CINEMATICS ISSUE 03 / SEPTEMBER 2019
Editor’s Note Ma gazin e Welcome back to WS Magazine and our September 2019 issue, CINEMATICS!
Editor In Chief Rose McInerney Art & Creative Director Alex Hilton
The gloves are off! As content creators in the film industry battle for audience viewership, we’ve seen an explosive number and diverse range of stories and perspectives. It’s enough to boggle the mind, even for big fans like me.
We are forced to answer so many questions because there are easier-better-faster ways to consume movies. To stream or not to stream? To go to the movies or to harness the latest technologies from your home, computer or phone? We’ve blown the movie doors wide-open and thankfully, the watershed looks pretty darn good from where I’m standing.
Writers Rose McInerney, Yara Zgheib, Denise Benson, Alex Hilton, Mona Zhang
What’s more, serious and transformative opportunities in the wake of these changes and social movements – efforts like #MeToo and #OscarSoWhite – have also rocked the industry. Without a doubt, the lens for measuring our world and human progress has never been better.
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To this end, we’ve created a fantastic September issue. Our WS writers dive into what informs, entertains and inspires us. Our feature story is Deepa Mehta, a celebrated Indo-Canadian writer and director. Her legacy of provocative and brilliantly, insightful work has inspired decades of change. And, as always, WS shares other inspiring stories about changemakers and creatives we know you’ll love. From travel to art to food, fill your soul with positivity. So, as I head to the 44th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) which runs September 5–15, 2019, I’ll keep bringing you movie reviews in our 30 Movies in 30 Days film fest on YouTube so don’t forget to sign up. See you at the movies! Ever-inspired,
Rose McInerney Editor in Chief Founder & CEO
Rose McInerney, WS Founder
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Table of Contents CHANGEMAKERS 26............Feature spotlight on Deepa Mehta, O Hail, Aryavarta! 70............Dorothy Arzner, Building a Powerbase for Women in Film 38............Sherry Lansing, Rewriting Hollywood 16............Lebanese, Female, and a Filmmaker – Over Popcorn with Nagham Abboud
ARTIST INTERVIEWS 64............Craig Enright, Living A Road to Someplace 50............Catie Barron, Where Art and Science Meet 08............Dawn Landes, A Journey in Song
THE ART OF BUSINESS 20............Pam Rose, Sweet Heaven on Earth
FOODSCAPE 14............The Showgirl at The Savoy
TRAVEL 34............A Beirut Landscape – Le Chef
WS REEL TALK 80............Once Upon A Time in Hollywood
SIPPING ROOH AFZA 44 ...........On a Balcony
WS CARES 56 ...........Global Ambassadorship & Educating Girls in Rural China (EGRC) 58 ...........Zhimei Wang, A Little Sunshine 60 ...........Huiming Ma, Building Support
CONTACT WS 82 ...........Contact Information
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“Without music, life would be a mistake” - Friedrich Nietzsche CINEMATICS | ISSUE 03 5
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Dawn Landes, A Journey i n Song By: Yara Zgheib
Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez 8 WS MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2019
Tori’s pursuit of her passion, against all odds, drew singer and songwriter Dawn Landes to write a musical about her. She knew Tori’s story could inspire others to go after their own dreams. Dawn’s dream was always to write and perform songs. She grew up listening to singers like Linda Ronstadt and Tom Petty, the music of her parents. When she started playing music herself, other influences emerged: “Early on, Lucinda Williams, Ani Di Franco and Gillian Welch were all great teachers to me through their songs. All incredible writers and such strong performers.” Photo Credit: DawnLandes.com
awn Landes is a singer and songwriter living in Nashville, TN whose latest musical, ROW follows the journey of a real-life heroine with enough passion and true grit to chase her dreams. In attendance: a guitar, bass, piano, violin, pedal steel, possibly harmonium, and drums of course. Five women, four men... Let the musical begin.
I think of songs as little vignettes
ROW (book by Daniel Goldstein, music and lyrics by Dawn Landes) is a theatrical adaptation of the memoir “A Pearl in the Storm” by Tori Murden McClure who, in 1998, attempted to row solo 3,000 miles from North Carolina to France in a boat she had built herself.
“I think of songs as little vignettes. I like to imagine the lives of others and have sung songs through the lens of different characters before.” From an extra on a film set, to a French hair dresser, to a woman who risks her life to fulfill a dream, Dawn’s songs are about living fully and heroically every day. In her compositions, she shares dreams and emotions with her audience, hoping they resonate with her listeners, connecting on a personal level. In Straight Lines, for instance, she sings about childhood and the nostalgia of growing up.
She made it two thirds of the way there when, in the middle of the Atlantic, she unknowingly rowed straight into the heart of a hurricane.
“I had a kite You had a trampoline and a BMX bike you didn’t even like... I miss the straight, straight lines, The old times.”
Her boat capsized more than sixteen times. Tori nearly lost her life, but she held on, picked up the pieces and eventually tried again. In 1999 she became the first woman and the first American to row solo across the Atlantic. ROW is a story about having heart, finding heart.
Songs marked milestones along Dawn’s childhood and helped shape the person she would become. Music is the backdrop to people’s stories and a platform for shared experience.
In Dear Heart, a powerful song in ROW, she sings of solitude, and in Tori’s voice, the devastation of failure.
Photo credit: Thanks to Dawn Landes
“Listen, dear heart. Just pay attention, you’re right from the start.
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Listen, dear heart. You can fall off the map but don’t fall apart.” Her own adventure as a singer and composer is still unfolding. She is on her own journey and is relishing it. In fact, the bio on her official page does not contain dates or facts. Instead, an excerpt by T.S. Eliot: “Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children, hidden excitedly, containing laughter. Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind cannot bear very much reality. Time past and time future What might have been and what has been Point to one end, which is always present.” If Dawn could be transformed into an instrument, she says she would be the flute in “Peter and the Wolf”, by Sergei Prokofiev. It represents a bird. Perhaps a petrel, a seabird Tori encounters in the middle of the Atlantic who she names Amelia Earhart. Amelia then sings a song, of course, it’s a musical after all. Dawn is currently at work recording songs from ROW to be released as her next album. Be on the lookout for that and more by visiting her official website and listen to her sing a song from ROW on the TED Main Stage.
Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez
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Photo Credit above and below: DawnLandes.com
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FOODSCAPES 12 WS MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2019
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The Showgirl at the Savoy B y : Ros e Mc I n er n ey I ordered the Showgirl because of the rose and the woman who sipped tea at the Savoy Hotel in London. She had come from America too. There were other recipes to try and magic potions to be mixed, but this was the drink for me. Something about the description caught my imagination. Perhaps it was the soft, sweet floral taste next to the other ingredients? Or maybe it was the mystery behind the woman whose name lived well beyond her 36 years and cinematic stardom. But as I waited for my ridiculously expensive $25 cocktail to arrive, I studied the little black book on the bar cart sitting next to my silky-smooth armchair. It was etched in gold and housed short vignettes of famous drinks. Each one was connected in some way to historic film celebrities or one of the Savoy’s storied staff members. I savored these glimpses of lives lived.
that glittered like a sequin dress under Broadway lights. And, the cocktail - it contained, without exact measurements, the following: • Grey Goose • Martini Ambrato • Chambord • Rose • Rhubarb • Grapefruit • Dom Perignon Champagne Just before I sipped my Showgirl, the waitress smiled down at me and said, “Wait. You’re missing the best part.” She took out an ornate perfume bottle and sprayed a light misted scent of pink roses. It filled the air around my drink. Next to Chanel No. 5, this was Marilyn’s favorite. The magic was complete.
