Posted by Elena del Valle on November 7, 2018
Video: Fiddlin Films, Fort Lauderdale Int'l Film Festival (FLiFF)
Photos: Fiddlin Films
Sisters Julie Simone and Vicki Vlasic, natives of the Appalachian Mountains, returned home to film during the 80th Anniversary of the World’s Oldest and Largest Fiddler’s Convention, the first filmmakers permitted to do so in the history of the event. The result is Fiddlin', an uplifting showcase of old time and bluegrass music and some of its musicians. The 96-minute film required two and a half years to make. It will premier in Florida at 6 p.m. November 14, 2018 at Savor Cinema Lauderdale as part of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. Scroll down to watch a trailer.
“We wanted to shine a positive light on the true beauty of this area with it’s traditions, culture, music and authentic people,” said Simone, director, Fiddlin', in an email about the making of the documentary. “Because we were a small crew, we threw cameras at our nieces and nephews, my mom cooked for everyone and my dad set up camp for us. This was a passion project and we all came together to make Fiddlin' happen.”
They filmed with a budget below $500,000 in Galax, Virginia and other small towns in Southwest Virginia as well as in the Nashville, Tennessee area. Funding sources included a Kickstarter campaign, a grant from the Rogovy Foundation, donations from friends and family and the sisters.
"We recruited our family to help work on the project as well as hiring a DP and Audio Recordist from North Carolina," said Vlasic, producer of the film, by email. "Our kids were holding booms, lights, carrying equipment and filming on additional cameras. Our parents cooked for the entire crew. Julie and I have worn many hats as we navigated the process of getting our film made.
Julie and I grew up in this Appalachian region and spent our summers attending the Old Fiddler’s Convention in the neighboring town of Galax. After living in major cities for many years, Julie realized that this cultural event that we had always taken for granted was worthy of sharing with a larger audience. We had also started noticing that in recent years, there had been an enormous change in the demographics of the festival-young kids were now playing the traditional music in droves. In our youth, the musicians were only older people. Even more inspiring was seeing that the young people were jamming and hanging out with their elders and carried instruments instead of smartphones."
Musicians Ivy Phillips and Annabelle Watts
When asked to describe the music Vlasic said, "Old Time music was the music played in these mountains when the first settlers came from England, Ireland, Wales and Germany and began playing with the African slaves who introduced the banjo to our country. The combination of their music became known as Old Time music. In 1947, Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys (so named as they came from the state of Kentucky) began to take breaks on individual instruments and to improvise and try to outdo the player before them. This was the birth of Bluegrass Music. Monroe’s brother started using picks on his fingers to play the banjo which also differentiated the sound from Old Time. Many consider Bluegrass to be a 'fancier' style of music with some licks borrowed from blues and jazz music. Bluegrass later evolved into rock and roll when Elvis Presley recorded Bill Monroe’s 'Blue Moon of Kentucky' as his first record. Country music was also born out of much of this Mountain music."
Simone grew up on a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Prior to making the independent film she enrolled in a gorilla style film making class where she wrote, directed and acted in multiple short films. After motherhood and divorce, she turned her attention to the camera. On a trip to Cannes, Julie directed, filmed, and appeared as herself in Cannes Without a Plan, a comedic reality and television pilot about divorce and being a single mom.
Fiddlin' had its world premiere in March 2018 at San Louis Obispo, California, where it won the Audience Award. It has won multiple awards to date. The Florida screening will be the final one this year. Next year, the producers expect to participate in more screenings and announce a release date.
Posted by Elena del Valle on October 31, 2018
Sharkwater Extinction poster - click to enlarge
Video, photo: Courtesy of the Fort Lauderdale Int'l Film Festival (FLiFF)
Filmmaker Rob Stewart shines a light on the killing of sharks across borders in his third, and final, film Sharkwater Extinction. According to the film, worldwide between 100 and 150 million sharks, including endangered species and babies, are slaughtered for their flesh and fins every year, although only about half of them are reported. The Florida premier of the film will be at the Fort Lauderdale Int'l Film Festival (FLiFF) at 8 p.m. Saturday, November 17, 2018 at Bailey Hall, 3501 Davie Road, Davie, Florida (on the Broward College campus). Scroll down to watch a trailer.
In the documentary Stewart and other shark advocates travel to the often violent underworld of the pirate fishing trade in Florida and California as well as West Africa, Spain, Panama, Costa Rica and France. While in Florida they purchase various products at a grocery store and take them to Florida International University for testing. The scientists discover shark DNA in a number of them, including food, health and beauty products, fertilizer and pet food. In addition to beautiful underwater filmography with sharks the film features interviews with shark advocates, experts and locals as well as shaky undercover video.
