Posted by Joy Bennett
Film poster image courtesy smff.org
Last night I was delighted to attend the free Santa Monica Film Festival in my very own hometown of Santa Monica, California. This charming, small (tiny, really) film festival screened a number of outstanding short films, all of which were clever, amusing or scary, take your pick. There were so many wonderful films, it was a smorgasbord of high-quality short film maLast night I was delighted to attend the free Santa Monica Film Festival in my very own hometown of Santa Monica. This charming, small (tiny, really) film festival screened a number of outstanding short films, all of which were clever, amusing or scary, take your pick. There were so many wonderful films, it was a smorgasbord of high-quality short film making. Actor and writer Robert Rusler was the host, and did an outstanding job introducing the films and keeping the evening rolling along.
One in particular stood out in my mind, the short film 'Paper' directed by Ivan Kraljevic, who was also in attendance and spoke briefly and eloquently about the film after the screening. 'Paper' is a tight, engaging story of a poor, young Russian immigrant woman's struggle to make it in the USA. She is struggling to get out of the massage parlor business, but frustrated as her former boss there still has her passport. 'Paper' refers to the documents you need to legally work and live in the USA. She meets one young man, a photographer who falls for her, yet is torn by his lack of resources.
There were so many good short films here, though, too many to mention. Visit the festival's website to find out more about the films screened and plot summaries: smff.org.
After the film screenings, I walked a few blocks over to the small After Party held at a local bar and restaurant, which was itself very charming. Tinga is a new restaurant at 522 Wilshire in Santa Monica that serves Mexican fusion dishes and is what looks to be an outstanding taqueria. Sadly I didn't have the opportunity to taste the food, but just had a drink, but will be back soon to do so, since it looked just delicious and was reasonably priced, with a charming atmosphere.
In case you thought, as I did initially, because the film festival was free it would be packed, I was happily surprised that the seating was quite open, and this under-appreciated film festival well deserves a larger audience. This is their tenth year and the founder, David Katz, with whom I had the pleasure of speaking at the After Party, proved to be a kind and creative gentleman. I very much hope this festival finds a larger audience that it so well deserves. For more information, visit smff.org, hope to see you there next year!
-- August 5, 2013. Just an update to my previous post of August 4, 2013. Today I did return to the Tinga Restaurant in Santa Monica, California. I had a chance to taste the food, and it was lovely, with friendly staff, comfortable atmosphere, and delicious tacos!
12.14.13 at 8:51 pm | Handel's Messiah sung by the audience at Disney. . .
12.10.13 at 8:35 pm | A. Scott Berg discusses his new biography,. . .
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11.28.13 at 5:18 am | Have a wonderful Hanukkah!
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11.4.13 at 1:30 pm | Horseracing at its Finest
12.14.13 at 8:51 pm | Handel's Messiah sung by the audience at Disney. . . (38)
7.24.13 at 1:50 am | A great diet that satisfies your sweet tooth. . . (24)
12.10.13 at 8:35 pm | A. Scott Berg discusses his new biography,. . . (9)
July 24, 2013 | 1:50 am
Posted by Joy Bennett
We all have to look our best in Hollywood, and if you tried and tried to loose weight and just can't because of a nasty sweet tooth like me, try my Nutella Diet. I'm using it and it works to gently melt away those pounds, all while satisfying your cravings for sweets.
Here's the diet: eat a healthy, well-balanced diet full of a low-fat foods that are high in protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, salads, etc. Avoid any fatty foods or excessive amounts of bread or high-calorie treats. Drink plenty of water. Lemonade or juice is OK in limited amounts. Avoid diet or regular sodas, they are very bad for you. You can drink alcohol and coffee in moderation, but I recommend if you do have decaf coffee or tea, much healthier. Raw nuts, vegetables, fruit, and baked pita chips are all OK for snacking in limited amounts. You can make this a vegetarian diet if you make sure to include enough high protein sources like soy, etc.
After lunch and dinner, instead of dessert, have one teaspoon of Nutella if you are craving sweets. Savor it and let it melt slowly in your mouth. Don't have more than one teaspoon, and avoid all other desserts and high calorie treats. If you can, skip the Nutella, or get by with half a teaspoon, but know it's there if you need it.
After dinner and your Nutella dessert, brush your teeth to discourage late night snacking. If you are desperate for something to eat or drink before retiring, have a half glass of water. Those pounds may just melt away like the Nutella we love so much!
There are only approximately 34 calories in each teaspoon of Nutella, not much! So you know you are doing your very best to lose weight. Make sure you get some moderate exercise, too, like taking a walk or a Yoga class to help melt those pounds away as well.
I've also found that those "Nips" Chocolate Parfait hard candies made by Nesle and available at Ralph's, etc. also help satisfy a chocolate or sweet craving. At only 30 calories each, it really does the trick!
Check with your doctor before starting any new health care diet or regimen, as this is not meant to be taken as medical advice.
