Wadjda: Irrepressible Girl Power from Saudi Arabia

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I have been waiting all summer to see Wadjda. Ever since seeing the trailer, I was immediately drawn to this story of a headstrong, rebellious young girl defying tradition in a conservative society. It might sound like a familiar theme but in this case, we’re talking about Saudi Arabia, one of the most restrictive countries in the world, in regards to women’s rights. Considering that women are not allowed to vote nor drive and any woman can be arrested for being in public with a man not related to her, the movie breaks a lot of barriers and is a rare glimpse into a very closed society.

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To and From the Heart: Taiwu Children’s Ancient Ballads Troupe & Daniel Ho

taiwu 001On my day off yesterday, I had the fortune of finding out about a free educational presentation by the Taiwu Children’s Ancient Ballads Troupe and Daniel Ho at Bowers Museum in Santa Ana from a friend who heard them interviewed on KPFK that same morning. I’m so glad I made the drive down to OC to catch them!

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20 Feet From Stardom: Must See History of the Black Backup Singers behind all the Iconic Songs – Opens June 14 Weekend with special Q&As!


20 Feet From Stardom is a new documentary that is a poignant, heartbreaking and well-deserved celebration of the backup singers behind the most iconic popular rock and pop songs and the legendary bands they supported. The film traces the history of the huge impact these talented, yet unknown black female singers made to the music and the bands millions of people know so well. Their voices are instantly recognizable but the stories of their contributions to music as well as the sacrifices they made both professionally and personally are untold until now.

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2013 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film

oscar(UPDATE 2/27/13: As predicted, Amour won the Oscar. However, if you want to catch a free screening of War Witch at USC tonight Wednesday 2/27, followed by a Q&A with director Kim Nguyen and actress Rachel Mwanza, whose Cinderella story of being cast for the film after being discovered while living on the streets as a homeless orphan child is truly inspirational, RSVP here. You can also RSVP for the 2nd screening, Beyond The Hills, from Romania.)
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Two great films about Cuba: One Environmental, One Musical

powerI saw 2 great films this past week. The first, The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, is a documentary about how Cuba dealt with a sudden unavailability of oil when the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s. Because of this event, Cuba became to the first country to experience literally overnight what we will all eventually face globally: Peak Oil, the point when the burgeoning use of oil to fuel our civilization’s growth can no longer be sustained by dwindling supplies of oil and our societies will have to find radical new ways to adapt. Continue reading

Babe’s & Ricky’s Inn: A Tribute to Mama & her life-long Love for the Blues

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(Update 04/10/13: Babe’s & Ricky’s Inn been showing at Laemmle’s Monica 4-Plex in Santa Monica since April 5 and tomorrow April 11 is the last night! There have been live blues shows following most evening’s screenings, so don’t miss out on both an amazing documentary and talented blues musicians performing afterwards in tribute to Mama! Richard Martin-Ross will be performing tonight Wed. and Suzanne Thomas will be performing tomorrow. More info here.)

It was very appropriate that Babe’s & Ricky’s Inn had its world premiere as the Centerpiece of the Pan African Film Festival on Valentine’s Day. What a wonderful film and a loving celebration of an almost forgotten and to many of the music-loving community, myself included, an unknown part of Los Angeles history! Continue reading