Tag - politics

Sara Colangelo to Direct ‘What is Life Worth’ Co-Starring Stanley Tucci

MadRiver Pictures has announced that Sara Colangelo (The Kindergarten Teacher, Little Accidents) will direct the true-life biographical drama, What Is Life Worth, and joining Academy Award nominee Michael Keaton (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Spotlight) is Academy Award® nominee Stanley Tucci (A Private War, Spotlight, The Lovely Bones). Academy Award winning producer Michael Sugar (Spotlight) will produce alongside MadRiver Pictures Marc Butan, Sean Sorensen, Max Borenstein, Bard Dorros and Keaton.  Kim Fox will executive produce along with Riverstone’s Nik Bower and Deepak Nayar.  Principal Photography will begin in New York in April.

Colangelo directed the acclaimed feature, The Kindergarten Teacher, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal which made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018, where Netflix acquired and subsequently released on October 12. At Sundance, Colangelo won best director and the film was the runner up for the Grand Jury Prize.  Previously, Colangelo wrote and directed, Little Accidents starring Boyd Holbrook, which earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for ‘Best First Screenplay.’

Stanley Tucci, © Gerhard Kassner

Tucci can currently be seen in A Private War starring Rosamund Pike and Jamie Dornan. His other film credits include The Hunger Games films series, Academy Award® winning film Spotlight, and The Lovely Bones, for which he received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.

What Is Life Worth is an Erin Brockovich/Spotlight-type story of Ken Feinberg, a powerful insider D.C. lawyer put in charge of the 9/11 Fund, who in almost 3 years of pro bono work on the case, fights off the cynicism, bureaucracy and politics associated with administering government funds to victim’s families and in doing so, discovers what life is worth.

Marcelo Martinessi Speaks on His Recent Film ‘The Heiresses’, Politics, and Gender.

ATM: How did you think to up rise the gender bias dynamic in your country and show it in this film?

MM: There are certain things that happen naturally in the society where you were born, but it takes you a long time to realize or analyze them. Growing up in Paraguay, as a boy, you are expected to be confident, to know all the right answers. We (boys) are supposed to show no delicacy. So, I found it difficult to have a man at the heart of this film. My aim with this story was to question many things that are given in my society and to try to explore the place where I come from. That angle would need a women’s perspective, will be approached better through female characters. Maybe, I see that most men in my society are shaped by a fake security and that doesn’t give room for any vulnerability. And vulnerability was key in this film.

ATM: How does your film being female dominated manipulate a male viewer’s observation?

MM: Perhaps the same thing might be happening to you when watching a film from Paraguay. It does not belong to your culture. It shows you other angles of life or a different sense of humor, other ways of behaving that many of you might not be familiar with. It is still the film I wanted to make. And it allows people to explore worlds that are culturally, sexually and age wise away from their comfort zone. It’s beautiful for me to see, for example, a 22-year-old straight man talking about the film and saying lovely things about it. Film affects us in different ways. I always try to present it as a universal story told through a lesbian woman. Many people who have different life experiences can still feel connected to Chela’s aspiration in the film, they can also connect to the desire of breaking from barriers. I always say that one of the starting points in the film was the feeling of confinement in Paraguay. As well as the strong class system.

ATM: When have you been pushed out of your comfort zone? How did you continue to deal with this?

MM: That’s a good question. Most of the time you learn a lot more when you are pushed out of your comfort zone. In 2010, I started working as Executive Director of the first Public Television in my country, during the only time in recent history when we had a progressive government. We created a project of communication with a public spirit. At that time, I felt that we were part of the construction of the country we really wanted. Most of us were excited and ‘in love’ with the idea of being Paraguayans.

But two years later a majority of the (corrupt) politicians decided to provoke a coup d’état against the president, with the support of the private media and the petit bourgeoise. So, the president was impeached and replaced by a new conservative government, belonging to the same group that ruled the country for more than 60 years.

Seen that, in order to keep their privileges, the social class I was born into supported a coup – that kicked out a democratically elected government – was very strong for me. More than abandoning my comfort zone, I would say I lost the feeling of belonging to a certain social class. It might sound difficult but at the same time, it was a moment full of excitement. I was 38 at the time. It was good because even though I lost the sense of belonging to the society where I grew up, it also opened many new possibilities. It gave me a possibility of reinventing myself and rethinking life. I lost some confidence and there was a sad side to all these. But at the same time, that moment helped me to understand the feelings of non-belonging. The Heiresses is somehow a result of that moment.

