At the beginning of Eric Merola’s Second Opinion: Laetrile at Sloan-Kettering, a 1970s news reporter says, “Dr. Robert Good, president of the Sloan Kettering Institute, one of the world’s biggest and richest cancer research centers, said Laetrile does not prevent cancer, nor cure cancer, nor stop cancer from spreading.” For the next seventy-five minutes, Ralph W. Moss, PhD, the public affairs science writer for the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center from 1974 to 1977, talks about what lay behind that statement and the furor that followed. He tells the captivating story of what went on behind the scenes as Laetrile, a form of amygdalin used in tumor treatment, was coveted by cancer patients but demonized by the medical establishment. The controversy over the drug, which was eventually banned in America, forced patients to go to Mexico in search of the palliative care medicine while the FDA, the National Cancer Institute, and several high-profile MSK doctors considered it to be quackery. MSK’s own top researcher, Dr. Kanematsu Sugiura, had exciting success treating mice with the drug, hopeful that the positive effects would be proven in humans as well. But when Dr. Good, MSK vice presidents Dr. Lloyd J. Old and Dr. Chester Stock, and MSKCC president Dr. Lewis Thomas decided that Laetrile was not the future of cancer treatment, despite what some of them had previously stated in public, Moss was confused and distressed. Others were as well; the documentary reveals that the political dimension of the debate eventually brought even the ultra-right-wing John Birch Society into the fray. Moss eventually became a whistleblower, writing numerous books on the subject, including The Cancer Industry, Cancer Therapy: The Independent Consumer’s Guide to Non-Toxic Treatment & Prevention, and the brand-new Doctored Results: The Suppression of Laetrile at Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, which spurred the documentary.
Writer, director, producer, and coeditor Merola (Burzynski) lets Moss share his tale while sitting in a chair in the middle of a room at the Aldrich House in Providence, an odd if somewhat comforting choice, supplemented by archival footage and brief comments from Moss’s wife, Martha, son, Ben, and daughter, Melissa, in addition to Dr. Alex Pruchnicki, the only medical professional to come out in support of Moss without being anonymous. Merola also often cuts between two cameras, one a disorienting shot that shows the subject from the side, as if he had to try something different since the film is mostly talking heads. It’s quite an amazing story, and one that continues today, as labs around the world test and question the effectiveness of Laetrile. But watching Second Opinion, it’s hard not to wonder just what might have happened had MSKCC allowed Dr. Sugiura’s research to go on and the government given the drug more of a chance. The film is playing at Cinema Village, with Merola and Dr. Moss participating in Q&As following several screenings over the weekend, concluding with the 3:10 showing on August 31.
French Institute Alliance Française and other locations
Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th St. between Madison & Park Aves.
FIAF Gallery, 22 East 60th St. between Madison & Park Aves.
September 8 - October 20, free - $35
One of the best multidisciplinary arts festivals every year, FIAF’s Crossing the Line is back for its eighth season, featuring another exciting lineup of dance, theater, music, installation, exhibitions, and hard-to-describe events. Cocurators Lili Chopra, Simon Dove, and Gideon Lester explain it thusly: “This year’s edition of Crossing the Line brings together fifteen extraordinary international artists and companies, each of them offering unique perspectives on the world we all share. We invite New Yorkers to explore their meticulous and deeply considered work, both the familiar and the unknown, and find inspiration, provocation, and pure pleasure.” Hosted by the French Institute Alliance Française and taking place there as well as several other locations, CTL offers numerous opportunities to “find inspiration, provocation, and pure pleasure.” Palais Galliera director Olivier Saillard gets seven former supermodels to open up in Models Never Talk, a world premiere at Milk Studios. Trajal Harrell continues his Twenty Looks or Paris Is Burning at the Judson Church with a week of special performances at the Kitchen. Justin Vivian Bond is joined by special guest Miguel Gutierrez for the one-night-only Love Is Crazy, consisting of songs and stories about love and romance.
