A peek into Justin Bieber’s past experiences in Atlanta
The flock of shrieking preteens (and a few shamefacedly excited adults) attending Justin Bieber’s January 23 Philips Arena show will undoubtedly be well versed in the moppet’s history. After all, the eighteen-year-old has already published two (!) memoirs. For the rest of us: a primer on the pop star’s past—including his tutelage under Atlanta impresario and Emory dropout Scooter Braun—courtesy of his mom Pattie Mallette, who wrote a memoir of her own, Nowhere but Up.Read more
A conversation with the Out on Film festival director
Atlanta’s Out on Film celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary October 4 to 11, making it one of the longest-running LGBT film festivals in the country. Festival director Jim Farmer offers a preview.
Out on Film is now one of the oldest LGBT film festivals in the country. Reeling, Chicago’s LGBT festival, went on hiatus recently after thirty years. How do you keep Out on Film growing and prospering in these tough times? In addition to the week we do in the fall, we now hold screenings throughout the year. That has really helped us get the brand out there.
How has the Atlanta Pride Festival’s move to the fall had an impact on Out on Film? The festival is quite literally now Pride’s opening act in October, isn’t it? There are a lot of great opportunities to work with Pride on programming. Instead of just handing out pamphlets at Pride in the summer, we now have a chance to do screenings together. We’re trying to reach the same people, the same audience. It’s great to build that energy together.
When the Out on Film committee assembles to decide the festival’s lineup each year, how, um, spirited does the debate get? It does get spirited, but never ugly or antagonistic. We realize that we’re programming for our whole community. We all have our favorite films, we all have films that we root for, but at the end of the very, very long day, we realize we have a responsibility to make selections that will resonate with our entire LGBT audience. We don’t take it lightly.
There are LGBT film festivals all over the country. What’s unique about programming for the audiences at the largest one in the Southeast? My partner and I went to Frameline in San Francisco this year. [Many days] they screen from 11 in the morning until 2 a.m. They just love film there. Atlanta loves film too, but not quite enough to support an around-the-clock schedule like that. It’s a balance. We’re always about quality, first and foremost. But we also have to consider what sells. We have to put butts in the seats. So it’s a mix of really strong films that people might not have heard anything about yet—with a spotlight on Atlanta and regional filmmakers—and lighter things that will automatically sell themselves. Case in point: the Eating Out films. They’re fun romantic comedies with cute boys running around. When you’re a nonprofit film festival, you can’t argue with a sold-out audience of 200.
Twenty-five years ago, LGBT film festivals had far fewer offerings to select from. Your choices were thematically split between heart-wrenching coming-out pictures and heart-wrenching AIDS-focused films. Now you’ve got everything from gay teen-sex comedies to gay slasher flicks. Is this job more fun in 2012? It’s been an amazing evolution. Anybody can be a filmmaker these days. From a technology standpoint, it’s an easier environment for creative people to get something made without a big studio and without a huge budget. Years ago so many of the films that were submitted were dark and depressing. Topics have broadened now to include things like gay adoption, gay marriage, and relationships. Now when the films come in, they often have characters where being gay is just one element; it’s no longer the focal point. They just present everyday people, going about their everyday lives. Being gay is just one part of that.
We’re now living in an era where the president of the United States supports gay marriage. Are you beginning to see the results of those societal changes with what filmmakers are addressRead more
Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s forensic artist draws to get criminals off the street
Marla Lawson’s artwork ranks among the most realistic and recognizable in the country, but no sane collector wants to hang her masterpieces above the mantel. Blame her unwitting models, who have varied in size, coloring, tattoos, and scars but generally share the same gleam in the eye—that look of desperate, crazy malice, with pupils unnaturally dilated or constricted, depending on the drugs.Read more
Country, jazz, and rock influence this Atlanta-based band
This band’s sweet jams really jell around the hickory fires of a barbecue pit—or in the cigarette haze of a juke joint—so the handle Blackberry Smoke fits the Atlanta-based Southern rockers just fine.Read more
Must Win: A Season of Survival for a Town and Its Team
In South Georgia, high school football lies “somewhere between iconic and mythic,” writes journalist Drew Jubera in his first book, Must Win: A Season of Survival for a Town and Its Team (St. Martin’s Press). Jubera immersed himself in the 2010 football season of Valdosta High School, once the dominant team in the nation. In 2009 the New York Times dispatched Jubera to write about the fallout from a loss to county rival Lowndes High that seemed to mark the official end of the school’s glory days. Jubera realized right away that the story wasn’t just about football, so he spent a year commuting from his home in Atlanta and eventually took up temporary residence in Valdosta.Read more
An interview with the author
This month the Alliance Theatre presents the world premiere of Atlanta playwright and author Pearl Cleage’s new romantic comedy What I Learned in Paris (9/5 to 9/30), which is actually about 1970s-era Atlanta. It promises to transport audiences back to a time when “mini skirts and bell-bottoms were on sale Downtown for $8.87.” The writer discusses why 1973 proved a transformative time for her and the city of Atlanta.
