A Must See Documentary at VIFF! Unarmed Verses by Ariadne Sawyer, MA.
Showing at the festival: Wednesday, October 4, 1 p.m. SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
Friday, October 6, p.m. Rio Theatre.
Charles Officer’s Unarmed Verses presents a thoughtful and vivid portrait of a community facing imposed relocation, taking a look at marginalized Toronto Community Housing residents in the city’s north-east end. At the centre of the story is a remarkably astute and luminous 12-year-old black girl. The documentary Unarmed Verses made its world premiere at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and now at VIFF festival. The films poignant observations about life, the soul, and the power of art give voice to those rarely heard in society weaves through it like a beautiful tapistery. Unarmed Verses is produced by Lea Marin and executive produced by Anita Lee for the NFB’s Ontario Studio. Source NFB.
In viewing the film; the courage, intelligence and capability of the young girl, Francine Valentine who cared for her family and was able to see clearly what was happening as her community is re-located to build condos which would be too expensive for any of the community to buy was very powerful
She is an talented poet, student and shining light in the world. It is wonderful that she has been accepted into an arts school and will become an amazing asset to Canadian society.
As she mentioned in the documentary: “Youth need to learn to empower themselves. It is important to have someone believe in them .”
Earlier, I had a wonderful interview with Charles Officer about this well done, sensitive and empowering documentary. He spoke of the need for governments and communities to realize the powerful effects that their decisions make on marginalized people and talked about his commitment to the problems of gentrification, economics and the need to for their stories to be heard. Charles is an amazing director with many credits and part of the upcoming TV series 21 Thunder which began June 19th. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6145878/fullcredits
Officer has also done such documentaries as Mighty Jerome, the NFB feature on Canadian sprinter Harry Jerome, the recent CBC documentary The Skin We’re In, and the drama feature Nurse. Fighter. Boy, which garnered 10 Genie nominations in 2008.
Current update on Unarmed Verses after HotDocs from Katja De Bock, NFB.
Unarmed Verses opened the 14th EIDF Documentary Film Festival in Seoul, Korea. The film was well received. Similar matters around revitalization, disconnection between citizens, developers and lawmakers is happening across the country as well. This is a worldwide problem and that needs to be addressed.
Unarmed Verses was screened at Toronto City Hall and hosted by Councillor Shelley Carroll, who also appears in the film. Council members were present, but Mayor John Tory was absent. I have been trying to get him to come see the film, but no luck. I have a lot of respect for Councillor Carroll, it was brave of her to initiate the screening and communicate how much she did learn from the film, and taking in the experience of those living it. Sydney, Q’mal and Lavane were present and had an opportunity to update Council members on the aftermath of revitalization.
A great doc to see! Previously reviewed on The World Poetry Café Radio Show, 105.FM CFRO and was linked to www.worldpoetry.ca and published in the Afro News http://www.theafronews.com/a-must-see-documentary-at-viff-unarmed-verses/
What’s next for Charles Officer:
He is currently in production with a new feature documentary, Invisible Essence: Le Petit Prince. The film explores the mystery and magic of the universally popular novella written by Antoine de St. Exupery. Also re-writing a mini-series adaptation of Mordecai Richler’s Don of a Smaller Hero. Charles is a talented filmmaker who has an important message to the world.
I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the World Premiere of director Karen Lynn Weinberg’s debut documentary KEEP TALKING at the Vancouver International Film Festival, October 5th and the great privilege to interview the director and team on our radio show , the World Poetry Cafe on CFRO 100.5 FM. Sadly the station had a technical error and did not archive the show. I am hoping it can be corrected.
KEEP TALKING has the power to reach out to all the peoples of the world, First Nations and others concerned about the many endangered languages of the world. When the language goes, the culture follows since it is entwined, leaving the people with emptiness. The film shows that knowledge and learning create empowerment! A must see documentary. http://www.keeptalkingthefilm.com/
It follows four Alaska Native women fighting to save Kodiak Alutiiq, an endangered language now spoken by less than 40 remaining fluent Native Elders. Their small community travels to remote Afognak Island to start teaching kids Alutiiq. At the camp, Sadie, a troubled teen, is inspired to begin learning the language and dances of her ancestors. Over the next 5 years the women overcome historical and personal traumas to find joy and hope in the revitalization of their cultural heritage.
The film is the directorial debut of film editor and producer Karen Lynn Weinberg, who previously worked on films including Spilled Water (2014), Racing Dreams (2009), and Frozen River (2008). After traveling to Kodiak, Alaska in February of 2012 as a film instructor, Weinberg learned that her editing class was made up of culture bearers working to preserve their endangered Native language. A filmmaker with a passion for language, Weinberg was thrilled when the Native Village of Afognak consulted with Elders and agreed to allow her to film their first attempt at a language immersion camp. As filming continued over the next five years, Weinberg immersed herself in Alaska Native history, with a focus on Kodiak Alutiiq history. She studied endangered language revitalization challenges, methodologies and rewards.
