attempt to comment on the stifling rule of the Spanish friars during his time, "Noli Fantasiya" makes a parallel effort to look at the forces shaping the lives of Filipinos today. Ibarra, the son of Don Rafael, returns from Barcelona to attend his father's funeral. There he is greeted by a coterie of friends, enemies, politicians, priests, and movie moguls -- all trying to influence his next move as the new owner of Maria Clara Enterprise. Directed by Pena, "Noli Fantasiya" will be read in Pilipino.

The cast includes Ivi Acuña, Liza Bulos, Alexis Camins, May Dalida, Stephanie Caspelich, Andrew Eisenman, Rusty Fabunan, Victor Lirio, Bing Magtoto, Bobby Martino, Olga Natividad, Joseph Pe, and OBIE AWARD winning actors Arthur Acuña, Jojo Gonzales, and Ching Valdes Aran.

SAFE SPACE AT SALAAM: Taking place in a community center in present-day Manhattan, "Safe Place" this full-length play takes you to meeting of a support group for young gay South Asians at the SALAAM Theatre, 16 West 32 Street, 10 Floor, on Monday, June 21. SALAAM (South Asian League of Artists in America)'s Third Mondays salon features theatre, dance, music, film, comedy and activism). Brenden Varma is the featured artist. You never know what special talents you'll meet so just mark your calendars and be part of this growing movement of artists and activists. For an energizing and engaging event, make it SALAAM time -- it's every month on the 3rd Monday. For Reservation, call 212-330-8097 or visit www.SALAAMtheatre.org.

Brenden Varma is an actor and dancer who has performed at various locations in Washington, DC, including the National Theatre, Constitution Hall, and the Gala Hispanic Theatre. In New York, he is a regular dance instructor at D.J. Rekha's immensely popular Basement Bhangra parties and has worked with Camara Dance Unlimited and Arya International. Last year, SALAAM Theatre presented his one-act version of "Safe Space." The son of a Punjabi father and Maharashtrian mother, who met while both serving as captains in the Indian Army, he speaks Spanish and Portuguese. SALAAM Theatre is a not-for-profit professional multidisciplinary theatre company celebrating South Asian American artistic excellence through creative risk-taking and experimentation that challenges all boundaries, connects all peoples and links all the arts in the spirit of progressive solidarity. Geeta Citygirl is the Artistic Director of SALAAM Theatre.

Elaine St. George. Photo by Carol Rosegg

THE GIRL THAT I MARRY: Elaine St. George will perform her one-woman show, "The Girl That I Marry," at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd Street for 6 performances on Mondays June 14, 21, and 28 at 7 & 9:30 PM. "The Girl That I Marry" is a witty examination of the hot-button issue of gay marriage, putting a new spin on great American standards-songs by Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Rodgers & Hart, Irving Berlin and Stephen Sondheim, among others. June, the traditional month for weddings, is also Gay Pride Month, and St. George celebrates both in this show. For tickets, call Ticket Central at 212-279-4200 or visit www.ticketcentral.com.

St. George first performed "The Girl That I Marry" as a cabaret act in 1999. It garnered critical acclaim, with Time Out New York writing "Barbara Cook and Elaine St. George must have been separated at birth. St. George hits the same gorgeous, shimmery notes as the grande dame of cabaret, but she puts a decidedly modern spin on the music in her show." Back Stage's reviewer found her "particularly adept at singing Sondheim songs," writing that "St. George delineated being gay as only part of who she really is (avoiding the obvious camp and cheap shots others have tried), creating tender moments about love where gender was a non-issue."

All the recent public attention focused on the issue of gay marriage has inspired St. George to substantially revise the script of "The Girl That I Marry" to include personal anecdotes and social satire. She will be accompanied by the jazz-inflected duo of Janice Friedman on piano and Adam Armstrong on bass. The show is being presented by Executive Producer Ethan Geto.

JULIANNE CAESAR: OverDrive Productions will present the World Premiere of David Starkey's tragicomedy Julianne Caesar directed by James Duff beginning its limited engagement Wednesday, June 9th and ending Sunday, June 13th, at Teatro La Tea in the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, 107 Suffolk Street in the Lower East Side in Manhattan. For tickets, call 212-946-4319 or visit www.overdriveproductions.org.