ATM: When the main characters started selling the objects of sentimental value, would you agree that this opened a new space to let them bring in more stuff?

MM: Yes. That is in a physical sense but also in a metaphorical sense. It forces the character of Chela to be exposed a bit more. It was not only about selling stuff. They lived in a very dark house and the crisis also pushed them to start opening the windows, then the breeze and the light come in. It is a moment of opening in many ways.

ATM: What is a sentimental object that you have once given away or may have lost?

MM: To tell you the truth, I have given up sentimental objects many times. Especially when I decided to get out of Paraguay because I wanted to become a filmmaker. I did sell furniture, bed and other objects I really liked in order to save money, travel to London and study cinema. So, I can easily relate to this feeling of giving away something you love. It can also be a beautiful feeling. It seems difficult but once you do it, it’s interesting. You are allowing some things to go for new things to come. Right now, I’m torn because I feel the need to sell my old 1978 Citroen. It is a car that I had for 15 to 20 years. I have to sell it because I cannot take care of it in the way I used to. Do you know the Citroen Dyane 6? It’s almost a collector’s item today and I will have to get rid of mine!

ATM: When you give up something, the universe will give you something better or more valuable in return.

MM: Yes. This is why I am not scared of doing it. Even though when you get rid of something you very much like, it feels as if there’s a part of you that goes with it. But I’ve done it many times. I’ve to move countries again and again. So, I had to get used to it, to letting things go.

ATM: What is the lifestyle or expectations of an average Asunción male?

MM: It’s a very macho society. It’s a country where men are expected to be a lot more independent, to leave the house earlier, to do whatever they want while women traditionally were expected to be taking care of house chores and needed to be very careful about any step they took. Happily, this is all changing. But there’s still a strong structural violence against women. It’s in the language and common practices of everyday life. We are a very conservative society, probably with similarities with some small town in America.

ATM: What do men do with their freedom? Do they use it in a less artistic way than a female would?

MM: I’ll try to explain myself better. Men were usually expected to support their family. So, on the one hand, the average Paraguayan men would look for a secure profession such as being a doctor, architect, or businessman, he’ll look towards traditional roles of a breadwinner father. Doing art, music, cinema is still not well seen by the older generation. For them, what we do is considered a hobby, even if we can support ourselves or our families with our work.

On the other hand, this doesn’t mean that the average men would always be responsible for the children he has. We have a huge number of single mothers that raise and support their children by themselves.

Ana Brun, the main actress of the film, has mentioned in many interviews that she always felt the need to postpone herself in order to support her husband in his profession or to raise her children. Now, when she is more than 60, she is finally allowed to do what she always wanted to do – which was acting -. I don’t think this is good for men or for women. Sometimes it feels like a society that wants to tag you or force you into being someone you are not. It takes some courage to break from this. Chela in the film would not usually have the courage to change, but the circumstances have put her in this specific position to rethink her own life and do something.

ATM: It seems as if women more inherently have to become selfless.  

MM: Yes, they always have to be there for other people, to abandon their dreams, or what they want, to support their husbands or families. Historically, it has happened like this, even though it is now changing. Cinema gives us a mirror and lets us rethink our roles as well. Many people told Ana Brun at the end of the film “I am looking for my car keys” which means ‘I am looking for a way out from my own prison.’ This means there are many men and women wanting to break from whatever circumstance is trapping them.

ATM: Would Asuncion be considered a third world country to you?

MM: I do not know what the idea of a third world country really is. Especially when it comes to people in the film.  Chela and Chiquita belong to a world where they probably live in a similar way then they would live in Kansas City. They have a car and they have all the means that a person in America would have. If you’re rich in America, you might also have maids, people serving you, have a gardener, etc. So, you have helps doing things for you that probably in a first world country it would be very difficult to afford. We have been fighting for a long time for the right of domestic workers. They get a very low payment for many working hours. They are exploited by the system for not having the means to survive. And their world (house, food, access to clean water, education, health system) is closer to what is conventionally called ‘third world’.

ATM: They are exploited by the higher class. This sort of fits into the term Karl Marx supported called relations of production. This is the domestic workers or the proletariat getting exploited by the aristocrats or the rich.

MM: In a Marxist logic, the means of production in my country are only owned by a very low percentage of the people, the ruling class. Our wild political history did not give us the sensibleness to discuss and change that. In addition, we do not have a strong or a solid middle class. So, the case has always been: a ruling class that exploits, and a working class that is exploited. And even today, the fight for worker’s rights is still not well understood.

