NERUDA star Luis Gnecco will participate in a Q&A after the 7:10 PM screening at the Royal on Saturday, January 7. Caroline Miranda of the Los Angeles Times will moderate.
RETAKE actors Tuc Watkins and Devon Graye, writer-director Nick Corporon, producer Sean Mandell and cinematographer-producer Collin Brazie will introduce the 7:30 PM screening on Thursday, January 5 and the 9:55 PM show on Friday, January 6. Dave Karger will moderate.
Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, I, DANIEL BLAKE is the latest from legendary director Ken Loach. The film is a gripping, human tale about the impact one man can make. Gruff but goodhearted, Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) is a man out of time: a widowed woodworker who’s never owned a computer, he lives according to his own common sense moral code. But after a heart attack leaves him unable to work and the state welfare system fails him, the stubbornly self-reliant Daniel must stand up and fight for his dignity. Below is a recent interview with Mr. Loach:
There were rumors that Jimmy’s Hall was going to be your last film. Was that ever the case, and if so what persuaded you to make I, DANIEL BLAKE?
That was a rash thing to have said. There are so many stories to tell. So many characters to present…
What lies at that root of the story?
The universal story of people struggling to survive was the starting point. But then the characters and the situation have to be grounded in lived experience. If we look hard enough, we can all see the conscious cruelty at the heart of the state’s provision for those in desperate need and the use of bureaucracy, the intentional inefficiency of bureaucracy, as a political weapon: “This is what happens if you don’t work; if you don’t find work you will suffer.” The anger at that was the motive behind the film.
Where did you start your research?
I’d always wanted to do something in my home town which is Nuneaton in the middle of the Midlands, and so Paul and I went and met people there. I’m a little involved with a charity called Doorway, which is run by a friend Carol Gallagher. She introduced Paul and me to a whole range of people who were unable to find work for various reasons – not enough jobs being the obvious one. Some were working for agencies on insecure wages and had nowhere to live. One was a very nice young lad who took us to his room in a shared house helped by Doorway and the room was Dickensian. There was a mattress on the floor, a fridge but pretty well nothing else. Paul asked him would it be rude to see what he’d got in the fridge. he said, “No” and he opened the door: there was nothing, there wasn’t milk, there wasn’t a biscuit, there wasn’t anything. We asked him when was the last time he went without food, he said that the week before he’d been without food for four days. This is just straight hunger and he was desperate. He’d got a friend who was working for an agency. His friend had been told by the agency at five o’clock one morning to get to a warehouse at six o’clock. He had no transport, but he got there somehow, he was told to wait, and at quarter past six he was told, “Well there’s no work for you today.” He was sent back so he got no money. This constant humiliation and insecurity is something we refer to in the film.
Out of all the material you gathered and the people you met, how did you settle on a narrative?
That’s probably the hardest decision to take because there are so many stories. We felt we’d done a lot about young people – Sweet Sixteen was one – and we saw the plight of older people and thought that it often goes unremarked. There’s a generation of people who were skilled manual workers who are now reaching the end of their working lives. They have health problems and they won’t work again because they’re not nimble enough to duck and dive between agency jobs, a bit of this and a bit of that. They are used to a more traditional structure for work and so they are just lost. They can’t deal with the technology and they have health problems anyway. Then they are confronted by assessments for Employment and Support Allowance where you can be deemed fit for work when you’re not. The whole bureaucratic, impenetrable structure defeats people. We heard so many stories about that. Paul wrote the character Daniel Blake and the project was under way.
