Author Archives: G.C. Stiehl

Life In Color: Kingdom 2016

“The World’s Largest Paint Party” is set to take over California & Nevada w/ Steve Aoki, Autoerotique, Bonnie x Clyde in Fresno and Flux Pavilion, Doctor P, Cookie Monsta, FuntCase, Diskord in Las Vegas.

“There is a place that lies between ordinary expectations and limitless dreams. A wondrous place of freedom and fulfillment. A place we like to call your Kingdom! Inside each of us, lies a journey of self-awakening. A place where fears, insecurities and self-doubt are transformed by feelings of pure joy and happiness. This place is dedicated to you; the dreamers, the rule-breakers, the ones who never grow up…” ~LIC

Unlocked: The World Of Games

The 8-part series explores modern game development, competitive gaming (aka eSports), the psychology of gaming, games as therapy and rehabilitation, design schools, video game journalism, and more.

‘Unlocked: The World Of Games, Revealed’ is hosted by celebrity correspondents Sean Astin, Tom Arnold, Matt Walsh, Penn Jilette, Michael Rooker, Zelda Williams, Alison Haislip, Meghan Camarena and features William Shatner, Tony Hawk, Kevin Smith, and Jason Mewes.

The documentary was directed, written, and produced by Mediajuice Studios’ founder Jeremy Snead and executive produced by Sean Astin, Dusty Womble, and Brett Womble. The series will be released on December 15th and is currently available for pre-order.

‘Minus Zero Festival’ Returns

Officially launching its northeast edition in 2016 (with deadmau5 & Kaskade), the multi-day winter sports and music festival returns for its 2nd year at the all-inclusive Stratton Mountain Resort located in picturesque South Londonderry, Vermont.

The 2017 edition will feature 2 stages of music, skiing, snowboarding, lodging onsite and free parking PLUS all tickets include admission to the after parties.

‘War Wings’ WWII Mobile Dogfights

Set against a World War II backdrop, War Wings lets players fly historically accurate, authentically modeled, fully customizable warplanes. The free award-winning PvP aerial dogfighting game is optimized for mobile play and battles are complete in short, convenient intervals.

Every aircraft in the game displays flight data and reflect weapons damage for combat experiences sure to appeal to military enthusiasts. Pilots can choose their preferred mobile-optimized flight control method from a selection of motion, virtual stick, or D-pad inputs.

War Wings North American release in early 2017.

‘Melody Makers’ Music Documentary

Leslie-Ann Coles’ feature documentary chronicles the birth of music journalism, and the world’s oldest and longest standing seminal magazine, Melody Maker. The film features a rare and largely unseen iconic photographic archive that is accompanied by untold stories from behind the pictures. Interviews with Eric Burdon (The Animals), Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), YES (Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Alan White), and many others help to bring this slice of rock n’ roll to life.

Panama Jazz Festival 2017

Providing a backdrop for cultural exchange, education and social awareness, the Panama Jazz Festival 2017 will honor Panamanian vocalist Violeta Green and host the V Latin American Music Therapy Symposium.

Headliners include Dianne Reeves, Romero Lubambo Duo, Terri Lyne Carrington (w/ Berklee Global Jazz Ambassadors), John Patitucci’s Electric Guitar Quartet (w/ Adams Rogers & Steve Cardenas), Rony Eytan Quartet (Israel), Retro Jazz (Dominican Republic), Lefteris Kordis (Greece), and over 40 national musicians. Participating schools include Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory, Thelonious Monk Institute, and New York Jazz Academy.

Recently the Republic of Panama established Law 312, guaranteeing the event’s annual funding beginning in 2018. The Panama Jazz Festival has attracted over 240,000 jazz fans, announcing over 4 million dollars in scholarships to international programs. The festival is the most important annual event for the Danilo Perez Foundation which develops musical programs for education in Panama and the rest of the world.

