This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001


tibet house benefit

Who: Artistic director Philip Glass, Stephen Colbert, Jason Isbell, Nathaniel Rateliff, Jon Batiste, New Order’s Bernard Sumner, Phil Cunningham, Tom Chapman & Joe Duddell, Debbie Harry, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Angélique Kidjo, Laurie Anderson with cellist Rubin Kodheli, Tenzin Choegyal, the Patti Smith Band and the Scorchio Quartet, and an invocation by monks, with honorary chairs Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard, Uma Thurman, and Arden Wohl
What: Thirty-second annual concert raising funds for the nonprofit Tibet House US, celebrating the Year of the Pig and Tibetan New Year (Losar)
Where: Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage, 881 Seventh Ave. at 57th St., 212-247-7800
When: Thursday, February 7, $35-$200 (special packages with the concert, party, and more start at $500), 7:30
Why: Tibet House US was founded in 1987 at the request of the Dalai Lama, “dedicated to preserving Tibet’s unique culture at a time when it is confronted with extinction on its own soil”; the annual benefit concert is always one of the cultural highlights of the year in New York City, with an eclectic roster of performers paying tribute to the historic nation.


Photo: Michael Kerstgens/Collection Philippe Petit

Philippe Petit will share many of his tightrope secrets at STREB on February 8 (photo by Michael Kerstgens/Collection Philippe Petit)

SLAM (STREB Lab for Action Mechanics)
51 North 1st Street
Thursday, February 8, $40-$45, 7:00

Tightrope master Philippe Petit has walked between the two towers of the World Trade Center and across the Niagara River, the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, Grand Central Terminal, and other locations around the world. On February 8, the sixty-nine-year-old French-born, New York City-based magician, juggler, fencer, bullfighter, and circus performer will be at SLAM in Brooklyn, the STREB Lab for Action Mechanics, holding an open practice. The public is invited into one of his “secret” sessions at 7:00, consisting of an introduction, warm-up exercises, and walking on a twenty-five-foot-long, seven-foot-high tightrope, where the audience can get up close and watch his every movement and facial gesture. The walks will be accompanied by stories of the choreographic elements, followed by a Q&A. Tickets are $40 in advance and $45 at the door for this rare opportunity to go behind the scenes with one of the greatest high-wire artists of all time.


Roy DeCarava, Couple Walking, gelatin silver print on paper, 1979 (© 2017 estate of Roy DeCarava)

Roy DeCarava, “Couple Walking,” gelatin silver print on paper, 1979 (© 2017 estate of Roy DeCarava)

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, February 2, free (some events require advance tickets), 5:00 - 11:00

The Brooklyn Museum honors Black History Month in the February edition of its free First Saturday program. There will be live performances by Winard Harper, YahZarah (“I’m Taking You Back”), and Toshi Reagon with violinist Juliette Jones and bassist, guitarist, and vocalist Ganessa James; curator tours of “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” and “Eric N. Mack: Lemme walk across the room” with Ashley James; a Learning Lesson discussion with artist Kameelah Janan Rasheed inspired by Octavia Butler’s idea of “primitive hypertext”; pop-up gallery talks of “Soul of a Nation” with teen apprentices; a screening of Mr. Soul (Melissa Haizlip & Samuel D. Pollard, 2018), introduced by the directors; a hands-on workshop in which participants can create wearable activist patches inspired by the messages of the Guerrilla Girls and AfriCOBRA; an artist talk featuring Shani Jamila’s new podcast, Lineage, with photographers Ming Smith and Russell Fredrick of the Kamoinge collective; “Soul of a Nation”–inspired poetry with Karisma Price, Naomi Extra, and Stephanie Jean of Cave Canem; an “Archives as Raw History” tour with archivist Molly Seegers; and Black Gotham Experience’s immersive Magnetic Resonance, consisting of a photo studio by Kamau Ware with styling by Charles Johnson, video collage by Kearaha Bryant, and music by GoodWill, P.U.D.G.E., and Rimarkable. In addition, the galleries will be open late so you can check out “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” “Eric N. Mack: Lemme walk across the room,” “One: Do Ho Suh,” “Half the Picture: A Feminist Look at the Collection,” “Something to Say: Brooklyn Hi-Art! Machine, Deborah Kass, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, and Hank Willis Thomas,” “Rob Wynne: FLOAT,” “Infinite Blue,” “A Woman’s Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt,” “Kwang Young Chun: Aggregations,” and more.


Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky) and Camille (Lola Créton) experience the pleasure and pain of young romance in Goodbye First Love

7 Ludlow St. between Canal & Hester Sts.
Monday, February 4, 9:30

French filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve will be at Metrograph on February 4 to introduce a special screening of her third film, an infuriating yet captivating tale that runs hot and cold. Goodbye First Love begins in Paris in 1999, as fifteen-year-old Camille (Lola Créton) frolics naked with Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky), her slightly older boyfriend. While she professes her deep, undying love for him, he refuses to declare his total dedication to her, instead preparing to leave her and France for a long sojourn through South America. When Camille goes home and starts sobbing, her mother (Valérie Bonneton), who is not a big fan of Sullivan’s, asks why. “I cry because I’m melancholic,” Camille answers, as only a fifteen-year-old character in a French film would. As the years pass, Camille grows into a fine young woman, studying architecture and dating a much older man (Magne-Håvard Brekke), but she can’t forget Sullivan, and when he eventually reenters her life, she has some hard choices to make. Créton (Bluebeard) evokes a young Isabelle Huppert as Camille, while Urzendowsky (The Way Back) is somewhat distant as the distant Sullivan. There is never any real passion between them; Hansen-Løve (All Is Forgiven, The Father of My Children) often skips over the more emotional, pivotal moments, instead concentrating on the after-effects and discussions. While that works at times, at others it feels as if something crucial was left out, and not necessarily with good reason. Still, Créton carries the film with her puppy-dog eyes, lithe body, and a graceful demeanor that will make you forgive her character’s increasingly frustrating decisions.



Lee Chang-dong’s Burning is first South Korean movie to make Oscar shortlist for Best Foreign Language Film

MoMA Film, Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
February 1–9

Since his debut as a writer and director with 1997’s Green Fish, South Korean auteur has Lee Chang-dong has made only six feature films, which might actually add to his growing international reputation, especially with the success of his first film since 2010, Burning. MoMA will be screening all six works in the series “Cinema of Trauma: The Films of Lee Chang-dong,” running February 1-9, with Lee on hand for two postscreening discussions and one introduction. Based on the short story “Barn Burning” by Japanese author Haruki Murakami, Burning — the first South Korean film to be shortlisted for a Best Foreign Language Oscar — is a long psychological thriller, cowritten by Oh Jung-mi, about a wannabe young writer and slacker, Lee Jong-su (Yoo Ah-in), who bumps into an old classmate, Shin Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-seo), and starts up a new friendship with her, including taking care of her cat when she’s away. Lee is none too happy when she later shows up with Ben (Steven Yeun), who Jong-su thinks is wrong for her. Ben shares with Jong-su his penchant for burning down greenhouses, which only furthers Jong-su’s distrust of Ben, which does not please Hae-mi. At two and a half hours, Burning is long and slow moving, but it is also lushly photographed by Hong Kyung-pyo and deeply meditative, with a powerful ending that is worth waiting around for. Burning is showing February 1 at 6:30, followed by a Q&A with the sixty-four-year-old director, a former Minister of Culture and Tourism in South Korea, and again on February 9 at 7:00.

Secret Sunshine

Lee Shin-ae (Jeon Do-yeon) reexamines her life in Secret Sunshine

SECRET SUNSHINE (MILYANG) (Lee Chang-dong, 2007)
Saturday, February 2, 3:30, followed by a discussion with the filmmaker
Monday, February 4, 6:30

Lee Chang-dong’s fourth film — and his first since 2002’s Oh Ah Shisoo (Oasis) — is a harrowing examination of immeasurable grief. After losing her husband, Lee Shin-ae (Jeon Do-yeon) decides to move with her young son, Jun (Seon Jeong-yeob), to Milyang, her late husband’s hometown. Milyang, which means “secret sunshine,” is a typical South Korean small town, where everyone knows everybody. Restarting her life, Shin-ae gets help from Kim Jong-chan (Song Kang-ho), a local mechanic who takes an immediate liking to her. But Shin-ae is more concerned with settling down with her son and giving piano lessons. But when a horrific tragedy strikes, she begins to unravel, refusing help from anyone until she turns to religion, but even that does not save her from her ever-darkening sadness. Cannes Best Actress winner Jeon gives a remarkable, devastating performance, holding nothing back as she fights for her sanity. Song, best known for his starring role in THE HOST, is charming as Jong-chan, a friendly man who is a little too simple to understand the depth of what is happening to Shin-ae. Don’t let the nearly two-and-a-half-hour running time scare you away; Secret Sunshine is an extraordinary film that does not feel nearly that long. Secret Sunshine will be showing at 3:30 on February 2, with Lee present for a postscreening discussion, and 6:30 on February 4 in MoMA’s “Cinema of Trauma: The Films of Lee Chang-Dong” series.