A cabaret stage had been here before the Beaufort Bar. George Gershwin and Frank Sinatra had performed there, as had other old favorites like Noel Coward and Bob Hope. Women like Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn, and Judy Garland had visited too. But it was Marilyn Monroe, the petite blonde who used to sip tea at the Savoy, that I remembered. She had filmed ““The Prince and the Showgirl” just weeks after marrying Arthur Miller and hosting a press conference at the Savoy. I looked up in time to see my Showgirl rolling towards me. She was housed in a sparkling, crystal goblet and sitting on top of a mirrored coaster, replete with a reflective backsplash. Around the edges were studded, white lights
Photo Credits: Rose McInerney
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Leb a nes e, Fe m ale , a n d a Fi l mm a ker - O ve r Po p c o r n w i t h Na g h am A b b o u d By : Yara Z gh eib Nagham Abboud grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, ten time zones and a world away from Hollywood. In the early nineties, the country was recovering from a civil war. Power outages and bullet holes in building facades were common. Still, “I remember waking up at four in the morning just to watch the Oscars. I remember practicing my own acceptance speech in front of the mirror.”
And she does, and loves Lebanon, which is why she returned after pursuing a graduate degree in filmmaking in Ireland.
Nagham already knew that she wanted to become a filmmaker.
“I learned a lot there and am grateful, but I love my country and my mission is to tell its story to the world.”
“I used to watch The Sound of Music and Peter Pan over and over till I knew them by heart.” The Green Mile, Cinema Paradiso… Movies inspired her and shaped the person she is now: a young and bubbly creative entrepreneur “obsessed with films and storytelling.” “Movies are magic. They lift you from reality to imagination, then from dream back to reality, from sound to image, from image to emotion. They are an ensemble of stories, images and people.” The reality in which Nagham herself was in growing up in Lebanon was not one particularly conducive to a woman forging a career in the movie business. The film industry in Lebanon was and is still, small, competitive, underfunded. Even ten years later, she still struggles for her place within it. “The main challenge is finding enough money to tell the stories I want. I juggle filmmaking with another job to pay the bill at the end of the month. You also have to prove yourself in this industry, that you exist and are ready for any challenge. To wake up early, show up, work late, start again. You have to love it.”
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Her movies are about the relationships, people, and culture of Lebanon. In Behind the Window, which won the Lebanese Movie Award in 2012, Nagham takes the viewer on a sensory journey through the eyes of a ten-year-old boy who tries to get his hands on a used video camera. He needs it to record a declaration of love to a violin teacher in his neighborhood. With subtle lights and colors and shots, the movie showcases the poverty, social and religious divides of Lebanese society, but also its beauty. She has directed other movies that view, from different angles, Lebanon’s multifaceted and rich identity. Notable among those are Where Do We Go Now, on religion and identity, by Nadine Labaki, to The Insult, on the Palestinian refugee crisis, by Ziad Doueiry. Through these films, Nagham hopes that, gradually, the world will get to know and love the stories of her country and its people. On our end, we hope that we will one day get to hear the Oscar acceptance speech.
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“Frien ds are l i ke s p ri nk l e s on th e cu pc a ke o f l i fe .” - Unkn ow n
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Swirlz Heaven on Earth By: Rose McInerney
I don’t know what heaven looks like but I’m sure it tastes like a Swirlz cupcake. This feeling comes from a self-confessed gelato addict who scoured five cities in Italy one summer to find the best of the best gelato. Admittedly, that was before I tasted the confectionary art of Swirlz founder and CEO, Pam Rose. My Swirlz journey began when I attended an art gallery event hosted by Hilton Asmus Contemporary in Chicago. Gallerist and painter, Arica Hilton, was celebrating world-renowned, high-fashion photographer, Hugh Arnold. She had gathered a few friends, patrons, and members from the arts community and press industry to enjoy a savory feast. The night was a smash hit with art, violin music and the most gorgeous looking cupcakes. What I loved most were the miniature replicas of Arnold’s underwater photography scenes that were recreated in white chocolate as dessert toppers for each perfect confection. They seemed too beautiful to eat.
Whole Food stores around the regional Midwest. There are 13 staff members that keep the business running smoothly, and inspiration comes from everywhere including Pam’s brilliant imagination and the students she mentors in community programs. A visit to the Swirlz website reveals the complex and varied breadth of product offerings, as well as the quality of ingredients that bolster Pam’s integrity within the competitive field of bakery goods: “Swirlz has created more than 1500 unique flavors. As Chicago’s original discrete cupcake store they primarily carry full size and mini cupcakes, but have now expanded their offerings to include custom cakes, brownies, and other specialty items, as well as a full line of gluten-free and vegan gluten-free cupcakes offered daily.” When asked about the ever-expanding cornucopia of flavors, Pam points to her wonderful employees, customers and friends as well as the beauty of embracing diversity.
But good manners and temptation thankfully got the better of me. I devoured my first rich chocolate-flavored treat, wrapping the topper in a napkin to bring home for others to admire. Ever a stickler for quality control, I didn’t stop at one and found myself eating two or three more when no one was looking.
Chicago is an extremely international city, so the people who enjoy Swirlz come from all over the world. Customer conversations about sweet treats from their childhoods, or their mothers’ secret cookie recipes, or the nostalgic flavors unique to their cultures help inform the business of making people happy.
Okay, so the gates of heaven didn’t burst open, but the airy-textured cakes and creamy cloud-like frosting danced in my mouth for a long time in melodious cantilenas. I was happy and I have followed Pam Rose and her inventively decadent creations ever since.
As the first bakery in Chicago to focus exclusively on cupcakes, Swirlz continues to use local and fresh ingredients, including Grassland Farms European style butter for all of their cakes and frostings.
The Business of Swirlz
When I interviewed Pam for this article, I was struck by her boundless energy and bottomless goodwill. Perhaps it’s the simple motto she’s infused in everything she does: cupcakes make people happy. And happiness means everything to Pam.
No surprise, Swirlz is a reflection of Pam’s creativity, goodness and love for others. Swirlz opened in 2006 and delivers cupcakes and related treats to 30
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Happiness means everything
It doesn’t matter that her life is spent racing around town and dealing with the never-ending challenges of being an entrepreneur. On any given day, when Pam isn’t greeting walk-in customers, taking custom orders, or curating organized Chicago food tours and “bike hikes” around the city, she manages the countless never-ending jobs that demand her attention. Through it all, Pam is happy and upbeat. Even when the freezers for a bride’s order of seven wedding cakes– yes, seven – went on the fritz, Pam made sure they didn’t melt in Chicago’s recent heat wave of 105-degree temperatures. She rent-
ed cooling units and is always prepared for the unexpected. Even though balancing life’s personal demands adds an extra layer for Pam who is the central caregiver to the older members of her family, she seems to swing with the long days and sleepless nights . As Pam shares these stories, it’s clear why Swirlz is a neighborhood landmark. Pam leads by example and has created a happy place that’s garnered national attention and accolades as the “best cupcakes in the country” (Food and Wine Magazine).
Photo Credit: Thanks to Swirlz!
Photo Credit: Gerber Scarpelli | Cupcake Credit: Swirlz Cupcakes
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Photo Credit: Gerber Scarpelli | Cupcake Credit: Swirlz Cupcakes 22 WS MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2019
Swirlz is also an Illinois favorite for large catered parties and DIY weddings where Pam shares her joy and creates beautiful memories. “It doesn’t take much to make people happy,” Pam told me. “There are so many people who are suffering that I’ve always felt a responsibility to families and kids.” Of all the incredible gifts and heavenly joy that Pam and her business bring to the world, one special story involves the former Children’s Memorial Hospital (now Lurie) that once stood across the street from Pam’s bakery. It has moved since then to Streeterville and the old lot has been filled by a mixed-use development complex called Lincoln Common. The two, twenty-story residential towers are separated by a plaza that contains an enormous, white pergola-like structure called “the trellis.” Thoughtfully created by developers McCaffery and Hines, its branches reach into the sky, stretching up in remembrance of the brave children and their families who once sought healing and treatment within the walls of the hospital. Regardless of the outcome of their children’s treatments, many of these families still visit Swirlz to relive the happy memories of sharing a much-needed cupcake during a stressful time. The store was a happy place where they could temporarily escape the harsh reality of treatments and surgeries, and be treated to a comforting cupcake in a safe space free from worry.
