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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Thousands march in London for democracy in Burma

From this BBC article:

" Thousands of people have taken to Britain's streets to support pro-democracy protestors in Burma.

The Burma Campaign UK said an estimated 3,000 people attended a march in London, which was the biggest protest for Burma in the UK so far.

Gatherings were also held in Newcastle and Brighton."

Read the rest of the article here.

- Sujewa

At 9/28/07 BBC article: India's lack of action on behalf of the people of Burma seen as "disgusting"

From this BBC article that outlines world response to pro-democracy movement/recent protests & marches in Burma:

" INDIA

Relationship: It has close economic and diplomatic ties with Burma. It has expressed concern over the current crisis but generally maintains a careful silence over the situation, describing it as an internal affair of Burma. Former Defence Minister George Fernandez has described India's current position as "disgusting".

Interests: India is concerned above all with protecting its oil interests in Burma, signing a new deep-water exploration deal in the same week that protests got under way. India also sells arms to the military regime in Rangoon. But as the world's most populous democracy, India is under pressure from the West and from activists at home to take a stronger stand in support of democratic forces in Burma.

Comment: "As a close and friendly neighbour, India hopes to see a peaceful, stable and prosperous Myanmar, where all sections of the people will be included in a broad-based process of national reconciliation and political reform." Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee"

Read the rest of the article here.

I think India is missing a good opportunity to act as a positive world citizen by not coming to the aid of a democratic movement that is highly influenced by ancient Indian religious philosophy (Buddhism started in India).

I wonder what the Sri Lankan government is doing to help the Burmese people. Will take a look tonight.

- Sujewa

YouTube videos, Free Burma protest DC 9/28/07 Fri: "China, China Shame On You" & international Buddhist monks chanting

This first video is some footage of DC protesters outside the Chinese Embassy on Fri 9/28/07 afternoon:




This video is of Buddhist monks from several countries (i know for a fact that several Sri Lankan monks are in that line up) chanting in front of the Chinese Embassy in DC, as a part of the same protest shown above:



- Sujewa

video: In Hiding: A year of survival under the Burma Army 2004 - 2005

Check out the video at the pro-democracy group in exile National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma's web site.

Here is a description of the video:

" "In Hiding" is a detailed account of human rights abuses committed by the Burma Army against ethnic minorities inside Burma over a one year period. It is an unrelenting documentary of disturbing images and firsthand stories; unadulterated evidence that the brutal military dictatorship of Burma continues its tyranny. And yet the film shows a people who resist the Burma Army and who, despite incredible difficulty, have hope. (Credit: Free Burma Rangers)"

Check it out here.

- Sujewa

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Link to 4 photos from a Free Burma protest in NYC

Check out the photos here. Looks like this protest happened on 9/27/07.

- Sujewa

Finished 2 Actors script!

Update on the short film project here.

- Sujewa

link to a photo of today's Free Burma protest in DC :: Update: other photo & video & text links

check out a photo here (at some hard working photo-bloggers Flickr page, my photos will be up tomorrow (Sat) on this blog). the photo was taken in front of the Burmese Embassy it looks like.

That small sign with the blue letters, in the background (read "Free Burma Now!"), is the one that i made/was holding for much of the time (rest of the time Ms. Amanda was holding it).

more Burma protest photo links coming as i find them.

Update: about a dozen photos from today's protest can be found here.

Update: Channel 4 DC/NBC news segment with some footage from the protest in front of the Chinese Embassy

Update: a blog entry with a list of Free Burma protests world wide

Update 9/29/07: a YouTube video, of one of the several places that the protest & march group demonstrated on Fri 9/28



- sujewa

Some notes from pro-Burma/pro-democracy protests in DC today :: Photos coming soon

Weather wise it was a lovely day for a protest & march. About 300 or so people gathered in front of the Burmese Embassy in Washington, DC today; Burmese people, various types of Americans, others, Buddhist monks, etc. There were signs expressing our concern for the peaceful protesters in Burma. We chanted & shouted about the need to free Burma, end the violence, free political protesters. Then the protest moved down to the Chinese Embassy, several blocks away, on Connecticut Ave. There were 300 - 500 protesters in front of the Chinese Embassy. A group of about 7 Buddhist monks (from various countries; Sri Lankan, perhaps Burmese, maybe Vietnamese or Thai also) addressed the crowd & chanted prayers. Then various speakers gave small speeches about the situation in Burma; the growing call for boycott of the '08 Olympics in China if China does not do anything positive & significant re: the situation in Burma, and plans for additional protests were announced. Protests against the junta in Burma, and world wide protests in support of the Burmese democracy movement are expected to go on until there is a desirable/pro-democratic resolution to the crisis in Burma. Next DC protest tomorrow (Sat 9/29) in front of the Burmese Embassy at 1 PM (see post below for directions). I took a lot of photos at the protest & march today, will have them up on the web later today. The protest today was a beautiful thing to witness & take part in. I now have more hope for the Burmese seeing how many people in America, in the DC area, are motivated about this cause and are supporting it, doing a lot of work for it. As we protested in front of the Chinese Embassy, several dozen cars that passed by us on Connecticut Ave. honked & showed their support. The police/uniformed secret service agents at the protest sites & the protesters got along well, there were no clashes or any difficulties with law enforcement at these protests (at least that was the case when I left the events, around 6:30 PM - protests started around 4 PM). Even though the major cities in Burma are occupied by the military, and many of the monks are being kept locked in their monasteries, a speaker at the protest said that in rest of Burma the people are on the move and they are ready for a long, hard struggle - and that they are well coordinated, optimistic and hopeful about victory.

Photos from the protest soon.

Candle light vigil for Burma (& collection of donations for US Campaign for Burma) at the International Buddhist Center in Wheaton, MD on Sunday October 7, starting at 7 PM. More info. on this event soon.

