On July 14, 1789, a Parisian mob stormed the Bastille prison, a symbolic victory that kicked off the French Revolution and the establishment of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Ever since, July 14 has been a national holiday celebrating liberté, égalité, and fraternité. In New York City, the Bastille Day festivities are set for Sunday, July 14, along Sixtieth St., where the French Institute Alliance Française hosts its annual daylong party of food and drink, music and dance, and other special activities. The celebration is highlighted by the free live performance “Gérard Chambre: Si on chantait l’Amour” in Florence Gould Hall at 3:00 and a screening of C’est la vie! (Le sens de la fête) (Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, 2017) in the hall at 5:30 ($16). The elegant Champagne, Cocktail, and Jazz Party takes place at 1:30 and 3:30 in the Skyroom ($75), with live music by the Avalon Jazz Band, five different Champagnes, cocktails by Giffard, chocolates from Jacques Torres, macarons from Ladurée, and hors d’oeuvres from Maman Bakery, while a Summer in Provence tasting occurs in Tinker Auditorium from 12:00 to 4:30, with three wines, one beer, one Ricard cocktail, and cheese and charcuterie ($30).
The French Garden between Madison and Fifth Aves. includes booths from Atelier Paulin, French Wink (Atelier Novo, Calisson Inc, Emma & Chloé, Merci Bisous, Môme Care, Tissage Moutet), Ladurée, Strasbourg Tourism Office, and Saint James, while Market Booths between Lexington and Madison features Hanami Designs, Katia Lambey Expressions, Alhambra Lifestyle, Barraca / the Shack Collective, Brasserie Cognac, Epicerie Boulud & Bar Boulud, Financier Pâtisserie, Harmless Harvest, Le Bec Fin, Lelo Fine Foods, Macaron Café, MAD Foods, Maman Bakery, Meska Sweets, Mille-Feuille Bakery Café, Miss Madeleine NYC, Oliviers & Co, Perrier, Pistache NYC, Sel Magique, Simply Gourmand, Sud de France, the Crepe Escape, the American Association of French Speaking Health Pro, BZH New York, Canal +, Exploria Resorts, France Amerique, Green Mountain Energy, Sheridan Fencing Academy, and TV5 Monde / Sling TV.
There will also be a bevy of free outside performances and events, beginning at 12:35 with Joanna Wronska doing the Can-Can, followed by Chloé Perrier & French Heart Jazz Band (12:40), live Art with COCOVAN (12:50), mime with Catherine Gasta (12:50), music by the Love Show (1:10, 2:15, 3:15), a feather dance wby Joanna Wronska (1:25), music by the Blue Dahlia (1:30), Les P’tites Ouvreuses (2:30), the Hungry March Band (3:00), and Rodeo Joe (3:30), a Zouk dance lesson with Franck Muhel, and the Citroën Car Show (12:55 – 5:00). And for the kids, the FIAF Library hosts a trio of Fly Away with Books workshops: “Geometry of Animals with Lucie Brunelli” at 1:00, “Full Speed Ahead! with Cruschiform” at 2:00, and “Pop-up Art with Anouck Boisrobert & Louis Rigaud” at 3:00.
Who: Dapper Dan, Elaine Welteroth
What: Book launch with talk and signing
Where: BAM Rose Cinemas, 30 Lafayette Ave., 718-636-4100
When: Wednesday, July 10, $20 event only, $40 with book, 7:00
Why: “It was a midnight like any other at the store. The lights were on out front, the door unlocked, the grate rolled halfway up. Dapper Dan’s Boutique was open. My night crew of tailors was in the back filling orders. Jackets, jumpsuits, parkas. Their sewing machines hummed into the wee hours. I was lying on my bed in the little apartment I’d built in back for myself. Most nights, you could find me there, rereading a book of philosophy or spirituality or trying to sneak in a nap,” begins fashion icon Daniel “Dapper Dan” Day’s memoir, Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem. “I had good reasons for never closing the shop and rarely leaving it. For one, a lot of my customers preferred late-night visits, for anonymity during the week or for the after-hours vibe of the weekends. I also had to keep an eye on my employees, who were backdooring my designs. It was my name on the awning out front, and in my world, your name means everything. It was my reputation, my brand, and people came from all over the city and beyond—from Philly and Chicago, Houston and Miami—because they wanted a Dapper Dan. I was the store, and the store was me.” On July 10, the seventy-four-year-old Dapper Dan, who has helped dress such figures as Eric B. and Rakim, Salt-N-Pepa, Big Daddy Kane, Mike Tyson, LL Cool J, Jam Master Jay, Diddy, Naomi Campbell, and Jay-Z, will launch his book with a talk and a signing at BAM Rose Cinemas, presented with Greenlight Bookstore as part of the Unbound series. He will be interviewed by journalist, magazine editor, Project Runway judge, and influencer Elaine Welteroth, author of the new book More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are. Tickets are $20 for the event and $40 for the event and a copy of Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem.
