The Advocate: Mom to a Disabled Son Navigates Love in Nicole Conn's New Movie

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Filmmaker Nicole Conn has been making lesbian-themed movies for nearly 30 years. Her latest, very personal film, More Beautiful for Having Been Broken, will premiere at San Francisco’s Frameline film festival June 30.

An homage to her own children, particularly to her son Nicholas who was born premature and was the subject of her 2005 documentary Little Man, More Beautiful for Having Been Broken features the debut of 11-year-old Cale Ferrin, an actor who is otherly abled.

The film stars Kayla Radomski as Samantha, mom to Ferrin’s Freddie, and Zoe Ventoura as McKenzie, the woman she meets at a lakeside community. French Stewart, Kay Lenz, Bruce Davison, and Gaby Christian (South of Nowhere) costar.

"I believe inclusion means ALL OF US. That’s why it was so imperative to cast an actor with Special Needs. I watch people all the time pretend like we’re not in the frame. Watch the averted eyes and just the ease with which they make our kids invisible,” Conn said in a statement about the film. “Our kids need to be seen. Heard. Laughed with and Learned from! And Loved. Trust me, the love you get back is beyond what you could ever dream. And this world needs a whole lot of that kind of love to deal with the tragedy our nation is immersed in today.”

Conn’s movies include 1992’s Claire of the Moon, Elena Undone (2010), and A Perfect Ending (2012).

Chinese Film Industry Needs to Focus on Quality After Wobbly 2018

The films enjoying the greatest success were those with subjects based on real events, such as “Operation Red Sea” and “Dying to Survive.” The box office success of “The Meg” marked a high point for China-U.S. co-productions.

The economics of China’s film industry is no longer an unbroken story of double digit growth. Nor was 2018 quite as bad many companies have portrayed.

A major report on the business, published in Shanghai this week by the China Film Association, in partnership with the Motion Picture Association, showed the number of cinemas grew last year, but also that per screen attendance dropped. Theatrical box office grew by 9% to $9 billion, but China’s share of the global total only edged up from 21% in 2017 to 22% in 2018.

Liu Jia, film distributor and expert on the industry numbers, called 2018 “an up and down year” at a presentation on Thursday at the Shanghai International Film Festival.

Her analysis of the CFA data showed China as now “firmly the number two film market in the world,” increasingly dominated by female audience tastes, and increasingly driven by word of mouth marketing. Online ticketing is now dominant, accounting for 90% of movie tickets sold, and cinema operators are increasingly engaging in variable ticket pricing.

Perhaps her most surprising statistic, given the pessimism expressed by many executives over the past week of Shanghai presentations, was the continued numerical growth of feature film productions. The CFA data showed the number of completed feature films rose from 798 in 2017 to 902 in 2018. The data also showed 398 Chinese films enjoyed theatrical release last year, a decrease from the 412 that played in 2017. (The number of foreign films getting a release in 2018 was 118).

The CFA data showed that China now has the largest number of cinema screens of any country in the world. Over 9,300 new screens opened for business in 2018, giving an end of year total of 60,000 screens at 11,000 complexes.

The report described a “paradox” of growing exhibition resources and the more modest growth in box office results. It said that resource allocation had been inefficient and that headline growth had disguised the poor operation of some cinemas. Liu suggested that the industry needs to shift focus from speed of cinema growth to improving the quality of that growth. Nevertheless, government regulators have set a target of 80,000 cinemas to be in operation by the end of 2020.

Another speaker, Liu Fan, said that the production slowdown felt in the second half of the year was due to “nationwide deleveraging, rather than any (government) crackdown on the film industry.”

Nevertheless his presentation, referenced the application of changes in tax policies from May 28, 2018 – identified by many producers as the beginning of the production slowdown. He urged enforcement of the law – including those against film stars who use illegal drugs.

It fell to the Motion Picture Association’s Asia-Pacific chief, Mike Ellis to look at the bigger picture, and over a longer period. “The global movie market has maintained a rising trend over the past five years,” he said pointing to a $41 billion box office total in 2018.

Strong performances in China contributed significantly to the global box office totals of some Hollywood films in 2018 – 18% of the worldwide total for “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” and nearly 30% for “Venom.”

“Of particular interest, three of the top ten Chinese films (in 2018) were directorial debuts, while the remaining seven were from younger directors. That is a sign that the market is open to new exciting talent,” he said.