Patti Smith, her daughter, Jesse, and Soundwalk Collective examine the death of Nico in unique ways in Killer Road at FIAF. Swiss choreographer Gilles Jobin and German visual artist Julius von Bismarck use motion-sensor technology and lighting to delve into physics in Quantum at BAM Fisher. Jessica Mitrani and Pedro Almodóvar regular Rossy de Palma pay tribute to Nellie Bly in Traveling Lady at FIAF. The audience is encouraged to participate in Aaron Landsman’s free Republic of New York: Perfect City Discussions at Abrons Arts Center. Fernando Rubio’s Everything by My Side is a fifteen-minute rotating performance on seven beds in Hudson River Park. The works of French choreographer Xavier Le Roy will be re-created at MoMA PS1. Prune Nourry’s “Terracotta Daughters” exhibition at 104 Washington St. challenges gender roles in China and the world. Julie Béna’s site-specific “T&T Consortium: You’re Already Elsewhere” at the FIAF Gallery puts visitors into a fantastical setting. The star of the festival is Japanese electronic artist Ryoji Ikeda, whose Park Avenue Armory installation “The Transfinite” dazzled New York back in 2011; the mathematical mastermind will present the immersive, multimedia Superposition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a gallery exhibition at Salon 94, and “Test Pattern [Times Square],” which can be seen on nearly four dozen screens in Times Square as part of the “Midnight Moment” program each night in October from 11:57 pm to midnight. CTL is also one of the most affordable festivals, with nothing costing more than $35, so you have no excuse not to check out at least a few of these ultracool events.
46th St. between Sixth & Madison Aves.
Saturday, August 30, and Sunday, August 31, free, 11:00 am - 4:00 pm
One of the best street festivals of the year is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary on Sunday with another afternoon of great food, music, dance, and more. Brazilian Day, which is being rebranded as BR Day New York, is a colorful celebration of the culture of the South American nation and of the many Brazilian immigrants who now live in the tristate area, believed to number more than 300,000. But first comes Saturday’s annual Lavagem da Rua 46, the ritual Cleansing of 46th St., a parade (don’t miss the Bonecos Gigantes de Olinda) from Times Square to Madison Ave., followed by a street fair, as part of Brazil Week NYC, with live performances by Alavontê, Lucy Alves, Chambinho do Acordeon, Del Feliz, Afoxé Filhas de Gandhy, Eu Sou do Sul, O Hierofante Cia de Teatro, Batala Band, França, Márcio Mendes, and Manhattan Samba, hosted by Monika Oliveira and George Roberts. The parade goes from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, followed by the fair from 1:00 to 4:00. Sunday’s festivities in Little Brazil will include two stages of live entertainment, with music from Daniel, Carlinhos Brown, Ivete Sangalo, Saulo Fernandes, Tiago Abravanel, and others, hosted by hunky actor Cauã Reymond, as well as traditional Brazilian cuisine (keep a look-out for whole hog, feijoada, fresh sugarcane juice, and caipirinha), arts and crafts, information about traveling to Brazil, capoeira demonstrations, and more, with some 1.5 million people expected to attend what is always a blast of a party, with little pockets of music and dance liable to break out anywhere at any moment. In addition, the Brazil Expo continues at the HSA Gallery (4 West 43rd St.) through August 29, exhibitions and performances are taking place through August 30 at the New York State Office Building (163 West 125th St.), and the Brazil Week Pagode do Massa after-party will rock out at B. B. King’s on Sunday night with Grupo Samba Mais, Trio Open Bar, and DJ Bruno Goiano. “We are going to show the world the cheerfulness of the Brazilian people,” Daniel said at a press conference announcing the events and this year’s theme, “The Greenyellow Mood.” Just don’t mention the recently completed World Cup if you want that cheerful mood to continue.