And your argument is that the bureaucratic structure is impenetrable by design…
Yes. The job centers now are not about helping people, they’re about setting obstacles in people’s way. There’s a job coach, as they’re called, who is not allowed now to tell people about the jobs available, whereas before they would help them to find work. There are expectations of the amount of number of people who will be sanctioned. If the interviewers don’t sanction enough people they themselves are put on ‘Personal Improvement Plans’. Orwellian, isn’t it? This all comes from research drawn from people who have worked at the DWP, they’ve worked in job centers and have been active in the Trade Union, PCS – the evidence is there in abundance. With the sanctioning regime it means people won’t be able to live on the money they’ve got and therefore food banks have come into existence. And this is something the government seems quite content about – that there should be food banks. Now they’re even talking about putting job coaches into food banks, so the food banks are becoming absorbed into the state as part of the mechanism of dealing with poverty. What kind of world have we created here?
Do you feel it’s a story that speaks mainly to these times?
I think it has wider implications. It goes back to the Poor Law, the idea of the deserving and the undeserving poor. The working class have to be driven to work by fear of poverty. The rich have to be bribed by ever greater rewards. The political establishment have consciously used hunger and poverty to drive people to accept the lowest wage and most insecure work out of desperation. The poor have to be made to accept the blame for their poverty. We see this throughout Europe and beyond.
What was it like going to film in food banks?
We went to a number of food banks together and Paul went to more on his own. The story of what we show in the food bank in the film was based on an incident that was described to Paul. Oh, food banks are awful; you see people in desperation. We were at a food bank in Glasgow and a man came to the door. He looked in and he hovered and then he walked away. One of the women working there went after him, because he was obviously in need, but he couldn’t face the humiliation of coming in and asking for food. I think that goes on all the time.
Why did you decide to set the film in Newcastle?
We went to a number of places – we went to Nuneaton, Nottingham, Stoke and Newcastle. We knew the North-West well having worked in Liverpool and Manchester so we thought we should try somewhere else. We didn’t want to be in London because that has got huge problems but they’re different and it’s good to look beyond the capital. Newcastle is culturally very rich. It’s like Liverpool, Glasgow, big cities on the coast. They are great visually, cinematic, the culture is very expressive and the language is very strong. There’s a great sense of resistance; generations of struggle have developed a strong political consciousness.
Describe the character of Daniel – who is he and what is his predicament?
Dan is a man who’s served his time as a joiner, a skilled craftsman. He’s worked on building sites, he’s worked for small builders, he’s been a jobbing carpenter and still works with wood for his own enjoyment. But his wife has died, he’s had a serious heart attack and nearly fell off some scaffolding; he’s instructed not to work and he’s still in rehabilitation, so he’s getting Employment and Support Allowance. The film tells a story of how he tries to survive in that condition once he’s been found ‘fit to work.’ He’s resilient, good humored and used to guarding his privacy.
And who is Katie?
Katie is a single mother with two small children. She’s been in a hostel in London when the local authority finds her a flat in the north where the rent will be covered by her housing benefit – that means the local authority doesn’t have to make up the difference. The flat’s fine, though it needs work, but then she falls foul of the system and she’s immediately in trouble – she’s got no family round her, no support, no money. Katie is a realist. She comes to recognize that her first responsibility is to survive somehow.
Much of the story deals with suffocating bureaucracy. How did you make that dramatic?
What I hope carries the story is that the concept is familiar to most of us. It’s the frustration and the black comedy of trying to deal with a bureaucracy that is so palpably stupid, so palpably set to drive you mad. I think if you can tell that truthfully and you’re reading the subtext in the relationship between the people across a desk or over a phone line, that should reveal the comedy of it, the cruelty of it – and, in the end, the tragedy of it. ‘The poor are to blame for their poverty’ – this protects the power of the ruling class.
What you were looking for in your Dan and in your Katie when you cast Dave Johns and Hayley Squires?
Well, for Dan we looked for the common sense of the common man. Every day he’s turned up for work, he’s worked alongside mates; there’s the crack of that, the jokes, the way you get through the day; that’s been his life until he was sick and until his wife needed support. And so alongside the sense of humor you want someone quite sensitive and nuanced. And for Katie, again it’s someone driven by circumstance who is realistic but has potential; she’s been trying to study, she failed at school but she’s been studying with the Open University. We looked for someone with sensitivity but also gutsy courage. And, as with Dan, absolute authenticity.