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Nancy Nigrosh on Wabi-Sabi; Accepting Imperfection

Nancy Nigrosh, former head of the Gersh Agency's literary department and team member at Innovative Artists has worked in Hollywood since the 70s, and has re-defined her self many times over the course of her incredible career. She discusses working with Martin Scorsese on Mean Streets, re-building after a divorce, and spending her 40th Birthday celebrating the Million dollar sale of a script. She graciously discusses her goal of experiencing aging using the philosophy behind Wabi-Sabi, the Japanese aesthetic centered on transience and imperfection.

The lies our culture tells us about what matters — and a better way to live (David Brooks)

Our society is in the midst of a social crisis, says op-ed columnist and author David Brooks: we're trapped in a valley of isolation and fragmentation. How do we find our way out? Based on his travels across the United States -- and his meetings with a range of exceptional people known as "weavers" -- Brooks lays out his vision for a cultural revolution that empowers us all to lead lives of greater meaning, purpose and joy.

E.B. White on a Writer's Responsibility

In an interview for The Paris Review in 1969, White was asked to express his "views about the writer's commitment to politics, international affairs." His response:

A writer should concern himself with whatever absorbs his fancy, stirs his heart, and unlimbers his typewriter. I feel no obligation to deal with politics. I do feel a responsibility to society because of going into print: a writer has the duty to be good, not lousy; true, not false; lively, not dull; accurate, not full of error. He should tend to lift people up, not lower them down. Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life.

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On June 21st, join popular LGBT Horror podcast Blumhouse’s Attack of the Queerwolf for their first live show! – a screening of 1988’s Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers,

Everyone’s favorite serial killer camp counselor, Angela Baker, is back to slew a whole new group of teenagers. After years of therapy (and surgeries), Angela is given a job at Camp Rolling Hills – but history begins to repeat itself when she goes on a murderous rampage once the campers begin misbehaving…
The show begins 8:30PM!  Throw on your shortest summer shorts and prepare to camp until you die!
Says Blumhouse’s Attack of the Queerwolf LGBTQ, “The token queers at Blumhouse go through the horror canon to see where on the undead Kinsey scale your faves belong! Don’t be nervous: we’ve done this before! Hosted by Brennan Klein, Michael Kennedy, Nay Bever, and Sam Wineman!”
Directed by Michael A. Simpson | 1988 | 80 minutes | Rated R
Friday, June 21 — 8:30pm
“I like the out of the box approach — not too many 80s slashers focus mainly on the killer (an unmasked one at that), and was a rather unique way of more or less remaking the original film . . . while giving it its own identity. ” — Brian Collins, Horror Movie A Day
“Every good horror movie deserves a equel and the 80’s classic Sleepaway Camp has thankfully delivered a second helping. . . . Just as the original, the second installment of this movie has some really unique kills.” — Absolute Horror
“What saves this enterprise is its winking, self-referential (and self-mocking) quality, something that makes it a bit of a progenitor for later entries like the Scream [franchise]. . . . The fun of Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers is not in any putative character information, but in the nonchalant way Angela marauds her way through a series of boorish victims. On that level, this is one camp worth visiting.” — Jeffrey Kauffman,

Andrea Bocelli in China

On May 15th, by the invitation of President Xi and First Lady Peng Liyuan, Andrea Bocelli performed at the Beijing National Stadium in front of over 1.7Billion viewers on live TV and streaming.

Andrea Bocelli and Frankie Nasso

This portion of the program was produced by Jules and Frankie Nasso, Nova Entertainment Group, working throughout China, Italy, the US and the UK to deliver Maestro Bocelli to a live audience filled with Presidents and Leaders from 48 Asian Nations, from Australia to Israel to Japan and beyond. 

This was the largest government-sponsored entertainment event ever hosted in China, with over 8,000 performers on stage throughout the evening. 

Wouldn't it be great if we did this here in USA?

Research shows that helping others makes us happier. But in her groundbreaking work on generosity and joy, social psychologist Elizabeth Dunn found that there's a catch: it matters how we help. Learn how we can make a greater impact -- and boost our own happiness along the way -- if we make one key shift in how we help others. "Let's stop thinking about giving as just this moral obligation and start thinking of it as a source of pleasure," Dunn says.


Diane Warren doesn't want to miss a thing

Robert and Kenny start the show talking about the trend of the high quality mini-series taking the television spotlight, Godzilla's box office disappointment and run down our guest's incredible songwriting resume.

The only show that takes you inside the studios of Hollywood composers, with engaging conversations and musical demonstrations. Based on the hit film SCORE: A FILM MUSIC DOCUMENTARY, the weekly SCORE: THE PODCAST celebrates the musical heartbeat and emotive power of modern storytelling. Join hosts Robert Kraft and Kenny Holmes as they open the door to the creative, musical and fascinating personalities of the men and women who create music for the world’s most popular films, TV shows and video games. Follow us @ScoreThePodcast.