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Archive for October, 2013

The Wink

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013



By:    Toby Harris – Student at St. Andrew’s University, Scotland

Suave or sleazy?

Some men can wink and it is intriguing, mysterious, and alluring, whilst others are immediately threatened with a restraining order. Unfortunately, I lean towards the latter, but I hasten to plead my innocence. Any potential threats have never materialized to legal charges being pressed.

What should the wink be? Quick, impromptu, discrete, subtle, cool, sudden with a hint of intrigue…enough of a gesture to want more. The success of the move is very much dependent on the person doing the wink, the backdrop of the act, and the preferences of the wink-receiver.

There is a fine line between ‘the wink’ and a nervous twitch. Some people can wink with one eye with ease and they then fall into a fatal trap- using the other eye. NO! You might be able to wink with the left but that is not a prerequisite to being able to wink with the right.

Never forget that for every winker, there is a winkee. The extent to which the receiver is receptive of the gesture will determine the relative success, failure, or possible criminality of the exploit.

Often, after a few alcoholic beverages, the subject is placed in the safe sanctuary of inebriation, offering unfounded social confidence. Any former social inhibitions may have departed, offering the opportunity to utilize this bold, potential conversation catalyst.

Allow me to examine the nature of “the wink”. It is a rather seductive, suggestive and courting maneuver, offering an insight to potential interest -usually of a sexual nature. Intriguingly, such a niche expression can be encompassed in a sudden, momentary closure of one eye.

The wink epitomizes the “grey area” of social decorum. The gesture commonly features in the world of Hollywood. Picture a young professional man, with a loosened tie after a stressful day at the office that goes to the local bar for a whisky on the rocks. Inevitably, two attractive females are conveniently placed at the table next to him. When he places his order, he looks across, gives a little grin and employs the wink. The two young females giggle and fall head over heels for both the wink and the man at once. I wait with baited breath to see this course of events take place in reality.

The idealised, movie-made scenario is what I will call, ‘The Gentlemanly Wink’. However, the gesticulation is not exclusive to this tasteful scenario. More commonly it will feature in a local pub when the resident top darts player will order another round of beers for himself and the lads and say to the bar-lady, “Cheers, Love, keep the change.” This statement will more than likely be followed by the wink. What makes matters worse is that his order will cost £4.99 and he will have paid with a £5 note.

As soon as an individual opts to employ the wink they are at risk of either looking as if they are visually impaired or socially challenged. Nevertheless, it is rather common. Films depict the wink as a classic, “go-to move” in an effort to spark a flirtatious conversation at the bar. I challenge the notion that the wink is a useful tool to begin any form of social interaction.

Is the wink something we keep, or blink away? If it’s a keeper, should it be a gonner? And if it’s a gonner, should it be a keeper?

Promoting Chicago as a film hub

Monday, October 21st, 2013
Panel on Producing: The Chicago Way

Panel on Producing: The Chicago Way

The daylong Chicago Film + Media Summit opened with long lines at registration tables yesterday at the Chicago Cultural Center. Quite a sight to see all the people interested in filmmaking, distribution, writing, and etc. gather here, along with dozens of exhibitors on the second floor.

The Dept. of Cultural Affairs and Special Events presented the event, along with a number of organizations that helped put the event together.

“I am very pleased to welcome you to the first Chicago Film and Media Summit,” a greeting from Mayor Emanuel states. “Our goal today is to foster the ever-evolving film community right here in Chicago by providing new opportunities and connecting filmmakers with experts in the field.”

I was surprised by the number of people attending it, from 10 in the morning till 6 in the evening. A variety of panels on topics such as producing, distribution, and fundraising were offered.

Panel on Decoding Distribution

Panel on Decoding Distribution

I attended two and a half before rushing off to CIFF to catch a film.

The Producers Series held at the Claudia Cassidy Theater were fully packed, at least for the two I was present. Speakers and moderators include Laurel Ward (Ice Harvest), Bob Teitel (Barbershop), Albert Berger (Nebraska, Little Miss Sunshine), Zak Piper (The Interrupters), Steven Jones (The Harvest). By the questions people raised in the audience one could easily get a sense that many people are engaged or interested in producing films in Chicago.

I found the panels quite informative on a number of fronts, including fundraising and distribution.

The State of Illinois provides good tax credit for filmmakers to shoot and produce films in the state, and Chicago is a site frequently used in many films. It makes sense for the city to promote it more systematically and help build the network that eventually help keep the investment money in film from Chicago spent in Chicago.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. Visit for more information.

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The Enemy Within – Anarchy?

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013


U.S. Congress Picture


A few weeks ago, I described the biggest threat to the US as the United States Congress. I did not expect to see a full example of their destructive role so soon.

I believe that today’s United States Congress is a major threat to our economy, our national security, and our democracy. The American people, whose representatives in Congress are supposed to be acting in good faith and in the interests of the people of this country, are seeing their true colors. There are no policies, only politics. Our Congress is not interested in the American people, or the people they represent in their constituencies, but in winning points from the opposition in a perpetual game of politics designed to keep them in power at any cost.

So today, the government is partially shutdown and is under threat of failing to pass an increase in our debt level, in order to pay our bills and honor our overseas obligations. How did we get in the situation?