- Sujewa

Friday, September 28, 2007

Camera Stilo joins the US indie film bloggers re: Burma blog-a-thon

"Please use your liberty to promote ours" - 1991 Nobel Peace Prize receipient (& democratically elected & currently imprisoned leader of Burma) Aung San Suu Kyi

Is two people blogging about something a blog-a-thon? :) Maybe. But, as the Burmese military dictatorship clamps down violently (some estimates say hundreds of protesters killed as of today & hundreds of monks in detention), protests outside of Burma will need to continue in order to get the world to push the Burmese junta into doing the right thing (like not beating & shooting peaceful protesters for one, also releasing the elected leader of Burma from a decade plus long house arrest).

I am off to go to a protest & March in DC (see info. on protest & march at post below). Will blog stuff re: Burma later. In the meantime, here is Camera Stilo re: the US indie film bloggers re: Burma blog-a-thon. If you are an indie film blogger & you write about Burma this weekend, let me know or leave a comment, will link to it. Even if you don't regularly blog about indie film & you end up blogging about the situation in Burma, leave a note, will link to it. The more people in America & elsewhere who learn about the situation in Burma the better it is for the Burmese people.

It is very easy to see who is good & who is evil in Burma, not a very complicated situation as in some other conflicts. The military dictatorship has been in power for 40 some years and turned the Burmese into some of the poorest people on the planet, and more importantly have tremendously restricted & downgraded the quality of life in Burma. See many posts below for links to follow re: the Burma protests.

And now, Camera Stilo, for an introduction to the blog-a-thon:

"US indie film bloggers re: Burma

"Everything I do is restricted... where I go, what I do, who I see " - Burmese man quoted in a BBC web site article

Blogger Sujewa Ekanayake recently contacted me and a handful of other indie film bloggers about starting a US indie film bloggers re: Burma blog-a-thon. I, like many others, have read and heard reports about what's happenning in Burma/Myanmar with great sadness. But what could I, an indie film fan and working guy living in Cambridge, MA, add to the conversation that would be worthwhile? I wasn't sure."

Read the rest here.

- Sujewa

Protests at Burmese Embassy and Chinese Embassy tomorrow (Fri 9/28/07) in Washington, DC

Protest is organized by US Campaign for Burma.

On Fri 9/28/07 at 4:00 PM protest (against current violent opposition to peaceful protesters in Burma) at the Burmese Embassy followed by a march to the Chinese Embassy along Connecticut Ave NW.

Addresses & Directions:

Burmese Embassy (meet there at 4 PM)
2300 S Street NW
Washington, DC 20008

Directions to the Burmese Embassy from the Dupont Circle Station on the Red Line:

- Exit station using Connecticut Ave & Q St NW exit
- Walk approx. 2 blocks NW on Connecticut Ave NW
- Turn left on S St NW
- Walk approx. 2 blocks W on S St NW.

Then march to (walking east on S St NW, and then north on Connecticut Ave NW to the Chinese Embassy):

Chinese Embassy
2300 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC

From a USCB e-mail passed on to me today by a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk in Wheaton, MD:

"We are calling upon the one country that has military, economic, and diplomatic leverage over Burma to do something. That country is China. As host of the 2008 Olympics, it is completely hypocritical for China to be such strong supporters of the human rights-abusing military regime in Burma."

See you at the protest & march tomorrow.

- Sujewa

Over 25 Hollywood celebrities send letter to UN Secretary General re: securing the release of imprisoned Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi

Finally a news item that connects the film world (not indie film, but close enough for now :) and the pro-democracy protests in Burma, from US Campaign for Burma website, the introduction to the letter (letter dated 9/6/07):

"Today, over 25 Hollywood celebrities sent a letter to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging him to "personally intervene" to secure the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the world's only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient. The letter was organized by the US Campaign for Burma and Human Rights Action Center and led by Oscar-winning actress Anjelica Huston. Click Here to Read the Letter and see who else has signed on."

And here is a segment from the letter:

"Aung San Suu Kyi is not just a charismatic leader, she is the elected leader of the Burmese people. In Burma's last election, she won 82% of the seats in parliament, yet the military regime cruelly locked her up along with many members of her party. Meanwhile, according to the United Nations expert on human rights in Burma, the ruling military regime has burned down or otherwise destroyed over 3,000 villages in eastern Burma, forcing over 1 million and a half people to flee their homes."

Read the rest of the letter here.

And here is a list of the celebrities who signed the letter:

Jennifer Aniston
Anne Archer
Kabir Bedi
Julie Benz
Jane Birkin
Jim Carrey
Jorja Fox
Kris Hahn
Jack Healey
Dustin Hoffman
Anjelica Huston
Eddie Izzard
Mimi Kennedy
Walter Koenig
Christine Lahti
Padma Lakshmi
Laura Linney
Jimmy Miller
Damien Rice
Christina Ricci
Susan Sarandon
Liev Schreiber
Jason Schwartzman
Eric Szmanda
Bonnie Timmerman
Robin Williams
Owen Wilson
Elijah Wood
Robin Wright

Again, the link for the letter.

To see what you can do to help the Burmese people, go here.

Also check out the Student & Community Action page at the US Campaign for Burma website.

- Sujewa

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What you can do to help Burma - from US Campaign for Burma website

From US Campaign for Burma website:

" Show Your Solidarity With the Saffron Revolution

We are working on bringing in as many world leaders, celebrities, news agencies on board with this story, but you need to play your part as well. It will not just be Americans working for this, but a global movement as well.

Starting this Wednesday (September 26th) we will begin a global week of ACTION. With an explosion of action we will make sure that everyone from world leadersto your next door neighbors have their eyes focused on Burma. Having this global focus will not only help in the protection of those demonstrating, but also make sure that the calls of the monks and civilians gets turned into international action.