In his first film, Sharkwater, Stewart brought attention to shark finning for use in shark fin soup. According to promotional materials, his multi award-winning film changed laws and public policy worldwide, and launched hundreds of conservation groups; more than 90 countries have banned shark finning or the trade of shark products.
Despite that unscrupulous fishermen fish sharks and equally unscrupulous buyers purchase them to make soups and much more so that, according to Stewart, they are still being fished to extinction. Stewart perished in a diving accident in the Florida Keys in January 2017 during the making of Sharkwater Extinction.
Posted by Elena del Valle on October 25, 2018
First of occasional travel notes
A section of the Seminole-Wekiva Trail, a 14-mile rail trail in Seminole County, Florida (click on the photo to enlarge)
Photos: Seminole County Parks & Recreation
One of the discoveries I most enjoyed during a recent trip to Lake Mary, Florida was the Seminole-Wekiva Trail, a 14-mile rail trail, which includes Altamonte Springs, Longwood, Lake Mary and Sanford in the central part of the Sunshine State. It runs alongside the abandoned tracks of Florida’s old Orange Beltway Railway, at one time the longest railroad in the country. Although I don't recall seeing the tracks I noticed a small metal sign with the name of the trail.
It couldn't have been more convenient as it passed by the front of my hotel (Westin Lake Mary Orlando North), curving through busy suburban streets, past water features and at times weaving beneath shady tall trees dressed with Spanish moss. My favorite part, I didn't see the entire trail, was the canopied section that traversed a nearby residential area, offering views into the grassy backyards of some of the homes.
The Seminole-Wekiva Trail is part of the Florida National Scenic Trail.
The Seminole-Wekiva Trail is part of the Florida National Scenic Trail, a federally designated, non-motorized, recreation trail that spans approximately 1,300 miles across some of the state landscapes. According to the trail website, the trail end points are: Markham Road near CR 46A (Wekiva River Protection Area) (Longwood) and FL 436 near Laurel St. (Altamonte Springs). I wish we had a similar trail in my neighborhood.
Along its paved path I saw many locals walking their dogs, riding their bicycles (sometimes a bit aggressively), walking and jogging. In the greenest sections, where it was cool and shady, I heard birds calling and nature sounds. Exploring the trail was one of the most pleasant activities during my brief visit to Orlando North.
Posted by Elena del Valle on October 15, 2018
Joe Skelley, marketing and events specialist, OverDrive, Inc.
A podcast interview with Joe Skelley, marketing and events specialist, OverDrive, Inc. is available in the Podcast Section of Hispanic Marketing & Public Relations, HispanicMPR.com. During the podcast, he discusses the Digital Bookmobile with Elena del Valle, host of the HispanicMPR.com podcast.
Joe manages the tour route and logistics of OverDrive’s Digital Bookmobile. He has a background in promotional communication and events, is an avid book reader, and can always be found listening to an audiobook in Libby while walking Roscoe, his Boston terrier.
To listen to the interview, scroll down until you see “Podcast” on the right hand side, then select “HMPR Joe Skelley” and click on the play button below or download the MP3 file to your iPod or MP3 player to listen on the go, in your car or at home from the RSS feed. Some software will not allow flash, which may be necessary for the play button and podcast player. If that is your case, you will need to download the file to play it. To download it, click on the arrow of the recording you wish to copy and save it to disk. The podcast will remain listed in the October 2018 section of the podcast archive.
Posted by Elena del Valle on October 8, 2018
Geri Stengel, research advisor, American Express
A podcast interview with Geri Stengel, research advisor, American Express is available in the Podcast Section of Hispanic Marketing and Public Relations, HispanicMPR.com. During the podcast, she discusses State of Women-Owned Businesses Report with Elena del Valle, host of the HispanicMPR.com podcast.
Geri is president of Ventureneer. She has taught entrepreneurship at The New School, facilitated Kauffman FastTrac courses for entrepreneurs, researched best practices in social media for businesses, and founded a company that provides training and online resources to entrepreneurs and small business owners who want to break through the $1 million revenue level.
Geri was a board member for the New York City Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners for eight years. She was recognized as one of 17 Inspiring Women to Watch in 2017 in Inc. In 2016, she became a mentor for WE NYC and in 2015, she won the Madam C.J. Walker Business Leadership Award from the National Minority Business Council.