At the all-female Connie Francis College in Southern California, the school's production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar has sparked a very heated quest for the part of Brutus. When Julianne, the star of the school, gets beaten out by her archrival Megan for the coveted role, and is cast as Caesar instead, she goes berserk. On opening night when Caesar is supposed to die in the play, she not only doesn't fall, she becomes a bloodthirsty murderess who, not unlike Brutus's surprise betrayal of Caesar, takes overacting to a new level and kills her co-star and then flees from the theatre. Now a fugitive, Julianne becomes a media star for her desperate act. Julianne Caesar models the structure of the bard's classic and touches on similar themes, while creating a wholly original and innovative new tale.

"Julianne Caesar is a dense, no-holds-barred black comedy filled with potent Valley Girl slang, satire and unforgiving hostility. It provides an amusingly skewed, yet not unrealistic view into the struggles of young women fighting to make a name for themselves," says director James Duff.

Julianne Caesar is being directed by James Duff and stars: Whitney Adams, Janine Barris, Katrina Kitsis, Allison McAtee, Meghan Love, Katie Maguire, Stephanie Schweitzer, Brian Sloan, Jessica Underwood, James Andrew Walsh

OverDrive Productions is a not-for-profit production company dedicated to creating innovative projects and allowing young professionals to showcase their talents. From original plays to the classics, from song and dance to film, our mission is to produce work that is both accessible and complex, entertaining and thought-provoking, and as moving to our audience as it is to us. Other OverDrive productions have also prodcuted productions of Trust, by Stephen Dietz and Eric Bogosian's SubUrbia.

FASTEST WOMAN ALIVE: Praxis Theatre Project presens the New York Premiere of "The Fastest Woman Alive" by Outer Critics Circle Best Play nominee Karen Sunde. Directed by Joel Froomkin, this new multi-character drama about the first woman pilot to break the sound barrier runs June 3 - 20 at Theatre Row's Theatre on Two, 432 West 42nd Street.

"The Fastest Woman Alive" is based on the amazing and true story of Jackie Cochran (1914 -1980), the little-known aviator who holds more flight records than any other human being in history. This controversial pilot, who included Amelia Earhart and Chuck Yeager in her circle of close friends, holds the distinction of being the first woman to break the sound barrier among nearly 200 flying records. Not merely a pilot, Cochran had a hand in Eisenhower's election, formed a successful cosmetics company, was involved in astronaut training, was a hair stylist at Saks Fifth Avenue, and interviewed leaders including Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Tse-tung for Liberty Magazine.

According to The National Aviation Hall of Fame, "Jackie Cochran's ability to invent…and reinvent herself was, perhaps, a more compelling quality than her innate piloting skill, which was substantial - or her commanding personality, which was legend. Born into abject poverty and raised by a detached and destitute foster family, Jackie Cochran refused to be defined by her beginnings. Rather, she set out to mold an identity that was both flexible and unforgettable." Cochran was honored by the US Postal Service in 1996 with a 50-cent stamp bearing her likeness. She was also selected as Associated Press Woman of the Year in Business in 1963.

Karen Sunde has eight published plays including How His Bride Came to Abraham, Haiti: A Dream, Dark Lady and In A Kingdom by the Sea. She has won the Bob Hope Award, three Villager Awards, France's Aide de la Creation and a Best Play nomination by the Outer Critics Circle (for Balloon). Her plays have been produced in ten countries and in seven languages at venues including Actors Theater of Louisville, Ireland's Abbey Theatre, Annenberg Center, Finland's Lahti City Theater, The Acting Company and The Working Theatre. Her first screenplay, Deborah: The Adventures of a Soldier, was a finalist at Sundance. Sunde was the former Associate Director at CSC Repertory.


A scene from Madama Butterfly

BUTTERFLY IN THE PARK: The Met in the Parks series of free outdoor concert performances by the Metropolitan Opera will perform Giacomo Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" on Wednesday, June 16, on Central Park's Great Lawn. Julius Rudel will be condcting a cast including Kallen Esperian as Cio-Cio-San, Maria Zifchak as Suzuki, Richard Leech asPinkerton and Charles Taylor as Sharpless. Cultural conflict, impossible love, the connection between forbidden love an death, the inevitable dislocation as modern internationalism sweeps away "traditional values" - the themes of "Madama Butterfly" - are remarkably potent and contemporary.