HERE'S WHAT YOU CAN DO:

- Be a part of our 88,000 signatures campaign. I am asking people to collectively gather 88,000 signatures from around the world, calling on Chinese President Hu Jintao to compel Burma towards valid national reconciliation. Sign the petition here online: Click Here

OH BUT WAIT... you don't get off to so easy. Download the petition from our website and get hundreds and thousands of people to sign it. We're going for 88,000 remember.Download Petition Here

Once you have your petition filled out with your thousands of names, please send it back to the USCB office and we will deliver all the signatures to the Chinese Embassy: Here is our address: 1444 N St NW, Suite A2, Washington DC 20005

- Hold a Saffron Supporting Event.. It doesn't matter whether you live in a major city or not, you can still organize an event. These can be a powerful tool to raise awareness in your home town, and millions of eyes on Burma is eactly what we need with the military on the verge of a violent crackdown. You can organize a march, candle light vigil, or get creative and do any sort of action that will work for you and your community. Global Events are occuring this next week and I want the US to be well represented. Sign up to hold an action in your town here: Click Here to Sign Up

- Donate to USCB: We are running at full steam and are in strong need of financial assistance. Click Here to Donate

- Create a YouTube video for the Republican presidential debates asking them what what they will do to help Burma:http://www.youtube.com/debates

Thank you all for your work, and please let me hear from you on what you are doing- thelma@uscampaignforburma.org

Download Info Sheet on China's Support of the Burmese Regime : Click Here

Download an info flyer that you can then print and pass out to people who want to know: Click Here

Download our "This is Not a Game" Flier (Designed by Brian Hurst): Click Here"

Find out more about US Campaing for Burma here.

- Sujewa

US Campaign for Burma website

Here is the website for US Campaign for Burma, the Washington, DC based activist group that is working to bring democracy to Burma. Lots of information there about the current situation in Burma & how you can help the Burmese people.

- Sujewa

An hour by hour account of events in Burma at Mizzima News :: Article on armed rebels (from 10/06)

Read about the junta's crackdown on peaceful protests here at Mizzima News.

When peaceful protests are crushed, more Burmese might turn to violence & armed rebellion in order to improve their living conditions, as the people written about in this article at The Independent have had to do.

- Sujewa

Mizzima News has a lot of material on the protests in Burma

Mizzima News; "Specializing in Burma related news & multi-media." Check them out for a lot of info. & updates re: the largely peaceful (on the side of the people at least), Buddhist monks led revolution/anti-junta protests going on in Burma right now.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What are some of the things that the Burmese people are angry at their government about?

This BBC article provides some answers.

- Sujewa

China and Russia not too troubled by monks & other protesters getting killed & beaten by the Burmese Junta :: Other UN leaders try to help protesters

Latest re: the situation in Burma & the UN's response to it, at the BBC site.

- Sujewa

How can a pacifist organization be useful to the Burmese people in a struggle against a violent & armed dictatorship? BBC article explains

Full disclosure: one of my relatives is a Buddhist monk, belonging to the same school of Buddhism - Therevada - that the Burmese monks belong to, and having been raised Buddhist (although I am no longer one; happily agnostic now) in Sri Lanka, and being aware of the activist nature of the Buddhism taught in Therevada Buddhist countries (initially as a revolt against Hinduism, and in more recent times as an anti-colonial & anti-despotic force - which has in Sri Lankan history also sadly led to, at times, being an anti-minority (Tamil/Hindu/Christian, etc.) voice; very un-Buddhist IMO, anyway, a different subject for a different day there), the monks led protest in Burma is of great interest to me. This event in Burma is probably the first time in my life that I've seen the social engagement & activism potential (and, as I can see, activism mandate) in Buddhism being wielded as a weapon (a non-violent weapon) at such a large scale (a recent monk led march was estimated to have 100,000 or more participants) against an oppressive regime. So, even though the protests in Burma have very little to do with indie film, I am blogging about them here (since this is an important event in the world, and who knows, maybe some of us filmmakers will work it into a project) .

Anyway, on to the subject matter mentioned at the top; how can a pacifist organization be useful to Burmese people in their struggle against a military dictatorship that is not shy about using violence? This BBC article offers some clues & background. Here is a segment:

" Burmese monks not only play a spiritual role, but also have a history of political activism. They have been at the forefront of protest against unpopular authorities, from British colonial power in the 1930s to the last pro-democracy campaign in 1988.

Their political role stems from the days of the Burmese monarchy, which operated until the late 19th century, under which monks worked as intermediaries between the monarch and the public, and lobbied the king over unpopular moves such as heavy taxation, said Mr Aung Kin.
They became more confrontational during colonial times, in protest at the failure of foreigners to remove their shoes in pagodas, he said.

But the historian stressed that only about 10% of Burma's monks are politicised, and many of the monasteries may be unaware of the scale of the agitation currently under way in the country.

If fully mobilised, however, the monks would pose a major challenge to the military, and their moral position in society could embolden many more people to join the protests."

Read the first part of that article here.

So, Buddhism is a thread that runs through much of Burmese life, culture & nation; relevant to soldiers as well as other citizens (same situation in Sri Lanka, from what I observed while living there & from what many relatives tell me). Thus, monks are able to use this leverage to try to help people achieve their goals re: the government.

I believe the days of the Burmese military junta are now numbered. The monks' display of courage & the sight of them paying the price for it/the outrage will no doubt motivate many other Burmese & people elsewhere to start working against the junta.

- Sujewa

Bloggers/DIY journalists vs. Burmese junta

BBC article about how Burmese bloggers are working around tight internet restrictions to tell the world about people's protests & government reprisals.

Ko Htike's blog w/ updates from Burma.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

the video image humanizes/brings you closer OR emotionally beautiful photography in Cache

Saw Hollywoodland last night, very good movie, but the use of motion picture film & the period production design kind of kept me at a certain distance from the movie. Saw the film Cache tonight, another very good movie. Enjoyed (well, enjoyed might be the wrong word given the subject matter of Cache, but lets say an aesthetically engaging experience) it a lot more, was able to get into it more because the director Michael Haneke used video (HD most likely) to shoot the film, all the lighting was as natural as could be, star Juliette Binoche looked like an ordinary person/more approachable/vulnerable/and thus more likeable in this movie (compared to a handful of other movies I've seen her in).

So, motion picture film is definitely more visually beautiful, but video resonates more emotionally, a higher degree of emotional beauty in that medium, at least for me. Motion picture film is like a well lit/studio photo of a hot model, a stranger. Video is like a good photo, taken by a skilled amateur, at home, of an attractive friend. In addition, the fact that video is more affordable to more filmmakers around the planet makes it more attractive to me. Video is a more democratic medium, a more accessible & thus cooler medium.

Check out Cache if you haven't yet. It is not violent or gory (there is blood in one scene, not gory). It is definitely, at times, a downbeat drama, but more of a well thought out suspense than anything else.