Dave Johns is a stand-up comic as well as an actor. Why did you cast him as Dan?
The traditional stand-up comedian is a man or woman rooted in working class experience, and the comedy comes out of that experience. It often comes out of hardship, joking about the comedy of survival. But the thing with comedians is they’ve got to have good timing – their timing is absolutely implicit in who they are. And they usually have a voice that comes from somewhere and a persona which comes from somewhere, so that’s what we were looking for. Dave’s got that. Dave’s from Byker, which is where we filmed some of the scenes, he’s a Geordie, he’s the right age, and he’s a working class man who makes you smile, which is what we wanted.
How did you come to cast Hayley Squires as Katie?
We met a lot of women who were all interesting in different ways but again, Hayley’s a woman with a working class background and she was just brilliant. Every time we tried something out she was dead right. She doesn’t soften who she is or what she says in any way, she’s just true really, through and through.
How was the shoot?
To begin with, Paul’s writing is always very precise, as well as being full of life. This means we rarely shoot material we don’t use. The critical thing in filming is planning. It is preparation: working things out; getting everyone cast before you start; getting all the locations in place before you start. To do all that you need a crew, a group of people who absolutely understand the project and are creatively committed to it. And all those things we had: amazing efficiency from everyone and great good humor. That’s what gets you through, because it means all your effort is then productive. Working with good friends is a delight and, crucially, we even got a little coffee machine that used to follow us around. That was a key element: a good espresso got us all through the day.
You changed how you edited this film from previous ones. How and why?
We’d been cutting on film for many years but we found that the infrastructure for cutting on film was just disappearing. The biggest problem was the cost of printing the sound rushes on mag stock and also printing all the film rushes. It was more than I could justify so, reluctantly, we cut on Avid. It has some advantages but I found cutting on film was a more human way of working – you can see what you’ve done at the end of the day. Avid seems quicker but I don’t think the overall time taken is any less. I just find the tactile quality of film is more interesting.
Do you make films hoping to bring about change and, if so, what would that mean in the case of I, DANIEL BLAKE?
Well it’s the old phrase isn’t it: ‘Agitate, Educate, Organize.’ You can agitate with a film -you can’t educate much, though you can ask questions – and you can’t organize at all, but you can agitate. And I think to agitate is a great aim because being complacent about things that are intolerable is just not acceptable. Characters trapped in situations where the implicit conflict has to be played out, that is the essence of drama. And if you can find that drama in things that are not only universal but have a real relevance to what’s going on in the world, then that’s all the better. I think anger can be very constructive if it can be used; anger that leaves the audience with something unresolved in their mind, something to do, something challenging.
It is the 50th anniversary of Cathy Come Home this year. What parallels are there between this new film and that film?
They are both stories of people whose lives are seriously damaged by the economic situation they’re in. It’s been an idea we’ve returned to again and again but it’s particularly sharp in I, DANIEL BLAKE. The style of filmmaking, of course, is very different. When we made Cathy we ran about with a hand-held camera, set up a scene, shot it and we were done. The film was shot in three weeks. In this film the characters are explored more fully. Both Katie and Dan are seen in extremis. In the end, their natural cheerfulness and resilience are not enough. Certainly politically the world that this film shows is even more cruel than the world that Cathy was in. The market economy has led us inexorably to this disaster. It could not do otherwise. It generates a working class that is vulnerable and easy to exploit. Those who struggle to survive face poverty. It’s either the fault of the system or it’s the fault of the people. They don’t want to change the system, therefore they have to say it’s the fault of the people. Looking back, we should not be surprised at what has happened. The only question is – what do we do about it?