Yun Jung-hee returns to the screen for the first time in sixteen years in moving Poetry

Yun Jung-hee returns to the screen for the first time in sixteen years in moving Poetry

POETRY (SHI) (Lee Chang-dong, 2010)
Sunday, February 3, 4:30
Wednesday, February 6, 7:00

Returning to the screen for the first time in sixteen years, legendary Korean actress Yun Jung-hee is mesmerizing in Lee Chang-dong’s beautiful, bittersweet, and poetic Poetry. Yun stars as Mija, a lovely but simple woman raising her teenage grandson, Wook (Lee David), and working as a maid for Mr. Kang (Kim Hi-ra), a Viagra-taking old man debilitated from a stroke. When she is told that Wook is involved in the tragic suicide of a classmate (Han Su-young), Mija essentially goes about her business as usual, not outwardly reacting while clearly deeply troubled inside. As the complications in her life grow, she turns to a community poetry class for solace, determined to finish a poem before the memory loss that is causing her to forget certain basic words overwhelms her. Winner of the Best Screenplay award at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, Poetry is a gorgeously understated work, a visual, emotional poem that never drifts from its slow, steady pace. Writer-director Lee (Peppermint Candy, Secret Sunshine) occasionally treads a little too close to clichéd melodrama, but he always gets back on track, sharing the moving story of an unforgettable character. Throughout the film he offers no easy answers, leaving lots of room for interpretation, like poems themselves. Poetry will be showing at 4:30 on February 3 and 7:00 on February 6 in MoMA’s “Cinema of Trauma: The Films of Lee Chang-Dong” series.


(photo by Henry Grossman)

Alice Stewart (Carrie Paff) and Calvin Trillin (Jeffrey Bean) chat each other up at a party in About Alice (photo by Henry Grossman)

Theatre for a New Audience, Polonsky Shakespeare Center
262 Ashland Pl. between Lafayette Ave. & Fulton St.
Tuesday - Sunday through February 3, $90-$115

Calvin Trillin brings to life his inspiring relationship with his wife, Alice Stewart, in the heartfelt, beautifully rendered About Alice, continuing through February 3 at Theatre for a New Audience’s intimate Polonsky Shakespeare Center. The eighty-three-year-old Kansas City–born, New York City–based memoirist and humorist’s first full-length play is a love letter to, well, true love, based on his 2006 book, also called About Alice. The story is told in flashback, as Calvin (Jeffrey Bean) shares details of his life with Alice (Carrie Paff), re-creating important and mundane moments; she also corrects him when necessary and takes playful shots at him. Speaking of their meeting at a party in 1963, she says, “I thought you were very funny. I thought you’d be an interesting person to have to dinner after my boyfriend and I were married. At least, that’s what I told myself . . . You have never again been as funny as you were that night.” He responds, “You mean I peaked in December of 1963?” With a smile, she answers, “I’m afraid so.”

(photo by Henry Grossman)

Jeffrey Bean stars as Calvin Trillin in world premiere at Theatre for a New Audience (photo by Henry Grossman)

Looking out at the audience, they discuss their careers — his as a journalist, food writer, poet, novelist, and popular talk-show guest, hers as an educator, author, film producer, and muse — as well as their families, their upbringing, and their friends. Their repartee is warm and funny, even as they turn to the cancer that would eventually take her life. But she also understood the seriousness of her plight. “For a long time after I found out that I had cancer, I loved hearing stories about people who had simply decided that they would not be sick,” she says. “The thought that my children might grow up without me was ridiculous. I simply had to be there. Not being there was unacceptable. But I also knew that some unacceptable things happen.”

(photo by Henry Grossman)

Carrie Paff is absolutely radiant as Alice Stewart Trillin in new play based on Calvin Trillin memoir (photo by Henry Grossman)

Their relationship was a love affair for the ages, each of them complementing the other with a natural grace, his wry sense of humor a great match for her bubbly enthusiasm for living. At one point Calvin says they were compared to Burns and Allen, although she was George and he was Gracie. David C. Woolard’s costumes are a key part of who they are; while Calvin wears the same ordinary light shirt, brown pants, and dark sports jacket throughout the seventy-five-minute show, which is charmingly directed by Leonard Foglia (Notes from the Field, Master Class), Alice changes myriad times, sometimes in a magically short time, revealing a keen, elegant fashion sense, even when her fancy dresses are put aside for a hospital robe. Riccardo Hernandez’s set consists of a center table with two chairs and two walls with doors, one leading to the back, the other to Alice’s closet. Bean (The Thanksgiving Play, Bells Are Ringing) is terrific as Calvin, calm and easygoing, his eyes aglow with his deep love for his wife. And Paff (Ideation, Stage Kiss) is luminous as an extraordinary, multifaceted woman with a passion for everything she did; it won’t take long before you fall in love with her too. Alice was often a character in Calvin’s writing, but she becomes so much more in this moving tribute to a lovely human being. We should all be so lucky to find someone so special in our lives, no matter how long we have them for.