Also enjoyed the fact that Cache did not have a score. I did not feel any pressure to feel anything at a given point/no push from music except whatever emotions that naturally came up while watching the actions of the characters. Even thought the story of the movie was sad, the videography/lighting and sound design (lack of score specially) made for a refreshing experience.

- Sujewa

Monday, September 24, 2007

Book claims to have proof of a lost dynasty (over 3,000 years old) in Sri Lanka

Heard about this book while visiting a relative last night. Sounds very interesting, I am ordering a copy to check out. Claims to have proof of a pre-Vijaya (Indian prince credited with starting Sri Lanka in the 6th century BC) dynasty that traded with other kingdoms & states in various parts of the world. Here is the Amazon link for the book, title The Lost Dynasty: Uncovering Sri Lanka's Secret Past - by Nishantha Gunewardena.

A description from the Amazon page:

" It is the story of a king, shrouded in mystery, introduced as fiction, betrayed by history, unveiled by a tsunami that reintroduces himself, his kingdom, and his dynasty ... as true history. For centuries Sri Lankans and many historians have believed that the Sri Lankan civilization begins with the arrival of Vijaya, the supposed first king and progenitor of the Sinhalese, from northeastern India in the sixth century BCE. "If so," the author asks, "how is it that Egyptian Pharaohs, Prophet Moses, King Solomon, King Hiram, all indicate to have had trading links with the island more than a millennium before the arrival of Vijaya?" In a 13-year quest, avoiding landmines and Tamil Tigers the author finds and subjugate myths, legends, lore, and even ancient palm leaf chronicles of Sri Lanka's past to rigorous and exhausting tests with the latest research by Oxford University and National Geographic Society in archeology, genetics, paleography, anthropology, literary analysis, and statistics. In THE LOST DYNASTY, all recovered clues are meticulously assembled to reconstruct a past even most Sri Lankans do not know existed - a past more glorious than they ever dreamed of. Hidden in neglected rock inscriptions are the story a prosperous kingdom with international colonies and trade links ruled by a powerful dynasty that was vanquished and lost to history by an unwise war and an unforeseeable tsunami more than 3000 years ago. The Book contains 178 stunning and rare images spanning over 200 years. Table of Content Chapter 1: War and Peace Chapter 2: The Tamil Homeland Chapter 3: An Ancient Terror Chapter 4: Ancestor or Invader? Chapter 5: Chronicles Chapter 6: Palladium of Kingship Chapter 7: The Missing Chapter Chapter 8: Pearl Harbor Chapter 9: The Forgotten Kingdom Acknowledgements Bibliography Index."

More here.

UPDATE: Official website for book The Lost Dynasty: Uncovering Sri Lanka's Secret Past.

- Sujewa

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Orange revolution

BBC report on YouTube re: the latest wave of Buddhist monks led anti-junta protests in Burma:



Related: a video using probably a Burmese song, dedicated to the monk protesters:



- Sujewa

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Interview with director & script writer of Rwandan movie Munyurangabo

At the Evening Class blog.

Here is a segment:

" Michael Guillén: I'm sure I'm not the first one to express that it's somewhat startling to have the best African feature at the Toronto International be the work of a Korean-American and a White guy. [Laughter.] How did that come about?

Lee Isaac Chung: Thank you for saying that. It came about originally because my wife had been doing volunteer work in Rwanda for the last three summers. She does art therapy and she wanted me to come with her. We had just been married and it was the first summer after we'd been married. She wanted us to go together and she asked me to volunteer as well to do something. I figured cinema and filmmaking is all that I know that I could teach so I figured we were going to teach it. But as I was looking at the sort of films that were coming out of Rwanda, it seemed a little sad that there was nothing that focused on contemporary Rwanda. Everything just seemed to recreate what went on with the genocide. Also, all the films are very much for Western audiences from the Western perspective using Western actors, they speak English, maybe with an accent or something like that; but, nothing in Kinyarwanda, their local language. So that was the beginning of the project.

I asked Sam if he could write with me for the film and one of the first goals that we set was that we wanted this film to be for the Rwandans; that they would watch it and enjoy the film. We knew that if we did that, it would be a better film even in an international sense—if it was true to them and their audiences."

Read the rest here.

And here's a website for the film.

From the website:

" First feature film in Kinyarwanda

MUNYURANGABO is the first narrative feature film ever made in the Kinyarwanda language. Directing in a foreign country and in a language I do not speak was actually an advantage, forcing me to work as an outsider. This guards against the conveyance of any personal ideas and truths that are relatively minor, allowing instead for an exploration of more universal matters that can connect a Korean American with a Rwandan. I hope that this connection would extend to you, the viewer."



- Sujewa

BBC: "Ethnic minorities face film woes"

BBC writes about a report re: London's film industry & its lack of ethnic diversity. Read the article here.

Here is a segment:

"The report from the TUC found the sector tended to recruit a workforce largely drawn from white people and those with high-income backgrounds."

More here.

Thanks Cinematical for the link.

- Sujewa

Amir Motlagh completes feature Whale :: Plans to release Whale, short Plain Us, feature Micro in coming months

Read all about it at Amir's blog.

Planned release dates are: Whale in December '07, Plain Us in March '08, Micro in May '08, as I understand it. All three films are said to be related.

More here.

- Sujewa

Writing a script about race & film on a weekend where the Jena 6 protests are the biggest news item

Read about it at Wild Diner Films blog; the latest update on my new film - the short 2 Actors.

- Sujewa

Friday, September 21, 2007

DC art house Dupont 5 is closing on January 13

Read the Washington Post article about the closing of another art house in DC, after a 20 year long run.

The last movie I saw there was Mutual Appreciation a few months ago (or maybe late '06?), with director Andrew Bujalski present for a Q & A afterwards.

Here is a little bit from the article, summing up other DC art house closings:

" In June 1996, the Biograph in Georgetown closed after a nearly 30-year run as an independently owned, single-screen art house that was "the closest thing to a true underground cinema the D.C. area has ever seen," according to an article in The Post.

