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Totally Off Topic

Want to inject a bit of feminism into your Passover Seder? Try "The Women’s Dayenu"

MiriamsCupFor all of my fellow feminists preparing to celebrate Passover, I want to share something we read every year along with the traditional "Dayenu." The Women's Dayenu was written by Canadian journalist, activist and feminist Michelle Landsberg many years ago. Her columns were what helped me and other young Canadians become the feminists we are today. For extra credit, check out the book Miriam's Cup, above, the story of Moses' sister Miriam and her inspiring role in the Passover story. We honor her by placing her goblet next to the one for Eliyahu, filled with water to symbolize her Well.

We say this Dayenu after the original one, with each person at the table reading one line. It made an appearance in my 2005 film I Was A Teenage Feminist, it still provokes much eye-rolling and commentary at our Seder table, which is why we love doing it. Hag Sameach!

 

If Eve had been created in the Image of God and not as a helper to Adam, DAYENU

If she had been created as Adam’s equal and not been considered a temptress, DAYENU

If Lot’s wife had been honored for compassion for looking back at the fate of her family in Sodom, and had not been punished for it, DAYENU

If our mothers had been honoured for their daughters as well as for their sons, DAYENU

If our fathers had not pitted our mothers against each other, like Abraham with Sarah and Hagar, or Jacob with Leah and Rachel, DAYENU

If the Just Women in Egypt who caused our redemption had been given sufficient recognition, DAYENU

If Miriam were given her seat with Moses and Aaron in our legacy, DAYENU

If women had written the Haggadah and placed our mothers where they belong in history, DAYENU

If every generation of women together with every generation of men would continue to go out of Egypt, DAYENU

 

 

We interrupt this regularly scheduled virginity blog with an important message for Downton Abbey fans!

As some of you may know, I’m part of a podcast collective called Damsels in Discussion. We like to describe it as pop culture commentary from a funny, foul-mouthed, feminist perspective.

If you're a fan of Downton Abbey (and who isn't?), we’re just finishing up Downton Gabby, our insightful yet goofy podcast series on Season 2. If you want to catch up on our podcasts,  they’re all in one place. Go to our Podcast Page to link to all our podcasts or get instructions on how to download the mp3s to your player.

And stay tuned for our next podcast series Mad Femmes, for Mad Men, season 5, starting March 25th!

Brief Interviews with Sundance Women

We interrupt our regularily scheduled coverage of virginity to bring you a last special dispatch:

While I was at Sundance, I did a series of video interviews with some fabulous female filmmakers for Women & Hollywood.

At the Chicken and Egg party (above), I pulled some of the women aside, from relative newcomers like Dee Rees to veterans Lucy Walker and Judith Helfand, and asked them to share their best advice for other women filmmakers.

You can read more about that and also watch my interviews with Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush of the documentary 'Finding North,' director Aurora Guerrero of 'Mosquita Y Mari,' and (coming soon!) 'The Invisible War' producer Amy Ziering.

The Sundance Diaries, Part 2: Don't Mess With Ethel

Ethel Kennedy, above, just one of the fierce female doc subjects.

We interrupt our regularily scheduled coverage of virginity to bring you this special dispatch: I've been going to, and writing about, my experiences at the Sundance Film Festival many of the last 11 years. This is part 2 of 3 of this year's Sundance Diaries. Read Part 1 here. Read Part 3 here.

If you want some background entertainment, you can read Sundance Diaries archived from 2001 to 2008  here. The 2010 Diaries are here, here, here and here.

Welcome back to the un-plowed slushy sidewalks of Park City!

New celebrities sighted: Treat Williams (looking quite fine)...and that's it. Um….seriously, I never recognize celebrities Stamps on my hand: 8, including 2 sets of cherries, an arrow and a heart Average hours of sleep: 5.5

First, some clarifications:

As I sit in the Java Cow cafe on Main Street killing time before my 4th film of the day, I'm going to respond to some feedback I received from my first diary entry.

First, despite the rumors making the rounds of Hollywood, Tracy Jordan's collapse had nothing to do with partying with me.

Second and somewhat related, I apologize for the total lack of hot-tub-related shenanigans in my reporting this year. I'm now A Married Lady and am contractually obligated to limit myself to conjugal shenanigans, with or without the aid of a hot tub.

Also, as there's been some concern re the New, Upbeat and Non-Cynical Me. Let me assure you that under all this radiant positive energy, I remain my usual annoyed self with lots of issues:

(a) the shuttle buses are infrequent and poorly routed, and through some oversight, the drivers were not made aware that we have actual films to get to with actual strict start times and limited seating. (b) even though I don't see them, I know I have housemates from the piles of garbage and scarcity of toilet paper. And (c) the narrative films have been so disappointing this year, that I'd rather kill time in the bar writing than see another one. Maybe Sundance needs its quota of celebrity premiere vehicles, or my sensibilities are totally out of line with narrative programers, but year after year, I think the documentaries blow narratives right out of the water. (More on my favorites below)

My first two videos are up!

