The Art of the Sneaker

One of the many quiet revelations for me in the documentary The Art of the Shine is that despite being in what seems like a casual and disposable culture, many people these days actually still take great pains to care for their shoes, including partaking in the ancient art of shoe shining. Whether brown leather … READ MORE

Censored Iranian Artists, Poets and Musicians Threatened with Exile

[Note: Please enjoy this guest essay on Iranian artists and censorships, in conjunction with the broadcast premiere of When God Sleeps, by artist and game creator Kurosh ValaNejad. See more on him at the end.] by Kurosh ValaNejad, guest contributor In the Islamic Republic of Iran, artistic expression is not denied.  Iranians can sing and dance … READ MORE

Peter Bratt Feels the Calling to Tell Dolores Huerta’s Story

Filmmaker Peter Bratt‘s first feature Follow Me Home, a San Francisco International Film Festival Audience Award winner, was produced with his brother Benjamin Bratt, which they followed with the heartfelt indie film La Mission, shot on location in their hometown of San Francisco,  “an honest attempt to portray the destructiveness of violence in the Latino community” (Hollywood Reporter). … READ MORE

Filmmaker Theo Anthony’s Ratty Exploration of Urban Segregation

In the New York Times critics’ pick review of Theo Anthony’s Rat Film, Jeannette Catsoulis wrote: “Equal parts disturbing and humorous, informative and bizarre, Rat Film is a brilliantly imaginative and formally experimental essay on how Baltimore has dealt with its rat problem and manipulated its black population.” She continues, “Anthony shines as much light on racist urban … READ MORE

10 Questions with “Rat Film” Composer Dan Deacon: On Baltimore, Rats, Player Pianos and Theremins

Baltimore-based composer/musician Dan Deacon did the music for Theo Anthony’s Rat Film. The film, which uses the urban rat as a way to explore a deeper story of urbanization and segregation, is a unique blend of history, science and sci-fi, poetry and portraiture. And Deacon’s music, also a unique blend of styles, genres and instruments … READ MORE

HBCU Grads Share Their Stories of Campus Life

Graduates of Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are proud alums, and with the release of the new Independent Lens film Tell Them We Are Rising [premiering Feb. 19 at 9pm; check local listings], which tells the 170 years—and rising—history of HBCUs, we found a few who were happy to tell their own stories of life … READ MORE

For “Winnie”: Anti-Apartheid Songs of Protest

By Sarah Bardeen, guest contributor Modern South Africa was forged in apartheid. The struggle defined life for generations of South Africans, and music was crucial in that struggle. Black South Africans saw their guns confiscated, their homes bulldozed, their land stolen, but in the mouths of demonstrators, song became both a balm and a weapon. … READ MORE