Monday, September 23, 2013

'Be Seated' for a good cause

Pull up a chair and learn more about “Be Seated Silent Auction” put on by the Older Persons Commission through Sept. 26. You can buy one-of-a-kind chairs and browse through a sale of artwork being sold at low prices.

“It’s a fundraiser for the art department here at OPC,” said Paula Bedsole, OPC art department programmer. “It helps to keep it (art classes) affordable and it helps to maintain all of the equipment. We have a very large art department.”

The department includes a pottery studio with several pottery wheels and kilns.

Proceeds from the auction of chairs created by area artists and the artwork donated by members of the community will help to maintain those artists’ tools.

 “We have to keep them in top-notch condition so the things they make turn out well,” Bedsole said. “But the main purpose of the fundraiser is to keep the cost of art classes – which range from pottery and lapidary (stone polishing) to silversmithing and quilting affordable (for the seniors at OPC).. We feature every fine art you can think of.”

There are approximately three dozen unique and oh-so-different chairs to bid on. Most of the chairs were designed by regional artists just for the event. At least one - a recliner fashioned from the seat of a 1994 Pontaic Bonneville SSE - has been donated to the cause. The chairs are on display at the OPC library through Sept. 26. Each one has a starting bid, but if someone falls in love with a chair – and does not wish to wait for the auction or risk losing to another bidder - there is a buy-it-now option available.  However, interested buyers can only do this between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, when the OPC offices are open.

Bedsole, who came up with the idea for the event, said this is something she’s always had on the backburner and is hoping that it will be the first of many. So far it’s looking like it will become an annual event.

“We’ve had quite an outpouring from the community,” Bedsole said. “There are chairs for every taste. I think that’s what impressed.”

Also part of the event is a used art sale. This is already an annual event that attracts buyers from all over the state. The sale features a variety of second generation pieces – from Southwestern art and original oil paintings to limited edition prints and poster art. There is no admission charge to the sale, which caps off the fundraising events on Sept. 26. Items will be available for sale from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“It’s a great shopping adventure,” Bedsole said. “The prices are affordable and they go away with something they like.”

The OPC is located at 650 Letica Drive in Rochester. For more information, call 248-656-1403.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The streets of Toronto are alive

It’s only day two of the Toronto International Film Festival and already almost 76 films have been shown. 

Some of them like “Twelve Years a Slave” left audiences speechless. 

Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor in a scene from 12 Years a Slave.
The film by director Steve McQueen is based on the true life story of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841 and finally freed in 1853. TIFF describes it as the story is a triumphant tale of one man’s courage and perseverance to reunite with his family that serves as an important historical and cultural marker in American history. The film also stars Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Garret Dillahunt, Paul Giamatti, Scoot McNairy, Lupita Nyong'o, Adepero Oduye, Sarah Paulson and Brad Pitt. 

Almost all of the cast members attended the premiere in Toronto.

“I came out just to see Brad Pitt,” said Eileen Randall of Toronto, who said she’s never missed a festival but always misses Pitt. “He’s been here in Toronto before and every year I miss him.”
Actor Brad Pitt arrives for the premiere of 12 Years a Slave at TIFF (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

“Not this year,” Randall mused.

Celebrity sightings are a big part of TIFF but once the stars leave the red carpets and enter the theater life at the festival resumes with people from all over the world – chatting in their native tongue about the films they saw or are waiting to see.

“It’s amazing. I heard three different languages in the same earshot,” said one TIFF visitor.

“It brings people together from different countries and you get to know them (while standing in line for tickets or waiting for the show to begin),” Randall said. “It also brings in revenue.”

One of the many street performers entertaining movie goers – is hoping for that to be true. “This is going to pay my way home,” said the guitar player from Calgary, nodding toward the case on the sidewalk filled with change.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

It all starts in Toronto

The red carpets will roll out with tonight’s world premiere of Bill Condon’s “The Fifth Estate” officially kicking off the 38th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

“The Fifth Estate” is a dramatic thriller and one of several TIFF selections based on real events spawned in the digital world.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate.
As outlined by TIFF the story begins as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Bruhl) team up to become underground watchdogs of the privileged and powerful. On a shoestring, they create a platform that allows whistleblowers to anonymously leak covert data, shining a light on the dark recesses of government secrets and corporate crimes. But when Assange and Berg gain access to the biggest trove of confidential intelligence documents in U.S. history, they battle each other and a defining question of modern time: what are the costs of keeping secrets in a free society – and what are the costs of exposing them?

 “We have a number of films dealing with the idea of living in an information society, what that means now. (In addition to the Fifth Estate), we have a documentary called “The Square,” about the Arab Spring and the Tahrir Square revolution and how much of that was about information – about Facebook and Twitter and YouTube,” said TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey in a report by CBC News. “These things are now part of our lives. People are asking questions about having political change enacted through media, but also how information about us is held through governments, by authorities.”

Fifth Estate is expected to hit Detroit theaters just in time for Oscar contention.

And an Academy Award is possible for any one of the 146 features films making their world premiere in Toronto. “Every best picture winner since 2007 has played at TIFF, from “No Country for Old Men” to last year’s winner “Argo,” which was based on the CIA operation to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran in 1980. This year the story will return as the Canadian documentary, “Our Man in Tehran.”

Much of the buzz surrounding the heavyweights has to do with exposure to previous film festivals like Cannes and Sundance. Alffonso Cuaron’s space odyssey “Gravity,” starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney; Steve McQueen’s slavery epic “Twelve Years a Slave”; and Jason Reitman’s “Labor Day” to name a few.

Josh Brolin, Kate Winslet and Gattlin Griffith in a still from Labor Day.
“A lot of that (Oscar buzz) does begin in Toronto because our audience here has become known for having a good nose for quality films and finding films like ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ ‘The King’s Speech,’ ‘Argo’ and ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ – even going back to ‘American Beauty’ in 1999,’ ” said Bailey. “I would hope that the attention is never limited to those films that might be in the horse race because there’s a lot more going on here.”

Just ask the cinephiles of last year’s festival who camped out in a line that snaked around a Toronto city block to get tickets for “This Is Not a film.” The clandestine documentary was shot partially on an iPhone and smuggled into France in a cake for a last-minute submission to Cannes. A feature by director Jafar Panahi, it depicts his day-to-day life while under house arrest in his Tehran, Iran, apartment. Panahi, who remains under house arrest while appealing his government’s sentence -- six years in prison and a 20 year ban from filmmaking – has a second film coming to TIFF, “Closed Curtain.” The lines are forming now for that one.

A scene from Closed Curtain.

As for the blockbusters headed for mainstream America this fall, we’ll have to wait and see. Chances are a great deal of them will be seen first in Toronto.

For more coverage of the Sept. 5-15 festival visit The Macomb Daily and The Daily Tribune

-- AP contributed to the report