The next year, Palisades residents protested the closing of a theater by the predecessor to AMC Loews, Cineplex Odeon. It became a CVS Pharmacy.

In June 2002, the Janus 3 in Dupont Circle, which once had its own film club and midnight showings of experimental films, closed.

In May 2000, the Embassy was resurrected as Visions Bar Noir, a two-screen venue at the crossroads of the Dupont Circle, Kalorama and Adams Morgan neighborhoods, in an attempt to reclaim the small art-house style. Encumbered by debt, it closed in 2004."

Read the rest of the Post article here.

One less place to watch art/indie/foreign movies in the DC area, sad :( Even though the facilities were not the best, it was nice to have the Dupont 5 option. I've seen many art/indie/foreign movies there over the years; including the Dogme 95 movie Italian for Beginners. And I went there for movies on quite a few memorable dates in the last ten plus years or so.

I think one of the only art house options left in DC is Landmark's E Street cinema. The coming of the Landmark theaters (one to DC/E Street, one to Bethesda) was cited as a reason for the closing of Visions theater in DC back in '04. Almost forgot, the Avalon is another DC art/indie/foreign movie house. And a little bit outside of DC we have AFI Silver in Silver Spring, MD. On the bright side, the multi-screen "mall" theater in Wheaton/at Westfield Shopping complex, was showing a relatively little publicized French movie on one of their smaller theaters this summer; so perhaps more area theaters will start programming art/indie/foreign stuff in addition to their regular Hollywood fare.

Goodbye Dupont 5.

- Sujewa

Jim Carrey joins the anti-Burmese (Myanmar) junta protest campaign through a YouTube video

Check it out, & read about it, here.

- Sujewa

Cult Cinema Hero: The Art of Charles Burnett - interview

Check it out here. By Nelson Kim.

- Sujewa

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Conversation with Eric "Camera Stilo blog" Strattman

Eric Strattman's blog Camera Stilo has been one of my regular stops on the web for sometime now. Eric writes about DIY film, the similarities between DIY rock/punk/indie rock scenes of the 80's & 90's and the current DIY film scenes, and about his own development as a filmmaker & a blogger. Here is a lengthier introduction to Eric & Camera Stilo blog in the form of an interview:

Sujewa: Hey Eric, what's the meaning of the name of your blog? What is "camera stilo"? Why did you name your blog that?

Eric: It means "camera as pen." I found the phrase used in an article about documentary filmmaker Ross McElwee. I liked the sound of the phrase and what it implies. I was thinking about starting a blog and wanted a film-related name for the blog. When I ran across the phrase I thought "perfect!" I checked to see if the URL was available and it was. So, that sealed it.

Sujewa: Have you made any movies thus far? Is there any in the works at the moment? Were there attempts to make movies in the past; perhaps projects that were not completed?

Eric: Although I've always been interested in media, especially DIY media, the whole idea that I could even make a film didn't enter my consciousness until a couple years ago. I'm still very much a beginner, but I've shot countless hours on mini-DV and have even completed a few things: a 26 minute documentary about an independent CD/record store, a short film - a videolog of sorts - documenting items found on the streets of Cambridge, MA, even a four-minute narrative short. So far, I've only got the narrative up on Youtube, everything else has been just an exercise of sorts. I'll get the others on Youtube soon, but I don't see pursuing anything beyond that with them. I'll do more; I have a bunch of writing, ideas, etc. just laying around.

Sujewa: Who are some of your favorite filmmakers? What are some of your favorite films? What do you like about those filmmakers and or films?

Eric: As far as narrative films go, in recent years I've gotten into Krzysztof Kieslowski and Michael Haneke. Their films have a wonderful pace and look. Things, emotions seem to build slowly, only occasionally exploding. I love docs too and have really fallen for the Direct Cinema/Cinema Verite of the Maysles, DA Pennebaker, Bob Drews, Ricky Leacock and such. Their methods and attitude really strike a chord with me. I tend to like films with a certain simplicity and immediacy; that's one reason why I like so many of the DIY Generation/Ultra-indie/New Talkies/M-core films that have been coming out in recent years. And like so many, the one film that changed my attitude about film and opened me to the possibilities of film is Richard Linklater's Slacker. I can watch that one over and over.

Sujewa: What's the Boston indie film scene like? Is there such a scene?

Eric: I'd say that there is a very active film scene here, but it's so big that I don't really feel a part of it. Before moving to Boston, I grew up in and lived in Syracuse, NY, which is a much smaller city. Because of the size of the city - and perhaps some other less tangible factors - if someone was doing something creative, you knew about them. (FYI: I wasn't involved in filmmaking in my Syracuse days; my primary interest then was music.) Here, there are just so many people making films, never mind other creative endeavors like music, writing and other visual arts (besides filmmaking), that I find that I don't feel the same sense of community that I would in a smaller city. But Boston does have its advantages. I can see so many great films in so many great venues. And because everyone is so creative, I don't feel like such a weirdo being creative myself. I've been somewhat active at Cambridge Community TV. So, if I feel a part of any community, it's the Cambridge film/video making community. But in a city that is home to both Errol Morris and Frederick Wiseman, I am just a speck in a city of giants.

Sujewa: What are some of your favorite places to watch movies in Boston (regular theaters or festivals, museums, microcinemas, special events, etc.)?

Eric: I always look forward to the Independent Film Festival of Boston every year. I love the location - most of their screenings are at the Somerville Theater in Davis Square - and I love most of the films they select. There's the Harvard Film Archive - that for the past two years has programmed the great New American Independent Cinema series - The Brattle, The Coolidge, screenings at the Mueseum of Fine Arts and even the Landmark Cinemas in Kendall Square. And there's much more. There's just so much going on here that it's almost an overload situation for me. But, that said, my favorite film-viewing experience is weekly movie night with me, Jenn and our friend Sam. We get together, usually eat some pasta and have a glass of wine, then watch a DVD, usually something at least two of us have never seen before. What can I say? I'm kind of a homebody.

Sujewa: What do you hope to accomplish from blogging?