THE CONFORMIST (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1970)
209 West Houston St.
August 29 - September 4
Based on the novel by Alberto Moravia, Bernardo Bertolucci’s gorgeous masterpiece, The Conformist, is a political thriller about paranoia, pedophilia, and trying to find one’s place in a changing world, and you can now experience it in all its glory in a new digital restoration at Film Forum. Jean-Louis Trintignant (And God Created Woman, Z, My Night at Maud’s) stars as Marcello Clerici, a troubled man who suffered childhood traumas and is now attempting to join the fascist secret police. To prove his dedication to the movement, he is ordered to assassinate one of his former professors, the radical Luca Quadri (Enzo Tarascio), who is living in France. He falls for Quadri’s much younger wife, Anna (Dominique Sanda), who takes an intriguing liking to Clerici’s wife, Giulia (Stefania Sandrelli), while Manganiello (Gastone Moschin) keeps a close watch on him, making sure he will carry out his assignment. The Conformist, made just after The Spider’s Stragagem and followed by Last Tango in Paris, captures one man’s desperate need to belong, to become a part of Mussolini’s fascist society and feel normal at the expense of his real inner feelings and beliefs. An atheist, he goes to church to confess because Giulia demands it. A bureaucrat, he is not a cold-blooded killer, but he will murder a part of his past in order to be accepted by the fascists (as well as Bertolucci’s own past, as he makes a sly reference to his former mentor, Jean-Luc Godard, by using the French auteur’s phone number and address for Quadri’s). Production designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro bathe the film in lush Art Deco colors as Bertolucci moves the story, told in flashbacks, through a series of set pieces that include an erotic dance by Anna and Giulia, a Kafkaesque visit to a government ministry, and a stunning use of black and white and light and shadow as Marcello and Giulia discuss their impending marriage. The Conformist is a multilayered psychological examination of a complex figure living in complex times, as much about the 1930s as the 1970s, as the youth of the Western world sought personal, political, and sexual freedom.
Every Labor Day, millions of people line Eastern Parkway, celebrating the city’s best annual parade, the West Indian American Day Carnival, waving flags from such nations as Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, the Cayman Islands, Antigua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Aruba, Curaçao, and many more. The festivities actually begin on August 28, with special events (listed below) every day leading up to the parade. The Labor Day partying commences at 2:00 am with the traditional J’Ouvert Morning, a precarnival procession featuring steel drums and percussion and fabulous, inexpensive masquerade costumes, marching from Grand Army Plaza to Flatbush Ave. and on to Empire Blvd., then to Nostrand Ave. and Linden Blvd. The Parade of Bands begins around 11:00 am, as truckloads of blasting Caribbean music and groups of ornately dressed dancers, costume bands, masqueraders, moko jumbies, and thousands of others bump and grind their way down Eastern Parkway to Grand Army Plaza, participating in one last farewell to the flesh prior to Lent. This year will feature a special tribute to Nelson Mandela. Don’t eat before you go; the great homemade food includes ackee and saltfish, oxtail stew, breadfruit, macaroni pie, curried goat, jerk chicken, fishcakes, rice and peas, and red velvet cake. The farther east you venture, the more closed in it gets; by the time you get near Crown Heights, it could take you half an hour just to cross the street, so take it easy and settle in for a fun, colorful day where you need not hurry. In addition, be prepared to see a whole lotta twerkin’ going on.