Ahrya Fine Arts
Cantor Phil Baron – of Valley Beth Shalom – BUY TIX
BONUS! – BARBARA ISENBERG will be on hand to sign copies of her book TRADITION!: The Highly Improbable, Ultimately Triumphant Broadway-to-Hollywood Story of Fiddler on the Roof, the World’s Most Beloved Musical.
Cantor Paul Buch – of Temple Beth Israel – BUY TIX
Jump below to find out more about our hosts.
Will the matchmaker make you “the perfect match?” There’s only one way to find out … join us this year for our 9th Annual Fiddler on the Roof Christmas Eve Sing-a-Long … plus FIRST NIGHT OF CHANUKAH CELEBRATION!
The rare concurrence of Christmas Eve and the first night of Chanukah adds a new wrinkle to our tradition this year, enabling the community to come together in celebration of the Jewish holiday. “This year we can sing from the rooftops … and light the Chanukah Menorah!” comments Greg Laemmle.
To accommodate demand, the popular Fiddler program has been extended to six venues including the newly re-opened AHRYA FINE ARTS art deco movie palace in Beverly Hills.
In addition to exuberant movie and song, the evening will feature TRIVIA with PRIZES being awarded to Fiddler buffs with the quickest recall. Dressing in COSTUME is not required, but highly encouraged! Who knows, perhaps the best costume will garner a prize? That will be up to the emcee.
We’re excited announce several new hosts this year. These include Broadway performer Susan Edwards Martin, Klezmer musician Gustavo Bulgach, comedian and star of YidLife Crisis, Eli Batalion, and community leader Jason Moss. Returning are Cantor Paul Buch of Temple Beth Israel and Cantor Phil Baron of Valley Beth Shalom, the latter to be master of ceremonies at the Ahrya Fine Arts.
Jump down to get more info on each of our hosts.
Our own Greg Laemmle is enthusiastic as ever about the Fiddler experience, declaring that “Christmas Eve isn’t just Chinese food anymore!” Furthermore, “We welcome all those in the community who are looking for an alternative Christmas eve experience … and this year, a different first night of Chanukah to boot!”
He continues, “This is your once-a-year chance to be the star of the shtetl. Join voices with friends and neighbors and sing your heart out alongside Fiddler’s screen legends,” he continues. “And it’s okay if you haven’t memorized all the songs. We provide the lyrics.”
Song highlights include the iconic “TRADITION”, “IF I WERE A RICH MAN”, “TO LIFE”, “SUNRISE SUNSET”, “DO YOU LOVE ME?” and “ANATEVKA”, among many, many more.
Don’t miss the buggy! Those who wish to attend the program are advised to purchase tickets in advance as the program has traditionally sold to capacity.
Fiddler Hosts – 2016
Cantor PHIL BARON at the Ahrya Fine Arts (Beverly Hills)
Cantor PHIL BARON of Temple Valley Beth Shalom in Encino comes to us courtesy of community partner JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY (JHS) and the BREED STREET SHUL. Baron is the son of a violinist and the grandson of a Vilna rabbi. Before becoming a cantor, he took a successful detour into children’s entertainment, where he had over 300 original songs recorded – nearly 200 of these by the Walt Disney Co. He co-created two television series for Jewish children, Bubbe’s Boarding House, and the multiple award-winning series Alef…Bet…Blast-off! As a vocalist he has been featured with the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra and the New Orleans Philharmonic.
SUSAN EDWARDS MARTIN at the NoHo 7 (N. Hollywood)
Broadway star SUSAN EDWARDS MARTIN will represent partner Temple Beth Hillel at our NoHo 7 venue. A star of Broadway, Martin is an accomplished singer, musician, actress and comedienne who originated the role of ‘Lady Blue’ in HARVEY FIERSTEIN’s Tony Award-winning play “Torch Song Trilogy.” She has also appeared in many other Broadway and Off-Broadway productions such as “Bubbling Brown Sugar,” “The Suicide,” and the long-running musical comedy “Scrambled Feet.” Numerous television credits include a recurring role on “Days of our Lives,” and guest appearances on “NYPD Blue,” “Designing Women,” and “Columbo,” among many others. Martin is currently creating a new original musical, “Unlimited” based on her personal story of growing up in Long Island and her ensuing life in show business.
