Local film hits LA
Many of the cast and crew of the locally-made 35mm feature film Sinkhole were on hand in Los Angeles recently for the film’s world premiere at the Dances With Films festival, a showcase for films with “no names, no politics, no bullsh*t.”
It was an awesome experience, says director (and one-time Mountain Xpress reporter) Paul Schattel. “People seemed to like [the film]. … We got a really good review in the LA Times and we got in some other magazines.”
Sinkhole was also featured as a work in progress at the inaugural Asheville Film Festival this past November.
“We’re officially taking meetings now,” he continues with a laugh. “That and 35 cents will buy you a cup of coffee. In and of itself that doesn’t mean anything, but at the same time, interest is a good thing.”
Any success the film garners will be in large part thanks to the crew, says Schattel. “When you’re doing a film for such little money, you basically have to surround yourself with really good people, and I was lucky in the sense that Asheville helped me out, because there’s a lot of really talented people around just ready to work on something like this. So I found the best people I could, and enlisted them and used their creativity. A lot of the good ideas came from the crew. It’s very definitely a team effort. I was very lucky in that.”
For more information about the film, visit www.harrowbeauty.com
— Lisa Watters
Bear to spare?
They’re cute. They’re cuddly. And to a child involved in a traumatic situation, they offer comfort. The Biltmore Square Mall is hosting the third annual Teddy Bear Drive this summer to collect new stuffed animals for local nonprofit organizations in WNC.
Local police and fire departments often give stuffed animals to children who are involved in a traumatic situation so that they have something to cling to while being interviewed or awaiting medical treatment. Additionally, women’s shelters often take in children who have left home without any of their belongings, and something as simple as a stuffed animal can offer some comfort in a frightening situation.
Individuals can participate in the teddy-bear collection anytime this summer by dropping off their donation(s) at the mall office or with a mall security guard. Biltmore Square also invites businesses and organizations to help by hosting a “Bring a Bear to Work Day” this summer.
For more information, call the Biltmore Square Mall office at 667-2308.
— Lisa Watters
A planet-friendly wedding
When Candice Carr and Jon Kelman said “I do” last month, they were also saying “I don’t” — to global warming.
Carr and Kelman, both recent UNCA graduates, were the first participants in the Clean Air Community Trust’s “climate-neutral event” program. The program works by estimating any increase in emissions of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) and other pollutants resulting from an event and then taking steps to reduce emissions in some other way to offset the increase.
“Since the industrial revolution, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have increased dramatically, and average global temperatures have been rising,” notes CACT Director Margie Meares. “The pollutants that humans pump into the atmosphere could lead to dramatic and devastating changes to the earth’s climate.”
The community trust, a local nonprofit working to improve air quality, hopes the program will help offset some of the CO2 released as a result of local events.
In the case of Carr and Kelman’s wedding, CACT staff calculated the amount of CO2 that would be released into the atmosphere as a result of guests traveling to and from Asheville to attend the event.
“It took just a few minutes for the couple to write down how many people were traveling to the wedding, how they were traveling, and where they were coming from,” notes Meares.
Based on that information, community trust staff calculated that this particular event would generate 21.4 tons of carbon dioxide. Generating the electricity used to prepare food and light the dance hall for the reception would also create CO2 emissions, Meares explains, but the amount would be very small compared to the amount released by the cars and planes transporting wedding guests.
To offset those emissions, the couple distributed 60 compact-fluorescent light bulbs to friends and family. Because they require less electricity, using these bulbs will reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by about the same amount the wedding festivities increased them.
The community trust Web site (www.airtrust.org) will soon be equipped with a calculator visitors can use to estimate the CO2 output of an event they’re planning. And CACT staff will be more than happy to help them figure out all the details.
“The possibilities for offsetting CO2 are endless,” notes Meares. “Giving away compact-fluorescent bulbs is just one way.”
For more information, call the Clean Air Community Trust at 258-1856.