The awesome blog Women and Hollywood has posted my first two interviews here:

An interview with the two directors of the documentary "Finding North," a very strong advocacy film about widespread hunger in America. And my collected advice from women filmmakers to women filmmakers, shot at the always delicious Chicken and Egg party. Shooting and especially editing has been rather time consuming, but the perfectionist in me couldn't bear posting raw footage, so please check them out and bump up Women & Hollywoods hits!

Some fave films, in alphabetical order, all docs:

Ethel: OMG. Ethel, I never knew you! You were and are a major badass! This is the story of Ethel Kennedy (and of course Bobby as well) as told by the youngest of her 11 children, doc filmmaker Rory Kennedy. Amazing archival photos and footage, including hand-written letters RFK used to write to his children about their future obligations to work on social issues. And I loved learning about her life directly from her many outspoken kids (necessary because Ethel herself is a maddeningly reluctant, but charming, interviewee). HBO

How to Survive a Plague: Consisting almost entirely of archival footage, this moving documentary tells the story of ActUp and its fight to make AIDS an actual issue of the US government in the late 80s and the 90s. It's an amazing historical record (they must have filmed every meeting and action!), and also connects the dots between ActUp and the earlier civil rights and women's health protests that inspired them. I've bumped into the filmmakers and the veteran activists in other movie lines here and I've loved our conversations. Distribution pending.

Love Free or Die: The story of the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, Gene Robinson, and his fight to get the church to recognize gay clergy and same-sex unions, while being totally shut out of the world Anglican church. He's such an amazing, funny and inspiring guy, and there's no one better to tell the story than Macky Alston, who I must disclose is one of my mentors. Both did Q&A and even for this heathen, it was a spiritual experience. PBS 2 Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present: This is my favorite doc of the festival, the kind of film I always wait for that's going to give me one of those goose-bumpy transcendental experiences. This film captures her 3-month-long performance art piece at MoMA, her long controversial career and her huge charm. I come to performance art with eyes madly rolling, but this film really felt like the real deal. The filmmakers kept assuring us they didn't drink the KoolAid, but seriously, you can give me another cup! HBO (but it won't be the same on a TV, alas)

The Invisible War: From one of my favorite filmmakers, Kirby Dick, this powerful film exposes the almost unbelievable numbers of sexual assaults in the military. The stories these brave women (and also men) tell about their assaults, and the almost total lack of action by the military, are enraging. Don't be put off by the tough material, the film is really well done and very engaging. They have a big social outreach program in the works that will hopefully reach the highest offices of government. PBS.

And finally, how did I miss this event!! Richard, especially, take note! Lee Simmons.jpg

More films updates next time...Send me your questions and I'll answer them in my final round-up.

Good night!

The Sundance Diaries, Part 1: The Golden Ticket

We interrupt our regularily scheduled coverage of virginity to bring you this special dispatch: I've been going to, and writing about, my experiences at the Sundance Film Festival many of the last 11 years. This is part 1 of 3 of this year's Sundance Diaries. Read Part 2 here. Read Part 3 here. If you want some background entertainment, you can read Sundance Diaries archived from 2001 to 2008  here. The 2010 Diaries are here, here, here and here.

Hello from Sundance!

Celebrities seen: 5 Carb units consumed per day: 439 Number of stamps on my hands: 6

I'm back in sunny snowy Park City after a hiatus. I stopped volunteering in 2008, and this year I'm at Sundance as Press doing very fun video interviews with female directors for Women & Hollywood (my first one is here). This is really different from volunteering, and not just because I didn't get an ill-fitting staff jacket, this year in fluorescent orange, to add to my six other ill-fitting staff jackets. For example:

I have no idea who I'm sleeping with!

I'm sharing a typical multi-room ski condo type place with a group of total strangers I met on Craig's list. I'm out of the house long before anyone else wakes up and come home straight to my room to work. Two nights ago I shared my room with another woman, who may or may not be the person who was there the night before. Last night I had the the room to myself.The living room is populated by at least three guys who sleep sprawled out on the couches and floor. I think. There is also a hot tub, but I'm not feeling inspired.

I don't wait in line!

Remember how I used to whine endlessly about standing in the wait list line for two hours for some obscure Swiss coming-of-age film, and then not even getting in? Well, my lovely Golden Ticket of a press badge has gifted me with lots of hard tickets in addition to the daily free Press and Industry screenings. I just show up 5 minutes before the show and there's always a seat. Don't worry - I haven't turned into a positive person. The Sundance shuttle buses really seriously suck this year.

There is food I can eat!

