October 1-11, films $10 per person, $15 per household, Gold Pass $150, live events pay-what-you-wish
The forty-third annual Asian American International Film Festival runs online October 1-11, consisting of full-length films, shorts, documentaries, anime, Q&As, panel discussions, master classes, and more. Every day features three hours of pay-what-you-wish live programming, including postscreening Q&As for which you do not have to have seen the film. Tickets for films are $10 per person and $15 per household and can be viewed at any time during the festival, which kicks off with special presentations of Ramona S. Diaz’s A Thousand Cuts, about fearless Filipino journalist Maria Ressa, and Andrew Ahn’s Driveways, followed by a Q&A with the director and stars Hong Chau and Lucas Jaye. Below are only some of the livestream highlights.
Thursday, October 1
The 2020 72 Hour Shootout: Top Ten Selection, 8:30
Friday, October 2
Game Night! Designing for Games Roundtable, Part 1, with GJ Lee, Goutham Dindukurthi, and Jenny Windom, 9:30
Saturday, October 3
Online Distribution for Shorts, with Jason Sondhi, Maegan Houang, Nirav Bhakta, Gayatri Bajpai, SJ Son & Woody Fu, 6:30
Sunday, October 4
Impact Producing, with Pulkit Datta, Cecilia Mejia, Suzan Beraza, Megan Vandervort, and Sahar Driver, 12:30
Monday, October 5
Documentary Panel: Navigating Cultural Communities and Identities, 7:30
Tuesday, October 6
Anti-Racism: Storytelling in Education and Awareness (Pt. 1), 7:30
Wednesday, October 7
Anti-Racism: Online Activism Campaigns (Pt. 2), 7:30
Friday, October 9
Comedy Night, 9:00
Saturday, October 10
Masterclass with Ramona Diaz, 12:30
Music Night Out, 7:00
Who: Angela Bassett, Merle Dandridge, Dame Judi Dench, Maureen Dowd, Harry Lennix, Norm Lewis, Kalen Robinson, Russell Thomas, Courtney B. Vance, Simon Godwin, more
What: Shakespeare Theatre Company online gala
Where: Shakespeare Theatre Company
When: Saturday, October 3, free with RSVP, 7:00
Why: William Shakespeare knew a thing or two about being quarantined during a health crisis. So it’s more than apt that the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual gala this year will be taking place virtually, with theaters closed. The DC company’s popular fundraiser goes virtual on October 3 at 7:00, featuring an all-star roster performing and discussing the Bard, including Angela Bassett, Merle Dandridge, Dame Judi Dench, Maureen Dowd, Harry Lennix, Norm Lewis, Kalen Robinson, Russell Thomas, Courtney B. Vance, the cast of The Amen Corner, and artistic director Simon Godwin, among others; the event is codirected by LeeAnet Noble and Alan Paul. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted; there is also a preshow virtual cocktail reception and a silent auction, where you can bid on art, food and wine, trips to Ireland, Greece, and other countries, costumes and props, and sponsoring an episode of Shakespeare Hour Live!
FESTIVAL OF CINEMA NYC 2020
St. John’s University, Queens Campus
October 1-4, $35 per car
With theaters still closed for the foreseeable future, film festivals have been taking place online, where cineastes can check out festivals from around the world virtually from the comfort of their homes. For those movie lovers who have access to automobiles, drive-in options have arisen, with films being projected in public spaces in various parts of the city. Instead of going virtual — since its usual home, the UA Midway in Forest Hills, is not available because of Covid-19 restrictions — the fourth annual Festival of Cinema NYC has moved to a giant screen at St. John’s University, where six blocks of works will be presented October 1-4. Admission is $35 per car for up to five people; be sure to arrive early to go through all safety protocols.
Opening night consists of a dozen shorts by New York City filmmakers, including John Gray’s powerful and poignant Extra Innings, about baseball and family, starring Peter Riegert and T. J. Thyne, everything a short film should be; Sean Sakamoto’s The Reception, a politically tinged postapocalyptic tale in which two fathers, played by the terrific duo of Richard Kind and Skip Sudduth, agonize over a wedding between their sons; and Shara Ashley Zieger’s Secret Feminism, in which two young women take a little break from their activism. On October 2 at 7:00, “Crime Capers” begins with Carlyn Hudson’s Waffle, an eleven-minute short about two women exploring a friendship during a sleepover, and is followed by Paul Tanter’s goofy heist comedy Stealing Chaplin, in which a pair of brothers, low-level con men played by Simon Phillips and Doug Phillips, who are not related in real life, attempt to dig up the body of Charlie Chaplin from a Vegas graveyard to help pay off a loanshark; believe it or not, it is inspired by a true story.