July 21, 2013 | 6:05 am
Posted by Joy Bennett
Every photographer, from the family record keeper, to bloggers like me shooting an actor on a Red Carpet, or a bird watcher photographing that rare species they finally found in the wild, or a freelance or staff photographer, can improve, no matter what level they are working at now. One terrific resource I came across recently is the gifted and innovative Joey Terrill, who along with an impressive career as an advertising and editorial photographer, also generously shares his time with many others seeking to improve.
Mr. Terrill has two excellent websites, the first, his professional photographer's website, joeyterrill.com (which is a model of how a pro should represent themselves online). Then he has a second website dedicated to illuminating his vast collection of tips, techniques, and advice for the serious amateur or professional: penumbraproject.com. I would recommend both to anyone interested in lifting their photography to new heights.
Joey also recently mentioned to me two other very helpful resources: strobist.com and daveblackphotography.com -- two excellent websites also dedicated to helping others thrive in their photographic endeavors.
We live in an increasingly fast-paced, visual world; and those who can produce compelling, high-quality images (or hire someone to do so for them) will always do better than those who cannot.
July 18, 2013 | 10:22 pm
Posted by Joy Bennett
Right now I'm at the wonderful Summit Sports Photography Workshop in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The students here learn advanced photography techniques, network, and can borrow high-end equipment and get lots of hand-on experience with the instructors, all of whom are highly accomplished photographers themselves. This is a great experience, and you don't have to be a working photographer to participate. You can be a serious amateur, someone who just wants to improve the photos they take of their kid's baseball games, or someone who has a job on a newspaper and wants to better their skills. All are made to feel welcomed and by the end of the workshop are lifted to a new level in their photographic endeavors.
I was here in 2010 and am so enjoying it this year. The workshops were created by Rich Clarkson, pictured above, the renowned sports photographer who is not only recognized as one of the finest in his field, but is also one of the nicest people you could ever meet. The workshop is a combination of classes, hands-on shooting with real-life sporting events and athletes, and also provides ample opportunities to socialize and get to know your fellow students and faculty members.
For more information visit their website at photographyatthesummit.com and click on the Sports Photography Workshop link to the right. The Sports Photography Workshop is held every year in the summer in Colorado Springs at an extremely pleasant hotel with excellent food and amenities, the Antlers Hilton. They have other workshops throughout the year in various other fields of photography such as nature photography and adventure photography, and many students return to their favorite workshops year after year.
July 13, 2013 | 6:11 am
Posted by Joy Bennett
Screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher at After Party Photo by Joy Bennett
Last night I went to a very fun, cool event. I was invited to the Bombay Sapphire Imagination Series: Film screening and after party downtown celebrating the winners of their annual short film competition. I got to meet lots of great people, including Geoffrey Fletcher, who is an Oscar-award winning screenwriter (Precious) and director (Violet & Daisy).
This short film competition allows anyone to read a brief script by Mr. Fletcher, then submit a treatment based on his script. The five finalists (hundreds of filmmakers enter each year) are awarded a budget of up to $50,000 and given generous professional guidance and help from the very congenial Mr. Fletcher and other industry insiders (including actor Adrien Brody) to produce their short film. I saw some of the films online (and you can too, visit imaginationseries.com). One in particular struck me as quite artistic and lovely (Water Song by Paul Frankl). Each year Bombay Sapphire hosts the film competition, and it's going on again this year, for more details visit the Imagination Series website.
The after party itself was in a beautiful, unique space: a renovated downtown building near the screening called the Edison Downtown. It was in an elegant restaurant and nightclub and had old-fashioned films playing on screens while they passed around tons of free Bombay Sapphire drinks and delicious appetizers. I also got to talk to Mr. Fletcher, a most charming and talented individual.
What a wonderful way to support emerging filmmakers. The cost to enter the competition is completely free, so if you or anyone you know would like to submit a treatment, check out their website imaginationseries.com. Good luck to all the aspiring filmmakers!
July 9, 2013 | 9:27 pm
Posted by Joy Bennett
There is a fantastic line up of musicals and shows that are coming to the Morgan-Wixson Theatre this season including The Odd Couple, The Producers, Spring Awakening, The Underpants by Steve Martin, etc. Call or visit their website for tickets or more information, phone 310 828-7519 or morgan-wixson.org. Their tickets are most reasonably priced!
The Morgan-Wixson is a small local gem of a theatre that has a reputation for high-quality productions, and I can personally attest to that fact. I also saw Avenue Q there a few months ago and it was also very nicely executed. The Morgan pulls from the huge pool of devoted and talented actors and theatre folks in the Los Angeles area, and we are most fortunate to have it quite near us in Santa Monica where I live.
July 3, 2013 | 5:23 am
Posted by Joy Bennett
I spent a very enjoyable two nights recently at the Hollywood Fringe Festival on Thursday and Friday, June 27th and 28th. The Hollywood Fringe Festival is a yearly festival of performing arts where any and all are welcome to produce, star, watch, or just enjoy the atmosphere of tons of live performances, most of which, due to the high quality of talent in this town, are most invigorating.