Photo Credit: Thanks to Swirlz!
Pam recognizes many who return, and the cycle of her de facto ambassadorship continues to make people happy. With good fortune, Pam’s magic cupcake formula for life will bring many more sweet years of happiness.
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â€œThe lotus comes from the murkiest water but grows into the purest thing. N it a A m ba n i
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Deep a Me h t a , “A ll Ha i l , A r yaa r t a ! ” B y: Ros e McI n er n ey You might want to indulge in a spicy masala chai tea and warm pashmina when you read this story about Indo-Canadian filmmaker, Deepa Mehta.
er contributions to the film industry are as long as they are steeped in provocative and important conversations about traditional beliefs and social mores around India’s women, misogyny and discrimination. As if tackling these challenging issues were not enough, Deepa’s films have also explored broader topics including India’s violent history and modern-day struggles ranging from gang warfare to the immigrant experience. It’s why, in part, the uncompromising Deepa Mehta is our WS feature for September 2019. Deepa’s style is dramatic, hard-hitting and spellbinding. It has incited Indians to riot in the streets and burn effigies in the Ganges River. Yet, nothing has stopped Deepa from pushing the boundaries as a woman born in Punjab, India now living in Canada. As an Indo-Canadian, Deepa grew up in New Delhi and studied in the foothills of the Himalayas. Armed with a degree in Philosophy, she got her start making movies for the Indian government. It was there that she met her first husband, Paul Saltzman, a Canadian film director, and soon moved with him to Canada in 1973. A broad range of films followed, quickly garnering attention, particularly her directorial feature-film debut, Sam & Me. It tells the story of a young Indian boy and his unlikely friendship with an elderly Jewish gentleman in Toronto.
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The film had a whopping $1 million-dollar budget - the highest at this point - for a woman working as a director in Canada in 1991. This put Deepa on the map and won her an honorable mention at the Cannes Film Festival. It also led in 1996 to her founding Hamilton-Mehta Productions with her second husband, producer David Hamilton. More dramatic and commercially successful movies followed, and Deepa continued to explore what was close to her heart - India’s national and cultural identity. The revolutionary quality of her work stretched the boundaries of India’s tolerance, especially because she was a woman asking questions about long-entrenched beliefs and practices crucial to India’s legacy. Other than her comedic 2002 Bollywood Hollywood movie, Deepa’s movies have been seriously engaged in controversy. Thankfully, their widespread acclaim has made Deepa one of my favorite artists and one of Canada’s most internationally renowned filmmakers. Deepa fans would agree she’s best known for her Elements Trilogy of films, beginning in 1996 with the first film, Fire. Fire speaks to two contentious subjects that stirred anger and discontent: arranged marriages and homosexuality. The love affair between two sisters challenged India’s conservative views and riots in the streets quickly denounced Deepa as a casualty of western corruption.
Photo Credit: Tony Hauser CINEMATICS | ISSUE 03 27
Earth followed in 1998, calling out the gut-wrenching details of India’s 1947 partition. Set in Lahore, the actual city line dividing the border of a Hindu-dominated India and a Muslim-dominated Pakistan, audiences watched the political chaos through the eyes of a little girl named Lenny. If Indians were unhappy with Deepa’s film, things got much worse with Water in 2005. Earth and Water ripped apart old traditions and exposed new value systems, especially Water which dealt with the story of suicide, misogyny, and mistreated widows. In Water, deep-rooted customs isolate and victimize widows. Even though the law forcing their exile from others in society is no longer enforced, Hindu Fundamentalists and other conservative groups feared Deepa’s movie would cause another religious war. This worry was not unfounded when, during the filming, over 2,000 protesters destroyed Deepa’s set, burning and throwing it into the Ganges. Eventually, the film was completed in secrecy, taking four years with filming done in Sri-Lanka. Although Deepa was forced to use an alias movie title and to hire bodyguards, her efforts were rewarded with an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film in 2007. In the advent of today’s global women’s movement and popular television shows like Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace, Deepa is set to light the world on fire again with her latest tale about India. Always creatively driven to stop women from leading marginalized lives, Deepa’s new series Leila premiered on Netflix in June 2019. It’s based on the novel Leila by Prayaag Akbar, adapted by Urmi Juvekar, and written and directed by Deepa. It’s a dystopian story of India that’s a dark and futuristic new world order in 2047 - exactly 100 years after India’s Independence. Aryavarta, a word taken from the ancient Hindu texts meaning noble or excellent ones, is a sectarian world filled with great suffering and religious and social discord. Hindus are separated from Muslims and meant to remain so. The first season introduces this terrifying world in six episodes. There’s still no word as to whether the show will renew for another season, but
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Photo Credits: Sadia Uquaili
I can’t imagine it won’t if viewers are as riveted as I am by the sharp plot twists, complex characters and captivating cinematography. The opening scene sets the tone, with men violently dropping through the glass ceiling and shattering a serene family scene. Shalini is ripped away from her husband, Rizwan (Rahul Khanna) as he is lovingly teaching their daughter, Leila to swim. Huma Qureshi plays Shalini, a Hindu married to a Muslim and the mother of a mixed and therefore “unclean” child, Leila. Shalini’s crime is defying the established order and she must be purified. To this end, Shalini is beaten and taken to a re-education house for other women like her. They are subjected to the strict and degrading tutelage of Guru Ma (possibly named after the crushing history of Gurjara-Pratihara, an ancient Indian king from the tenth century). Guru Ma shames them into spying on each other and committing unthinkable and demeaning acts of servitude. He whips their bodies and minds, preaching the Aryavarta way - one devoid of emotion and conscience. The privileges and luxuries reserved for the wealthy, those born into the Hindu elite, exist here. Clean water is rationed, and women are locked behind sky-high walls that separate a network of city centers. People cannot escape or move between them.
Photo credit: Avantika Meattle / Netflix
This brave new world examines the same disconcerting issues familiar to Deepa. Deepa asks us to reconsider a future rife with protracted religious unrest, water shortages, disease-ridden streets, class divisions, homelessness, and other fundamental dividers in India’s overcrowded states. This Netflix series does not disappoint and delivers more of Deepa’s immersive and thought-provoking experiences. In classic style, she continues to challenge history’s lessons and our relationship to each other. Deepa knows “the power of cinema is that it can start a dialogue.” Leila does just that, as we wonder if Shalini will be reunited with her daughter and if victimized women living under unjust and dehumanizing rules will escape?
Should people be prepared to die for Aryavarta, and relinquish their personal freedoms? Political ideas have the power to dominate and protect an unjust world order. Deepa’s prescient series challenges what peace means from a personal and national perspective. We must fight segregation and exercise freewill without succumbing to the notion that somehow injustice will always prevail. We must do more than worry for the people of Aryavarta and challenge our understanding of justice, just as Socrates did in Ancient Greece. Deepa Mehta follows in the steps of other historic greats demanding our attention to freedoms hard fought and won. The one certainty I know, at this moment in time, is that I am cheering for Shalini.
There is a palpable Deja Vu as the women in the re-education camp chant “Hail Aryavarta.” Their indoctrination feels all too familiar. It underscores controlling media messages that threaten our happiness with fear and distress.