Giuseppe Verdi's "Nabucco" will also be performed in the Parks with Andrea Gruber as Abigaille, Wendy White as Fenena, Jianyi Zhange as Ismele, Mark Delavan as Nabucco, Raymond Aceto as Zaccaria and Joseph Colaneri conducting. All about the Assyrian conquest of Judah, the destruction of the Temple of Solomon, and the Babylonian captivity of the Hebrews, even in Italy today, the first notes of the great Act III chorus, the unofficial anthem for "Risorgimento", can bring a crowd to its feet singing.

The series, now in its 38 season, includes performances in the parks of all five boroughs of New York City, as well as in two locations in New Jersey. All performances are free and no tickets are required. For more info call 212-362-6000 or visit www.metopera.org.

The schedule includes: "Madama Butterfly" - Central Park, Manhattan, 6/16; Buccleuch Park, New ABrunswick, NJ, 6/19; Pelham Bay Park, the Bronx, 6/22; and Marine Park, Brooklyn, 6/25. "Nabucco" - Central Park, Manhattan, 6/15; Brookdale Park, Bloomfield/Montclair, NJ, 6/18; Cunningham Park, Queens, 6/23; Richmond County Bank Ballpark, Staten Is., 6/18.

JAPANESE AT BANG ON A CAN: On Thursday, June 10, 7:30 pm at Japan Society, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, downtown New York's hip high-energy electric chamber ensemble, will show two sides of the vitality of the current Japanese music scene with a concert of world premieres by two of Japan's most intriguing composers, Nobukazu Takemura and Somei Satoh. The evening features Satoh's SHU (Spells) juxtaposed with a piece by electronic composer and famed DJ, Takemura. For reservations, call 212-752-3015 or visit www.japansociety.org. Japan Society is located at 333 E. 47th St.

Takemura's distinct combination of disarmingly simple tunes and dazzlingly optimistic electronics has made him one of the world's leading electronica composer /performers. Satoh's elegant and spiritual compositions have made him a frequent guest of the leading concert organizations of Europe, Asia and America, most recently here with a dramatic premiere at the New York Philharmonic.

Bang on a Can has commissioned these two major new works specifically for this evening.

Somei Satoh's elegant compositions have made him a frequent guest of leading concert organizations, and in 2000 he was one of five composers chosen worldwide to premier a work at the New York Philharmonic in a concert celebrating the millennium. He has written more than thirty compositions, including works for piano, orchestra, chamber music, choral and electronic music, theater pieces and music for traditional Japanese instruments. Born 1947 in Sendai, Japan, Satoh began his career in 1969 with Tone Field, an experimental, mixed media group based in Tokyo. In 1972 he produced Global Vision, a multimedia arts festival that encompassed musical events, works by visual artists and improvisational performance groups. Satoh has collaborated twice since 1985 with theater designer Manuel Lutgenhorst in dramatic stagings of his music at Arts at St. Ann's in Brooklyn, New York. Satoh was awarded the Japan Arts Festival prize in 1980 and received a visiting artist grant from the Asian Cultural Council in 1983, enabling him to spend one year in the United States. His Zen Buddhism influences are apparent in his work through the use of traditional Japanese instruments. Musicians and orchestras who have commissioned works from him or have premiered his work include Kronos Quartet, NHK Symphony, Aki Takahashi (piano), Margaret Leng (toy piano), Akikazu Nakamura (shakuhachi), Mayumi Miyata (sho), and Nanae Yoshimura to name a few.