Eric: I ask myself that question all the time. I guess it does satisfy a certain need I have to communicate. But I do it largely for myself. If I'm thinking about something or read something I find inspiring, I put it up on my blog. By collecting all these stories, ideas, quotes and thoughts in one place, I can look back at them anytime, virtually anywhere. So, when self-doubt creeps in, and I start thinking to myself that getting this deep into film might be a silly idea, I look at my blog. Then I get excited about everything all over again and continue forward. I guess you might say it's some kind of therapy.

Sujewa: What do you hope to accomplish with your films?

Eric: To create something interesting and unique. To have fun. I guess it all comes down to communication. I'm kind of a reserved guy and yet I have this overwhelming desire to share with others all that I see that is beautiful in this world. I tried writing both fiction and non-fiction, but I was never satisfied with the results. I can't draw a straight line and never got the hang of representing three-dimensional objects onto a two-dimensional surface, so the traditional visual arts were never really an option for me. But I always got a kick out of capturing moments on video or film and once I tried Final Cut I was hooked. I love editing! If I can have a life where I'm editing to pay the bills and making my own creative little films on the side, that would be incredibly fulfilling. I'm still a long way from making that happen, but it all starts with an idea, a dream, doesn't it?

Yes it does. Thanks Eric!

Check out Eric's blog Camera Stilo here.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Interviewed at Camera Stilo

Earlier today Eric at Camera Stilo blog posted up an interview that he did with me. Check it out here.

- Sujewa

Sunday, September 16, 2007

DC area man decides to watch an IFC First Take movie on TV after seeing ad for theatrical run of same movie in local newspaper

So, every other night or so I scroll through the various cable channels & their movie offerings at Amanda's (girlfriend) house, looking for a good movie to watch. For a few days now I've seen the ad & clips for the IFC First Take movie I Want Someone To Eat Cheese With but there was something I guess a little too "television" & not "real movie" about it which made me pass over it in favor of other movies - "movie" movies that played in theaters - or full on weird/half-baked/half-OK & half cringe-y television shows such as Californication (I saw two episodes last night, no aliens yet (a healthy amount of T & A though, some questionable writing & directing/acting in episodes 1 & 2, ideal tone not fully found yet/got potential maybe), got my fingers crossed on the aliens though, Fox Molder (lastnamesp?) is there, aliens can't be too far behind, anyway, pretty good show/guilty pleasure thingy, nice to see David Duchoviny (lastnamesp? too lazy/tired to look it up right now, dude from the X-Files) at work again). Anyway, today I was planning on going to the movie theater to watch something new but the day was just too filled with things/day job work that had to be done, so, while having dinner at the Tastee Diner in Silver Spring (a work related dinner at that), I saw an ad for I Want Someone To Eat Cheese With (from here on known as Cheese) in this week's edition of the Washington City Paper (and the ad actually mentioned that the film is a First Take title that is available on cable). Seeing the print ad made me want to watch Cheese, 'cause it is like going to the movie theater except only at home (voice in my head = "it's a real movie, it's got a newspaper ad & all" :). Anyway, I am about to veg out on the couch & watch Cheese with Amanda. Watching a real movie at home. First Take is already a success I hear, and I think it will catch on more/will become a bigger success 'cause even though people want to go to the theater they can't always do so for many reasons, but if they can watch the same movie at home they just might (i still prefer the movie theater experience of course, don't want any negative e-mail from NATO (national ass'n of theater owners - i think) :). Anyway; 1. First Take good, 2. watching movies in theaters good, 3. am off to watch Cheese on the TV.

UPDATE 3:15 AM Sun 9/16: Cheese is very good. Enjoyed it. Californication, on the other hand, became less & less bearable - I watched two more episodes (ep. 3 & 4) and I think I am done with that show forever. Not my thing, very little about it feels real, some good lines here & there though, and often decent acting work by D.D./the lead.

- Sujewa

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Locations & Astronauts

Latest re: the production of my latest film, the 20 min. short 2 Actors At A Restaurant After An Audition.

- Sujewa

Interview with Great World of Sound star Kene Holiday at Blackfilm.com

Check it out here.

Here's a little bit from the interview:

KH: "...‘Great World of Sound’ was being shot in Charlotte, North Carolina and I had never been there. I’d done some road shows nearby and made some friends, but I had never really established myself with the community. So I went and had the opportunity to be there for an extended period of time and I loved it. I fell in love with the city and met a beautiful woman whom I loved dearly and she’s now my wife. She’s from down there and we just made one heck of a movie. We opened it at Sundance and received rave reviews from the New York Times, the L.A Times and all the big papers. This is what independent filmmaking should look like..."

Read the rest here.

- Sujewa

My Brother's Wedding review at New York Times

Good stuff, check it out.

Thanks GreenCine Daily for the link.

Here is IFC Center's web page for Charles Burnett's film.

- Sujewa

Shopping for a filmmaking education in the Boston area

That's what Eric Strattman (lastnamesp?) is doing over at the Camera Stilo blog.

Here is a little bit from his post re: filmmaking education options & costs in the Boston area:

" In an ideal world, no one would have to worry about the cost of education. But at least for me, the cost of any class or program is a major determining factor as to whether or not I can sign up for it. So, I researched the cost of some certificate, MA and MFA programs in the Boston area that allow students to develop as a film or video-maker."

Check out the rest of the post here.

- Sujewa

Thursday, September 13, 2007

"And Wes Anderson starts coming because we have the chess night."

Interview with actor Kumar Pallana at The Believer, from March 2003. Pallana has appeared in at least 3 Wes Anderson movies.

Here is a slice from the interview:

"KP: The problem was, India was marching for freedom. Gandhi was just coming up, the Congress party was ten, twenty years old, and they wanted to kick the British out. And they have the different parties. There were especially two: one with the violence, one with the non-violence. The violent people were underground. My brother was involved with the freedom fighters, with the violence. My brother was involved and we didn’t know and then all those people were captured and we find out that they are freedom fighters. And they were violent. They used violence because in those days the Raja and Maharaja were puppets. They were using people like slavery and then all the army controlled the land."

Read the rest here.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Had meeting # 1 re: 2 Actors short

Read all about it here at the Wild Diner Films blog (post also has update on the Date Number One DVD project, & on new feature Stranger Than Hollywood).