Who: Janet Biggs and Scott MacDonald
What: Panel discussion and book launch
Where: Cristin Tierney Gallery, 219 Bowery, second floor, 212-594-0550
When: Thursday, July 11, free with advance RSVP, 6:30
Why: In his new book, The Sublimity of Document: Cinema as Diorama (Oxford University Press, August 1, 2019, $125), author and film history professor Scott MacDonald writes of visual artist Janet Biggs, “I first became aware of Biggs when she visited Hamilton College in the spring of 2017 to present a talk about her work. As she showed stills and clips from recent videos, I was struck by the fact that Biggs had traveled to and filmed particular far-flung locations that I had been introduced to by other filmmakers. . . . I was interested not only that multiple artists would be drawn to these precise locations, but also that, in somewhat different ways, these locations can be dangerous to visit. As I became familiar with Biggs’s work, I came to wonder why an artist would go through the considerable difficulties of visiting distant, potentially dangerous locations, not in order to produce films that might have substantial audiences, but to offer relatively brief visual experiences to comparatively smaller audiences within gallery and museum spaces. I came to realize that my experiences with Biggs’s work offered an opportunity to explore, at least in a small way, the issue of installation cinema versus theatrical cinema.” The book continues with an interview between MacDonald and Biggs that was conducted online.
On July 11, MacDonald and Biggs will be together in person at the Cristin Tierney Gallery for a discussion on film and art in conjunction with the publication of The Sublimity of Document and Biggs’s most recent exhibition, “Overview Effect,” the second part of which, Seeing Constellations in the Darkness between Stars, continues at Cristin Tierney through August 2. MacDonald’s book features interviews with Biggs and more than two dozen other “avant-doc” filmmakers, including Ron Fricke, Laura Poitras, Frederick Wiseman, Bill Morrison, Abbas Kiarostami, and James Benning. Biggs has also contributed the article “Fragility Curve” to the current edition of the Brooklyn Rail, writing about her experiences making her latest films, which deal with Mars. “The earth will remake itself and survive the legacy of its human inhabitants, but will we?” she asks. The conversation with Biggs and MacDonald will be followed by a book signing; in addition, Biggs, who has participated in two twi-ny talks, will be presenting the multimedia performance piece How the Light Gets In July 18 at the New Museum.
Chantal Akerman’s No Home Movie was meant to be a kind of public eulogy for her beloved mother, Natalia (Nelly) Akerman, who died in 2014 at the age of eighty-six, shortly after Chantal had completed shooting forty hours of material with her. But it also ended up becoming, in its own way, a public eulogy for the highly influential Belgian auteur herself, as she died on October 5, 2015, at the age of sixty-five, only a few months after the film screened to widespread acclaim at several festivals (except at Locarno, where it was actually booed). Her death was reportedly a suicide, following a deep depression brought on by the loss of her mother. IFC is presenting a special screening on July 9, introduced by Akerman translator Corina Copp, who will read from Akerman’s final book, My Mother Laughs.
No Home Movie primarily consists of static shots inside Nelly’s Brussels apartment as she goes about her usual business, reading, eating, preparing to go for a walk, and taking naps. Akerman sets down either a handheld camera or a smartphone and lets her mother walk in and out of the frame; Akerman very rarely moves the camera or follows her mother around, instead keeping it near doorways and windows. She’s simply capturing the natural rhythms and pace of an old woman’s life. Occasionally the two sit down together in the kitchen and eat while discussing family history and gossip, Judaism, WWII, and the Nazis. (The elder Akerman was a Holocaust survivor who spent time in Auschwitz.) They also Skype each other as Chantal travels to film festivals and other places. “I want to show there is no distance in the world,” she tells her mother, who Skypes back, “You always have such ideas! Don’t you, sweetheart.” In another exchange, the daughter says, “You think I’m good for nothing!” to which the mother replies, “Not at all! You know all sorts of things others don’t know.”
