Highlights from The 52nd New York Film Festival

2014-10-03-2014newyorkfilmfestivalannouncesmainlineup-thumbIn full swing since late September, here are some of the highlights according to The Hollywood Reporter from The New York Film Festival running at Lincoln Center through October 12th. FOXCATCHER (October 10 & 11)  Fact based wresting drama starring Steve Carell about America's privileged class and how certain urges can asset themselves in the most unsavory ways.

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THE IRON MINISTRY (October 5) This thrilling new film from J.P. Sniadecki, shot over three years during a series of train journeys across China, is a great work of ethnographically grounded cinema. Screening as part of NYFF52 Spotlight on Documentary.

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MR. TURNER (October 3 & 4) Mike Leigh's portrait of British artist,  J. M. W. Turner.

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RED ARMY (October 4 & 5) Gabe Polsky's directing debut documentary about the former Soviet Union's national ice hockey squad scooped under military conditions as a propaganda weapon.

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TIMBUKTU (October 1 & 2) - deals with the spread of Jihadist influence in the sub-Saharan Africa in spite of popular resistance.

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TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT (October 5 & 6) - Chronicles the weekend-long crusade of a working class woman to reverse the decision to terminate her employment.

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THE WONDERS (October 3 & 4) - Alice Rohrwacher's second feature adopts the perspective of an inexperienced country girl to observe a family of beekeepers fighting to preserve their traditional rural lifestyle.

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Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

Los Angeles Film Festival: Billy Mize and The Bakersfield Sound

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MV5BODYwMTY5NzA4OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDQzMTc2MDE@._V1_SX146_CR0,0,146,215_Every day I drive past the Academy of Country Music right off the 101 freeway in Encino and wonder why it is there.  Seriously, I thought country music was relegated to the Ozarks in Missouri and Nashville, TN.  Needless to say, I got my answer when I saw Billy Mize & The Bakerfield Sound.  You see, even though Nashville, by all accounts, is considered the "Capital of Country Music", Bakersfield is really where the country sound we enjoy today was born. Billy Mize, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard are all pioneers of the Bakerfield sound that was more a rock based country sound born from those southerners who migrated west during the dust bowl era in America.  Billy Mize was HUGE!!!  He had hit records, a television show and the respect/admiration of all his peers.  So, why didn't I know who he was?  Billy Mize didn't tour to keep his face and product out there like we are accustomed to artists doing to broaden their fan base and keep their music on the charts.  Billy also incurred terrible loss at a young age of both of his sons (one is a motorcycle accident and the other an accidental drowning).

Being the ultimate family man, once his children left the nest, Billy attempted to resume his recording career. While on tour, he suffered a stroke that left him unable to speak for a number of years.  Thanks to a stellar and persistent therapy team, Billy Mize is able to once again speak, sing and play his beloved music.  All this and he even had time to be one of the founding members of the Academy of Country Music, which is why it is here in California.

Mize's journey has been a difficult and inspiring one, but he is still kicking it at the ripe old age of  86.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-WZdPZO960

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

Los Angeles Film Festival: Evolution of a Criminal

UnknownThere were soooo many films to choose from, but they ones that intrigued me the most just happened to center around imprisonment and the price that is paid for those mistakes. Evolution of a Criminal stuck a particularly strong chord with me.  You see, I realized that everyone has someone in their family that has been in jail whether they want to admit it or not.  Some of these family members may have gone to jail for protesting, petty larceny, felonies or maybe even murder.  Most of these family members look like they have been in the slammer more times than even they want to admit, but every once in a while you have a family member whose looks would never indicate they had ever been in a jail cell.

Darius Clarke Monroe is one of those family members.  You know the one you would never imagine committing a crime.  Evolution of a Criminal let us in ten years robbing a Bank of America and filmmaker Darius Monroe returns home to examine how his actions affected the lives of family, friends...and victims.

You see, Darius was not your typical criminal.  He was a smart, handsome young man from a family that worked their buns off and could barely make ends meet.  After an invading robbery that set the family's circumstances back significantly, Darius decided to help his family mend financially by pulling of a heist.

The consequences were unimaginable and this young man found himself preparing for what he called a "living funeral".  In the end,  Darius worked on his GED and college degree from prison.  He ultimately graduated from NYU film school and created this film produced by Oscar nominated filmmaker Spike Lee.

You see, not ALL black me that go to prison come out with the impetus to go back in or make nothing from their lives or mistakes.  Darius Clarke Monroe is the best example of how unconditional love of family can drive anyone to do things they would never imagine.  Think before you act...always.  The result of those actions could alter your life and send you in a direction you may not want to go.  Thank you Darius for sharing your story and I for one am proud that you are truly an example of what turning "poison into medicine" means.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cu5b1KrzxQ&w=560&h=315]