Nobukazu Takemura is perhaps best known to mainstream America for the over 200 electronic audio responses he created as sound advisor for AIBO, Sony's popular robotic dog designed by frequent collaborator and noted Japanese artist and animator Katsura Moshino. Born in Osaka in 1968, Takemura was composing his singular brand of music, a dazzling blend of Minimal Electronic, DJ/Hip-Hop, IDM, and Electronica by his
high school years. In the summer of 1999, Thrill Jockey released the full-length Scope and its companion 12" "Meteor", both of which were noted for their delicate beauty. He appeared on the Steve Reich tribute CD, Reich Remixed, which inspired a subsequent one-time-only live show where he appeared with DJ Spooky, Bang on a Can and Coldcut; Takemura was singled out by The New York Times for his "brilliant" performance. Later that year, Takemura toured the United States with Jim O'Rourke and Brokeback, after which he spent an extended time in Chicago, collaborating with Ken "Bundy" Brown, Douglas McCombs and John McEntire. These sessions proved to be the cornerstones for what would become Sign, a new departure for Takemura, overflowing with rich, warm production and showcasing the composer's charming playfulness. Sign featured a bonus CD-ROM with a short film by Moshino. In the time between the Chicago sessions and the completion of Sign, Takemura produced Hoshi No Koe (Thrill Jockey) and again toured the US and Canada, opening for Tortoise.

Part classical ensemble, part rock band, part jazz band, the BANG ON A CAN ALL-STARS feature six of the most accomplished performers of new music in the world: Robert Black (bass), David Cossin (percussion), Lisa Moore (piano & keyboards), Mark Stewart (electric guitar), Wendy Sutter (cello), and Evan Ziporyn (clarinet & bass clarinet). In 1992 Bang on a Can created a separate series of performances for the Bang on a Can All-Stars, and over the course of five seasons, they established both a national and international reputation as pioneers of cutting edge contemporary music. In 1995, the All-Stars produced their first CD, Industry released on Sony Classical. Since then, they have released Cheating, Lying, Stealing (Sony Classical), Bang on a Can/Music for Airports (Point Music) and Renegade Heaven (Cantaloupe), among others. The Bang on a Can All-Stars has performed in the U.S., the U.K., Holland, Germany, New Zealand and Australia, where they were in residence at the Adelaide Festival. They have appeared at prestigious concert spaces in New York including Merkin Concert Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, and the Miller Theatre, as well festivals across the world including BBC Proms, Wien Modern, Warsaw Autumn, Prague Spring, Holland Festival.

TEABAG: AMPLIFIED presents TIME MACHINE, PETE LIST, THE ZODIAC on Saturday, June 5, 8PM at Silk Road at 30 Mott Street in Chinatown. For tickets, visit www.teabagopenmic.com/amplified. As a live band of enormous eclecticism, Time Machine sees their hip hop music as a meeting ground between various genres, expressions, and roots- local & global, past & present. Comprised of Leo Mintek on guitar, Ian Halbwachs on bass, Max Tucker on drums, DJ Captain Planet, Bako a.k.a. Black Soul on vocals, Chinaka Hodge on vocals, and Taiyo on vocals, witness Time Machine time travel through space & sound into dimensions familiar & unknown- all while rocking a party. A truly original singer/songwriter and an awe-inspiring live act, Pete List blends experimental Brit rock, hip-hop and folk with his ghostly falsetto. Suggesting vulnerability yet brooding with tension, his songs are honest, poetic and visceral memoirs that command the listener's full attention. Redefining the "one-man band", List performs his live shows with various guitars and looping machines to create incredibly rich soundscapes. Also a talented beatboxer, List provides his own rhythm section. The Zodiac first starting writing lyrics in 1987 to his favorite artists by replacing their words and creating new titles. After about 30 songs, Zodiac's style had been influenced by artists such as Run-DMC, LL Cool J, Ice-T, Eazy-E, Scarface, and many others, thus creating his own style: one that is hard to mimic by one person since it is chameleon-like. Various flows, various topics, various rhyme patterns, and other charateristics make up a rap-artist who can adapt to any environment and The Zodiac does just that.

ASIANS AT JOE'S PUB: Asians will perform this month at Joe's Pub at 425 Lafayette Street (between East 4th Street & Astor Place). For tickets, call Telecharge at 212.239.6200 or visit www.telecharge.com. Table reservations strongly recommended: please call 212.539.8778; and for further show information please call 212.539.8770.

Sunday, June 6, Akiko Yano Trio feat. Anthony Jackson & Cliff Almond Akiko Yano, one of Japan's most enduring, beloved and famous musical artists, returns to Joe's Pub for a series of rare live appearances, following her sold out shows at Joe's in 2002 and 2003. Akiko first achieved international attention on tour with Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO), and with Ryuichi Sakamoto, whom she married in 1982. She has collaborated, recorded and appeared in concert with international artists as far ranging as Thomas Dolby, Pat Methany and The Chieftains, the latter two having included her compositions and performances on their recent CD's and in concert. Tonight's performances feature Anthony Jackson on bass and Cliff Almond on drums. Showtimes are 7:30 & 9:30pm.