JASON MOSS at the Playhouse 7 (Pasadena)
Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys JASON MOSS will be our host at the Playhouse 7 in Pasadena. Under his leadership, the Federation has doubled its programming with the creation of such programs as the Cultural Arts Program, PJ Library, a nationally recognized program to reach and connect with unaffiliated Jewish families. In addition, Moss will soon launch JLife SGPV, a lifestyle magazine celebrating Jewish life in the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys.
ELI BATALION at the Royal Theatre (West L.A.)
Star of comedy web series Yidlife Crisis, ELI BATALION will be our host at the Royal Theatre in West Los Angeles. Created with co-star JAMIE ELMAN, Yidlife Crisis is a love letter about modern Jewish identity set in Yiddish (with English and French subtitles), that uses comedy as a vehicle for inclusiveness. Batalion is a multi-faceted talent, at once writer, producer, actor, and composer for film TV and stage. His many projects have ranged from award-winning horror musical films (including the recently release “Stage Fright” starring Minne Driver and Meat Loaf) to touring musical comedy productions and live comedy shows such as the cult hit “J.O.B The Hip-Hopera.”
GUSTAVO BULGACH at the Town Center (Encino)
Accomplished Klezmer musician and bandleader GUSTAVO BULGACH will be our host at the Town Center 5 in Encino. Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Bulgach was inspired at an early age by the religious and secular life of the Argentine community. Now based in L.A., Bulgach travels the globe uplifting audiences with a vibrant, soulful Klezmer he terms the “soundtrack of the Diaspora.” Bulgach has been a longtime member of the House of Blues Foundation house band backing artist such as LITTLE RICHARD, TAJ MAHAL, and THE WAILERS. His own outfit, KLEZMER JUICE, was featured in the Hollywood mega hit movie THE WEDDING CRASHERS featuring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn.
Cantor PAUL BUCH at the Claremont 5 (Claremont)
Cantor PAUL BUCH has served Temple Beth Israel in Claremont since 2003. He came to the cantorate after a 25 year career in TV and film production in Los Angeles, New York, and Portland. In addition to his cantorial duties, Buch is President of the Claremont Interfaith Council and serves on the Faith-Based Roundtable of the Pomona Unified School District. He is also Chair of the City of Claremont’s Human Relations Committee and serves on an advisory committee at the Claremont School of Theology. This will be his third consecutive year as our Fiddler host in Claremont!
The Laemmle Foundation presents LAEMMLE LIVE, a new performing arts series at the Monica Film Center. Emerging artists and professional performers from local schools and organizations will celebrate our diverse community with live performance.
In our inaugural year, LAEMMLE LIVE’s free monthly Sunday morning performances will turn the Monica Film Center’s mezzanine lounge into a salon style venue and serve as a potential pilot for live performance programs at other Laemmle locations throughout Los Angeles — delivering an alternative community arts experience — inviting our Los Angeles neighbors into our Laemmle living room.
LAEMMLE LIVE’S first concert will feature musicians from Santa Monica High School’s Chamber Orchestra on January 22, 2017.
LAEMMLE LIVE will be a place for cultural intersection and engagement with social issues that matter to the community. Mindful that Santa Monica can be a place where privilege lives next door to a growing homeless population — LAEMMLE LIVE invites high school performers to inspire underserved neighbors and welcomes Street Symphony musicians who state “…we bring music to lift up the brave stories and voices of people who, although living in an impoverished situation, are in no way impoverished in spirit.”
“Live performance is a natural sequel to ART IN THE ARTHOUSE, a program that delivers a unique art-viewing experience by reclaiming wall space throughout our theaters for the display of fine art.” says Greg Laemmle, Laemmle Theatres President.
