Monday, April 14, 2008

Errol Morris at AFI Silver Theater, MD

Is it possible for a photograph to change the world?

Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing a preview of Errol Morris' new doc about Abu Ghraib prison and the photos that shocked the world. Silverdocs brought esteemed director Errol Morris to the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring, MD to present "Standard Operating Procedure."

Following the screening, Morris openly addressed a number of questions from the film itself to his mysterious "Interratron" interviewing machine.
Some quotes:
  • "I also have committed the crime of photography."
  • "I dont see it as just a film about Iraq, or just a film about torture."
  • "The "Interratron" is designed to preserve eye contact... It focus' the attention on the interview itself, rather than the camera apparatus itself, the crew, etc." (he's used it for 15 years and still feels like he's learning about it. The only people who ever object to using it are the ones who need the camera to perform.)
  • "My wife says that even if noone sees the film now, at least it will have a life in the future... maybe after im dead."

As enlightening as the film was, Morris himself expanded on his messages during the Q&A. Currently writing an essay for The New Yorker about Sabrina Harman, the smiling female soldier in the infamous thumbs-up photo, he referenced the Cheshire Cat, whose smile is seen, but not the cat itself. "If not for her photos, the world would have never known..." He sympathetically noted that these young teenage soldiers were victims of many sorts (rank, love, media, etc.), and are now being punished for embarrassing the president, the government, the army, and the US.... They may not have been totally faultless, but they have simply committed the crime of photography. [more clips here]

Following the screening, i had a nice opportunity to chat at the reception w/ Silverdocs programmer Skye Sitney, Silverdocs director Patricia Finneran, Heavy Metal Parking Lot director Jeff Krulik, and Errol Morris himself. Many thanks to Silverdocs for the invite.

Hip-Hop in the City of God at National Geographic

Friday night, i just saw an incredibly inspiring panel discussion featuring Chuck D (Public Enemy), controversial Brazilian hip hop artist/novelist/filmmaker MV Bill, and two founding members of an organization called "4Real" at the 400 capacity National Geographic Theater at 17th/M, NW DC.

Most notable was Sol Guy from 4Real who started out as a young canadian rapper, then record label slave, then record label exec, who one day got the opportunity to film in Sierra Leone. This experience opened his mind and changed his life and mindset forever. He couldn't understand how these impoverished people and child soldiers at war idolized the hip hop world, while the actual hip hop world was at home, "wearing $10,000 around his neck to show the world that he was 'a man.'" Sol eventually joined forces with his friend Josh Thome, who also felt burnt from his experiences working in the NGO world, and created 4Real, dedicating themselves to using media for social purposes. 4REAL takes high profile U.S. actors such as Cameron Diaz and Casey Affleck and musicians such as M.I.A. and Flea on a global journey, connecting them with innovative young changemakers who are using art and culture to radically effect positive change in their communities and to EDUCATE the world. They showed us more video clips of Joaquin Phoenix in the Brazilian Rainforest, Mos Def with MV Bill in the City of God slums in Brazil. A live performance by MV Bill closed the night.

To be honest, we've seen all this before... in fact, I've seen all this over and over again... So what makes this group of people different from all the rest of the bullshit artists making a buck off of being poitically correct? Im not sure, but i think hearing what Sol Guy had to say, speaking his free mind, regardless that he was on a stage speaking on a panel in Washington DC at National Geographic with Chuck D, being taped in front of a live audience of 400, gave me the feeling that his motives were completely earnest. In fact, with my entire career toeing the line between pop culture and humanitarian work, this shit is straight up my alley... Id love to get involved.

One of the best things said was that they wanted to spread the message that, "being informed is cool," and being an ignorant, narrowminded dumb motherfucker is not.

Much respect!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Toolbox speaks on panel for American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA DC)

Last night, at new DC dinner/drinks hotspot Marvin, ToolboxDC spoke to a sold out crowd of approx 50 (mostly) graphic designers on inspiration, attitude, lifestyle, DIY, and how to have a professionally satisfying creative career in DC.

The ubiquitous Philippa Hughes of the Pinkline Project moderated the all-star panel of Brian and Nick from Toolbox, Jayme McLellan of Civilian Art Projects and David Fogel of Eighty Eight D.C. Rather than a straight lecture or portfolio strokeoff, a nice informal "conversation" and frank exchange of ideas was had between all the panelists and curious audience members. After the panel, Nick and I both had the pleasure of finally meeting fellow local designer Monica Bussolati, whose path we've never seemed to cross for some reason.

Thanks again to all the panelists, audience members, and to the AIGA for all the love.