UNESCO estimates that at least 43% of the estimated 6000 languages spoken in the world are endangered. National Geographic estimates that one language dies every 2 weeks. The tide of globalization, assimilation and intolerance continues to erode the linguistic landscape of our modern world. It is Weinberg’s hope that this film brings greater empathy and understanding to the unique challenges and surprising rewards of language revitalization in action.
KEEP TALKING is directed and produced by Karen Lynn Weinberg, executive produced by Justine Nagan, Gordon Quinn and Betsy Steinberg, co-produced by Trish Dalton, Rachel Rozycki and Kari Sherod. Cinematography by Nara Garber, edited by Lesley Kubistal. Produced by Ten Trees Productions, Kartemquin, and Vision Maker Media. www.tentreesproductions.com
The World Poetry Café Radio Show, CRFO 100.5 FM on October 5, 1:35 FM, PST welcomed the talented Brian Landrus featuring his new CD Generations. This is a wonderful CD , a multilayered tapestry of music that enchants the listeners. Great detail and care was taken to create the best possible sound. World Poetry Team : Ariadne Sawyer, Victor Swartzman and Special volunteer Sharon Rowe. Peace poems by Lina Zeron.
Composer and Baritone Saxophonist Brian Landrus Reveals a Thrilling, Ground-Breaking New Vision for the Jazz Orchestra on Generationsout July 28 via Blue Land RecordsThe 25-piece Brian Landrus Orchestra makes a stunning debut with sweeping compositions inspired by generations of composers, genres and familyThis is really like nothing I’ve ever heard before. It’s going to be amazing and I can’t wait to hear the final product! Joe Locke . To be part of Brian’s vision is enlightening. It causes me optimism.” Billy Hart CD Release Concert was Friday and Saturday July 28 & 29 at Cornelia Street Café, NYC.
Monumental in creative ambition, imaginative scope, and artistic achievement not to mention sheer scale – Generations is the breathtaking debut of the Brian Landrus Orchestra, a 25-piece all-star ensemble stocked with some of the most inventive musicians in modern music. These adventurous virtuosos have congregated to realize the extraordinary, sweeping music of composer, baritone saxophonist and low woodwind master Brian Landrus, whose work combines a lifetime worth of wide-ranging listening and playing into an arrestingly bold, radiant and singular vision. Far from a standard big band project and unlike any orchestral jazz ensemble that come before it, the Brian Landrus Orchestra incorporates inspiration from classical music, hip-hop, soul, funk, jazz, reggae and world music with inspiration being the key word. In Landrusa inventive hands these diverse genres are deconstructed and absorbed, emerging in startling and unrecognizable ways to conjure a dramatic and thrilling sonic landscape. The title Generations carries multiple meanings for Landrus including influences that span centuries from Bach to Ellington to Motown to Led Zeppelin to J Dilla; the family members that inspired Landrus and his music, from his father to his children; and the generations of musicians who have come together to breathe life into these deeply personal compositions. The drum chair alone features a four-decade difference in age, from the legendary Billy Hart to rising star drummer Justin Brown. The awe-inspiring ensemble also features Jamie Baum, Tom Christensen, Darryl Harper, Michael Rabinowitz, Alden Banta and Landrus himself on woodwinds; Debbie Schmidt, Ralph Alessi, Igmar Thomas, Alan Ferber and Marcus Rojas on brass; harpist Brandee Younger and a string section featuring Sara Caswell, Mark Feldman, Joyce Hammann, Meg Okura, Lois Martin, Nora Krohn, Jody Redhage and Maria Jeffers; vibraphonist Joe Locke; and bassists Jay Anderson and Lonnie Plaxico. The Orchestra is conducted by bandleader JC Sanford, who has also held the baton for the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble and the Alice Coltrane Orchestra. Landrus co-produced the album with fellow composers Robert Livingston Aldridge and Frank Carlberg. Landrus comes to the project with a wealth of experience both as a leader and as a performer with some of the worlds most distinctive artists from a variety of genres: has toured the world in superstar Esperanza Spalding band and played in Ryan Truesdella prize-winning Gil Evans Project as well as working with the likes of Bob Brookmeyer, Rufus Reid, Danilo Perez, Frank Kimbrough, Gary Smulyan, Maria Schneider, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Martha Reeves, George Garzone, Bob Moses, Louis Nash, Nicholas Urie, Jerry Bergonzi, Ayn Inserto, Alan Ferber, Uri Caine and Ralph Alessi, among others. Generations is the culmination of a long-held dream for Landrus.