Thursday, August 28
Caribbean Woodstock: A Celebration of Light, with Tarras Riley, Skinny Banton, Ricardo Drue, Adrian Dutchin, Mr. Famous, Surrette Bon Bon, Statement, Mikey, Boodoosingh Tassa Drummers, Problem Child, Zouk & the Gang, DJs After Dark, Barrie Hype, and an Ole Mas costume contest, hosted by Susan Kennedy, Dr. Bob Lee, and Jemma Jordan, Brooklyn Museum, $30, 7:00
Friday, August 29
The Official Stay in School Fest, with live performances and college fair, Brooklyn Museum, free, 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Brass Fest 2014, with Machel Montano HD, Patrice Roberts, Lyrikal, Mr. Killa, Rayzor, Skinny Fabulous, Teddyson John and the TJ Project, Blakk Rasta, Red Fyah Band, Farmer Nappy, Da Big Show, DJ Sounds 4 Life, DJ Stephen, DJ After Dark, and DJ Spice, and Boodoosingh Tassa Drummers, hosted by Gizelle D Wassi One and MC Wassy, Brooklyn Museum, $55, 8:00
Saturday, August 30
Junior Carnival Parade, St. John’s Place between Kingston & Brooklyn Aves. to Brooklyn Museum at Washington Ave., 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Steelband Panorama 2014, showdown between steel orchestras from New York and Toronto, with Cross Fire Steel Orchestra Inc., Despers USA, Adlib Steel Orchestra, Metro Steel Orchestra, CASYM, Sonatas Youth Committee, D’Radoes, Sesame Flyers/Steel Explosion, Pan Fantasy, Harmony Music Makers, Pantonic, DJ One Plus, MC Godfrey Jack, and Jemma Jordan, Brooklyn Museum, $45, 8:00
Sunday, August 31
Diamanche Gras: The Legends Are Coming! with the Mighty Sparrow, Lord Nelson, David Rudder, Leon Coldero, Lennox Picou, Lima Calbio, Something Positive Dance Troupe, Sunshine Band, Kings and Queens of the Bands, and others, Brooklyn Museum, $40, 7:00
Staging a retrospective of a late performance artist whose work was very much of the moment can be a daunting, difficult task, but curators Klaus Biesenbach, Anna-Catharina Gebbers, and Susanne Pfeffer have done a terrific job with the simply titled “Christoph Schlingensief,” MoMA PS1’s exciting exploration of the career of the German multidisciplinary artist who died in 2010 at the age of forty-nine. Over the course of thirty years, Schlingensief produced experimental films, cutting-edge operas, radical theater pieces, and public actions and interventions that shattered the boundaries between audience and performer and challenged the social and political status quo of his native country and beyond. The expansive exhibition examines Schlingensief’s working process and the reaction to his pieces through film and video clips, photographs, documentation, installation, related paraphernalia, and lots of wall text that puts his oeuvre in context. For “Chance 2000,” Schlingensief formed a political party that fought for the rights of the marginalized; for one event, Schlingensief called for people to bathe in a lake at Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s summer home, hoping to get enough participants to flood the house. In “Please Love Austria — First Austrian Coalition Week,” Schlingensief mocked right-wing anti-immigration zealots by placing twelve supposed asylum seekers in containers and filming them Big Brother-style. For Parsifal, Schlingensief reimagined Richard Wagner’s opera at the Bayreuth Festival, incorporating contemporary religious symbolism and a decomposing rabbit.
The audience became protesters in Rocky Dutschke ’68, following Schlingensief into the street as he re-created a famous shooting while declaring, “No Power for Anyone.” MoMA PS1 visitors can get involved themselves in several interactive installations. You can take a seat in a comfy living-room set to watch Schlingensief’s unique television show Talk 2000, which challenged the conventions of the genre. You most definitely should walk all around “The Animatograph,” a rotating multimedia house of bizarre horrors with surprises at every turn. And in “Stairlift to Heaven,” individuals strap themselves into a chairlift that takes them up past a projection of excerpts from Schlingensief’s 2007 film, The African Twin Towers, and to a private viewing booth. Schlingensief’s legacy continues with “Opera Village Africa,” an “artistic reservoir for the future” that is an actual village he and his wife, Aino Laberenz, built in Burkina Faso, complete with a hospital, a primary school, a theater group, a birthing clinic, and more, overseen by Laberenz since her husband’s death from lung cancer in 2010. “What kind of art is it that no longer has any access, no longer lets anyone in, and also doesn’t step out of itself?” Schlingensief asked. “Here the idea is to finance an art platform which is to serve as a basis for children and teenagers. So we can learn again how creativity comes about and develops. That’s the idea of the Opera Village.” It’s also the central focus of most of his work, the intersection of art and activism, producing public actions and interventions — with a wicked sense of humor and an anarchic distaste of authority — that can impact complacency and conventionality potentially on a global scale, even after his death. “Nothing is certain because I show it. Everything describes itself, overwrites and dissolves,” he once said. “This is not fatalism; this is my principle of pleasure.” There is much pleasure to be found in this dazzling display, especially for those who invest the time to soak in all the thrilling details.