Three productions of note upon which I would like to comment: Thursday night I watched The Real Housekeepers of Studio City, a mad-cap, fast-paced comedy/musical show. Book and lyrics are by the very talented team of Heidi Powers and Tom Moore. Heidi was right there at the theatre, passing out press kits and buttons, and generally using her professional expertise in entertainment marketing to further her own production -- good show, Heidi!
The Real Houswives was really very good: funny, clever, with great songs and singing -- all the makings of a genuine hit.
I saw the second production on Friday, June 28th. Sandro Monetti is an author and entertainment journalist, and put together this most entertaining show called Clooney, Cowell, Pitt and Me about his years of experiences as a leading British entertainment journalist based in LA. I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Monetti after the show, and he proved to be as delightful in person as he is on stage. Engaging, friendly, and surrounded by well-wishers, friends and fans, you can find out more about the charming Mr. Monetti on his website sandromonetti.com.
I also saw David & Leeman in How to Convincingly Fake Honesty on Thursday night. This combination of magic and comedy show was delightfully entertaining and quite professionally executed throughout. It had amazingly deft magic tricks that I couldn't for the life of me figure out how they did it, all wrapped up in a most amusing comedy show. Great fun!
For more information about the Fringe Festival, check out hollywoodfringe.org, and watch for it next June, it is definitely worth checking out. For more photos from the Fringe Festival and other events, visit Joy's Flickr page at flickr.com/joybennett.
Important, please note that although the official Hollywood Fringe Festival ended June 30th, 2013, from July 8th to 28th, the Best of Fringe Extension will be held. This is a selection of the creme de la creme of the Fringe Festival shows chosen by an official selection committee. Some of the shows may go on for longer theatrical runs, to be determined. For more information on the Best of Fringe Extension, visit bestofextensions.com. Most of the shows I mentioned here are in the Best of Fringe Extension, so you can still catch them! I have more coverage and photos from the Fringe Festival (I was a proud member of the Fringe Press Corps) on my main website joybennett.com, just scroll down!
June 27, 2013 | 3:30 pm
Posted by Joy Bennett
Last Sunday, June 23rd was the closing night of the Los Angeles Film Festival, and what an exceptional festival it was. I went to many of the events throughout the festival, which ran from June 13 to June 23, 2013. I was generously given a press pass to the festival from Film Independent, the festival's organizers.
For a complete coverage of everything I wrote and photographed about the festival, go to joybennett.com, and use the index tabs on the top right to select LA Film Festival. That will give you only the posts about the festival. Then go to Flickr.com/joybennett and scroll down through the photos to see the many shots from the festival. The festival had a huge number of events, so there's quite a lot of photos and coverage available, although of course I couldn't get to all the events.
Sunday's closing night event on June 23rd featured a special screening of the new film The Way, Way Back. I got there in time to stand in the rush line for the screening of the film, which stars Steve Caroll and Toni Collette. Most of the stars and filmmakers from the film were there at the theatre, and they had an huge Red Carpet set up before the showing as the stars arrived at the film festival. I chatted with friends while in line, and got to peak around at the Red Carpet but was soon rushed into the film. The place was packed and it was a most exciting evening.
While waiting in the theatre for the movie to start, I met Nolan Gerard Funk, a highly successful working actor. He has been in the TV shows Awkward, Glee, the film The House at the End of the Street, many other films and TV shows, and was Conrad on Broadway in Bye, Bye Birdie. Couldn't have been nicer, he spoke to me for a few minutes and I discovered he is originally from Vancouver, Canada and now lives in LA. He's a very handsome, polite and focused young man and doubtless this has contributed greatly to his success.
Now on to the film we saw. The Way, Way Back, directed and written by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, is a perfect confection of a summer film. Light, funny, and well-acted, it was the perfect way to end an amazing film festival. The movie stars Steve Carell, who for once is an unsympathetic character (excellent as always); Toni Collette (a beautiful and gifted actress), Liam James, also terrific, and others. They all do a great job and lend this rather light piece a great deal of heavyweight acting chops. It is reminiscent of The Descendents, without quite the emotional punch of the other film's dramatic arc. Nonetheless, it was a very enjoyable movie, and opens in theatres July 5th.
I tried to get in to the after party, but alas, could not, so I walked over the Lawry's The Carvery at L.A. LIVE and had a delicious fresh turkey sandwich and mashed potatoes, yum! More film festival coverage on my website joybennett.com, and lots more photos on my Flickr page here: flickr.com/joybennett.
Be sure to check out the LA Film Festival next June, for more information about the festival, visit their website here: lafilmfest.com. Congratulations to all the staff, filmmakers, volunteers and board members of Film Independent for a remarkable 2013 LA Film Festival. Until next year!