075 Government-Shutdown-2013


The Republicans, apparently now dominated by many inexperienced, ignorant and radical tea party members, threatened the president and of course the country with a partial shutdown of the government, unless the President agreed to roll back the Affordable Care Act, his signature policy on providing healthcare for the 15% of the American population that has none. The Republican-dominated house has already passed 40 different bills to roll back, eliminate or defund the healthcare legislation. These efforts were made despite the fact that they had no hope of success because the Democrats control the Senate. Their efforts in the courts had also failed culminating in a victory for the president in the Supreme Court, and the American people had re-elected President Obama with a majority of over 5 million votes in November 2012. Notwithstanding these loud and clear messages, a large percentage of the Republican house refuses to accept the law of the land. This is anarchy! These people are saying we don’t care what the law is, we don’t care what the Supreme Court said, and we don’t care that the American people re-elected Obama by a large majority. Finally they don’t seem to care that millions of Americans are thankful that at last they will be able to sign up for health care programs, currently available only to those that can afford them.Of course, there are major economic issues that need to be addressed. We need to tackle the deficit and get it reduced in a sensible manner over a number of years. Despite the fact that never in the history of the US has there been a larger gap between the richest and the poorest Americans, and that the richest 1%, who owns 25% of the nation’s assets, have enjoyed tax cuts, tax breaks, and loopholes that means there are paying the lowest rates of taxes in American history, the Republican-controlled house will not entertain under any circumstances adjustments to the tax code that would provide for highly profitable US corporations or wealthy Americans to pay their fair share, in order to set off the painful costs of adjusting benefits to middle-class and less fortunate citizens.

050 ProtestAboutShutdown

With the polarization of our representatives, there seems very little hope, that there can be any compromise. So these crises are likely to continue, and the US and its people will continue to suffer. The damage done by this Congress so far, has slowed our growth rates, created uncertainty and failed to address our real problems. If this continues the richest country in the world will soon be a struggling 2nd world country. Perhaps the only solution which might transpire in November 2014, is a revolt by the American people, providing control of both houses to the Democrats, so that legislation can move forward and our problems can be addressed in a sensible manner.


Ellis M. Goodman, author of Bear Any Burden:




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Call for action – Honor Diaries

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

honor diaryHonor Diary, a documentary film denouncing the cruelty against women in the name of culture and family honor, will be shown at the Chicago Int’l Film Festival (CIFF).

Nine courageous women’s rights advocates voiced their stance against gender inequality, “honor killing,” female body mutilation, and forced marriage in this film.

“Culture is no excuse for abuse,” said Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Executive Producer of Honor Diaries. “I am proud to join these courageous women to speak the truth.”

Some numbers the film presented serve strongly as wake up calls—such actions are not only in the Arabic world, but here in the U.S. as well.

“In male-dominated cultures, like Saudi Arabia, women and girls are treated like property, forced into marriage, and suffer female genital mutilation,” the film states.  “Now, these barbaric practices are coming to America, with 3,000 cases of forced marriage occurring in the US over the past two years, and 150,000 – 200,000 girls in the United States at risk of being forced to undergo female genital mutilation.”

Star advocates in Honor Diaries

Star advocates in Honor Diaries

As I watched the film at the press screening at the CIFF, I couldn’t help from thinking how similar women were regarded in the traditional Chinese culture in that they were supposed to obey their father, husband, or son.

These women advocates, including the “expert interviewees,” such as fellow writer and friend Qanta Ahmed (In the Land of Invisible Women,) should be hailed for their courage and efforts.

“When women suffer in silence, they suffer alone, and their suffering grows,” said Raheel Raza, President of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow and co-star of Honor Diaries. “Only when women come together and break the silence can this suffering end. ”

Honor Diaries will be shown at AMC River East at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 13 and 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 15. Producer Paula Kweskin will be at the screenings and do Q & A.

Visit for more information.  

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset.

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49th Chicago Int’l Film Festival is about to start

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013
A Thousand Times Good Night

A Thousand Times Good Night

The annual fanfare of the Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF) will run from Oct. 10 to 24. It will feature 180 films from 60 countries this year.

There are several competition categories at CIFF: the International Feature, New Directors, Docufest, After Dark, Q Hugo, and Short Film. In addition, CIFF also presents films in seven out-of-competition sections, including Special Presentations, World Cinema, Black Perspectives, Cinema of the Americas, City & State, Docufest, OUT-Look, REELWOMEN, and Spotlight Africa. A new program added this year is Comedy Focus, a celebration of the role comedy has played in film history.

Blinding Sunlight, China

Blinding Sunlight, China

I had the privilege of watching the first advance screening for media and industry earlier this week, a feature film from Norway titled A Thousand Times Good Night by Erik Poppe. It tells the story of a driven and talented war photographer Rebecca (Juliette Binoche). While photographing suicide bombers, she is badly hurt in an explosion. When she returns home to Norway, her husband (Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and daughter, who are worried-sick of her dangerous assignments, give her an ultimatum to choose between her work and her family. The film was very moving and gripping, and the ending leaves you pondering life’s choices and their impact on us. Juliette Binoche’s performance was most powerful. A film definitely worth seeing.

As a journalist, I will have access to the Red Carpet opening, all the screenings, and special events. I interviewed actress Joan Allen last year, and would like to find out how many stars will be present this year, and whom I can interview for coverage. I’m a little disappointed that there are less than 15 films from Asia.

Hope to see some of you at the AMC River North where all the films will be shown. For more information on the Festival and how to obtain tickets, visit:

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning feature-length documentary movie by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. For more information, visit

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