On October 2 at 10:00, “Late Night Thrillers” comprises Bob Celii’s fourteen-minute The Keeper, which deals with obsession, and Max Strand’s Goodbye Honey, which explores trauma. Saturday night at 7:00, “Family Night of Animation” delivers Sean Pointing’s Brilliant, Verena Fels and Marc Angele’s Tobi & the Turbobus, and Kirby Atkins’s Mosley, a trio of animated films about self-discovery, with some very unusual creatures. On October 3 at 10:00, “Shorts from Around the World” gathers together seven adult-oriented international fare, from Janina Gavankar and Russo Schelling’s Stucco, about an agoraphobic woman who finds that something very weird is going on behind one of the walls of her apartment (the SXSW selection has more than ten million views on YouTube), to Nora Jaenicke’s Proof, which involves immigration and romance, and Guy Zimmerman’s Hello, Say, in which a home invasion goes wrong. Festival of Cinema NYC concludes on Sunday night at 7:00 with “Eye Opening Documentaries,” with Juancho Rodriguez’s In Human Kind, about sex trafficking, Brianne Berkson and Miguel Gluckstern’s The Difference, which looks at the question of bringing children into this harsh world, and Hasan Oswald’s Higher Love, a Camden-set doc about parenting and addiction.
If you don’t have access to a car, you can still check out Stephen Miller and Bonnie Rose’s Zoom interviews with cast and/or crew members from Waffle, Extra Innings, Jonathan Geffner’s Trillo & Suede, Hello, Say, The Reception, and many others.
Who: HERE and LEIMAY Ensemble
What: Sculptural performance art installation
Where: Astor Place Plaza
When: October 1-4, free
Why: In an April 2012 twi-ny talk, multidisciplinary HERE resident artists Ximena Garnica and Shige Moriya, the founders of LEIMAY Ensemble, explained, “It seems to us like we all see life and performances and things with our own frame. Through our work we challenge ourselves and our audiences to make these frames as malleable as possible so we can expand our understanding of the body and our experience and understanding of daily life. Consequently, we enlarge the realms of perception and creation and discover the possibilities for interaction therein.” Colombia-born Garnica and Japanese native Moriya reach for a new level with the sculptural performance art installation Correspondences. Part of HERE Arts Center’s #stillHERE: IRL initiative, which takes the innovative downtown institution outdoors during the Covid-19 crisis, presenting works in real life, Correspondences runs October 1-4, providing an intervention in one of Manhattan’s usually busiest locations, Astor Place Plaza, an area that bursts with life and energy in nonpandemic times. Correspondences features LEIMAY’s Masanori Asahara, Krystel Copper, and Garnica, along with Ricardo Bustamante and Brandon Perdomo — in vertical transparent chambers partly filled with sand. The performers, wearing only gas masks, move around the confined space, hampered by the several feet of sand, which occasionally erupts like an extreme weather event; the soundscape was designed by Jeremy D. Slater, with costume fabrication by Irena Romendik. The thirty-five-minute activations — scheduled for October 1 at 8:00, October 2 and 3 at noon, 2:00, 4:00, 6:00, and 8:00, and October 4 at noon, 2:00, and 4:00 — serve as a beautiful yet harsh reminder of what each of us, and the world as a whole, faces as we deal with isolation, masks, social distancing, the lockdown of theaters, climate change, and interacting with other human bodies.
In conjunction with the installation, HERE and LEIMAY, whose previous work includes Furnace, Trace of Purple Sadness, Becoming, borders, Frantic Beauty, and Floating Point Waves, are also hosting special related programs. For Correspondences — the Audience Files, people are encouraged to participate in online conversations, addressing such questions as “How do you cope with uncertainty?,” “What happens to your body when you encounter the unknown?,” and “Why are existential questions of being, interdependence, and coexistence vital in these times of readjustment of powers and values?” From October 1 to November 30, you can view a twenty-minute film of Correspondences from its summer 2019 iteration at Watermill Center. From October 6 to 10, you can register for “Dancing for the Environment” online LEIMAY encore classes, with one hundred percent of the proceeds benefiting Organización Nacional de los Pueblos Indígenas de la Amazonia Colombiana, Green Worker Cooperatives, El Puente, and the Loisaida Center. And on October 29, “Correspondences Talks” will bring together activists, scholars, designers, and scientists to discuss the idea of “decentering the human.”
Who: New Federal Theatre (NFT)
What: Retrospective reading series
Where: New Federal Theatre online
When: Fridays in October, free (donations accepted), 7:00 (available through the following Sunday at midnight)
Why: Recently named a “Legend of Off Broadway,” Woodie King Jr. has been a New York City theater fixture since founding New Federal Theatre in 1970. As part of its fiftieth anniversary, during the pandemic NFT is looking back at its history, presenting readings of several rarely performed plays that deal with such issues as racism, slavery, and the civil rights movement. As it explains in its mission statement, NFT seeks to “integrate artists of color and women into the mainstream of American theater by training artists for the profession and by presenting plays by writers of color and women to integrated, multicultural audiences — plays which evoke the truth through beautiful and artistic re-creations of ourselves.” The “Octoberfest” series takes place every Friday night at 7:00 and is dedicated to the late Chadwick Boseman, who began his career at NFT, winning an AUDELCO Award for his performance in Ronald Milner’s Urban Transitions: Loose Blossoms in 2002 and serving on the board of directors; each play will be available for viewing through the following Sunday at midnight. The works explore the friendship between Mary White Overton and Dr. W. E. B. DuBois; tell the story of rape survivor and civil rights activist Endesha Ida Mae Holland; use WPA recordings to dramatize remembrances by former slaves; examine PTSD in a Vietnam veteran who received the Black Congressional Medal of Honor; and focus in on a blues singer and a church congregant facing loneliness and a loss of faith. Below is the full schedule, along with the year the show was originally staged by NFT; tickets are free but donations will be accepted.