Electric Paradise 2016 in Cap Cana

Circuit Bending & Music Machines

Tracey of the Valley | Deep Inside Ms. Adlai

Those who commit to a 9-to-5 lifestyle know little of the pressures and risks associated with independent filmmaking. We’ve all heard horror stories: actresses who are deprived of their ten hours of sleep, cameramen who are forced to change their own lenses, and the toll the casting couch takes on a young defenseless producer.

The film festivals are no duck-walk either. Tortured filmmakers must submit to free drink tickets, repeated compliments, minutes of festival programming, and educational Q&A sessions only to reach a wild networking event. It’s a work hard, play harder industry. Therefore, it’s no surprise that film festivals are major undertaking.

Tracey Adlai is one such miracle worker who has put herself in the line-of-fire for twelve straight years. This NYU graduate bravely commits herself to the production of the Valley Film Festival, risking everything to deliver an event to a wonderful mix of grateful neophytes and jaded veterans.

I caught up with the Valley girl one evening, where else, in the Valley.

Citizen LA: It seems that a tribe known as the “Chumash Indians” thrived in the San Fernando Valley over 8,000 years ago—

Tracey Adlai: Hahaha. You’re going back a long time ago!

Citizen LA: How does the Valley Film Festival honor their sacrifices?

Tracey: Umm… I don’t think I’ve ever been stumped before! Well… Every January we do go to Campo de Cahuenga, which has nothing to do with the Chumash Indians but it is kinda like the birthplace of Southern California. We go there on the anniversary of the signing of the treaty between Mexico and the United States. It’s ignored by millions of people everyday who pass it, I’m sure. That’s my homage to the history of the Valley.

Citizen LA: Well then do you offer discounts for members of lost societies?

Tracey: Oh my God, George, you’re killing me here.

Citizen LA: Ok. Ok. I understand. It’s a business. And EVERYONE pays to get in.

Tracey: We do have some free programming. And all of our seminars are free.

Citizen LA: Excellent. So what inspired you to run a film festival? Was it a dare?

Tracey: Almost. I really only wanted to get involved with a film festival, not start one. There were all these facts and figures in the news everyday about how much money the film-making industry in the Valley brought to the city. And I was truly surprised that the Valley didn’t have a film festival. So I was like ‘sure, why not.’

Citizen LA: The Valley Film Festival is on its twelfth year. What’s the secret?

Tracey: Treating everyone with respect and knowing how to run something without a budget. We rely on the kindness of strangers.

Citizen LA: There aren’t many people who are brave enough to attempt to put together a film festival.

Tracey: When I started I didn’t realize everything that went into it. And then when I was “knee-deep”, well then, I was knee-deep.

Citizen LA: The San Fernando Valley is also known for its excellent Porn. Are you more comfortable “behind”, or “in front of” the camera?

Tracey: I’m a little awkward in front of the camera. I don’t know, I’m not really a… Umm…

Citizen LA: Porn Actress?

Tracey: Yeah! Haha. When I was in High School, I did want to be in Playboy, but that was a LONG time ago. I mean, I do like porn—

Cat: Meeeeoowww!

[We are interrupted by a Tracey’s very vocal cat.]

Citizen LA: Sounds like someone’s ready for some action.

Tracey: I guess so. Sorry. Anyway, I’m actually very comfortable showcasing it. We carved out an after-midnight slot for adult films—

Cat: Meeeeoowww!

Citizen LA: So I guess your answer is, “in front of” the camera.

Tracey: Sure. Hahaha.

Citizen LA: The Valley was made infamous by movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Valley Girl and Boogie Nights. How does the Valley Film Festival differ from more “LA centric” film fests? Or does it?

Tracey: Yes and no. We do showcase films that were made in the Valley. But we also showcase films from all over the—

Cat: Meeeeoowww!

Tracey: OMG!!! My cat!

Tracey: (to the cat) WHAT is wrong with YOU? Let’s take you outside.

[WE PAUSE TO DEAL WITH THE CAT.]

Tracey: Ok. Cat is out of the room. Sorry. Well, our mission is to… Umm… Uhh…

Citizen LA: Feel free to make it up right now.