Sun Jan 22, 2017 11 AM — Samohi Chamber Orchestra
Joni Swenson, Jason Aiello, Directors
Sun Feb 5, 2017 11 AM — Sol-La Music Academy Chamber EnsembleMargaret Lysy, Founder and Artistic Director
Sun Mar 5, 2017 11 AM — Lincoln Middle School Madrigal Singers
Vanessa Counte, Director
Sun Apr 30, 2017 11 AM — Street Symphony
Vijay Gupta, Founder and Artistic Director
FREE SCREENING – SUNDAY, DECEMBER 11 at 10 am. Director MARIA SCHRADER in person. RSVP: SashaBerman@mac.com.
STEFAN ZWEIG: FAREWELL TO EUROPE, Austria’s Official Entry for the Best Foreign Language Film – 89th Academy Awards®, was written and directed by Maria Schrader (one of Germany’s most acclaimed actresses, best known for her award-winning lead role in “Aimee & Jaguar” and for her lead role in the Emmy-winning TV series “Deutschland 83”).
The film episodically tells the story of the Austrian Jewish writer Stefan Zweig and his life while in exile from 1936 to 1942. Best known in the U.S. for his novellas “The Royal Game” and “Letter from an Unknown Woman,” that was later adapted into a film directed by Max Ophüls, starring Joan Fontaine. His writings have also inspired Wes Anderson’s “Grand Budapest Hotel.”
Stefan Zweig (next to Thomas Mann) was the most-translated German-speaking writer of his time, but having been driven into emigration at the peak of his worldwide fame, Zweig falls into despair at the sight of Europe’s downfall, which he had anticipated early on. Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, New York, Petrópolis are four stations in Stefan Zweig’s exile, which despite offering him safe refuge and overwhelming tropical nature, won’t help him find peace and won’t be able to replace his home.
STEFAN ZWEIG: FAREWELL TO EUROPE is the story of a refugee, a tale of losing one’s home and of the search for a new one. It is a visually stunning historic picture about a great artist and, at the same time, a film about a time in which Europe was coming apart.
Special Q&A Event after the Thursday 12/15 7:30PM SINS OF OUR YOUTH screening featuring Cast & Crew including Director & Writer Gary & Edmund Entin as well as stars Mitchel Musso, Joel Courtney, Bridger Zadina & Dani Knights.
Art in the Arthouse is pleased to present the vibrant works of accomplished painter, illustrator and designer, NANCY NIMOY, at the Royal Theater. Curated by our own Tish Laemmle, this exhibit showcases Nimoy’s versatile talent in over 30 stunning pieces. Expansive in both theme and approach, Nimoy tackles issues of politics, social media, and celebrity.
Nimoy has a way of finding beauty and meaning in the seemingly mundane. Her unique take on the everyday commands attention, while playful use of light and color make her work visually “pop.” The end result being whimsical and engaging paintings of undeniable craftsmanship.
When Nimoy began her career in New York, a well-known design team famously admonished her for presenting a portfolio that was “all over the map.” Today, as a sought after painter and illustrator with a long list of private commissions, corporate, publishing, theatre, and film clients, her work is quite literally, all over the map.
In the end, Nimoy’s flexibility is, in fact, her strength. Whether exploring icons such as The Rolling Stones, depicting a woman’s dress, or documenting the last anxious days of a diabolical political campaign, her gift for observation and storytelling shines through. Nimoy’s influences are also many, reflecting her love of Diebenkorn, Picasso, Hockney and the German Expressionist movement, with a deep bow to Maira Kalman.
Nimoy’s work, including portrait commissions, can be found in collections from Dublin to Brooklyn and scattered throughout her messy studio where she does her best work in her bathrobe.
The Nancy Nimoy Solo Exhibit runs through January. Make sure to visit the gallery outside of the Royal’s main auditorium (House #1) next time you come for a movie. Or just stop by – movie tickets are not required to view the art.