Friday, October 2
Do Lord Remember Me, written by Jim De Jongh, directed by Regge Life, starring Ebony JoAnn, Barbara Montgomery, Roscoe Orman, Kim Sullivan, and Glynn Turman (NFT, 1996-97)
Friday, October 9
Dr. Du Bois and Miss Ovington, written by Clare Coss, directed by Gabrielle Kurlander, starring Kathleen Chalfant and Peter Jay Fernandez (NFT, 2014)
Friday, October 16
From the Mississippi Delta, written by Endesha Ida Mae Holland, directed by Ed Smith, starring Brenda Denmark, Elain Graham, and Verniece Turner (NFT, 1987-88)
Friday, October 23
Medal of Honor Rag, written by Tom Cole, directed by A. Dean Irby, starring Royce Johnson, Micah Stock, and Beethovan Oden (NFT at Theater De Lys, 1976)
Friday, October 30
Stories of the Old Days, written by Bill Harris, directed by La Tanya Richardson Jackson, starring Pauletta Washington and Michael Potts (NFT, 1986)
Who: Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Joe Mantello, David Canfield
What: Live virtual discussion about The Boys in the Band
Where: 92Y online
When: Friday, October 2, free, 7:00
Why: In the spring of 2018, Mart Crowley’s 1968 play, The Boys in the Band, finally made its Broadway debut; at the time, I called it “a raucous fiftieth-anniversary adaptation lavishly directed by Joe Mantello. . . . All these years later, it is evident that Crowley, who wrote a sequel, The Men from the Boys, in 2002, captured more than just a moment in time; he was embracing individuality as well as the very zeitgeist of homosexuality, even as the party devolves amid the onslaught of personal demons coming to the fore. Crowley also touches on racism and anti-Semitism in addition to homophobia.” The show starred a cast of out actors playing gay men at a birthday party: Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Robin De Jesús, Andrew Rannells, Tuc Watkins, Michael Benjamin Washington, Brian Hutchison, and Charlie Carver. The production has now been made into a movie produced by Ryan Murphy that will debut on Netflix on September 30 with the full, original Broadway cast. On October 2 at 7:30, the 92nd St. Y will host a free, live discussion with Parsons (Michael), Quinto (Harold), Bomer (Donald), and Mantello, moderated by EW’s David Canfield, that will explore this illuminating and controversial exploration of gay culture in New York City. Sadly, Crowley, who cowrote the screenplay with Ned Martel, passed away on March 7 at the age of eighty-four.
Who: Hillary Clinton, Audra McDonald, Danielle Brooks, Jessie Mueller, Neil Patrick Harris, Michael Paulson
What: New York Times Offstage event
Where: New York Times online
When: Thursday, October 1, free with RSVP, 7:00
Why: In February 2017, I was at the Palace Theatre, waiting for Sunset Boulevard, the musical with Glenn Close, to start. We all soon realized why the curtain was being delayed: Hillary Clinton was just coming in, being ushered to her orchestra seat. The applause was enormous, lasting several minutes in an outpouring of love and respect for our near-president; in fact, it was the best part of the evening. Hillary, with and without Bill, is a Broadway regular; on October 1 at 7:00, she is the centerpiece of the livestreamed discussion “How I Miss Broadway.” The New York Times “Offstage” event will be moderated by theater reporter Michael Paulson; after the initial talk, they will be joined by six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald (Porgy and Bess, Master Class), Tony nominee Danielle Brooks (The Color Purple, Much Ado About Nothing), and Tony winners Jessie Mueller (Waitress, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) and Neil Patrick Harris (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Cabaret). Registration is free; Broadway may be dark because of the pandemic, but this should be a cathartic experience bringing part of the theater community together for an evening.
The Times’s “Offstage” series kicked off June 11 with “Opening Night: Explore Broadway as It Was, Is, and Will Be,” featuring critic at large Wesley Morris speaking with Adrienne Warren, Daniel J. Watts, Celia Rose Gooding, and Kenny Leon, followed by discussions with Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, Sonya Tayeh, and Jeremy O. Harris and performances by Mary-Louise Parker, Elizabeth Stanley, Mare Winningham, and the casts of Company and Six. You can watch that presentation here.