Bernstein’s Wall: An Extraordinary Extrovert’s Life

By C.J. Hirschfield

July 19, 2022

In the upcoming (2023) Netflix biographical film Maestro, based on the life of renowned conductor/composer/pianist Leonard Bernstein, directed by and starring Bradley Cooper with Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg producing, there is a scene already circulating on social media of Bernstein passionately kissing his male lover.You will not find this sort of scene depicted in the new documentary film Bernstein’s Wall, which has its San Francisco premiere at the 42nd San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, July 21-August 7. What you will see, however, is a richly textured biography of a man whose remarkable story includes a deep commitment to his Jewish heritage, to political activism, to his art, to teaching, and to his family. His bisexuality, not so much. Continue reading

More Loudly Anticipating the San Francisco Silent Film Festival

Part Two- What I Will Be Seeing

By Meredith Brody

May 4, 2022

I learned my lesson early with the San Francisco Silent Film Festival: GO TO EVERYTHING.

The first year I attended, I cherry-picked only the movies I hadn’t seen before.  The ones I went to were such a revelation – both in the presentation and the group experience – that my heart hurt as I walked away.  What a MAROON I was. Even a movie I thought I knew well would be a fresh experience, featuring as it did not only live music, but one of the world’s great audiences. There’s a kind of euphoria that sets in when you commit to seeing everything on offer. Continue reading

MAMA BEARS RISING

By C.J. Hirschfield

March 30, 2022

Last month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a letter calling on professionals, including teachers and doctors, to report parents who give their trans children gender-affirming care. And even though the ACLU says it’s not legally binding, it is just another in a long line of assaults on trans and LGBTQ rights in that state.

But look out, Abbott. Texas trans kindergartner Kai and her mom—actually, lots of moms like her—are uniting and fighting for the rights of their LGBTQ kids. And guess what? They’re all devout and conservative Christians whose Mama Bears network of private Facebook groups exist in every state, numbering over 30,000 members at last count. Continue reading

THE CREATIVE HIGH

By C.J. Hirschfield

In 2020, more people in San Francisco died of overdoses than of covid-19—an almost impossible statistic to comprehend.

So a film featuring people living in that city who are in recovery from addiction is timely and hopeful; what is unique is that all nine of them have had their lives dramatically transformed by the “alternative high” they achieve through art-making.

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FLEE Brings Secrets to Animated Life

By C.J. Hirschfield

More and more often, documentary filmmakers are turning to animation to tell stories—or parts of stories—that can’t be represented in any other way. In the case of the compelling new film FLEE, the storyteller spent much of his life since childhood in the shadows as an illegal Afghan refugee, and even now does not feel comfortable sharing his last name, or his face. It’s understood that traditional documentaries involve some degree of manipulation, and animated nonfiction films provide even more leeway to let imaginations take flight.

February 2022 Movies | Moviefone

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FAUCI: PLAGUE POLITICS

 

By C.J. Hirschfield

Cher. Elvis. Plato. Beyonce. Their fame is such that only one name is needed for recognition.

And now– Fauci, perhaps one of the most unlikely cultural icons ever. A new documentary puts this remarkable public servant within the context of history, in which, as he describes it, “the two most devastating pandemics in the last 100 years are the bookends of my life and career.”

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