Sundance has discovered that vegetarian food needs to contain protein, and they now have peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwiches!! This is a profound improvement on doughy cheese pizza and soggy grilled veggie sandwiches I usually encounter. As for vodka, it flows as freely as ever, bless its heart.

I'm going to parties I like!

The best party so far, which was thrown by our past and future fundraising site Kickstarter. There was a mad crush at the front door to get in past a very disorganized list-wielding gate keeper. But this was totally alleviated by spectacular cups of hot whiskey lemonade they were serving to us at the outdoor bar while we waited. Yes, there are outdoor bars in the dead of Utah mountain winter. The fire pit was kind of cozy too, not to mention being entertained by the comedy stylings of a very home-sick New York gal pal, who was doing her best 'don't you know who I am' to anyone within earshot.

I'm noticing celebrities!

My first sighting was Parker Posey at baggage claim when she was getting a luggage cart from one of those machines. I literally ran into Julie Delpy and Chris Rock at the 'Two Days in New York' premiere party, which I only went to because, frankly, I could. There were too many people who looked like extras from Entourage there, so I had a cocktail and got out of there.

My biggest moment of star-struckedness came while I was waiting to do an interview with the directors of the fine documentary 'Finding North' about hunger in America. There I was, at this multi roomed press area, minding my own business, drinking coffee and eating tiny apple danishes from the hospitality buffet, when I realized I was standing right next to Martin Starr. OMG OMG OMG. (Freaks & Geeks! Party Down! Rent immediately!)

I was thinking that if his "Save The Date" co-star Alison Brie walked by I would probably faint. She did, but happily for my professional credibility (all but lost, now) I didn't. But I did note, as the two were being interviewed by a bearded fanboy who wouldn't shut up about Freaks and Geeks, that her voice is like 2 octaves lower than on TV.

And with that I sign off because it's 2:07am and I have a 10am screening of Rory Kennedy's documentary about her mother 'Ethel' in the morning. Lots of info about the films I've seen in the next dispatch.

Good night!

Shameless Self-Promotion! Screening July 17th

"Brooklyn Superheroes. Suicidal Moths. Pancake Terrorism. Alien Shootouts. This is just a sample of what you get when thirty filmmakers reflect on the end of the world."

I'll be screening my new short with 19 other apocalyptic films by members of the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective on July 17th in New York. Our theme this year is "The End," and although the styles and genres of the films are all over the map, they all deal with the idea of finality. Coincidentally, "The End" is also the name of my film which is about the very, very, very end of a relationship.

In addition to the screenings, there's music by Midnight Masses and DJ Barney Iller. Performance artists Christina Ewald and Fritz Donnelly are MCing the party to celebrate the conclusion of BFC’s latest season and help fund the group’s ongoing work. It's at the Music Hall of Williamsburg and all the info is at www.BFCTheEnd.com.

Please check it out and pass it on!

Did that billboard just change?

From our intern Courtney:
This is off topic, but I thought it was pretty cool. Amnesty International has created an interactive billboard to combat domestic violence. When a person first glances at the billboard there is a picture of a man about to hit a woman. If someone stops and looks directly at the billboard a special camera recognizes this and the picture changes to that same couple smiling and looking very happy. The text below says "It happens when nobody is watching." Thanks to the Bust blog for the post.

We know where Bruno gets his Naked Suits

Have you see the photos of Sasha Baron Cohen's alter ego Bruno in a naked suit? We have and frankly we prefer Borat in his lime green thong. Best to leave a little to the imagination.

We think he got his suit from a woman named Anna Maltz who does these suits as art projects, creepy as it they be. Check out this video:

If you cant see the video click here.

But that's NOTHING compared to the first time I saw her naked suits on the Awkward Family Photos blog. I can't find the original post of "Weirdest Family Photo Ever," but the actual photo kind of speaks for itself. Click away but very NSFW.

The Last American Virgins


Photo courtesy of Salon

Distressing news via Salon:

The Virgin Megastore at Broadway and 46th Street in Manhattan, apparently the single highest-volume music store in all of America, is closing in less than a month. In fact, all six remaining U.S. Virgin branches are being shuttered this spring, leaving more than 1,000 people jobless and leaving New York City without a major record store.

A Metropoli Magazine collection

When I'm not busy being the Virginity Diva, I work as a graphic designer here in New York. It was my first love and the income is super handy for keeping creditors at bay. So I just have to share this latest find:

My pal Karl, the International Graphics Guru, kindly sent me a link to these glorious Metropoli covers from Spanish newspaper El Mundo. The whole spectacular collection is at Speak Up and an interview with the designer Rodrigo Sanchez is here. Enjoy.

Hello from Hot Docs

To our two dedicated readers - apologies for not posting for a while. The American Virgin is at the Hot Docs International Film Festival in Toronto. She's pitching her heart out and looking for creative inspiration - and an open bar. Given the amount of international broadcasters here, it might make sense to change the film to The International Virgin. More posts soon...