ATM: This term was used to show the relationship between the people who own the means of production and those who do not who are the domestic workers. It shows how the ownership of the production is systemically used to exploit the domestic workers or the working class. They become used to it and they do not consciously realize they are being exploited.

MM: We did not have a revolution like 1917 Russia. Our country still needs a huge transformation. We need to rethink our social order. I was talking earlier about the 2012 Paraguayan coup d’état. It had to do with the fact that the country’s ruling class will not allow any government to take their privileges away. So, today, the rich still pay fewer taxes, they exploit their ill-gotten lands without any problem. Basically, no one cares.

ATM: I see why the coup d’état was started. The people aside from the ruling class had no power. It sounds like people are in power because of nepotism or red taping. This is sometimes the avenues as to how and why a coup d’état gets staged. Sounds like people are mishandling the government for various reasons. I do not think a lot of people over here in American knows of this.

MM: The United States has been a strong influence and one of the reasons why we could not have positive changes in Latin America. The dictatorships of our sub-continent historically had a strong support from the USA. Torturers from the Paraguayan police came to learn their lessons in America. So, we have always been very connected to America in many ways. I don’t know if that is known or not by the average citizens in the US. Today, America is still strong but has less control in our region, compared to the 70s and the 80s.

ATM: How did your hometown regain its social structure or go back to normal after the coup d’état was staged?

MM: Hmm. People do not realize it. Most of the country isn’t self-critical and doesn’t have the means to analyze what is happening. 98% of the population just continued with their lives. They have to worry about everyday chores, surviving, business, or earning money. So, they can only see political matters from a distance. And the media doesn’t help, keeping an agenda too close to their own interests. If we can help a bit from the arts: photography, painting, literature, or cinema, maybe we should aim at finding a way to rethink what happened in our recent history, or even in our history.

ATM: It would take people living where you are to know about their history and to become educated. I would assume your society should educate people to know what exactly is going on. It is important. You chose two lesbians, why did you choose two lesbians? I understand you wanted to make a female presence in the film, but why two lesbians and not two female friends who were just close together?

MM: For me, it wasn’t an issue. I’ve never thought of this. It’s a story about aging and an economic crisis. They could be sisters or friends. Considering their age, I thought it wasn’t going to be a scandal in Paraguay to portray their relationship as natural. But it was.  Two women who have been living together – I always use the phrase ‘as a fading couple’ – and they are no longer passionate about each other. The awakening of desire was new and key for one of them. This was one of the many things that will happen to this woman, besides feeling confident about doing a bit of work, earning a bit of money, and being a bit more independent. It was not well received in Paraguay because Chela and Chiquita are lesbians. But, at the same time, if we never force a bit the fundamentalist limitations of certain audiences, I don’t think we can ever make interesting films, and nothing is ever going to change. It was natural for me to have a female couple at the center of the film, and I’m glad we did it that way.

ATM: How would you express the black race and immigrant presence in Asunción?

MM: Our racial issues have a lot to do with the class system and are kept underneath the surface. It’s awful to realize that many people want to see themselves separate from their racial or class origins. It’s a society where today, the only and main parameter to measure people is money.

People do not care where you get your money from. We had drug dealers becoming presidents. If you have the money, you can buy almost everything. In recent years, a man that comes from an obscure background bought the main political party to become president. And he was president for five years! Politicians are at the service of anyone who has money. It does not matter where it comes from.

ATM: Are white people dominant in Paraguay like in America?

MM: No, It’s people with money. There is no racial issue when it comes to power. It does not matter if it comes from a dirty business, drugs or corruption. It is just whoever has money.

There is supposed to be a democratic government. But when it comes to real politics, the dominance always has to do with money.

ATM: It seems like the government is more so through monetary nepotism. The true depiction or authenticity of what a high political figure is sometimes scraped away, and it is replaced here with the dominant trait of money. The media does not concentrate on this. The average American would not know what has happened or is happening.

MM: Of course. It has to do with American international policies that you guys do not really know. Perhaps because they’re government’s secret issues. America begins wars, but people have no idea why. This is the decision of politicians and the country’s elite. I do not think the decisions are ever made by people in America.

Review: ‘Vice’

American film director Adam McKay debuts his second biographical comedy-drama feature known as Vice. Starring big names such as Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, and Jesse Plemons, the film tells the story of Dick Cheney and his rise in political power.