Tracey: Hahaha. We want to make sure the films that are shot here in the San Fernando Valley have a platform and showcase to be screened. Also, many of the vendors are local vendors, which support the local economy.

Citizen LA: Tell me about your Signature Programming categories.

Tracey: We really don’t invite films from other festivals. We really try and concentrate on films that are submitted to us. Our signature programs are the “Made in the 818” shorts program and the “Girls on Shorts” program. “Made in the 818” showcases locally made films, simple as that. The “Girls on Shorts” entries are made by women, directed or produced. There aren’t enough women out there making films, so we are showcasing those who do and hopefully inspiring those who should.

Citizen LA: You also have a Happy Endings category. Will this “award” be presented by Ron Jeremy?

Tracey: I wish. It’s not that kind of a happy-ending. I posted a quick survey on FB to see what people would call a series of short films with feel-good endings. They chose Happy Endings, and it works for me.

Citizen LA: It works for me too! I love those.

Tracey: I bet you do.

Citizen LA: We understand that “good” and “bad” are subjective and relative… BUT what makes for an awful movie?

Tracey: Stereotypical, tired dialogue and bad chemistry between actors. But you’ve been to a few of my screening groups. You know we try and focus on finding THREE good things about each film. So we can tell filmmakers what was positive about their work— even if we aren’t going to program it.

Citizen LA: I do applaud you for that.

Tracey: Someone poured their heart and soul into a project and just because it doesn’t appeal to me, and the people in the screening group, doesn’t make it bad. There is a showcase for that particular film, just not the Valley Film Festival.

Citizen LA: What’s your take on the current state of film festivals around the world?

Tracey: Festivals with markets tend to have a slightly more mature crowd who are there for business. Something has been lost at Park City, for example, where all the films screened already have distribution so it’s not really an independent scene anymore. I also have a problem with festivals that demand world premieres. The first year that the VFF was around, four of our film selections were in another local film festival. I called the Festival Director who said they ‘cannot be screened.’ I have a major problem with film festivals telling filmmakers where they CAN and CAN’T screen.

Citizen LA: Does North Korea have a film festival?

Tracey: I don’t know North Korea.

Citizen LA: They do have lots of people, so they probably have lots of films. Maybe you can be the first to smuggle-out some North Korean films and get them screened at your film festival. But I think it’s a prerequisite that you own a liquor store.

Tracey: Yes. And thanks to all our liquor sponsors, I do own a liquor store.

Citizen LA: What’s your take on the mainstream Hollywood Film Industry?

Tracey: I think it’s getting better. They churned out all of these remakes of films from the 70s and 80s, which were obviously not as good as the originals. I have a hard time identifying what is an independent film these days a lot of studios are behind films that are considered independent but HAVE studio backing, but I don’t consider them independent. I don’t’ really go see every new film that’s made.

Citizen LA: Well, you’re probably doing yourself a favor.

Tracey: I see plenty of good and no-so-good films all year long. I’m also a Netfilx fiend.

Citizen LA: Netfilx rocks! The draw for me is that Netflix is Documentary heavy. Sadly, certain countries don’t want certain information leaking out into the public. Netflix Mexico, for example, has nothing on oil, nothing on plastic, nothing on water, nothing on poverty. I’d like to believe it’s due to a lack of “subtitling”, but… whatever.

Tracey Adlai: Yeah. Sad.

Citizen LA: What advice to you have for budding filmmakers?

Tracey: I understand that you may get emotionally attached to you projects, but you have to think of your project as a business as well. Don’t pigeon hole yourself and risk losing an audience or a showcase. It’s really hard to program a film that’s 20 to 40 minutes in length. So my advice is: Please embrace your editor.

Citizen LA: From a business point of view it’s an excellent idea to have your audience in mind before you start writing. If you’re looking to sell something, you pick your target and you write something for that and you sell it.

Tracey Adlai: You’re not selling to your parents.

Citizen LA: What advice do you have to other film festival producers?

