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Hi, I'm Daniela. Welcome to my personal lair on the Internet. This is where I write about storytelling, activism, technology and pop culture. Sometimes I post videos. I update my lair when the mood strikes me. Follow me on Twitter for daily updates (@dcap).

Tag : film

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On My Radar: GFS (Ghetto Film School) MasterClass Series, live Google+ Hangout with Lee Daniels

You can find inspiration anywhere — if your intention is to seek it. Just a few blocks away from my converted piano factory loft-hipsterfied digs in the South Bronx is Ghetto Film School HQ. Their mission is to educate, develop and celebrate the next generation of great American storytellers and are supported by a wide network of corporate sponsors, government agencies, and filmmaking professionals.

I’m super psyched that GFS is taking their services to the next level. The upcoming MasterClass Series and Google+ Hangouts integration should be a must-follow event for all film students and DIY filmmakers. Starting January 31, aspiring (and established) filmmakers of color will have the opportunity to engage with leading POC filmmakers and industry allies to discuss their craft and to build community.

From the release:

GFS MasterClass brings creative education to a global scale, connecting professional film directors with young storytellers around the world in a new Google+ Hangout series.

With “Pariah” garnering so many accolades and several Latino-directed films generating buzz at the 2012 Sundance fest, this series is perfect timing for those looking to be inspired and to learn more about the resources available to tell their own stories.

The first MasterClass, which is set to launch live 6PM EST Tuesday, January 31st at Ghetto Film School’s South Bronx Post House (SBPH), features acclaimed filmmaker Lee Daniels, who will be joined by 8 young filmmakers from around the world (Venezuela, Rwanda, Ukraine, Israel, Belfast, Haiti, Sweden and Los Angeles) , as well as series moderator (and GFS Fellows Program graduate) Gloria Alvarez.

“I’ve been with Ghetto Film School from the early days, their students interned at my Harlem brownstone office, and I’m thrilled now to bring the invaluable GFS experience to young filmmakers all over the world,” said Lee Daniels.

More from the release:

GFS MasterClass is a monthly series hosted on Google+ Hangouts throughout the year. Sessions will stream live in hour-long segments on Google+, and will be available for viewing as 15-minute modules on YouTube. Each episode features a top director leading a discussion about a specific topic (e.g. “Working with Actors,” “The Core of the Story”), with series moderator Gloria Alvarez (GFS Fellows Program graduate) and 8 young filmmakers from around the world. Participants for each episode are given creative assignments to complete and then share on Google+ and YouTube.

MasterClass takes place in a virtual environment, with directors filmed on location at various sites throughout the US, including the South Bronx Post House (Bronx, NY), the Film Society of Lincoln Center (New York, NY) and the Googleplex (Mountainview, CA).

Other directors involved include Spike Jonze, (Where the Wild Things Are), David O. Russell (The Fighter), Jim Jarmusch (The Limits of Control), Tamra Davis (Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child), Ed Burns (Newlyweds), Peter Sollett (Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist), Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight), Paola Mendoza (Entre Nos), Barry Jenkins (Remigration), David Robert Mitchell (Myth of the American Sleepover), John Singleton (Abduction) and Jason Reitman (Up in the Air).

To join the MasterClass, be sure to follow Ghetto Film School on Google+.

On My Radar: Skateistan “We Build Ramps, Not Bombs”

Skateistan is Afghanistan’s first dedicated skateboarding school. This rocks more than I have the writing ability to describe.


Luckily, I found this FRANK mag interview with skateboarding pro Louisa Menke that explains her participation in the school and related documentary (I’m so excited about the film!!).

Skateistan is special because women’s rights are severely restricted in Afghanistan; keep in mind that the Taliban do not even want women attending school.

You can watch the piece on Skateistan right here.

Skateistan classes for boys and girls began in January of 2010. International volunteers include:

* Sophie Friedel, from Germany – professional mountain boarder
* US citizen Richard Mendez – will be assisting Skateistan for one month (instruct male students and keep the park’s equipment in order)

After her first skate session with the Skateistan students at the brand new park, the 25 year old Sophie said: “I didn’t expect them to be so good already. I’m really looking forward to helping them improving their skate and other skills throughout the next six months.”

The school is free for students and they are also working with handicapped and visually-challenged Afghans.

More About Skateistan
Skateistan is Afghanistan’s (and the world’s) first co-educational skateboarding school. The school engages growing numbers of urban and internally-displaced youth in Afghanistan through skateboarding, and provides them with new opportunities in cross-cultural interaction, education, and personal empowerment programs. The students are selected from all of Afghanistan’s diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. They will develop skills in skateboarding, skateboarding instruction, healthy habits, civic responsibility, information technology, the arts, and languages.

The students themselves decide what they want to learn; we connect them with teachers who will enable them to develop the skills that they consider important. Since Skateistan has been active in Kabul, we’ve seen that Afghan youth of all ethnicities, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds love to skateboard. Skateistan brings them together, equipping young men and women to lead their communities toward social change and development. – via

Here are some details about the upcoming Skateistan doc:

Skateistan — To Live and Skate in Kabul, Kai Sehr (7 mins) Documentary Preview

Skateistan from Paranoid US on Vimeo.