— Lisa Watters
Satire on the air waves
If the demo CD is anything to go by, The Big Asheville Radio Hour should be well worth checking out when it premiers on Sunday, July 11, at 9 p.m. on WPVM, 103.5 FM. The one-hour variety show will be broadcast live from The Grey Eagle every other week, with taped repeat broadcasts on the weeks in between.
The demo features a cheesy-yet-undeniably-catchy theme song, various skits (some of them musical) and faux commercials.
One hilarious segment features a placid narrator strolling through Asheville quoting the many magazines and periodicals that have put Asheville on their top-10 lists — for such qualities as the happiest city, a great town to own a second home in, and a great walking city. As he notes the existence of “over 900 restaurants [where] you can dine in style every night of the week,” a restaurant worker enthuses in the background, “Dude, I totally just waited on Andie MacDowell. She’s so hot in those L’Oreal commercials.”
Later, “taking a trip down bohemian Lexington Avenue,” our narrator wonders, “Are the kids going to have a protest?” Then, to sounds of dull thudding, he muses, “In Asheville, even police brutality can be happy,” before hopping on a passing trolley.
Another skit involves the Sports & Spice Network, featuring a tassel-twirling contest between two burlesque groups — Asheville’s The Rebelles versus the visiting Peek-A-Boo Review.
The demo also includes a faux commercial in which a college student returns home a vegetarian, and mom worries that her child’s not getting enough meat. The solution: Bacon Broccoli, a cleverly disguised meat product.
The show has many influences, from the golden age of radio theater to the contemporaneous, including Prairie Home Companion. The Big Asheville Radio Hour‘s producers intend to follow keep the show live, avoiding anything prerecorded or sampled; they also plan to include one musical guest per week. The skits will be satirical and will focus on local issues and people.
— Lisa Watters
On stage and in Spanish
The Asheville area’s first Spanish-language theater company is bringing a new dimension to the local arts scene.
“There isn’t really a lot available for Spanish-speaking residents. There’s not a lot of arts and cultural events geared toward Spanish speakers,” notes UNCA student Tracey Speicher, who helped organize the new company along with fellow students Julia Taylor and Sandra Brown. UNCA Spanish professor Greta Trautmann came up with the idea for the company, with encouragement from Jenny Bunns, the volunteer coordinator at the Asheville Community Theatre. The new company’s goal is to serve as a bridge between the Hispanic and non-native Spanish-speaking communities in the area.
An open meeting is slated for Tuesday, July 13 at the West Asheville Library from 6-7:30 p.m. The group will choose a play for its first production and schedule auditions and rehearsals. Speicher encouraged all interested area residents to attend, whether or not they speak Spanish. One-liner parts and roles for dancers will be available to non-Spanish speakers, as well as opportunities to help with lighting and sound. The Spanish-Language Theater Company’s first performance will be at the end of August in UNCA’s newly renovated Highsmith University Center.
For more information, call Tracey Speicher at 225-3988, Sandra Brown at 301-8588, or Julia Taylor at 254-9461.
— Jason Lauritzen
Xpress writers garner national awards
It’s not everyday that Xpress toots its own horn — but it’s not everyday that we can announce that two of our writers have earned national awards for their journalism. Recently, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, with 126 member papers, presented its annual awards recognizing the cream of the crop of the alt press.
Xpress staff writer Cecil Bothwell placed third in the Investigative Reporting category for his story “Buncombe Justice on Trial” — an exhaustive look at how the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department, the Buncombe County District Attorney and other law-enforcement agencies handled an investigation of allegations of domestic violence made against the sheriff’s son. Xpress contributing writer Jon Elliston took home the gold by placing first in the News Category for a three-part series he did for Durham’s Independent Weekly on two police officers who posed as FBI agents to intimidate a high-school student.
We’ve always thought highly of these two scribes, but don’t just take our word for it: The New York Times‘ media reporter, David Carr, who hosted this year’s awards ceremony in San Antonio, noted that the honor derives from the competition’s national panel of judges. “Some of the best and brightest in American journalism review this work,” noted Carr.