Told through the narration of a fictitious veteran by the name of Kurt (Plemons), we are introduced to a young Cheney (Christian Bale) in 1963, as he works as a lineman and struggles with alcoholism after he drops out of Yale University. His wife Lynne (Amy Adams) convinces Cheney to get his life together. Fast forward to 1969 and Cheney becomes an intern at the White House under Nixon’s economic advisor, Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell). The story then unfolds as we see Cheney progress from an intern to a successful politician in the later years.

While the film tries to add comedy, the comedy at times seems inappropriate and edgy considering this is a film that’s supposed to be a biopic about Dick Cheney. 75 percent of the film is narration from Kurt, and considering he’s a fictional character it takes away from the biographical element the film is supposed to have. There’s a lot of random visuals added in between segments that don’t seem to have anything to do with whatever subject is being discussed between characters and are just added for metaphors that are confusing to understand. The film is also very messy and all over the place from talking about Cheney’s family life and his political life. It is also extremely biased and portrays Cheney as well as other Republican figures as drunken idiots with cartoonish personalities. We all have our own opinions on how certain politicians act, but when creating a biopic it’s important to portray them in a way that’s appropriate for audiences to understand why there’s a division among people when it comes to politicians.

The film was nominated for 6 Golden Globes, and Christian Bale took home the award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.

Film Analysis: ‘Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes’

Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes expressed a partition between a man who was a pioneer for television and politics, but the fall of a television hero. We are introduced to Roger Ailes’ childhood and school reputation from a few people. It was surprising to see that there was not a substantial amount of different people to recapture his childhood memories. Some of the people that spoke were also in scenes speaking about his career.

Ailes seemed to not live in the social world with other people his age. He did not focus on socializing about with friends more than concentrating on his career. Mostly among people, there is a “high school” social mentality. This can be classified as possessing the desire to converse with people and talk about careless things. Socialization among people did not help if it was not of the essence for him. If he talked to anyone, then it was to social climb up in the ranks. He carried a presence of making people believe that were close to him while in actuality they was not.

The Fox founder and media mogul followed the expectations of an American citizen. This is seen in him making a huge impact and leaving his mark. He possessed so much power, money, and intelligence. Ailes was lonely at the highest level. We only heard him talk about his commodities and achievements when he was off the job. If you are the breaking barriers in television, then no one around you that is not doing the same will not understand you. Society says work hard to get where you want to be, but what happens when you work harder then what the next? You become socially disconnected to the people around you. You become powerful on the level of getting seen as an intimidation. The rate Ailes was going made him feel invincible. He felt no could touch him and that he could do anything. Now, this deep example of the male ego is what made the television pioneer fall.

Ailes was powerful and was a gold mind at being an innovator. He had power in politics, the media, television, over men, but not women. Women was the last thing that seemed foreign to him regardling control. Ailes represents a person who took the initiative to pick having a career over socializing. So, he did not know how to actually socialize outside of the business rhetoric or discursive language. This was a foreign land to him. He was merely driven and obsessed with the feeling of having control and power. Everything else was submissive to him in a business and regular sense.

Furthermore, everyone has something weird they do in their own privacy. Some people will not ever admit the crazy and weird things they do. These eccentric things can be seen as meeting the social norms or coming out of them. For Ailes, this was having a voyeuristic nature. Also, imposing his scopophilic ways on women, meaning objectifying them as just a mere body part to represent. Did he see his female employers as women or just a pair of boobs and legs? The male he ultimately became outside of his achievement might have been the person he always wanted to become. However, his desire to have power, entrepreneurial competition with other media platforms, and conquer became the dominant goal in his life. Someone adults become a version of themselves that they wanted be while younger. When Ailes’ weird ways came into the spotlight, he became his true identity and self even becoming a part of his fall. This was Roger Ailes. But, this version of Ailes’ was not socially accepted, disgusting, creepy, and not positive.

As a male youth, Ailes might have not been aware of his huge manipulative and persuasive ways. Or was he just around a lot of gullible people? It was interesting to hear that people believed the things Ailes said. This is a talent, but rather a hard skill for people to have innately acquired at a young age. Ailes saw issues in television that pertained visual rhetoric and intended messages to the audience. There was no persuasion. There was no entertainment. The people did not get to see professionals talk about the current and pressing issues occurring in society. There was no real sight of media inside the television industry. Television was just a commodity in which people turn on for a few hours and turned off. Everything was linear and close minded. Ailes’ innate strategic communication skills allowed him to change all of this forever. People before him never thought to move into a new direction. They did not possess the vision, such as Ailes.

