New Mexico-based production company Galle Ceddo Projects recently received a filmmaking grant from the prestigious Sundance Documentary Fund. Sembene: Revolutionary Artist, by Samba Gadjigo and Santa Fe’s Jason Silverman, is one of only 20 documentary finalists selected from more than 800 applications. In fact, Sembene was one of just six projects by first-time filmmakers to make the cut. The film-in-progress revisits the life and work of Ousamane Sembene, the Senegalese filmmaker who almost singlehandedly created African cinema. Gadjigo is a well-known African-American and African Studies professor and wrote the definitive biography of Sembene. Silverman is director of the Cinematheque at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe.
With a handful of strong releases under his belt (1998’s Short Sharp Shock, 2004’s Head-On), German-born Turkish writer/producer/director/actor Fatih Akin has built his rep as an uncompromising, forthright filmmaker. Head-On packed an indelible punch, not because it provided a litany of graphic sex, violence, drug use and suicidal behavior, but because it presented its subjects in such an unvarnished, matter-of-fact manner.
In the region of Catalonia (mostly northeastern Spain, but dipping into parts of France), there is the long-standing Christmas tradition known as El Caganer. Translated politely as “the Pooper,” a caganer is a small ceramic statue of, most often, a small boy squatting down, pants around his ankles, taking a large dump. This defecating icon is hidden amidst a family’s nativity scene, on the mantle or under the Christmas tree. The first Catalonian child to locate the rude statuette crapping next to the Baby Jesus or copping a squat behind the Three Wise Men on Christmas morning gets an extra present.
It’s been the hot topic for months (at least in the Internet’s nerdier sectors): Does NBC’s “Heroes” suck complete rocks at this point? Is it beyond repair? Is it time to finally give up and go back to watching FOX’s “Prison Break”? Until last week, the answer was an unequivocal yes, yes, YES!