Thursday, June 10, Bob Brozman and Debashish Bhattacharya: World Music Network/Music Rough Guides 10th Anniversary Celebration Join witty, globe-trotting, acoustic guitar virtuoso Bob Brozman and Indian slide guitar master Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya -- "Two masters of the bent note, happy as a box of birds." (The Wire) -- as they help celebrate World Music Network's 15th anniversary celebration of Riverboat Records and the 10th anniversary of the Rough Guide Music CDs, accompanied by Subhasis Bhattacharya on tablas. Brozman's work with musicians from around the world including Bhattacharya (last year's Mahima on Riverboat) has marked him as not only a virtuoso musician and slide guitarist but also a pioneer in finding a common thread among global musical cultures. The inventor of the innovative twenty-four string Hindustani slide guitar, Calcutta's classically-trained Bhattacharya ranks among the world's great slide guitarists, the decades of study with masters resulting in a transcendent spirituality in his stunning playing. Pre-show DJ set by Derek Beres (GlobeSonic/Global BeatFusion). Doors to general public open at 6:30pm. For more info visit www.bobbrozman.com or www.worldmusic.net. Showtime at 7pm.


Former First Lady Imelda Marcos

IMELDA IN NY: Ramona S. Diaz' "Imelda", winner in Excellence in Cinematography, at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, will be showing at the Film Forum Theatre, 209 West Houston St. (off 6th Avenue), in New York City. Charming, funny, vain, crafty, media-savvy Imelda Marcos gave unprecedented access to filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz. The still-glamorous Mrs. Marcos parlayed her beauty queen status (in fact, she was a disgruntled runner-up!) into marriage to president-to-be Ferdinand Marcos, 11 days after meeting him. During their 20-year reign (1966-86), Imelda initially burnished her husband's image, then morphed into his female counterpart: obsessed with constructing grandiose structures ("her edifice complex"?) and amassing jewels, dresses and her now-famous 3,000 pairs of shoes - while much of the nation lived in dire poverty. Together they were accused of untold human rights abuses (more than 17,000 political prisoners languished in jails) and possibly the murder of their political rival, Benigno Aquino, Jr. Sitting by her husband's embalmed body, Imelda remarks, "This is love?" Is it? "Imelda" is scheduled to run in New York til June 22. The film will also be shown in San Francisco, Berkeley, Chicago, Denver, San Diego, Honolulu, Los Angeles and Cerritos. For more info about the film, visit www.imeldathemovie.com. For tickets, call 212-727-8110, 212-627-2035 or visit www.filmforum.com.

Diaz is a Filipino American filmmaker whose credits include Spirits Rising, an hour long documentary about women's role in the 1986 People Power revolution in the Philippines. Spirits Rising received a Golden Gate Award from the San Francisco International Film Festival, a Gold Apple from the National Educational Media Network, the Ida Lupino Director's Guild of America Award, a Student Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Award and a Certificate of Merit from the International Documentary Association. Prior to pursuing a career as an independent filmmaker, Diaz was an associate producer for Cadillac Desert, a major PBS documentary series about the quest for water in the American West. She also line produced and edited an award winning, 24 part television documentary series in the Philippines about the immigrant experiences of Filipinos residing in Europe and America entitled, Apple Pie, Patis, Pate. Diaz brings to filmmaking years of experience working for Mary Tyler Moore Productions and for Lorimar Productions in Los Angeles. Diaz is a graduate of Emerson College, Boston and holds an MA in Communication from Stanford University.

MASAHIRO SHINODA SERIES: Japan Society's Film Center presents two films by 1960's new wave director Masahiro Shinoda as part of Japan Society's summer programming. "Spy Sorge," a modern cinematic rendition of a spy's life in the 20th century, screens on Wednesday, June 16 at 6:30 pm. Shinoda's Kabuki film "Sharaku," presented to accompany Lincoln Center Festival's kabuki shows in Damrosch Park, screens on Tuesday, July 13 at 6:30 pm. Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street. For tickets, call 212-752-3015 or visit www.japansociety.org.