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

Ten Years Ago: The Lion King and Speed

MV5BMjEyMzgwNTUzMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTMxMzM3Ng@@._V1_SY317_CR15,0,214,317_AL_In 1994, I was in La Jolla, Ca rehearsing the pre-Broadway tryout of  the revival of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying starring Matthew Broderick and Megan Mullally.  The cast organized an outing to support Matthew and fellow cast member Ernie Sabella by going to a screening of The Lion King.  You see Matthew was the voice of Simba and Ernie voiced Poomba.  Little did they or any of us know that The Lion King would go on to be one of Disney's most successful animated films and broke ALL box office records.  Five years later, I would  be cast in the role of Shenzi in the Original Los Angeles Production playing at the Pantages in Hollywood.  I would also receive my first acting nomination from the NAACP for Best Featured Performance by an Actress in a Musical.  The award was given to my idol Charlayne Woodard for her one-woman show, but I was excited to be nominated, walk my first red-carpet and rub elbows with many industry professionals I had admired over the years. The musical debuted July 8, 1997 and was an instant success before premiering on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theater on October 15, 1997 in previews and opening on November 13, 1997. On June 13, 2006, the Broadway production moved to the Minskoff Theatre, where it is still running after more than 6,700 performances.  It is Broadway's fourth longest-running show in history and the highest grossing Broadway production of all time, having grossed more than $1 billion.  Check out the clips from the film and the hit Broadway musical below...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeX5csY389U

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MV5BNzczNDQyMTc2MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjI2NzQxMTE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_Being a huge fan of Keanu Reeves I was first in line to go see his latest film - SPEED.  Little did I know that in that film would also have an actress who I admire and follow to this day - Oscar winner  Sandra Bullock.  SPEED was one of the most successful summer action-adventure flicks in 1994 winning two Oscars and MTV/Kids Choice Awards for its stars...Check out the trailer below

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Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

86th Annual Academy Awards Carpet, Telecast & Governor's Ball

http://youtu.be/5AhmH0gp-a0 The 86th Annual Academy Awards were once again held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, CA and broadcast live around the world on ABC-TV.  Diversity was the theme of the evening from its host Ellen DeGeneres, 1st time A.M.P.A.S. (C) President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, with wins by African Americans and  a Mexican in three of the top major categories (Best Director, Best Picture & Best Supporting Actress).

2013 was an exceptionally stellar year in film grossing more than 5 billion dollars in ticket sales and the telecast on ABC-TV was the most popular since the finale of "Friends" on NBC-TV in 2004.  Telecast popularity was largely due to Ellen DeGeneres and her antics that included Liza Minnelli drag queen jokes, dressing as Glinda The Good Witch, a star-studded selfie, and last , but not least...ordering pizza and collecting tips  for the delivery guy  from the likes of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, Sandra Bullock and Brad Pitt.

The heartfelt "In Memoriam" segment reminded the industry of those who we lost and loved, ranging from the Golden Age of Hollywood to the 60', 70's and the 21st Century.

Gravity was the big winner of the night nabbing 7 Oscars in total and the popular documentary chronicling the journey of background singers in  "20 Feet From Stardom" had singer Darlene Love proudly praising God in song with a short rendition of "His Eyes Are On The Sparrow" during their acceptance speech.

From a ceremony held earlier in the week hosted by Kevin Spacey, honorary Oscars were given to Steve Martin, Angelina Jolie, Angela Lansbury and Piero Tosi for their contribution in  the industry.

The "queen of the night" and first time Oscar Nominee Lupita Nyong'o gave a very inspiring acceptance speech, which has become the most quoted on the internet in the last few days...“When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from your dreams are valid.”

Jared Leto gave a most lengthy speech, but tugged at the heartstrings with professing his love for his Mom,

“In 1971, Bossier City, Louisiana, there was a teenage girl who was pregnant with her second child. She was a high school dropout and a single mom, but somehow she managed to make a better life for herself and her children. She encouraged her kids to be creative, to work hard and to do something special. That girl is my mother and she’s here tonight. And I just want to say, I love you, Mom. Thank you for teaching me to dream…this for the
 36 million people who have lost the battle to AIDS and to those of you out there who have ever felt injustice because of who you are or who you love, tonight I stand here in front of the world with you and for you. “

Matthew McConaughey ended his speech with his catch phrase, “Alright, alright, alright ”  and Cate Blanchett proudly proclaimed, “…thank you to Sony Classics, to Michael and Tom for their extraordinary support. For so bravely and intelligently distributing the film and to the audiences who went to see it and perhaps those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences. They are not. Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people.”

Most entertaining speech hands down goes to Kristin Anderson Lopez and Bobby Lopez as they grabbed the prize for Best Original Song, "Let It Go" by thanking everyone in song.   Speaking of which, when Tony winner Idina Menzel was introduced by John Travolta, he butchered her name to pieces calling her "Adela Nazeem"...poor baby!  On the flip side, it was the best public relations  Idina could have ever wished for.  Especially, since she has a new show opening on Broadway soon called "IF/THEN".

The much talked about and controversial film "12 Years A Slave", which chronicles the real-life of free man Solomon Northrup's journey of being kidnapped back into slavery won Best Picture.  A "jumping for joy" Director/Producer Steve McQueen emotionally conveyed,

“…Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live. This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northrup. I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery. And the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today.” It's screenwriter John Ridley  won for Adapted Screenplay and said, “I started writing in sitcoms a long time ago. And at that time I was very fortunate to meet a script coordinator who was gracious enough to read everything I wrote. And when she thought it was ready, she put a smiling face at the end and I knew that it was job done. And, Gayle, seeing you here tonight, smiling, you take away all that soul-crushing inadequacy"

It was a great evening and everyone ran off to the Governor's Ball catered by Wolfgang Puck, where they were serenaded to a concert by Grammy winner John Legend.

I decided to debut this event for my first VLOG on Carla's Corner, which in addition to being read here, can also be heard weekly on www.UBNRadio.com/tonysweet on Weds. & Friday from 4-6pm.

This video is our first official video launch of the blog...Enjoy Like Erykah Badu says "Be kind cause I'm an artist and I am sensitive about my sh%t...LOL"

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!