When you work so hard, that one thing you are aiming towards becomes your identity. Ailes created Fox and other platforms, and hide behind them. Yes, Ailes was Fox’s Founder, businessman, husband, and more, but we did not know him. We knew and fell in love with his innate talent. Our first true and real introduction to Ailes was when the scandals came out. It is apparent that Ailes never know who he was and used his great career and talents on manipulation to fill his space of who he was.

Chris Coy and ‘The Front Runner’

Chris Coy takes on the role of Kevin Sweeney who was the press secretary of the 1988 Presidential Candidate Gary Hart. After talking to the real-life Sweeney to figure out how to approach the role, Chris learned the seriousness of this profession and gives his thoughts on the topics raised in this film.

ATM: While portraying Kevin Sweeney, what did you learn about the profession of a press secretary?

CC: No matter how much of preparation or plan you may have; the rug might get pulled out from under you at any moment. It might not be a fault of your own. You still have to do everything in your power to solve these problems. You have to navigate that scandal or issue still. You have to try keeping your focus on the prize and the mission. It is one of the most stressful and chaotic jobs on the planet. I learn that I am glad that I am not one. I will take acting any day over tackling real problems like them.

ATM: Do you look at press secretaries differently before your character?

CC: Yes. I did not know ahead of time how stressful and unpredictable it could be — also, the consequences of your candidate’s actions. There is no anticipating how the public is going to react to any given circumstance. Because it is a period piece of time, I do not think that were ready for the world implications for his actions and consequences. It does not matter if you are ready or not. You must be quick on your feet. You must be ready to act in an instant. How do we save this? Especially, in this circumstance, where Kevin Sweeney really believes in his candidate and knew he could do a lot of good for this country.

Despite the behavior in his personal life, he still believed Hart was the man for the job. They were on a schedule with this headline and it all sort of fell apart. I learned how just how involved a press scandal would be in navigating a press scandal. And how heartbreaking it could be when you believe in your candidate like Kevin Sweeney and watch it deteriorate in front of your eyes.

ATM: During this 1988 campaign there was no social media. What does this show about influential the evolution of social media could be to a presidential campaign?

CC: We are now all informed on a second to second basis. Before it was all through the papers and in the press. We knew it was coming. There was an evening where we were trying to stop it before ever hitting the newsstand. Right now, if news breaks, then it is instantly on social media. There is no putting a wall up stopping it.

Regarding transparency, honesty is almost your only option. There is no hiding anymore.  Transparency is a good thing when it comes to politics. It was easier to hide during pre-social media and easier to stop the press if you could. You could get on the phone to bribe and beg. Now, the news has already gone public before you get the chance to stop it. This is a positive thing in terms of our growth.

ATM: How in touch was the public with political during this time?

CC: Now, political news and political voice can always be heard. We can add a direct line to this political voice. Especially with Twitter and the current president. We are always on Twitter reading words from his direct mouth. Whereas, in pre-social media, there was no direct line between the public and the president.  Only when it addressed the nation and it came on the television, you heard what he had to say. There is such a high level to information now and we all have access to the political drama that we are interested in hearing. This is easy now. Before, you were at the mercy of the press. You had to wait to the Nightly News, wait for the newspaper, as supposed to going on CNN.com.

ATM: A lot of times the camera does not shine a light on what happens or how they feel. What did you witness about the emotional state of Hart, who was up to be the most powerful man in America?

CC: I talked to Kevin who is very much alive and well. He was also involved with the film. Gary Hart never expected to be held accountable for his personal life in his political endeavors. This was not how it worked prior to this moment in time. The film is about the moment where tabloids, journalism, and legitimate news hibernated. We were interested in what a politician’s personal life was like, where his morality laid. In this case, I do not think Gary Hart was ready for this to happen. He hoped or assumed his politics who saves him. He thought people would focus on the progress he was trying to make as a politician and country as supposed what kind of man, he was behind closed doors. He was wrong because they did care. He was punished for his actions.

This movie asked questions about what matters and what is important. Is it just the politics or his personal life? Is it a combination of the two? Should it be a combination of the two? Should it be important? It is important to ask these questions. He did not want to be president to have power. He really wanted to make changes and positive progress. He wanted to help us as a country. To be this close and fall short. The reasons why you cannot prevent it is not your fault. I saw politics and the emotions cross path. Things do not always work out the way you saw them working out. An unexpected blow could take you down no matter how well you are doing.

ATM: Do you think a presidential candidate unknowingly signs up for a “celebrity status”, which can often get in the way of them trying to help this country?