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Pos t-s crip t t o O u r T r i b u t e to De e p a Me h t a B y : Ros e Mc I n er n ey
I had an unbelievable email exchange with Deepa, a woman I have long admired for her generous humanity, unrelenting dedication to truth and her sincere desire to democratize the world. I am still pinching myself. I asked if she’d share a bit about Leila and her upcoming creative endeavors. Deepa: “Leila was pure joy to work on. In many ways it felt like the culmination of what has obsessed me for ages. Misogyny, the use of fundamental religion to keep women pliant, patriarchy. Toni Morrison (who I will mourn forever ) famously said that all art is political.” This applied squarely to Leila - where the horrifying nature of uber-nationalism in the dystopia actually reeked, very uncomfortably, of the present. Though Leila was set in India, it could easily be talking about all the far right countries of the world. I was lucky to have creative control over the episodes I directed - and the freedom by Netflix to write them. The cast, led by the brilliant Huma Quereshi as Shalini was amazing to work with as was Johan Aidt, the brilliant Director of Photography. “We are currently in prep for Funny Boy, a feature based and shot in Sri Lanka. Shyam Selvadurai, the novelist whose book has inspired the screenplay I consider a national treasure of Canada. In September, Little America , a series I worked on for Universal / Apple is coming out. It was just great being a part of this series. With Lee Eisenberg (The Good Boys) as the show runner, I learned a huge amount and laughed a lot. A great combo!”
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THE ART OF TRAVEL CINEMATICS | ISSUE 03 33
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A B eiru t L a n d s c ap e Le Chef B y: Yara Z gh eib It is not easy to find though it is, ironically, in plain view, right on rue Gouraud, just before the Saint Nicholas stairs, on the right.
as he whips up some more hummus. It is loud inside, and tight; elbows will touch in between tables, but that just makes for an excuse to chat.
Those climb up the gentle hill from Gemmayze’s main street to the illustrious Sursock mansions overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
Stories and bites of food are exchanged. And toasts of milky, licoricey arak, sipped alongside the meal. That is, until it is time for dessert and a thimble of Turkish coffee.
Down on rue Gouraud, the atmosphere is definitely more bohemian. Le Chef fits in perfectly, with its sign in red block letters, the same since it first opened, a neighbourhood eatery serving traditional Lebanese cuisine since the 1960s.
Dinner is cheap and hearty, the portions as generous as the laughter and voices are loud. Goodbyes are See you next time! Maa assalama! May your travels be safe.
Le Chef is small, unpretentious, and cheap. The doorknob is a little rusty. Tourists walk right past it. The locals let them; this is a secret you earn and keep. There are, after all, less than twenty-five seats in this family-run restaurant. No fancy menu items or décor, but as authentically Beirut as it gets. The menu is written by hand. Neither it nor the specials have changed since before the civil war. Kharouf mihshe on Mondays. Stuffed lamb with onions and garlic cloves. Classics like kibbe, minced meat pies doused with cool yogurt and fresh mint, moghrabiye and its seven spices, siyyadiye, fish over rice, with a sauce… oh that lemony sauce. And mloukhiye, my long-time favourite of all. Depending on the day, the smells of cinnamon, coriander, cumin, caraway, and diced onions will waft down the street, triggering memories of school night dinners of steaming stew over rice and lavish Sunday feasts at home.
Few places have been left untouched by war and life and time in Lebanon. This is one of them; in Le Chef, the moujaddara tastes like my mother’s. The whole place tastes of a culture and spirit that I have only found in Beirut. A warmth and hospitality, a specific blend of spices, the kind one gets homesick for. My parents introduced my siblings and me to Le Chef. On a Thursday, I remember because I had the mloukhiye. Life has since taken us each different places. We get together when we can, and fill each other in on what we missed. Often, we go to Le Chef. There, the doorknob is still rusty and the mural, slightly peeled. The food and company are as good as ever. Someday, I’ll bring my children here. Author’s note: Dear reader, if you one day find yourself strolling down rue Gouraud and hungry for a good meal, stop by Le Chef. You will find it to your right just before the Saint Nicholas’ Stairs. Phone Number: +961 1 445 373
Walking in feels like coming home too. The actual chef, Charbel, calls out Welcome! from the kitchen
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“Think long and hard about what your spine is worth.” Erin Brockovich
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Sherry Lansing Rewriting Hollywood By: Denise Benson Thanks to Sherry Lansing, a long line of female executives have moved behind the camera in the film industry over the last two decades.
herry’s keen intelligence, confidence in her intuition and sense of self paved the way for some of the biggest names like Elizabeth Gabbler, President of Fox; Donna Langley, Chairman of Universal Pictures; and, Ava DuVernay, an independent filmmaker. Sherry broke the proverbial glass ceiling in 1980, after she was named the first female President of 20th Century Fox Studios. Her path to the top as Chairman of a major movie studio in 1992 was an unlikely one, given her parents who refused to let her take acting classes in college. They insisted she study only those subjects that would help her support herself. No slouch in the brainpower department, Sherry respected their wishes and graduated from Northwestern University in 1966 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics, English and Teaching. Determined to give acting a try, Sherry didn’t give up that easily and pursued her dream even after she married a doctor and they moved to Los Angeles for his residency. During the day, Sherry taught math at a school in inner-city Watts and at night she’d go on auditions hoping to land an acting job. It wasn’t long before she was doing commercials for shampoos and various products alongside unknown actresses at the time, like Farrah Fawcett. With her statuesque figure and blue eyes, this
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brunette beauty soon was cast in Rio Lobo with none other than John Wayne. Of course, Sherry was the first to admit that she was not a good actress. She was insecure and felt uncomfortable pretending to be someone else. While on the set, she noticed others who were not actors and explored other related jobs. This translated into an opportunity one day while Sherry was working on the movie Loving. A producer took note of her input on script changes and admired her intelligence. Sherry landed her first non-acting job as a script reader, earning $5 a script. Sherry was thrilled, and loved reading scripts and writing the synopsis for them. It was a chance to provide her opinion on a story’s audience appeal and also a welcomed escape from the anxiety she felt while acting. Sherry worked diligently in this role and soon joined script meetings, where her suggestions garnered noticed. Three years later, in 1975, Sherry was named head of the script department at MGM. It was the first time she experienced discrimination, when she realized she was not being paid as much as the men doing similar work. Inquiring about the salary discrepancy, Sherry was told her status as a single person without a family meant she didn’t merit a raise. Lansing admits, that she swallowed this inequality at the
Photo Credit: Hollywood Reporter
time because “that was the way it was back then.” Despite this, Sherry became Vice President of Production at Columbia two years later. Her first film, The China Syndrome about a nuclear meltdown, was particularly timely when the 3-Mile Island nuclear plant had a partial meltdown crisis just two weeks after the movie’s release. Her next film Kramer vs. Kramer won the Oscar in 1980 for Best Picture the same year she was named President of 21st Century-Fox studios. Her promotion made front page headlines, coast to coast. The New York Times headline read “Ex-Model Becomes Head of Fox.” She had worked fifteen years up the career-ladder, the same way any male in the business had done, but she was immediately front-page news simply because of her gender. It’s no surprise that Sherry’s love of movies and determination to work in a male driven arena lead to her success. Sherry was born in 1944 and grew up in Chicago, enamored with her father who was a successful real estate developer. He loved the arts, movies, opera and music. Every weekend, he and Sherry escaped to the movies and he made sure their home was filled with operettic music and stories. Sherry’s mother, Margot, was a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany. She was a quiet, typical housewife until her father died of a heart attack. Sherry remembers how her mother’s strength and unwillingness to be dependent on others influenced her work ethic:
“My father died at 42, of a heart attack. My mother was 32 then. She never wanted to be a victim. And that really resonated as a nine-year-old child. And one of the most revealing things was, very soon after my father died - he was in real estate and he owned some modest buildings - they came to my mother, the men that worked for him, and they said, “You don’t have to worry. We will run the business and we will take care of you.” And my mother said, “No, you won’t. You will teach me how to run the business and I will take care of it and my children.” Sherry’s reign as President of Fox lasted three years before she resigned. Tired of producing movies not of her choosing, she partnered with Stanley Jaffe. Her first project, Fatal Attraction, was a huge blockbuster and scared the life out of men across the country. It struck a chord and probably helped some to reconsider one-night stands! More hits followed, like Indecent Proposal and The Accused, the latter earning an Oscar for actress, Jodie Foster. Because many of her movie choices tilted towards strong female characters, Sherry earned a reputation among Industry insiders as a producer of films focused on women getting revenge. Film about women not being treated fairly were “Sherry Lansing movies.” In 1992, Sherry broke long-standing barriers by becoming the first female CEO at Paramount Pictures. She had amassed a production legacy of over 200 films, as variable as Forrest Gump, Braveheart, Titanic and Mission Impossible. Six of the studio’s top ten grossing films ever were made during her tenure at Paramount. As the first
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Photo Credit: Hollywood Reporter
female movie studio head to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Sherry’s hands-on involvement with each picture and her promotion of an inclusive work atmosphere garnered respect from all quarters of the movie-making world. It also opened the door for other women in the business. Seeing life as a series of chapters, she decided to retire from Paramount and movies in 2005, at the age of 60. Sherry’s next chapter was establishing the Sherry Lansing Foundation. Having been a teacher at the start of her career, education had remained a priority for Lansing – especially public education and encore career opportunities for people who wanted to learn later in life. Approaching her mid-70’s, Sherry wanted to build new support networks for health and cancer research. Honoring her mother who died from cancer, she started the Stand Up to Cancer initiative. In 2007, Sherry was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Having married a second time to director William Friedkin in 1991, Sherry is happy. As a trailblazer in the industry, we’ll have to wait and see what the next chapter holds for Sherry Lansing. Photo Credit: Sherry Lansing Foundation
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Posh Boutique www.Posh.ca
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Sipping Rooh Afza a WS Exlusive Series
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On the Balcony By: Yara Zgheib
It hangs, as it always has, from a rope attached to the railing – red, the rusty shade so popular in Beirut’s seventies. Out of the balcony, swaying gently over a quiet, side street; a rustic, well-worn, circular basket made of hand-woven reeds. Empty, for now, it lets the breeze carry it at its whim left, then right, like a pendulum above the neighbour’s colourful drying laundry. On Saturdays, it used to hang over the old lady’s flowered bedsheets. On Tuesdays: her whites. On Thursdays, my favourite, her risqué lace lingerie. When I was a child, lowering the basket was my favourite chore, every day after school, at three thirty, just before we sat down for lunch. Mamy would have a handwritten list ready – “onions, a few tomatoes, bread” – and a few bills laid out on the wobbly kitchen table. I, the eldest and luckiest, had the illustrious task of getting them. Into the basket, the list and the money. Down, slowly, one floor, two, three, the rope sliding through my small fingers – I did not mind the splinters. At street level and the end of the rope, which I held with fierce concentration, the basket and I would wait. A few minutes. Never more. A slight tug, then peaking over the edge of the balcony, I would confirm what I knew: the basket was magically empty. Hocus pocus. My mother’s list would have vanished with the money and, a tug later, been replaced with tomatoes, onions, bread, sometimes change, and invariably, candy. The latter, whatever it was on that day, would always be sent in twos: two chewy chocolate bonbons,
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two Kinder eggs, two miniature boxes of Chiclets. One for my sister and one for me, the Wizard of Oz would send. At least, that was who we imagined procured Mamy’s groceries. On Saturdays, if there had been enough change generated over the week – we always prayed there would be on Fridays – and if we had studied well, made our beds, and brushed our teeth and hair consistently, my sister and I were conferred the grand prize of asking the Wizard for anything we desired. The highlight of those weekends in my memory was that blissful indecision: which reward to choose? A bag of chips? A box of Smarties? Cream wafers? Which, chocolate or vanilla? We were each allowed only one treat per week; decisions had to be strategic. On our better, collaborative days, we picked and shared both items together. On the more frequent days when we bickered, we made choices we regretted. One week, impulsively, I wrote “Paprika” on the paper and forgot to add the operative “chips.” In the basket I pulled back up was a sad bag of orange spices. How my sister laughed, until she saw me wipe my tears, then she stopped. Wordlessly, she split her chocolate bar in half. I think she gave me the bigger one. For years, we thought the basket was magic, and the wizard’s identity a mystery we would never solve. Then Monsieur George, the old man with the limp we would greet every morning as we ran out of the building to the school bus, died on a Sunday last spring.
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After the funeral, Mamy stopped asking us to lower the basket from the balcony. I stopped eating candy shortly after that too. Eventually, I left the country. Apparently, Monsieur Georgeâ€™s family had left it too, years ago, during the war when bombs were being dropped, not baskets. His wife and brother had died and his children now led lives abroad too detached and grown up for the whimsical one he had created in his small corner store. So Chez George was cleaned out. I was not there for it, but my sister said it was like watching Ali Babaâ€™s cave emptied of its treasures. Boxes of canned food and dried beans and bags of rice, produce gone brown since his death, and the bags of chips, the Chiclets, the Kinder eggs he had made us dream with.
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My sister said that, at the very end, the store had looked comically small. And, less comically, bare and dirty. How had it held all he had sold? How could it be gone, and with it, the innocence of the belief that if you just put your wish in a handwoven basket and waited, it would come true? Now the store is locked up. I heard someone bought it. I heard it will soon reopen. I do not know when or as what or if that is true. I do not live in Beirut anymore. I visit my parents on the third floor of the building in that side street every Christmas, sometimes during the summer. It has been years since I wished for anything.
On days when I am tired, I think of the basket, which still hangs on the balcony. The neighbour still hangs her racy lingerie to dry on Thursdays, underneath. To the reader: â€œGo, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children, Hidden excitedly, containing laughter. Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind Cannot bear very much reality.â€? - T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets Take us to a time and place in your childhood in which magic was real.
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Catie Barron Where Art and Science Meet By: Yara Zgheib This story begins, as most good ones do, in a garden. An orchid farm.
father and his eight-year-old daughter are gathering bark chips. Added to the soil in their own back yard during the winter freeze, they will break down, infuse it with nitrogen, and ready it for planting in the spring. “While dad worked hard, I was busy scaling the mountains of bark chips. I saw this tiny white wing sticking out of the mulch. It stopped me in my tracks, and with as much gentleness as an eight-year-old could gather, I slowly pulled at it. What came out was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
In their garden, they planted beans and strawberries in spring, squash and Brussel sprouts in winter. “I spent hours in the garden watching every plant bloom then produce the food we would eat. I admired that plants could create food and the seeds that allowed us to continue that cycle.” Catie’s father was a trained union contractor, but in his free time, he loved to draw. He introduced Catie to her second passion: art. My first preschool painting of flowers, age 4.
It was a white cattleya orchid with angel-like wings. It was silky smooth and had ruffles. It was broken and dirty, so I sat there on the pile and wiped it as clean as I could, taking great care to not damage it further. I remember carrying it in my hands all the way home and giving it to my mother. I was so proud of having found something so magical.” Catie Barrons was called Catherine Pietrzyk at the time. From her father, she inherited a passion for botany, and in particular, a love of flowers. “Dad would tell me about the different seasons and which flowers grew when. He taught me about bulbs versus seeds; annuals versus perennials. We built flower beds in our garden and perused plant catalogs for flowers, fruits, and vegetables.” Me, age 4 holding a flower and wearing flowers on my pants.
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He painted murals on the walls of their basement. Catie would soon do the same, drawing large images on the walls of her bedroom and spending weeks painting them. After high school, she applied to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She was accepted, but tuition was a problem, so she studied art and graphic design at Iowa State University. Two years later, she left her studies for a job in banking. Life took her on a roller coaster ride of career and life changes. Once, having lost her job to downsizing, Catie used her severance package to enroll in horticulture school. “I was seeking something that fed my soul better.” At thirty-three, she was diagnosed with stage 2B reproductive cancer.