(Note: Trillin will participate in postshow TFANA Talks following the 2:00 matinees on February 2 and 3, moderated by Budd Mishkin and Alisa Solomon, respectively. In addition, there are printouts in the lobby of two major articles Alice wrote, one for the New Yorker, the other for the New England Journal of Medicine.)


306 Hollywood

Siblings Elan and Jonathan Bogarín use a dollhouse re-creation of their beloved grandmother’s home in excavating her life in 306 Hollywood

306 HOLLYWOOD (Elan and Jonathan Bogarín, 2018)
Museum of the Moving Image
35th Ave. at 36th St., Astoria
Saturday, February 2, $15 (includes museum admission), 6:30
Festival runs February 1-3

Psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung both used the metaphor of a house to represent the whole of a person and his or her psyche. Siblings Elan and Jonathan Bogarín explore that concept in 306 Hollywood, an imaginative documentary in which they seek to define who their beloved late grandmother was — and where she is after her death. In 2011, Annette Ontell passed away at the age of ninety-three. In her will, she left her home of sixty-seven years, a relatively basic suburban house at 306 Hollywood Ave. in Hillside, New Jersey, to Elan and Jonathan, who at first were encouraged by their mother, Marilyn Ontell, to sell it. But after funeral director Sherry Anthony tells the siblings that it is believed that following a death, the soul of the deceased hovers around its home for nearly a year, they changed their mind. “You have eleven months to make your grandmother tangible again,” she explains. And the Bogaríns take that time to turn the house into an archaeological dig, excavating through physical items that spur memories of the past to celebrate the life of their beloved grandmother. “As far as we knew, the house was her world,” Jonathan says. “When you lose someone you love, you start to look for new ways to understand the world,” Elan adds.

306 Hollywood

Imaginative documentary by her grandchildren explores the life and times of Annette Ontell

Elan and Jonathan use re-creations, home movies, family photographs, and filmed interviews they made with Annette, a fashion designer who was married to an accountant named Herman, every year from 2001 to 2011, in which she honestly and entertainingly shares her thoughts about her long life, including discussions of death. The siblings, who employ a visual sense of humor and magical realism akin to that of a Wes Anderson movie combined with the documentary style of Chantal Akerman and Agnès Varda, speak with their mother, Annette’s daughter, Marilyn Ontell, as well as fashion conservator Nicole Bloomfield; Rockefeller archivist Robert Clark; Biblioteca Casanatense librarian Isabella Ceccopieri and director Rita Fioravanti; archaeologist Jan Gadeyne; and MIT physicist and novelist Alan Lightman, who all offer views about interpreting physical and psychological aspects of a person’s life, from items they collected to papers they saved to the clothes they wore. Two of the most compelling scenes involve clothing; Elan and Jonathan film their grandmother trying to put on dresses, with the help of her daughter, that she made more than half a century before. Annette sits in a chair in her bra and panties, her aging body mostly exposed to the camera, as she insists she won’t fit into the chic clothes. Later, Bloomfield performs a forensics-like investigation on the dresses, offering yet more information about Annette.

Elan and Jonathan also have a precise miniature version of the house made by Rick Maccione of Dollhouse Mansions and often film inside it, playing with the scale of history, time, and memory and the role of the camera in recording the past. “It was plain to me that the house represented a kind of image of the psyche,” Jung wrote. But as Jonathan notes at one point, “Grandma’s house isn’t a home anymore. It’s a ruin.” And finally, Lightman asks, “Where is she?,” declaring that question to be the “great mystery of existence.” After watching 306 Hollywood, which the Bogaríns directed, produced with Judit Stalter, edited with Nyneve Laura Minnear and composer Troy Herion, and photographed with Alejandro Mejía, you’ll have a very clear picture of who Annette Ontell was — and you’ll wonder about who your own late relatives were, in addition to where they might be at this very moment. A hit at Sundance and winner of a Special Mention as Best U.S. Latino Film at the 2018 Cinema Tropical Awards, 306 Hollywood is screening February 2 at 6:30 in the Museum of the Moving Image series “2019 Cinema Tropical Festival,” which runs February 1-3 and also includes Rudy Valdez’s The Sentence, Juliana Antunes’s Baronesa, Lucrecia Martel’s Zama, and Juliana Rojas’s Good Manners.