Monday, November 5, 2007

Readings from Grace Paley at Cooper Union

Now that the bike is fixed and travel possible, a party for the soundtrack CD of Downtown 81 at the Tribeca Grand Hotel tonight is definitely an option. It would mean, though, detaching myself from Barack Obama's dance moves with Ellen de Generes, lacing boots and clattering down the stairs, uh, neighbors, so I'm holding out for the Grace Paley homage tomorrow, November 6, at Cooper Union's Great Hall on East 7th Street,7pm. See you there.

Obstinacy, Teenage Characters

For his first film as a director, Chris Menges directed Shawn Slovo's screenplay A World Apart,
set in South Africa in 1963. The story is told from the point of view of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl trying to reconcile herself to her activist parents, a theme taken up more recently by Julie Costa-Gravas in Blame it on Fidel, though with more humor,less narrative drive and perhaps fewer dramatic peaks. The dilemma being that activism demands time and dedication that children feel belongs to them. A World Apart is particularly successful in foregrounding political situations while developing strong characters.
There are separate full-fledged interviews with both Slovo and Menges in the book done after the film was screened at the NYFF; in spite of huge critical acclaim for it as a political drama, the film was only kept in theatrical release for a month. At the time I had just started teaching at Columbia, or was about to, and once a year selecting films that especially moved me
from the NYFF to write about. next on this topic: Why this one and not that...