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“My life changed forever and my journey took on a new, important meaning to me. In the hospital, during my surgery and recovery, I had many conversations with myself and God. I was being given this amazing opportunity of a new life; I was going to make sure I was doing what I was meant to do with it. I realized that each of us has a gift and that if we can find out what it is, we can make a huge difference in the world. For the next six years, I worked in non-profits trying to find a way to give back what I was given. I shared my struggles with a counselor who told me that our lives are like a tree. Our childhood is the trunk and our choices become the branches. We may take a branch out and realize that it has come to an end. Sometimes, we must return to the trunk and take a new branch. She asked me what I wanted to be as a child. My reply was immediate: “An artist!” She asked me why I wasn’t an artist and I honestly had no answer.” Twenty-three years after she had been accepted at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Catie applied again... and was accepted, with grants and scholarships!
Catie’s work is unique, both in technique and content. Her paintings reflect her strong grasp of botany and appreciation of its beauty. “Plants have a brain. Even if you plant them upside down in the ground, they know which way to grow and will manipulate their stems to breach the surface of the ground. They sway with the movement of their light source. Some believe, and I suppose I do as well, that they have a soul and can feel too. Studies have shown the benefits of human conversation on plants ability to thrive. Plants ask for nothing. They manipulate, through evolution, their colors and fragrances to attract bugs and bees that will help them propagate through pollination. George Carlin once said that each time he sees a flower growing through a crack in the sidewalk that it is absolutely heroic. I get that. I believe it is the respect and admiration that I have for flowers that translates into the affectionate way I treat them in my artwork.” Catie paints with oils. The technique she applies is called a reductive process. It involves covering the canvas with paint at first, then using turpentine on a rag, brush, or even hands, removing the paint to create the image.
Since then, Catie’s mission as an artist has been to explore the human connection to flowers and their effect on society. “I discovered that flowers are with us at the most important times of our lives. We can rarely think of hosting an event or having a special occasion without flowers being a part of it. They help us remember those times in our lives and recall the emotions we felt during them. Flowers are so much a part of who we are.” From her first experience with the cattleya orchid, to the first time she received flowers from a boy, to her wedding bouquet, flowers in a funeral home, “These flowers have meanings that have crossed generations and far away distances to reach us. […] the bring comfort to those who are suffering and create a connection among people.”
Photo Credit: Catarzina.com
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“As I pull each piece of the painting out of the darkness, my heart beats faster and I get that excited eight-year-old feeling again. It’s my favorite part of painting. It screams creation to me.” Her work bridges the space between science and art. Her paintings are intricate, breathtaking, and anatomically accurate. Through them, the viewer is introduced to the wonder of nature and comes to value the different forms of life with which we share the planet. “Art is a brilliant delivery method for science. It makes it approachable and understandable. Without science too, much of the art we create today would not be possible.” Pigments, for instance, are born of minerals ground, dried, combined, or oxidized. Through science, colors like this Prussian Blue become possible:
If she could go on the field trip of her dreams, it would be to the Singapore Botanical Gardens. In it is preserved a portion of their original rain forest. Tropical plants like ginger, birds of paradise, and orchids of every shape and size grow together in harmony. Witnessing life in its fullest equilibrium in such places soothes the soul. Catie’s journey in art and life keeps taking her wonderful places. At every stage, she observes, enjoys, and appreciates. “Art has taught me to cherish moments and people. It has taught me to spend more time in the present and see the gifts around me. Art has taught me about intuition and that if we stop long enough in a spot, we will see all the amazing details that we often are too busy to notice.” Catie’s work can be viewed and purchased at
Catie loves mornings, bird of paradise flowers, and brightly colored, spring green. A favorite season is harder to choose. When she lived in the Midwest, it was fall. Now that she lives in sunny Arizona, she enjoys the spring: “Spring encompasses hope so well. Hope for the winter thaw, hope for warmer days, and hope that life is renewed.”
wwww.catarzina.com For more information, contact Catie at: email@example.com
Photo Credit: Catarzina.com
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We are all made for greatness.
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WS Cares: Supporting EGRC By: Rose McInerney
Last month, WS introduced the story of Ching Tien and her sponsorship program, Educating Girls in Rural China (EGRC). WS writer, Yara Zgheib’s story, Opportunity Through Education inspires us to get involved and effect change in our networks and communities. Over the coming months, we hope you’ll check back with us as we share two personal stories of change about the sponsored girls from EGRC. WS Cares is an action plan to invest in people changing the world,. We have pledged 20% of our magazine subscription fees each month to build financial support for this transformative organization and hope you’ll share these with other family and friends. Here is a brief summary about Ching and two very personal stories of powerful change. In every story, the purpose is the same: to entertain and inspire readers the with knowledge, courage, joy and personal reflection to realize their own greatness. Wanting to step up the impact of our storytelling, we introduced WS Cares in 2018 to invest in today’s change-makers. This means supporting the men and women, today, who are giving the world the best of themselves in service to others. And, it also means partnering with women-led businesses and supporting women-made products. By leveraging 20% of what we earn financially and harnessing our networks and media resources, WS helps improve the success of history makers and our mission to change the world.
About Ching Tien Ching grew up in China in the 1960s and 70s and hoped to be a journalist and a writer until the Cultural Revolution changed everything. Her father was jailed and her mother was sent to work in Gansu, the poorest province in China. Ching was pulled out of school and sent to work in a factory. During her eight years there, she witnessed dire poverty; people living in caves with few possessions and no access to running water or electricity. Boys were also favored over girls; they were the ones sent to school. Women actually had the added burden of supporting them.
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But Ching refused this reality and, in 1983, she left China for Canada. She built a new life and raised a family, but never forgot the girls who stayed behind in Gansu. Twenty years later, Ching returned to Gansu and met with government and school officials. She raised $27,000 dollars and founded EGRC in 2005. Since then, EGRC has sponsored the high school and university education of over 1,000 young girls. Beyond financial support, Ching keeps in touch and provides online and in person training on career and personal development, as well as intern and employment opportunities for every girl. â€œEducation gives a woman the ability to make decisions that will improve her life and ultimately improve her society. Women hold up half the sky.â€?
Photo Credit: EGRC.ca
Photo Credit: EGRC.ca
Photo Credit: EGRC.ca
Photo Credit: EGRC.ca
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E G RC Cha n gi n g L i ve s , Zh im e i Wan g B y : Mon a Z h an g
Zhimei Wang was born in a small village in Gansu, arguably the most impoverished region in Western China. As a young girl, she suffered from a speech impediment. As a result, Zhimei was a sensitive girl with low self-esteem, who barely spoke. In her first year at university, she decided it was time to find her voice. Each morning, Zhimei would get up early, shouting to the cliffs and picking up pebbles. She washed them and put them into her mouth to practice speaking. After a year of continued hard work, she was able to talk like an average person. To continue working on this speaking challenge, she joined an English public speaking club in Nanjing city. Today, she is the Vice President of that Club. In her final year of undergraduate study, she shared her story at an EGRC get-together and encouraged other students to overcome their obstacles. In one instance, she spent time talking with a severely-depressed EGRC-sponsored student to let her know she was not alone and that she cared for her. The student eventually recovered from her depression, graduated from school and landed a good job. In the EGRC circle, Zhimei earned the nickname “A little Sunshine.” Zhimei Wang is currently studying for her Master degree at China Pharmaceutical University.