"Spy Sorge" examines the turbulent history of the 20th century through the life of charismatic German spy Richard Sorge, who passed important Japanese and German military information to the Soviet Union during World War II. Disguised as a journalist, Sorge recruited elite Japanese newspaper reporter Hotsumi Ozaki in Shanghai, and both began a precarious espionage mission believing that their work would contribute to world peace. Archival footage is used along with outstanding computer graphics to recreate 1930s Tokyo. Shot in Germany, China and Japan, this was Shinoda's last film before he retired as a film director to dedicate his life to education. Co-screenplay writer Robert Mundy introduces the film at the Japan Society screening.

Sharuku was a mysterious 18th-century woodblock artist who created exquisite ukiyo-e prints of Kabuki actor portraits. In this film, "Sharuku" is a former Kabuki stuntman forced to leave the stage because of an injury, but who remains still obsessed with the theater. Shinoda meticulously recreates the lavish costuming and opulent sets of theater in the Edo period. Hiyouki Sanada (of The Last Samurai and Twilight Samurai) stars as Sharaku; several major Kabuki actors are featured in this film.

ASIAN TRIBECA WINNERS: Ellie Lee's "The Road Home" is a winner of the first Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Awards. Showcased during the 2004 Tribeca Film Festival, "Tribeca All Access," is the newest initiative of the Tribeca Film Institute. The year-round program, which was created to foster relationships between US-based filmmakers of color and the film industry. Other filmmakers of color to win include
Phil Bertelsen's "Rock the Paint" who tiedwith Lee in the narrative section prize and Stacy L. Holman's "Dressed Like Kings" was awarded the documentary section prize.

"The Road Home" is the story of a strained relationship between a Chinese American daughter and her immigrant father who is struggling with the early signs of Alzheimer's. Lee is a director of documentary, fiction and animated films that have screened in over 100 festivals worldwide. She has received 25 international awards, and is a 2004 Rockefeller/Ford Foundation Media Arts Fellow. Her current short films Repetition Compulsion and Dog Days can be seen on the Independent Film Channel. Produced by Diana Williams.

The winners were selected upon the basis of their extraordinary clarity and strength of vision and exceptional filmmaking promise. The three winners were chosen from 21 finalists. Originally, there were 330 total applicants to the program. Of these 330, 35% were African American, 26% were Latino, 27% were Asian American, 5% were Native American, 1% were Pacific Islander, and 6% were multi-racial.

The winning films in the competitive sections of the Festival include Best Narrative Feature, Liu Fen Dou's "The Green Hat" of China. Dou also won the Best New Narrative Filmmaker. A startling break with the historical and political concerns of recent Chinese cinema, Liu's film is noteworthy not only for its unprecedented sexual candor but because it announces the arrival of a major new talent The green hat is the Chinese equivalent of the cuckold's horns, and two different stories explore how people today are struggling to transcend traditional definitions of love.

This year's Festival included over 250 films from 42 countries, as well as panel discussions, filmmaker events, gala premieres of major studio releases, the Family Festival, a music concert at Battery Park, and many other highlights.

"I am happy that the 3rd annual Tribeca Film Festival has helped draw attention to these filmmakers' work, and I look forward to seeing more great things from them in the future," said De Niro.

"This year's award-winners attest to the fact that, despite doubts voiced in some quarters, it is possible to present a strong slate of absorbing new films here at this time of year," noted Peter Scarlet, the Festival's Executive Director. "All the winning works are titles being shown for the first time on this continent, and several of them were world premieres, including "The Green Hat", the clear winner as the narrative feature jury's choice for both best film and best new filmmaker."

The 2004 Festival took place in various locations throughout lower Manhattan from May 1 through May 9, 2004. This year's Festival included over 150 screenings as well as panel discussions and filmmaker events. The Family Festival covered two weekends (May 1-2 and May 8-9), and the popular street fair was held on May 8.

The Tribeca Film Festival was founded by De Niro, Rosenthal and Hatkoff to celebrate New York City as a major filmmaking capital and to contribute to the long-term recovery of lower Manhattan after the attacks of September 11, 2001. [Abalos]


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