To listen to the interview, scroll down until you see “Podcast” on the right hand side, then select “HMPR Geri Stengel” and click on the play button below or download the MP3 file to your iPod or MP3 player to listen on the go, in your car or at home from the RSS feed. Some software will not allow flash, which may be necessary for the play button and podcast player. If that is your case, you will need to download the file to play it. To download it, click on the arrow of the recording you wish to copy and save it to disk. The podcast will remain listed in the October 2018 section of the podcast archive.
Posted by Elena del Valle on October 4, 2018
Photo: Think Tank, Island Press
About 40 percent of the land in the world is used for agriculture and livestock; at the same time in the past 40 years 30 percent of the arable land has become unproductive; and soil erosion and soil degradation are widespread, according to Nourished Planet: Sustainability in the Global Food System Voices from the New Food Movement (Island Press, $25), a newly published book.
Convinced everyone has a right to food and the world needs a food and agriculture system that nourishes all sixteen people contributed their insights to the book “to show what's working on the ground to alleviate hunger and poverty, prevent food loss and food waste, cultivate the next generation of leaders, and create more equity and social justice in the food system.” From conception to publication the book, edited by Danielle Nierenberg, required a year.
When asked who is the target audience Nierenberg replied by email, “All of us. The more than 7 billion eaters who inhabit the planet. However, we hope that academics and students will take special interest--it's an easy to read, engaging book, full of hopeful examples of successful projects that can be replicated and scaled up and out in rich and poor countries alike.”
The 250-page softcover book with many graphics and images is divided into four chapters: Food for All, Food for Sustainable Growth, Food for Health and Food for Culture. Each chapter is accompanied by perspectives from several New Food Movement contributors.
The most critical food issues the United States faces today? Nierenberg responded by addressing the topic on a global scale and indicating that climate change and other environmental problems that impact the food system should create a sense of urgency; food production contributes 30 percent or more of all greenhouse gas emissions and there are some 815 million people who are hungry, while another 2 billion are overweight and obese; and that massive amounts of food are lost or wasted before they can reach peoples' stomachs, at least one third worldwide.
She believes action from the grassroots and the top is necessary, she said by email. She also supports the participation of organizations and communities, researchers and scientists, corporate leaders, and decision-makers to make the food system better.
Danielle Nierenberg, editor, Nourished Planet
When asked what defines the new food movement the book editor replied, “The interest in food has been growing for decades--wealthy consumers have wanted local, fresh, healthy, sustainably grown food--but today we need a food system that goes beyond our personal lives and impacts the women and men all over the globe who depend on the food system for their livelihoods. We need a food system that focuses on equality among women and men, that considers future generations, that helps create opportunities for young people to become not only food producers, but also scientists and researchers, story tellers and advocates, business leaders, and policy makers who can change the way we grow, process, and consume food.”
The definition of farming and food system for purposes of this discussion is she said, “A food system is all of the activities involving the production, processing, transport, sale, and consumption of food. Sustainable food systems are those that are economically, environmentally and socially sustainable--they are regenerative and resilient by helping build soils, protect water and biodiversity, and they recognize the importance of women, workers, and youth for the future of agriculture."
When asked about groups in particular need she said, “Poor and underserved communities often are labeled food deserts because of a lack of grocery stores or markets providing healthy food. Racism and lack of economic communities lead to chronic health problems including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity in communities that lack the resources to address these problems.”
The book contributors are Hilal Elver, special rapporteur on the Right to Food, United Nations; Hans R. Herren, president, Millenium Institute, and president, Biodivision Foundation; Sieglinde Snapp, agronomist, professor of Soils and Cropping Systems Ecology, Michigan State University, and associate director, Center for Global Change and Earth Observations; author Vandana Shiva; Dario Piselli, founder, Sustainable Development Solutions Network; Steve Brescia, chief executive officer Groundswell International; Shaneica Lester and Anne-Teresa Birthwright, 2016 winners of Young Earth Solutions; Alexander Müller, study leader, United Nations Environment Programme–hosted project The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture & Food; Bruce Friedrich, executive director, The Good Food Institute; Tristram Stuart, founder, Feedback; Natasha Bowens, author, The Color of Food: Stories of Race, Resilience and Farming; Lindsey Shute, executive director National Young Farmers Coalition; Stephen Ritz founder, Green Bronx Machine; Ruth Oniang’o, founder, Rural Outreach Programme.
Click to buy Nourished Planet