- Sujewa

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

2 Actors At A Diner After An Audition :: Use of this blog

Is the working title of the new short that I am making in collaboration with a few DC area filmmakers, more here.

::

I think this is how this blog will be used in the future; to point to significant posts at Wild Diner Films blog (my regular blog these days). The day to day updates on projects will be at Wild Diner Films blog - while this blog will be used to promote certain items/important items at that blog; since posts on this blog gets carried on iW's blogs page & thus has the chance of being read more widely. Most likely I will post here a couple of times a week at most. Also, non-WDF stuff, like the Water Flowing Together interview that I still need to transcribe, will be posted here. So I guess this blog is only semi-retired.

- Sujewa

Friday, September 07, 2007

Short re: race & indie film in the works (flick inspired in part by the posts/discussion here re: Gen DIY series)

Yes, this blog is still retired.

But, since this short that is coming together was inspired by something I blogged about here, I am leaving the link for it here.

Find out more at my new blog Wild Diner Films.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

This blog now retired, see ya at the new Wild Diner Films blog

Well, to stay true to the new mission to limit blogging and spend more time making movies, I am getting off this blog and will be now blogging (as significant Wild Diner Films/my movies news breaks) at the new Wild Diner Films blog. See ya over there sometime! Thanks.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

6 characters, 90 minutes, no hand held camera - latest on Stranger Than Hollywood

Check out the latest update on my new movie Stranger Than Hollywood here.

- Sujewa

Links to 3 new projects :: Getting the blogging habit under control

After this post pretty much all the future posts (except for at least 2 more posts re: SilverDocs '07 stuff) at this blog will be directly about one of my movies (a little trick to get me to work on making movies more instead of writing about other people's movies), more on this below.

3 New Projects I've Heard About:

Texas Snow

Flying Dead Birds

A Stupid Movie for Jerks

::

Getting the Blogging Habit Under Control

Blogging is fast, unlike filmmaking. Thus, blogging can be very addictive, something that will take up a lot of time. So, the decision has to be made re: whether I am going to spend a lot of time writing about film or a lot of time making & showing & selling films. I am going with the making films option, with blogging being used strictly for my filmmaking related promotional work.

Since it is easy for anyone to start a blog, other filmmakers should definitely look into it. If you do start a blog about your indie film or indie film in general, e-mail me the link (wilddiner@aol.com) and I might add it to my links section.

- Sujewa

Monday, September 03, 2007

Photos iW BLOGGER MEET UP # 1 NYC 2007 8/23 Thu night Botanica bar :: Happy Labor Day hard working iW bloggers! :)

Sujewa Ekanayake (Wild Diner Films Blog, film Date Number One), Eugene Hernandez (indieWIRE)


Tom Hall (The Back Row Manifesto blog, Sarasota Film Festival), Agnes Varnum (Doc It Out blog), Pamela Cohn (Still In Motion blog)


Sujewa Ekanayake, Matt Zoller Seitz (New York Times, The House Next Door blog, film Home)


Brian Geldin (The Film Panel Notetaker blog), Amy Peters (The Film Panel Notetaker blog), S.T. Van Airsdale (The Reeler)

Matt Dentler (Matt Dentler's blog, SXSW Film Festival), Mike Tully (Boredom at Its Boredest blog, film Cocaine Angel, film Silver Jew), Alex Karpovsky (film The Hole Story)


Eugene Hernandez, Brian Geldin


Wide shot of people at the event


Adam Roffman (Independent Film Festival of Boston), Craig Zobel (film Great World of Sound)


Mike Tully, Pamela Cohn, Doug Block (Doug Block's Doc Blog, film 51 Birch Street)

Matt Dentler, i believe that is Mark Rabinovitz from The Rabbi Report, S.T. Van Airsdale, Mike Tully


Amy Peters, Brian Geldin


Amy Peters, Brian Geldin, S.T. Van Airsdale


Arin Crumley (film Four Eyed Monsters), Todd Rohal (film The Guatemalan Handshake)


Brain Geldin, S.T. Van Airsdale, Sujewa Ekanayake

Thanks for coming to this Meet Up bloggers & filmmakers!

Photos Copyright 2007 Sujewa Ekanayake.

- Sujewa

Indie filmmaking for working people - some tips

It is Labor Day in America, so let's take a look at the intersection of other kinds of work and independent filmmaking.

It is completely possible to work full time at whatever kind of job and to make movies in spare time; nights, weekends, etc. Not the ideal working situation for a filmmaker, but a way to get started and even a way to develop a significant body of work. With the low cost of production brought about by digital video this is doable. I've made 4 movies so far (1 short - Fresh Coffee, 1 one hour long doc/performance video - 17 DC Poets, 1 fiction feature on 16 MM - Wild Diner, one DV fiction feature comedy - Date Number One) with money from other work (office work, retail work, film & video production work, etc.) being one of the main sources of financial support for making the movies.

Of course it takes time to do things this way, and getting a studio or investors to put up all the money for projects is a lot more lucrative & quicker way to go probably, but, if those are not options for you, it is possible to make & show & sell your movie to interested audience members while using your day job(s) as the main source of income/financing for the project.

Some Tips:

1 - Take your time. Shoot, edit & distribute as money & time allows. Don't feel like you have to finish a movie in one year or get it out soon after. What ultimately matters is that a good movie is created and made available to interested audience members. I've seen or heard of great low-budget indie movies that have taken about 5 years to shoot & edit and 3 years or more to become available on DVD; movies that have launched the investor & production & distribution companies backed portion of the filmmakers' careers. I also know of ultra-low budget DV film makers who make & release (start screening at least) more than 1 feature a year.

2 - Creating a feature that is made of several short stories might be a good way to lessen the stress of shooting a feature that is one 90 minute long story. Each short story can be shot in full within a few weekends, and then you can save up more money to shoot other segments of the movie in later times.

3 - D.I.Y. (do-it-yourself) screenings, bookings & film festival screenings can be your affordable theatrical release strategy. If you don't want to sell your film to a theatrical distributor or you can't, set up your own screenings for the public at whatever venues you can get access to, and also film festival screenings may get some publicity for the movie.