Tracey: It’s a film festival. It should be fun. Don’t stress over it. No one’s going to die if the film stops— as you witnessed on our 10th year anniversary.

Citizen LA: I don’t know what you are talking about.

Tracey: Sure you’re gonna have some unhappy people, and some really abusive filmmaker yelling at you, but it’s not the end of the world. The first three or four years of the VFF, I stressed every single day it was running. Everything had to be perfect, and of course nothing was 100% perfect. But in my head it was a failure if it wasn’t 100% perfect. Now I do everything I can, up until the day before. Then the day it opens, it’s just: whatever will be, will be.

Citizen LA: During an event, something will go wrong every time. What makes a good event producer is someone who has the ability to not only correct the problem in a calm cool manner, but someone who can do it so the audience doesn’t know there’s something wrong.

Tracey: That clearly was not me.

Citizen LA: Hahaha. Hold on. There’s a big difference when something happens to the picture on the screen. I think you handled it perfectly.

Tracey: Do what you can up until the day before, but don’t let stressed-out people ruin the fruits of your labor.

Citizen LA: What does Tracey do to relax? Watch a movie? Or fire a shotgun?

Tracey: I listen to music. I go to a lot of concerts. I drink a lot of wine. I do watch a lot of movies. My favorite genre is the French Thriller. I also like The Benny Hill Show. And my guilty pleasure is Spinal Tap.

Citizen LA: Wine and Spinal Tap? That’s golden. So, any parting words?

Tracey: For the filmmakers who enter film festivals, they really take it personally when their film isn’t chosen— this is why we send a rejection email that points out the positive things about the film. Just because they don’t get in to one festival doesn’t mean they shouldn’t submit to other festivals. Also, I know a lot of filmmakers don’t send out their films because of the submission fee. But there are a ton of festivals that don’t have a submission fee. Cannes doesn’t have a submission fee for their short films. Most think Sundance and SXSW and AFI and Tribeca and all these really big showcases in the U.S. But if they can’t afford that route, they should submit to international film festivals, which almost all of them don’t have a submission fee attached to them, or write to the film festival itself and see if they will waive the fee for you.

Citizen LA: Maybe they should also try and submit to festivals that don’t have any submissions at all. Then they’d have a really good chance at winning.

Tracey: Hahaha. Yes… look for brand new festivals, they pop-up all the time. They are the ones that don’t have a database of supporters to announce their “call for entries”. And they will probably be the ones that might give you a chance. We started the “pay-what-you-can” submission period because we were getting so many requests to waive the fee. So now I tell people who don’t make the deadline to wait until next year. If they do have the money to submit, I always tell them to go through our archive and to look at the films that we’ve programmed in the past, this way they’ll get a sense of what we tend to program and what we like. Every festival has its own personality.

Citizen LA: No excuses.

Tracey: Nope.


For more information visit http://valleyfilmfest.com

Life After Witchcraft | Interview: Jesus Leon
citizen-la-cover-jesus-leon-newCitizen LA | Citizen LA

There’s death. There are the things that lead to it. Then there are the things that compel us to analyze it. In the photo series “It’s Alright Ma, it’s only Witchcraft” Jesus Leon explores the concept, and the results, of Witchcraft.

Jesus has immersed himself in a world that explores the human condition as experienced via the hearts, minds and souls of a certain religious subset of, in this case, Mexico. In this syncretic world, there is no correlation to morbid curiosity. To the people of this community these rituals are simply a matter of necessity, even obligation.

In this series, however, no performance was captured. Not that we would expect such a private event to be available for documentation, but there was an option. Additionally, Jesus’ photos are devoid of stereotypical witchcraft symbolism, avoiding cliché and the glorification of the occult.

What Jesus has presented to us is drenched in metaphor…

Citizen LA: You chose not to document the event itself, the ceremony, or the spectacle.

Jesus: My photos contain the leftovers of Santeria, of Witchcraft. I live in a neighborhood where one can see throatless chickens and rituals of witchcraft along the streets, including animals used in sacrifices. My photos capture the end of the party, the after-party… I believe.