Later they are joined by Chantal’s sister, Sylviane, as well as Nelly’s home aide. The film features long sections with no dialogue and nobody in the frame; Akerman opens the movie with a four-minute shot of a lone tree with green leaves fluttering in the wind in the foreground, the vast, empty landscape of Israel in the background, where occasionally a barely visible car turns off a far-away road. Akerman returns to Israel several times during the film, sometimes shooting out of a moving car; these sections serve as interludes about the passage of time as well as referencing her family’s Jewish past. At one point, Akerman makes potatoes for her mother that they eat in the kitchen, a direct reference to a scene in Akerman’s feminist classic, Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai due Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. Knowing about what happened to both mother and daughter postfilming casts a shadow over the documentary, especially when Chantal tells her mother, “I’m in a very, very good mood. . . . Let’s enjoy it; it’s not that common.” As the film nears its conclusion, there is almost total darkness, echoing the end of life. Through it all, Akerman is proud of her mother; reminiscing about kindergarten, she remembers, “And to everybody, I would say, this is my mother.” No Home Movie achieves that very same declaration, now for all the world to see and hear.
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, July 6, free (some events require advance tickets), 5:00 - 11:00
The Brooklyn Museum celebrates the 243rd birthday of the United States of America in the July edition of its free First Saturday program. There will be live performances by Brooklyn Maqam musicians, Dj InO, Tunde Olaniran, Snips, and Cumbia River Band; a curator tour of “Garry Winogrand: Color” led by Drew Sawyer; a hands-on workshop in which participants can design wearable art inspired by “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall”; a book club discussion with Adreinne Waheed, author of the photo book Black Joy and Resistance, with artist Zun Lee and moderator Delphine Adama Fawundu; teen pop-up gallery talks in honor of the fortieth anniversary of The Dinner Party and creator Judy Chicago’s eightieth birthday; a screening of Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable (Sasha Waters Freyer, 2018), followed by a talkback with Sawyer and Susan Kismaric; Cave Canem poetry readings with JP Howard, Raven Jackson, and Trace DePass responding to “Liz Johnson Artur: Dusha”; and a community talk about the Lesbian Herstory Archives with Flavia Rando, Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz, Ashley-Luisa Santangelo, and Elvis Bakaitis. In addition, the galleries will be open late so you can check out “Garry Winogrand: Color,” “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall,” “Eric N. Mack: Lemme walk across the room,” “Liz Johnson Artur: Dusha,” “One: Egúngún,” “Something to Say: Brooklyn Hi-Art! Machine, Deborah Kass, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, and Hank Willis Thomas,” “Infinite Blue,” “Rembrandt to Picasso: Five Centuries of European Works on Paper,” “Kwang Young Chun: Aggregations,” and more.
TONI MORRISON: THE PIECES I AM (Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, 2019)
Film Forum, 209 West Houston St., 212-727-8110
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Francesca Beale Theater, 144 West 65th St. between Broadway & Amsterdam Aves., 212-875-5050
Opens Friday, June 21
At the beginning of Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’s Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, artist Mickalene Thomas’s hands are seen putting together a collage of different images of author Toni Morrison, like a jigsaw puzzle, one on top of the other, to the sounds of Kathryn Bostic’s score. It’s a beautiful start to a beautiful film that takes viewers deep inside Morrison’s life and career, from daughter and student to teacher, wife, mother, editor, and award-winning novelist. “She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order,” Morrison writes in Beloved. In the film, Greenfield-Sanders, Morrison’s longtime friend and primary photographer of nearly forty years, and editor and researcher Johanna Giebelhaus gather the pieces that help paint a portrait of the extraordinary person that is Toni Morrison.
They incorporate old interviews with Charlie Rose, Dick Cavett, and Bill Moyers, personal photographs, archival footage, and new interviews with Morrison and thirteen of her colleagues — among them Columbia University professor Farah Griffin, activist Angela Davis, New Yorker critic Hilton Als, Random House editor Robert Gottlieb, composer Richard Danielpour, media magnate Oprah Winfrey, and fellow authors Paula Giddings, Russell Banks, Fran Lebowitz, and Walter Mosley — who have nothing but laudatory things to say about her, as both a writer and a human being. The film also includes excerpts from several of Morrison’s books, read by Kim Cattrall, Joel Grey, S. Epatha Merkerson, Whoopi Goldberg, and others, in addition to works by such black artists as Kara Walker, Martin Puryear, Titus Kaphar, Charles White, Elizabeth Catlett, David Hammons, Faith Ringgold, Romare Bearden, and Hank Willis Thomas that subtly complement her words.
