Chale Nafus's blog

Preview: AFS Selects 'The Salt of Life' Opening Friday

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The Salt of Life

In The Salt of Life (with an Italian title better translated as Gianni and the Women), Gianni (Gianni Di Gregorio) is a sweet sadsack of a man, nearing 60 but already "retired" for nearly a decade. He is lonely but not alone, since he has a lovely wife, college-age daughter, concerned friend Alfonso (Alfonso Santagata), a sweet dog, and a nonagenarian mother. But it is the latter, played by Valeria de Franciscis, whose imperious manner and spendthrift ways are increasing the size of the Gucci bags drooping under Gianni's tired eyes.

If she has any "problem," large or small, Mama calls her only child and complains that she isn't feeling well and that he must come over right away. Once he arrives at her beautiful estate with a lush garden and rooms full of valuable art, Gianni quickly discovers that she simply needs champagne and sandwiches served to her ancient friends playing poker. With no job, Gianni is the go-to man for family shopping, for walking the dog, for picking up the laundry, for buying curtains from Ikea, and for adjusting the picture on Mama's TV. Apron strings were never so long or unbreakable.

This Weekend: 10th Annual Austin Jewish Film Festival

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The 10th annual Austin Jewish Film Festival starts this Saturday, March 24, and runs through March 30. In addition, the fest is hosting a special festival kickoff celebration: David Amram in concert on Thursday, March 22.

The fest includes 25 international feature films and shorts from Denmark, France, Israel, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, UK, and the U.S., which will be shown at Regal Arbor.

The AJFF Kickoff Celebration is a David Amram concert on March 22, presented at Congregation Agudas Achim on the Dell Jewish Community Campus (7300 Hart Lane) at 7:30 pm. Thanks to underwriting by the Austin Jewish Film Festival, concert tickets are only $10. This is a rare opportunity to see/hear this amazing musician.

Amram is also the subject of a documentary that will screen on opening night: David Amram, The First 80 Years. Amram and the documentary director will be present for a Q&A after the film.

The 81-year-old composer, musician, conductor and writer has explored and combined classical music, jazz, folk music, and world music. He has performed with other musical giants such as Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hamton, Charles Mingus, Mary Lou Williams, Miles David, Nina Simone, Arturo Sandoval, and Stan Getz; with authors Langston Hughes, Arthur Miller, Gregory Korso, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac; with film director Elia Kazan; and with actors Dustin Hoffman and Johnny Depp. There seems to be no limits to his musical abilities, and this concert promises to be a major event in Austin cultural history.

SXSW Review: Vivan las Antipodas

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As children, many of us growing up in Texas thought that if we could just dig straight down through the center of the Earth, we would "come out in China." It turns out we would have been somewhere in the Indian Ocean, floundering about with no land in sight. But there are some very real antipodes -- places diametrically opposed to each other -- on land. For Vivan las Antipodas, acclaimed Russian documentary filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky took a film crew to visit four pairs of antipodes (Argentina-China, Chile-Russia, Hawaii-Botswana, New Zealand-Spain) and see if there were any similarities or ironic contrasts between oppositional geography and ways of life. In the process he captured a treasure trove of stunning images that remind us how wonderful and beautiful our planet and its inhabitants can be.

Describing the genesis of this remarkable film before its screening at the Venice Film Festival, Kossakovsky explained: "Traveling in the countryside of Argentina, I saw a man, fishing from a small bridge in a very small village. Under the sunset-light, that simple place looked … like the most beautiful and peaceful place on Earth. I imagined -- what if I were to extend this fishing line straight … through the center of the Earth? What will I see on the other side? Turned out, one of the most powerful, bustling and noisy cities of the planet – Shanghai."

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