Learn more about the EGRC and how you can help. Visit www.EGRC.ca
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E G RC Cha n gi n g L i ve s , Hu i m i n g Ma B y : Mon a Z h an g
In the summer of 2008, Huiming Ma faced the toughest decision of her life. She was admitted into Tianjin Normal University but couldn’t attend. Her family could not afford to send her. As the third of five daughters in her family, she did not have many options. When she got her admission letter, her two older sisters were already in college and two younger sisters were in high school. Between her hometown prioritizing boys’ education over girls’, and her family’s farming income needing her help, Huiming had no choice but to stay home despite her strong desire to receive higher education. Fortunately, EGRC (Educating Girls in Rural China) was able to help and sponsored Huiming’s tuition when they learned about her predicament. This changed her life forever. Six years later, Huiming finished her undergraduate studies and also obtained a master’s degree in Education because EGRC sponsored her a second time. This gift and educational experience taught Huiming the value of giving back. It’s the reason she’s been actively volunteering at EGRC for ten years since her graduation, organizing fundraising events and sharing her life stories. Gaining an education not only broadened Huiming’s mind but it also encouraged her to tackle any new challenges with confidence. Thanks to Huiming and a few active alumnae who stepped up to serve a few years ago, the EGRC Alumnae Association was founded to create a support network for other EGRC girls. Huiming, who is President of the association, lives in Beijing and works as an entrepreneur in the filed of preschool education.
Learn more about the EGRC and how you can help. Visit www.EGRC.ca
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“Everything in the universe has “Our swee tes t s o n gs a re thos e a rhythm, everything dances.”
that tell o f s a d d e s t tho u ght . ” Percy Bysshe Shelley
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Craig Enright, A Road to Someplace By: Rose McInerney
The legendary saxophone player Charlie Parker said: “Don’t play the saxophone. Let it play you.”
his note rings true when I consider how music has shaped Craig Enright’s life. Gospel, Jazz, Blues and Latin - these are a few of the many sounds that flow from his saxophone in his first solo album, A Road to Someplace. Like his album cover, Craig’s journey has been an open road taking him from his love of music to unexpected adventures playing with some of the best musicians and living his best life. Craig says it’s more exciting not knowing what’s ahead. The journey to “someplace” is more exciting and we learn to never give up on our dreams. These are lessons Craig knows all too well, in lieu of a serious health scare in 2010 that threatened his life. It’s part of his story and one we’ll get to soon enough, as I share my meeting with Craig at a small coffee shop on Bedford Street in the town of Stamford, Connecticut. As Craig and I sat down amidst a stream of people hurrying past our rendezvous table outside the coffee shop, I offered my congratulations. It’s not often you meet this caliber of talent, a musician and composer, releasing his first solo album at 62 years young. I knew Craig had spent most of his life working in the financial industry, so I wondered of course why he hadn’t pursued a career in music. All signs pointed to a musical bloodline given his parents’ legacy. Craig’s father played trumpet for dance bands and polka bands while attending college after serving two years in the army. His mother was a fine pianist who was classically trained in music. But the winds blew
differently for Craig, who stands a lanky 6’ 7”. Both he and his two brothers who are equally tall, became hometown basketball heroes in their Cedar Rapids community. It makes sense when I glance at Craig’s outstretched legs. It’s impossible for him to sit with his knees bent under our table; they’re just too long. Craig is the tallest saxophone player I’ve ever met. While that has nothing to do with his music, it’s easy to see why it might take a little longer to arrive. He plays so beautifully and writes his own songs and compilations I’m grateful he made it. And the composing - it’s wonderful. Craig’s songs are rich and diverse in sound, with smooth textured layers of multiple instruments captured and orchestrated into song. The album is brilliant. As a fan of Duke Ellington and older Jazz and Blues singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, I don’t doubt that Craig may soon be scoring music for movies as part of his successful second act in life. Some of Craig’s early influences include music giants like the Great One, John Coltrane and the likes of Miles Davis and Michael Brecker. Back in Cedar Rapids, Craig remembers wanting to be like a family of brothers that had a family band. He longed to try his hand, but it would not be until two years into his college studies when he bought his first saxophone. After retiring from basketball at Dartmouth University, he continued to tinker with music. But the job market was a priority after graduation.
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Ironically, Craig landed in Chicago, the legendary home of the Blues. There, he discovered Jerry Bergonzi, perhaps his greatest influence. Craig purchased all seven books by Jerry on musical improvisation, an enormous stack of his CDs, and he’s seen him play live numerous times.
Craig now records and digitally edits his own music arrangements. As we chat, I realize he’s very much a Renaissance man, happiest learning and exploring what interests him. This is especially true when it comes to meeting fellow musicians and exploring new creative sounds.
While keenly inspired to play, the road would have to wait for his career and a burgeoning family.
Most Wednesday evenings are reserved for jamming with friends or performing with local bands. Back in 2004, Craig jumped at the opportunity to play in New York’s SoHo district down on Dwayne Street when a group of financial traders who owned a club called the “Hide Away” invited him to play there. He did live performances for four years that translated into valuable life lessons:
A wise decision when you learn Craig has been happily married for 32 years to a beautiful woman that lived two blocks from his childhood home. Denise is a successful interior designer and fellow creative, and together they’ve raised two wonderful sons, one whom is successfully pursuing a musical career. It was only later, when Craig turned 44 and the internet made online lessons more accessible, that Craig tapped this more economical and convenient way to learn. Over time, his theory of music and playing skills have progressed, and he added a keyboard with a recording deck and a home studio to his ensemble.
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“You have two choices in life - do something or nothing,” says Craig. “People need to believe in themselves and can do whatever they set their mind to because life really is an open road. Look at me - I’m comfortable ‘doing’ and realize you never know when a door might just creak open. You also don’t know when that might happen again, so you have to go for it.” Craig is certainly a doer and loves musicians like Miguel Zenon, a Puerto Rican born sax player and composer. Miguel’s fearless approach to creating
music without rules or borders has inspired his own self-expression and music journey. It’s part of the reason Craig spends 4-6 hours each day playing his Tenor sax and composing on the piano on other days. Discipline is everything. Craig walks each night to clear his head with Rosie, the family dog of 15 years. You might see him also enjoying a cigar as he ponders life and makes room for creative inspiration. At the end of a long walk, it’s not uncommon for Craig to head back to his studio to capture tunes or ideas. When we chatted further about the importance of taking time out, Craig spoke about his health. “Nine years ago, I should have died from a rash of pulmonary embolisms. The doctors were amazed I survived. One I hadn’t met insisted on meeting me in person because he couldn’t believe I had survived.” That was nine years ago, and Craig has no time to waste. He knows what matters and is grateful for the life-saving practices of walking Rosie and having a family and friends that support him. Craig’s progress as a musician inspires him to keep learning, growing, and exploring the very personal style afforded by a saxophone. Apparently, a trained ear can identify a saxophone player in just a few notes. In 2008, Craig recorded his first personal sounds on the album La Belleza. It’s a compilation of Latin-style Jazz songs with strong Cuban and Mexican flavors. The album
includes four very talented and very well-respected artists; Enrique Haneine, Aram Vasquez, Alex Hernandez and Ludwig Afonso. Craig’s second album and first solo recording, A Road to Someplace, is a hybrid of Jazz and Funk, with all the melodies written and recorded by Craig. Many of the song scores were actually written four years ago and are vignettes from memorable times in Craig’s life. These include his mother’s love of Gospel music in I’ll Play Something Nice and Tuesday Night, an ode to his college days when 25-30 friends gathered during the summer on Tuesday nights at a local bar. Knowing there isn’t much of an audience for Jazz in Stamford, Craig has expanded his range of music genres, even though he still listens to the sounds of Michael Brecker, a popular Jazz soloist for some of the biggest musicians in the world. Now that Craig’s two tall legs are firmly planted in the creative space where he writes and produces music, he’ll keep playing till he can’t. I realize we’re all on a road to someplace that I hope will be filled with “Tuesday Night” songs. As for Craig’s “it’s never-too-late” feeling, it inspires us to discover our best self and to share our passion with the world. You can find Craig Enright’s albums on CD Baby or Amazon.