Inspired by Skateistan, Afghanistan’s first skateboarding school, this emotional feature-length documentary is a journey deep into the lives of Afghanistan’s urban youth. It chronicles the efforts of a grass-roots organization to build the first skate hall in Kabul, follows the first international crew of pro skaters on their visit to Afghanistan and tells a tale of the irrepressible hope found within a nation’s children.

I can’t find the release date for the Skateistan doc anywhere so fan Skateistan on Facebook and stay informed!!!

Brain Leaks: Fear & Femininity

related post: Girl Antagonists In Cinema

I’ve noticed that a lot of my favorite films, books, videos and works of art have to do with a fear of the mystical/”unknown” aspects of femininity.

Frequently, the content creator is preoccupied with his/her discomfort around femininity and is outright with it or tries to disguise it with symbolism.

One of my guilty-pleasure bands, The Horrors, have several (cool) videos that show women as objects of fear or loathing. (ex: Sheena Is A Parasite)

I recently stumbled onto this video on Vimeo called “КУБИКИ” that is visually striking. I can’t understand what is being said but it keeps cutting to a feminine face and a doll who is rapidly undressed in stop-motion, covered in in a tar-like substance and then burned.

“КУБИКИ” from cuccumberass on Vimeo.

The first time I thought about femininity in a “scary way” was when I saw the episode of “DuckTales” called “Home Sweet Homer” about a Siren-like creature. The gang is sailing and Scrooge McDuck becomes enchanted by three women in the distance who are singing “Pennies, nickles, quarters, dimes — Come to us, while there’s still time!” He almost ends up being killed. Seeing these feminine figures suddenly become a gross monster was something that really struck me. The realization that femininity could be constructed as a guise to distract for hidden purposes was both disturbing and kind of empowering.

That show was awesome, FTW.

What is it about representations of femininity contrasted with extreme violence that affect us in such a strong way?

Films like The Shining and most recently Shutter Island used images of femininity in the context of aging/death to induce a very uncomfortable or fearful audience reaction.

I could never quite put my finger on exactly why that hallway scene in The Shining was so disturbing to me. Now I think I know why — Aside from the implied fact that they were ghosts who (in their previous life) had been murdered by their father, it was their interaction with the little boy that bothered me so much.

“Hello, Danny. Come and play with us.” They stood side by side, immobile at the end of the hallway. Unlike him, they were not afraid. They didn’t seem to realize they were dead.

We then saw rapid cuts of what Danny sees – the girls lying in the hallway, covered in blood. The scene keep cutting back and forth between their butchered bodies to rapidly encroaching shots of the girls staring straight ahead, not moving a muscle.

“Come and play with us, Danny. Forever, and ever, and ever…”

Danny covered his face in horror. The contrast is too much.

In Shutter Island, there were similar shots — a blood-soaked little girl who can walk around and talk to the protagonist.

Mythical figures such as Sirens, Medusa and the Succubus are constantly reinterpreted in books and movies.

Throughout history, the ruling class in every nation created laws at some point that rid society of “abnormal” women (see Salem Witch Trials) and to justify injustices in the name of protecting femininity (see History of Lynching).

Conflicting ideas about mystical/”unknown” aspects of femininity and our desire to protect/preserve femininity are threads that will continue to be played out in the arts.

In related news, The New School is finally recognizing their Gender Studies Program.

Initially to be based at Lang College, the Gender Studies Program of The New School serves all undergraduate divisions. Lang students minoring in Gender Studies will take six courses, distributed as set forth in this requirement doc. Courses are chosen in consultation with the Director of the Program. Students must submit a plan to the program director for their course of study when they declare the minor.

To celebrate the return, there will be a a two day conference featuring various well known gender studies experts.

“No Longer in Exile: The Legacy and Future of Gender Studies at The New School”

DATE: Friday, March 26th 6 PM -9 PM and all day Saturday, March 27th
LOCATION: Theresa Lang Center – 55. W. 13th St. (NYC)

Just a few of the themes to be addressed include the task of historicizing feminism, including the particular history of Gender Studies at the New School; continuity and rupture across feminist generations; the impact of feminism on research methodologies in the social sciences; gender and design; the relationship between scholarship and activism; dilemmas in the project of institutionalizing Gender Studies; and gendered structural and institutional policies in the New School university.

I am looking forward to listening to information provided by the following panelists (there are more, but these are the ones I am psyched about):

* Susan Faludi, author of Backlash and The Terror Dream
* Bonnie Thornton Dill, Professor and Chair of the Women’s Studies Department and Program and Direction of the Consortium on Race, Gender and Ethnicity at the University of Maryland
* Judith Halberstam, Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity and Gender Studies at USC and author of In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (2005)
* Valerie Smith, Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature, Department of English, Princeton Center for African American Studies

Fan Gender Studies at The New School on Facebook to stay updated on conference details and other news.