CC: It does not matter if they are unaware of it because this is just the way of our country. We focus on and celebrate politicians as much as we do like any kind of celebrity. If you are going to be under the public eye, then you must know you will be under a magnifying glass. Do I feel this can get in the way of a positive impact? Sure, it can if they allow themselves to be distracted. This is the nature of the beast. If you are going to be play the game, then you have to be ready, willing, and able to handle this. Otherwise, do something else.

ATM: How does this show a person the effects the media has a presidential campaign?

CC: It demonstrates just how closely you are going to be watched. The media is an amazing tool for the people in how quickly it keeps the information into our hand. It makes sure we have a route to find out who you are and whether we want you there.

Madam Secretary’s Nancy Ellen Shore

Nancy Ellen Shore talks about her origins and relates the political standards in our society to the show Madam Secretary.

ATM: How does this show exhibit women’s roles in political spaces? 

Nancy: Madam Secretary is such a wonderful show in that it presents a strong, brilliant, principled woman in a position of great power, working effectively as the U.S. Secretary of State to defend and further America’s position as a beacon of democracy and human rights in a dangerous world, while simultaneously balancing the demands of marriage and motherhood. Téa’s character, Elizabeth McCord, is an excellent role model for young people as an example of female leadership, showing that it is possible to “have it all.” From what I understand, Barbara Hall was inspired by Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State to create the concept for the show.

ATM: Explain America if a woman were to be president.

Nancy: I was so excited about Hillary Clinton being elected the first woman U.S. president because she is so brilliant, qualified, and idealistic, yet deeply pragmatic in understanding the importance of working across the aisle and has such a breathtaking knowledge of international relations after her terms as Secretary of State and her time as First Lady in the White House. Her election would have shown the millions of young girls—and boys—in this country that a qualified woman can hold the most powerful position in America and would have gone a long way toward shattering the glass ceiling and balancing the now-unequal male-female power structure in the American workplace. I was so honored to be on set with her, Colin Powell, and Madeleine Albright when we shot this season’s wonderful premiere episode. Hopefully an equally distinguished and qualified female candidate will emerge in the coming years.

ATM: How does the main character act in a political space vs how we have seen men act in this same space on political television shows?

The wonderful thing about how Téa’s character is written is that the scripts allow her to show great strength in situations where it is essential—in policy discussions with the president and her staff, and in diplomatic negotiations with world leaders—but also great vulnerability when she is alone in her own home with her husband. Her character often seeks common ground in negotiations with other world leaders or their representatives, letting down her guard and trying to find areas of mutual understanding and agreement and shared goals, which often leads to compromise solutions in the best interest of both countries.

She always tries to avoid war and violence whenever possible. And Téa is also a brilliant comic actress, so she brings a lot of understated humor to the character. It’s ultimately a very serious show which explores the most serious issues facing America and the world today, and it’s not easy to walk that fine line between drama and comedy, but she manages it seemingly effortlessly. And the truly great thing about the show is that it is nonpartisan—it appeals to all Americans—whether Democrats, Republicans, or Independents—because its main characters in the State Department and the White House embody the best American values—all the qualities that made our country a beacon to the world—fairness, tolerance, equality, compassion, integrity, an idealistic can-do attitude, and great courage and strength in the face of small-mindedness, cruelty, and oppression.

What is the true role of a journalist in this society? What role did you feel you had while you were in this position? Why did you let it go?

The role of a journalist is to inform readers of the truth of any situation based on carefully researched and verified facts. Unfortunately, the free press, one of the bedrocks of our great democracy, has been under relentless attack from the current administration. It is a very dangerous situation because when a large segment of the population is lead to believe they can’t trust the press, they are easily convinced of “alternative facts” which serve a certain agenda that may not be in the best interests of our country.

I was a part-time assistant for six years in the 1980s-1990s to the late Barbara Epstein, the legendary co-editor with the late Robert Silvers of The New York Review of Books, one of the leading literary-intellectual newspapers in the country. She was a brilliant woman, originally responsible for editing The Diary of Anne Frank in the late 1950s. During that time, I was privy to her interactions with some of the top writers and intellectuals of that era—Susan Sontag, Joan Didion, Philip Roth, Gore Vidal, to name just a few. That formative period shaped my standards of writing and journalism. I also had the good fortune to forge close college friendships with John Donatich, now the erudite head of Yale University Press, and the brilliant poet-novelist Jennifer Clement, now the president of PEN, the international writers’ organization, whose friendship and accomplishments continue to inspire me today.