The members of Oprah’s Book Club might not know this, but you moved here in 1969, graduated from Spelman, and then landed a job as a campaign speechwriter and later press secretary for the city’s new mayor Maynard Jackson. How did that experience inform the writing of this new play? It was a pivotal time, and I wanted to capture that for this play. When Maynard became the first African American mayor of Atlanta, it was truly an exciting time to be here. We knew we had turned a corner. We felt exhilarated. But working at city hall was the hardest job I ever had in my life. Maynard was a hard-working perfectionist. We had a joke about Maynard calling us in the middle of the night and asking us, “Did I wake you?” We always lied and said, “Oh, no.” But we got up out of the bed and did whatever the mayor wanted us to do. It was exciting to be a part of the next phase of the city’s life.
You’re best known for your dramatic works tackling sometimes-taboo social issues. Is it a relief to write a comedy? I really love writing comedy. Writing romantic comedy is even nicer because you get to write about how insane we all act when we’re falling in love. When Maynard became mayor, he was thirty-five and I was twenty-five. Everyone we knew were newlyweds, falling in love, and having babies.
How did you transport yourself back to that time period? I’ve kept journals since I was eleven years old. I went back through those, and it helps to have a husband [novelist and poet Zaron W. Burnett Jr.] who can remember every song ever recorded, who sang it, and when it was released.
How do you work as a playwright? Is your work done when you turn in the script, or do you continue to collaborate with the director and the actors into the rehearsal process? I stay involved, especially when it’s a world premiere. Theater is about collaborating. When you write a novel, you write it in a room by yourself and then a reader buys the book and goes off alone to read it. I truly love the rehearsal process, those eight hours a day! I really love actors. What they bring to the process is magical. I’m always open to what they have to say. Often, as the writer of the piece, you can answer questions when they want to know “What is this woman thinking and feeling here?” or “Why does this man act this way?” I’m not one of those playwrights who says, “Show up, hit your marks, and don’t talk to me!” I always want to hear from the other artists involved, whether it’s the director, the lighting tech, or the actors.
Some of your female readers are so smitten with Blue Hamilton, the R&B–singing romantic hero in two of your novels, Baby Brother’s Blues and Some Things I Never Thought I’d Do, they’ve been known to complain, “Damn that Pearl Cleage for creating the perfect man who doesn’t exist in real life!” What advice do you have for the single ladies searching for Blue Hamilton in real life? [Laughing] It’s true! Women stop me on the street corner to ask, “Does Blue have any brothers? Is he real?!” I’ll say this: He&rsqRead more
Director Sean Daniels is taking a break from the national stage to touch base with his peeps. “In American theater, your constant job is to find your people, the ones who get your work and speak your language. I have a lot of those people here,” says the former Atlantan and Dad’s Garage cofounder. Daniels is directing a couple of productions for Lawrenceville’s Aurora Theatre, which kicks off its 2012–2013 season this month.Read more
The author discusses her latest novel
In 2001 Emily Giffin ditched a fledgling law career in Manhattan and set out for London to write fiction. Five bestselling novels and a few million dollars later, that decision looks pretty good. At forty, Giffin and her husband, Buddy Blaha, are doting parents to twin eight-year-old sons Edward and George and daughter Harriet, who turned five in May. The family recently moved into a $5 million Buckhead manse, and Blaha left a top job at Newell Rubbermaid “to smell the roses before gearing up again,” Giffin says. “We recently went to St. Barts for our ten-year anniversary, and he wrote ‘coach’ as his occupation on his immigration document. I’ve never seen him so happy. It really makes me realize how lucky I am to love what I do.”Read more