Citizen LA: The after-party?? I didn’t know there was a “party” associated with witchcraft. Hmm.

Jesus: It is a combination. Somewhere between post-party-witchcraft and… trash.

Citizen LA: I have to think about THAT one.

Jesus: Yes. Hahaha.

Citizen LA: So how did you come up with the idea? Did it come from one photograph? Or was it well thought out before?

Jesus: For 10 years I have been taking these photographs. It’s about the night. The photos are only taken at night. At dawn. During the parties. Everything that happens at the parties. And after the parties. The leftovers. The Human Remains. Everything. All that I find.

Citizen LA: I notice a certain look in the eyes of the subjects, even in the animals. You know when you look a certain people and their eyes are, like, dead? It’s empathetic and ominous; almost, as if, a warning.

Jesus: Yes, absolutely, the show is designed with the eyes in mind. I chose the photos for the “gaze”. Even the animals.

Citizen LA: What’s interesting is that two things are happening. First, with THAT stare, those captured in the photo are sharing something with YOU as the photographer. And second, the photos are sharing something with US the audience. It’s like a gift. A dark creepy gift.

Jesus: I love that idea.

Citizen LA: Strangely enough the morbidity is the first thing that you notice but then you realize it’s not morbid at all. It’s almost wonderful, special, a very unique opportunity to experience something.

Jesus: To me it’s about the calm. Not relaxed or tired, but a calmness. Especially in the picture of the funeral home, it’s a very special print.

Citizen LA: Do you think that the “calm” comes from acceptance?

Jesus: Accepting the inevitable.

Citizen LA: First there’s denial, then we go through all these emotions, and finally we accept it; our situation.

Jesus: Totally.

Citizen LA: These photos are taken very quickly.

Jesus: Like snap-shots, yeah.

Citizen LA: Bresson was a master of the moment. And you’re capturing a moment. A moment that may test the patience of some… their ability to absorb what’s beyond the graphic imagery.

Jesus: I hope they see more than just the moment. One of the photographers that have influenced me most is Weegee, the disasters, the things that only happen at night. That kind of thing. That’s what interests me.

Citizen LA: I get very emotionally attached to what I shoot. It’s my life. What you are shooting, I can only assume that it is part of your life. Not that you WANT this to be your life… it IS your life.

Jesus: You have to be completely immersed, in your lifestyle, with your people, within your atmosphere. I do not see it any other way either.

Citizen LA: How do you distance yourself from what you’re shooting? Or do you distance yourself? Or have you already surpassed the tragedy?

Jesus: Not all the time. I think it’s about tragedy, and the beauty comes after that. Very much after that. It is too intense to see anything other than what is happening at the moment I am taking the photo. After, I re-evaluate it or perhaps see something more interesting or beautiful. Yes it affects me very much.

Citizen LA: The reason that I ask is because there is one form of documentation where, as a journalist, you go in, you capture and you leave.

Jesus: Yes, I can’t do that.

Citizen LA: Then there are the situations where you become part of the environment. And, in turn, affect the environment actively. I find it very admirable, very brave. Not that you go out at night. Not that brevity. But the brave where you are allowing this to affect your life.

Jesus: I tried to separate myself a little, but it’s almost impossible to be separated from the subject and the atmosphere.

***

The images that comprise the “It’s Alright Ma, it’s only Witchcraft” series emanate from deeply embedded cultural beliefs found in the Santería religion. At its worst we imagine a priest waving a chicken over his head; at best we hope that all forms of life are respected during the ritualistic ceremonies.

According to Jesus Leon, the nightly expeditions and subsequent documentation provide evidence that the common-practice ceremony may officially end, but in the dark alleys and byways of certain Mexican barrios the after-party is just getting started.

Can I get a “Thank you Jesus”?


Visit Jesus Leon @ Domestic Fine Arts
Visit Garash Galeria for upcoming shows @ http://garashgaleria.com

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