The inspiration for my creativity, tenacity, and commitment to my acting career came from my late parents, Richard and Barbara Shore. My father was a professional pianist, composer, and music teacher, and he began painting later in life—beautiful scenes of nature as a gentle and benevolent force. He eschewed materialism and superficial values. His entire life was devoted to music and art. He saw music as the universal language that brings people together. He took great pride in his teaching job in a public high school in Providence, Rhode Island, where he taught students from immigrant families from all over the world. My mother was a longtime co-president of the Interfaith Council in Southeastern Massachusetts where I grew up, working to create dialogue, tolerance, and understanding between people of all nationalities, religions, and ethnic backgrounds. She was also a violinist with the local symphony for 45 years and a dedicated and inspired reading teacher and tutor who saw great literature as a way of uplifting humanity and promoting greater understanding.

ATM: What is your thought process while in front of the casting director?

Nancy: First of all, it’s essential to view the casting director not in a narrow, one-dimensional way, as an all-powerful gatekeeper standing between you and this one role on this one TV show, movie, or play but as a person with a full life, an individual human being with whom you are partnering on the basis of personal integrity and creativity in the business. He or she may have a spouse or partner struggling with cancer or addiction, or perhaps have just attended the funeral of a beloved uncle, or been passed over for a promotion, or moved to a new home, or just landed a brand-new TV show account with roles to be filled immediately that takes precedence over the role in the low-budget independent film you are being seen for.

Making creative choices, crafting a detailed back story for the character, and preparing for the audition is a given. But the most important factor at any audition is never the specific role you are auditioning for. It’s presenting yourself as a consummate professional from the moment you walk into the waiting room and check in with the receptionist, laying down a solid artistic interpretation of the specific role, incorporating any changes or directions the casting director gives you immediately and without resistance—even if it means dropping everything you prepared—thanking them graciously when it’s over, and beginning a mutually beneficial working professional relationship. There are so many reasons why you may not get a certain role that have nothing to do with your talent—you’re too tall for the other principal in the scene, you look too much like another recurring character, you’re not young enough, or old enough, the writers changed the sex of your character just that morning and the casting director has not even been informed yet. You cannot control any of that. All you can control is your reputation as an artist of great creativity, reliability, and professionalism. If you leave the casting director with that impression, even if you don’t book this specific role, you will be called back again and again.

Secondly, many actors are gripped by nervousness when auditioning for powerful casting directors. It’s the same nervousness that can paralyze a stage actor—that relentless voice in one’s head questioning, “Will he like me? Will she think I’m talented? Will I get this role? Will the audience laugh, clap?” The best antidote for nervousness is to take yourself out of the equation completely. This is not about you, and it never was. This is about the character in the project or the screenwriter’s or playwright’s vision.

The origins of drama thousands of years ago were in the role of the shaman in primitive cultures. This spiritual figure would stand in the middle of a large circle of community members and go into a trance-like state, acting out stories and myths—birth, death, love, joy, war, nature, obedience to the gods, the entire cycle of human life with all its triumphs and follies. Through this process of what the ancient classical Greek philosophers and playwrights later called catharsis, the community or tribe would be healed and find renewed meaning and transcendence. The role of the actor has never changed. It is a spiritual calling. We are a conduit, or bridge, between humanity and eternity.

Nervousness creeps in when we forget that grave calling, that momentous undertaking. Whenever I get nervous, I immediately think of all the suffering in the world, some small portion of which could possibly be relieved by the greater understanding that will come from the artistic project I am working on—I think of war, poverty, intolerance, corruption, inequality, racism, disease, all of the problems that plague humanity. I think of desperate migrants fleeing violence, rape, and oppression all over the world, I think of poor children in inner U.S. cities whose parents can’t afford adequate school supplies, I think of the serious environmental threats we are facing from global warming—the list goes on and on. In the face of these concerns, nervousness is immediately quashed. I see the face of a young school girl struggling to hear the teacher because her parents can’t afford a hearing aid, or a father working two backbreaking construction jobs to put food on the table or care for a sick child, and I immediately become ashamed of my nervousness. You wouldn’t be gripped by nervousness if you saw a child walk out onto a busy roadway. You would run to grab that child and pull them from harm. As an actor, I walk into an audition with that same level of commitment and dedication to a cause much larger than my own small life.

Trailer: Active Measures, Film Reveals Putin’s Long Game with Trump

ACTIVE MEASURES, a film from director Jack Bryan that details a decades long connection between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, including shocking new reporting on Trump’s dealings with Russian mob figures, and expert analysis on the largest and most effectively executed espionage operation in history—Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US Presidential Election. The film made its world premiere at this year’s Hot Docs, and will be released on August 31, day and date with exclusive theatrical engagements in New York and Los Angeles and on digital platforms.