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“To me, movies and music go hand in hand. When I’m writing a script, one of the first things I do is find the music I’m going to play for the opening sequence.” Quentin Tarantino
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Dorothy Arzner T rail b l azi n g W o men o f F i l m By: Rose McInerney
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“When I went to work in the studio, I took my pride and made a nice little ball of it and threw it right out the window.” This shocking admission by Dorothy Arzner turned my understanding of her success upside down. Here was a legendary filmmaker, a trailblazing feminist voice in the early twentieth century, who admitted she had relinquished her power. Why would any intelligent woman do this? The answer is quite simple and reflects what many women have always done - they make tough choices and find ways to overcome challenges. This was certainly true for Dorothy’s life and work in the film industry. While Dorothy may have swallowed her pride, she broke new ground for women with hard work and the strategic smarts to make herself indispensable to the studios.
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In the late 1920s, the invention of sound and the amalgamation of production studios was a deathknell for most female film directors. The so-called Golden Age of America was anything but golden for women. Big production studios gobbled-up smaller ones, leveraging deals with the banking industry. Naturally, sexist attitudes and stereotypical views of bankers spilled over and into the film industry. Men weren’t used to seeing women in positions of power in the U.S., especially in the film industry. Overseas, women like France’s Alice Guy had already started directing in 1896 but this would not happen in the U.S. until Dorothy took the reins.
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In fact, female writers and directors were routinely blackballed and considered too fragile to work in stressful jobs like film directing regardless of their talent. With the growth of big studios and increased film budgets, directing suddenly became a man’s job. But Dorothy was different and her strengths went well beyond her standout talent. Having grown up in Hollywood, California, where her father owned a restaurant next to a movie theatre, she quickly graduated from stenographer to film cutter and script editor in just six months. Her progress garnered attention and praise but there was something more. . Dorothy was particularly good at networking with both men and women. She was constantly honing her film skills but also on the lookout for the next opportunity. When something was needed, there was a scene change or a new script was needed, Dorothy was there. This opened doors for a woman who was also considered cost-conscious and adept at negotiating and meeting the unique technical challenges of the 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s. In the ’20s when everyone was moving to sound film, Dorothy was smart and kept her options open, working in both sound and silent films. She never became too attached to any one project and was ever-willing to take on smaller segments which made her indispensable. It didn’t hurt either that Dorothy worked easily with men and women.
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Dorothy also noticed that men were never distracted by her or seemed to pay much attention to the fact that she was a woman. Without appearing judgmental, perhaps this was explained by Dorothy’s generally masculine physicality for the time or her rumored lesbian orientation. Whatever the case, Dorothy was good at forming close ties with female actresses and male producers. When studios started to worry about budgets, Dorothy’s adaptability was attractive. Her projects were completed on time and well-executed. Eventually, this helped her to make inroads and studio heads at Paramount offered her the chance to film small parts, including a 1922 film, Blood and Sand starring Rudolph Valentino. This film launched her career and, over the next twenty years, Dorothy had the opportunity to direct several projects by going back and forth between Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). To protect her security, Dorothy was also on the lookout for bigger opportunities to direct with independent companies like Dorothy Davenport Reid. They provided new experiences, a chance to bolster her diverse skills and industry connections, and she could use these projects to negotiate promotions when studios wanted to hire her back for more work. Eventually, Dorothy landed her first A-list opportunity
in 1927, directing the film Fashions for Women. It was a commercial success for Paramount, and a dozen more films followed. Dorothy’s movie credits included Ten Modern Commandments (1927), Get Your Man (1927), Manhattan Cocktail (1928), and The Wild Party (1929) and emphasized her technical prowess and creativity.
farewell speech on stage, in front of a large group of men heckling her costume malfunction, the scene is an obvious commentary by Dorothy. Dorothy calls out the oppressive, patriarchal system of injustices she and all women have suffered in the film industry.
Dorothy continued to evolve and took control of her career, eventually leaving Paramount in 1932 to work with other companies like United Artists and Columbia. When she finally decided to retire in 1943, she continued to work but branched out into other commercial avenues - making films for Pepsi and the Women’s Army Corps.
Dorothy has the last word when Maureen O’Hara says, “Go ahead and stare. I’m not ashamed… what do you suppose we think of you… playing at being the stronger sex for a minute...we see through you.”
Dorothy’s body of work is remarkable for so many reasons. But I’m most impressed with her fearless determination and ability to identify new opportunities. Dorothy also expressed feminist views that spoke to the power of women to work within male-dominated power structures. She did so quite vocally at a time when it was unpopular to speak out. After learning about Dorothy, her comment about rolling her pride up into a ball and throwing it away now meant something much different. Dorothy’s pride landed with a giant splat on a larger, more impactful, silver screen. What Dorothy shared with the world in her plucky and reprimanding voice of the 1940’s film “Dance, Girl, Dance”, starring Maureen O’Hara, was truly groundbreaking. In the film, the heroine unleashes years of pent up frustration in a character named Judy. During Judy’s final
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Brigitte Bardot, Westwood, 1965
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Q u entin Ta r a n t i n o’s R eveng e i n O n c e Up o n A Tim e i n Hol l ywo o d B y: Ros e Mc I n er n ey
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood should matter to women. And, not because film critics are calling writer/director Quentin Tarantino’s tenth movie a love letter to Hollywood. In his latest work, Tarantino rewrites history and the brutal murder of pregnant Hollywood actress, Sharon Tate. Audiences know love letters are hardly Tarantino’s style. So while this film tones down the bloody body count typical of his shocking and riveting artistic work, the movie speaks more to women than critics or many women may realize. Here’s why. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood points a finger directly at Hollywood. All of Tarantino’s movies are about revenge. It’s his trademark. Set in 1969, the plot zeroes in on the golden twilight of Hollywood as it transitions to new American film and grapples with the brutal death of Tate. It rocked America and destroyed whatever innocence existed in Hollywood, if there ever was any. In Tarantino’s storyline, Leonardo Di Caprio who plays Hollywood actor Rick Dalton, former star of the Western television series Bounty Law, doesn’t save Tate. He’s floating in his backyard pool oblivious to the violence as he listens to music on his headphones. Rick’s best friend and former stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), is a war veteran who lives in a trailer with his pit bull, Brandy. He saves the day while dubiously (pun intended) high in a rather funny scene. Cliff is a Hollywood has-been who is really nothing more than a glorified driver for Rick. He’s a nice guy, just trying to get by with the occasional Hollywood gig. It’s a perfect way for Tarantino to call out the real heroes who must put an end to the injustices of our world. Tarantino takes revenge on people like Weinstein who prey on the Tates in the industry. He kills the predators dressed in sheep’s clothing, like Charlie Manson’s gang. It’s not enough, as Tarantino confessed in a 2017 New York Times article, that he knew enough about Weinstein to do more than he did.
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Tarantino started working with Weinstein in 1992, but broke free from him in this movie. Blood is still on Tarantino’s hands as bloody violence erupts at the very end of the movie when, through Cliff, he avenges Tate’s death. Maybe Tarantino is saying enough blood has been shed and the marginalized and disadvantaged don’t need a love letter. Instead, Tarantino breathes life into them. That’s what we must do – as women, as men, and as people. Let’s master our stories and not look for fairytale endings. Once Upon A Time in Hollywood is a masterfully wild farewell to Hollywood and the old American Dream. Men and women need to build our own happy endings. We can do it together if we call out the Masons and the Weinsteins. The anti-establishment and irreverent in Hollywood are suddenly very “in” and who better than Tarantino to welcome it and move us to action. Tarantino is newly married to Israeli singer, Daniella Pick and expecting their first child. I can’t wait to see what this next chapter brings.
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