4 - Making & selling your own DVDs of the movie can be your home video strategy. Again, if you don't want to sell home video rights to another company, you can make & sell your own DVDs. The last time I checked you can get 1,000 DVDs replicated & packaged from DiskMakers for under $1300. You can also start the DVD sales project by selling home made DVDs. The DVDs can be advertised relatively inexpensively through blogs, websites, e-mail and of course through traditional media; newspapers, radio, TV, as you have money to spend on traditional advertising.

As time passes, what will be important is that certain movies, your movies, got made and are available to interested audience members, more so than how they got made & how they became available to the public. Lacking better alternatives, a day job financed indie filmmaking "career" is a good way to go. Who knows, if all goes well with the distribution & sales of your films, you might even be able to quit your day job one day. Regardless, in ten years it will be cool to look at your book shelf and see the DVDs of movies you made & released, even though you had to work a lot to get it done. And I am sure that the audience members who were really affected by your movies will also appreciate the fact that you got the movies done & out, by any means possible.

- Sujewa

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Got main character & story line selected for Stranger Than Hollywood :: early call for possible leads

To set my movie about making movies apart from several other art/indie/foreign type movies about making movies- the lead character will be female; so, a story about a female indie film director, to be played by a dark skinned minority actress (since I've been complaining lately about the lack of minorities in lead roles in indie/real indie films, specially dark skinned people). The rest of the cast will be multi-ethnic; "white" as well as non-"white"actors.

Out of like seven possible story lines for this movie, I am going to go with a story that I've written about a weekend shoot, going from Thu - Sun, to film scenes for a crucial segment of an indie feature; a 15 minute segment. I like the limited time frame - four days, that the story will take place in (I thought 2 Days In Paris worked really well because so much was condensed into a limited amount of time; see my post re: that flick below).

And that is the latest re: my new movie Stranger Than Hollywood. Still aiming for a fall/winter '07 shoot. Budget will be ultra-low/"no"-budget, but, like Date Number One before it, will be under $10K ultimately.

Minority actresses (actually, all kinds of actresses, in case I change my mind down the road; also for other roles in flick) who might want to play a 20/30-something indie filmmaker in an ultra-low budget indie feature w/ shoot happening in the DC area this fall/winter can e-mail (wilddiner@aol.com) me (or snail mail to: Wild Diner Films, 10408 Montgomery Ave, Kensington, MD 20895) a resume & head shot. Non-union. Once the script is done later this month, I'll do a formal & widely publicized search for the lead in the DC area, this is just the very early notice. Thanks.

- Sujewa

Saw 2 DAYS IN PARIS, liked it a lot - will be added to my top 5 faves list, will see it again a couple more times soon

Saw the Julie Delphy written & directed comedy 2 Days In Paris last night. Movie is funny, warmly human (accepting of some human shortcomings & also appreciative of good things about people), and ultimately romantic. Even thought the movie is about a young couple & their relationship, it is not a typical romantic comedy; it is more abrasive. The flick is also, in passing, concerned with French & American relations, politics, male and female attitudes and ideas about each other, sex/attitudes regarding sex & sexuality, war, racism, crime & also ethnic relations in France. And, in the end, like I said before, ultimately romantic (just so you are not turned off by the list of mostly non-romantic things that I just gave). All in all, one of the best/most enjoyable movies I have seen in a long time. Will want to see it at least a couple of more times. Great script by Delphy, also well directed by her. Film stars Delphy and Adam Goldberg - who does a good job as the American tourist dealing with French differences & his girlfriend's family. I'll have to add 2 Days In Paris to my top 5 all time favorite movies list, up there with Mystery Train & Amelie. The movie tells the story of a couple who have been together/dating for 2 years; and are visiting the woman's parents & sister in Paris following a trip to Italy. The two run into all manner of difficult & comic situations - including her ex-boyfriends, his minor illnesses and just the overall weirdness of their relationship; due to the nature of their, at times, difficult personalities. Highly recommended for people who like fast paced talkative comedies not too far removed from real life where a lot happen in a small amount of time, and maybe also for people who like Paris and New York (even if you have not been there, if you like the idea of those big cities). The film is, to use a familiar phrase, life-affirming, but without totally ignoring the complexities and the messiness of life. A very good movie.

- Sujewa

Saturday, September 01, 2007

September 2 Do

film, major items

1 - make the Date Number One DVD available for sale
1.2 -- send the DVD out to people it has been promised to
2 - finish writing script for Stranger Than Hollywood
3 - start preparing to shoot STH starting in Oct; to have it completed by late Nov. or ASAP/in '07

I'm Not There trailer

Trailer for I'm Not There the upcoming Todd Haynes film about Bob Dylan:


NYC trip PHOTOS 2; Theaters; Pioneer, Anthology, Angelika


Pioneer Theater marquee (sorry about the finger tip in that 1st pic) - one of my favorite NYC indie theaters (if I lived there I would probably be there several nights a week)



Anthology Film Archives - the professional home of Jonas Mekas, their New Filmmakers series sounds very interesting - every week/all year long, not too far a walk from Pioneer





Angelika Film Center, where I saw Tom DiCillo's Delirious on 8/23 Thu, notice the Great World of Sound poster - I hear that flick is very good, coming soon to theaters


(other NYC trip photos are being prepared for upload now, all should be up this weekend)

- Sujewa

Paris based Haitian-American filmmaker Michelange Quay's EAT, FOR THIS IS MY BODY to screen at TIFF

Michelange e-mailed earlier today and told me that after some initial disappointments that he is very happy that he is able to screen Eat, For This Is My Body at the Toronto International Film Festival (9/6 -15). Here is a description of the movie, from the TIFF site:

"EAT, FOR THIS IS MY BODY Michelange Quay, Haiti/France An unusual relationship between a privileged white woman and her young servant, Patrick, sets them on a visceral and hypnotic journey of self-discovery across poverty stricken Haiti. For the first time, she will see and hear the land and its people, witness their suffering, and sense the reality of her own body."

OK, sounds very French (and that's not a bad thing :). Good luck in Toronto Michelange & Team Eat!

- Sujewa

DATE NUMBER ONE on Vimeo VOD

Indie Film Blogger Road Trip

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