In ACTIVE MEASURES, Bryan exposes a 30-year history of covert political warfare devised by Vladmir Putin to disrupt, influence, and ultimately control world events, democratic nations through cyber attacks, propaganda campaigns, and corruption. In the process, the filmmakers follow a trail of money, real estate, mob connections, and on the record confessions to expose an insidious plot that leads directly back to The White House. Unravelling the true depth and scope of “the Russia story,” as we have come to know it, it is a jarring reminder that some conspiracies hide in plain sight. ACTIVE MEASURES is essential viewing in today’s world.

The film features original interviews with experts on Russia and Putin, including: Senator John McCain, Hillary Clinton, former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Steven Hall (former CIA Chief of Russia Operations), author Michael Isikoff, John Podesta (Chair, Hillary for America, Founder, Center for American Progress), Jeremy Bash (former CIA Chief of Staff and Pentagon Chief of Staff), James Woolsey (former CIA director), Evan McMullin (2016 Presidential candidate), and many more. Produced by Shooting Films’ Bryan, Laura DuBois, and Marley Clements, ACTIVE MEASURES was co-written by Bryan and Clements.

“When we embarked on this project we thought we’d find a scandal but what we uncovered was the greatest threat to democracy in almost a century. It is impossible to understand what is happening today unless you know how it started and why. Once you do the news becomes terrifyingly predictable,” said director Jack Bryan.


“The First Purge” is Unexpectedly Woke

A far cry from the home invasion horror of “The Purge,” the newest addition to the franchise swaps out jump scares for serious race issues. Diehard fans may be turned off by the realism and politics behind the film, but it’s undeniable that what is acted out on screen happens offscreen as well.

The film acts as a prequel to the three other films, tracing the Purge Night tradition back to its very first run. Originally a social experiment in Staten Island organized by the New Founding Fathers of America, residents were offered $5,000 if they stuck around for the night. During the twelve hours in which the purge is taking place, all criminal behavior is legalized as a means of cleansing the soul of its sinful, darkest desires. People were encouraged to purge and would be given monetary compensation if they committed crimes that night, as long as they wore specialized contact lenses that recorded their activity.

Alas, what began as fun and games becomes increasingly deadly. When it’s realized that normal people don’t feel the need to purge, criminal activity is hush. With failure not an option, government funded gang members start appearing and mercilessly killing on the streets. The New Founding Fathers couldn’t carry out this experiment without participation and they want the whole nation to follow suit, so that’s why they send in reinforcements to make sure the purge is pulling numbers. This means innocent citizens are being killed by the government.

This corruption may be off-putting because it’s so familiar and realistic. While our government isn’t slaughtering us in the streets for the sake of a social experiment, but it is one that is known to hide a few secrets up its sleeves. It’s this practicality that makes this “Purge” film stand out for all the right reasons.

While the average “Purge” fan might be confused by the lack of bloodthirsty middleclass people, the lack of Hollywood allure and fantasy makes the film important. Social unrest, a huge theme of the film, is a common occurrence for many modern Americans disenchanted and disenfranchised by the current political climate. “The First Purge” confronts viewers with a white-washed government that would want nothing more than to eliminate the weaklings, or the impoverished people of color living in the inner city.

Racial tensions and socioeconomical unbalance seems to be on the rise lately. Since 2016, dozens of unarmed black men have been shot down by the police, President Trump has separated families and the #MeToo movement rocked society with sexual misconduct by heavy hitters in Hollywood. “The First Purge” offers an modern, empowered, predominantly POC view of the volatile world, well equipped with shocking murder, white supremacy, and nods to Tyler Perry.

Purging one’s soul is good. Catharsis is crucial when it comes to coping and dealing with stresses and emotions. Purging the world of cliché, tacky horror movies is good too, and “The First Purge” delivered a thoughtful which the genre hasn’t seen in a while.

“American Chaos” Trailer Explores the Political Divide

This new documentary from Sony Pictures Classics has director James D. Stern asking red states, “Why Trump?” In the six months before 2016’s big election, Stern traveled the U.S. to uncover the appeal of President Donald Trump through the words of his supporters.

“I’m a political junkie, I always know what’s going on. But with this election, there’s a new voice on the scene…” Stern recounts as he sits in the backseat of a car traveling along his mission.

Stern is known best for his Tony-winning production of 2003 Broadway musical “Hairspray” as well as founding independent production company Endgame Entertainment.

“American Chaos” is rated R and will hit theaters on September 14.