The main focus, however, is on Morrison’s status as a black woman writer and her white audience. Early in her career, she was criticized for writing only about blacks and the black experience. “The assumption is the reader is a white person, and that troubled me. They were never talking to me,” Morrison says. “I didn’t want to speak for black people; I wanted to speak to, and to be among . . . us. So the first thing I had to do was to eliminate the white gaze.” One white gaze she has not eliminated is that of Greenfield-Sanders, who is Caucasian; in fact, Morrison is the one who inspired him to make such films as The Black List, The Latino List, The Women’s List, and The Trans List, which document people from diverse communities. (Morrison contributed an introduction to The Women’s List.)
Greenfield-Sanders focuses on such Morrison novels as Sula, The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, and Beloved as well as the nonfiction compendium The Black Book. Cinematographer Graham Willoughby purposely shoots Morrison, who turned eighty-eight in February, straight on, with her looking directly into the camera, while the other subjects are photographed from the side, over the shoulder, adding further prestige and prominence to the grand dame, who is also shot on lovely mornings, working at her riverfront home.
Perhaps the best thing about this two-hour American Masters production is that after watching and listening to this remarkable woman talk about her approach to writing and the world at large, you’ll want to rush to reread her books, or pick them up for the first time. “Words have power,” she explains. Indeed they do. Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am opens June 21 at Film Forum and Lincoln Center; Greenfield-Sanders will participate in Q&As following the 7:20 show on June 21, the 12:20 show on June 22 (with Brigid Hughes), and the 2:40 show on June 23 at Film Forum and after the 3:30 and 6:20 shows on June 22 and the 1:00 show on June 23 at Lincoln Center.
Who: David W. Dunlap, Fred R. Conrad, Chester Higgins Jr., Marilynn K. Yee
What: Book launch, talk, and signing, Only in New York: 500 Photos • 500 Moments (Rizzoli, May 2019, $39.95)
Where: Rizzoli Bookstore, 1133 Broadway at 26th St., 212-759-2424
When: Monday, June 17, free, 6:00
Why: “Only in New York highlights the threads that hold this city of contrasts together,” former New York Times Metro reporter and “Building Blocks” columnist David W. Dunlap writes in the introduction to Only in New York: 500 Photos • 500 Moments, the new book put together by the Newspaper of Record’s photography staff, consisting of five hundred color and black-and-white snapshots taken in the Big Apple, arranged in diptychs, going back more than a century. He continues, “Wordlessly, the pairings began telling stories of their own. They spoke across time. They described a city that exists on many planes simultaneously: energetic and brutal, compassionate and cruel, creative and desperate, eccentric and conformist, impatient and steady, exuberant and serene, tragic and funny, elegant and shabby, cosmopolitan and insular, crowded and lonely.”
On June 17, Dunlap will be joined by photographers Fred R. Conrad, Chester Higgins Jr., and Marilynn K. Yee at the Rizzoli Bookstore to celebrate the release of the book, which features such inspired photographic pairings as the cast of Cats opposite a dog walker, the light of traffic around the Flatiron Building opposite fireworks over the Brooklyn Bridge, Martin Scorsese opposite Frank Sinatra (both adjusting their coats), birdwatchers opposite a Civil Defense air raid drill (both involving binoculars), the 7 train opposite Mickey Mantle wearing his number 7 Yankees jersey, and the Queen Mary 2 in New York Harbor opposite a space shuttle fly-by in Midtown. Among the photographers whose work is featured are Damon Winter, Neal Boenzi, Ruth Fremson, Vincent Laforet, Michelle Agins, Todd Heisler, Chang W. Lee, Barton Silverman, Sara Krulwich, Michelle Agins, and Tyler Hicks. The book also includes touching and humorous anecdotes, such as this gem: “R. Chester Redhead is waiting for the No. 1 bus on 86th Street and Madison Avenue. When it finally arrives, the woman in front of Mr. Redhead hands the driver a transfer. ‘Lady,’ he says, ‘this transfer is from yesterday.’ ‘That tells you how long I’ve been waiting for this bus,’ she replies.”