Spectator – Spin-Doctors of the Revolution


Rachel Boynton, director of the documentary “Our Brand Is Crisis,” was excited when she first learned that American political consultants export their work globally.

While a student at Columbia School of Journalism, she saw a film about the history of 20th century nonviolent conflict that included a segment on how American consultants had gone to Chile in 1990 to produce TV ads for a successful campaign to end Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s long autocratic presidency.

“I thought to myself, ‘There’s my movie. I want to follow an American who is trying to run an ad campaign to oust a dictator,'” Boynton said in a telephone interview. “It seemed to epitomize a lot of things I think of as being fundamentally American — optimism, hubris, political idealism and the profit motive all wrapped up in one event.”

Raised by her Jewish lawyer mother, Esther, after her parents divorced when she was 9 months old, Boynton had already lived in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Denver, Ann Arbor and Paris by the time she was in graduate school. Her film’s subject also dovetailed with her undergraduate degree in international relations from Brown University.

After five years of work on “Crisis,” Boynton, 32, has finally completed her movie, which opens in Los Angeles on April 14. But it didn’t turn out as originally planned.

She documents the campaign waged by the liberal firm of Greenberg Carville (as in James Carville) Shrum (GCS) on behalf of the unpopular but reformist millionaire, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada (a.k.a. “Goni”), who was attempting to return to office as president of Bolivia.

“I liked GCS because they were very idealistic about what they did,” Boynton said. “Most people expect to see political consultants being very mercenary. This firm professed to be idealistic about their work.”

Essentially the firm’s strategies for advertising, focus groups, polling and image-shaping worked in Bolivia. “Goni” won in 2002. But the rifts caused by the spirited election set in motion a bloody uprising that forced him to flee from office in 2004.

The turn of events left the firm’s Jeremy Rosner and Stan Greenberg — captured by Boynton in post-revolt interviews — feeling melancholy and disappointed. A revolution was not part of their plans.

“They had this American attitude because we live in a place that’s stable,” Boynton said. “That is not necessarily the normal course of things all across the world. We need to recognize our perspective is not universally shared.”

“Our Brand Is Crisis” opens April 14 at the Laemmle Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. For showtimes, call (323) 848-3500.

 

7 Days In Arts


Saturday

Somehow, USC Hillel and the Casden Institute have tracked down a few Jews in Hollywood. This weekend, the machers gather with Jewish student filmmakers from Los Angeles and New York for USC’s fourth annual Jewish Student Film Festival. Today’s itinerary: An afternoon “Pitch-Off” and “An Evening with Jonathan Kesselman.” From 4-6 p.m., students get to pitch their story ideas to William Morris agent Mark Itkin; creator and writer of “Freaks and Geeks,” Gabe Sachs; and Howard Rodman, chair of the writing department of the USC School of Cinema-Television. At 7:30 p.m., USC alum and writer-director Kesselman (“The Hebrew Hammer”) participates in a Q and A.Feb. 28-March 2. USC, Los Angeles. (213) 747-9135. www.uschillel.org.

Sunday

To coincide with the release of his novel for young readers, “Summerland,” wonder boy Michael Chabon speaks about “childhood, imagination and creativity” at UCLA today. Chabon is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” (Picador, 2001). A 20-minute Q and A with the audience and book signing will follow the one-hour talk.8 p.m. $15-$35. UCLA Royce Hall, Westwood. (310) 825-2101.

Monday

Those who missed its one-week coming out party this pastOctober can catch “The Trials of Henry Kissinger” on cable this month. TheSundance Channel airs it today (with eight more March screenings) to launch”DOCday” Mondays, a series which will premiere new documentaries every Monday at9 p.m. Finally, the lowliest of weekdays gets some respect. 9 p.m. SundanceChannel. www.sundancechannel.com .

Tuesday

“Fashion and Transgression” is the titillating theme of the USC Fisher Gallery’s current exhibition. American and European women’s fashions from 1900-1950 are examined, exploring “tensions between personal and social identity, as well as the tensions between the liberation and regulation of the body.” Materials on display include photos by Alfred Steiglitz, Man Ray and Edward Steichen, a rare book by Jean Saudé and prints and drawings by Salvador Dali and Otto Dix, taken from various Los Angeles collections.Noon-5 p.m. (Tuesday-Saturday). Runs through April 12. Free. USC Fisher Gallery, Los Angeles. (213) 740-4561.

Wednesday

Lee Miller defied convention as a fashion model-cum-combat photographer. Far from the typical muse, she inspired the likes of Roland Penrose and Man Ray with her beauty, as well as her artistic talent, evident in her paintings, drawings and photographs. Her art, as well as the art inspired by her, is on display in the Getty’s “Surrealist Muse: Lee Miller, Roland Penrose and Man Ray, 1925-1945.” Included are Holocaust images she captured as a photojournalist during World War II.10 a.m.-6 p.m. (Tuesdays-Thursdays, Sundays), 10 a.m.-9 p.m. (Fridays and Saturdays). Runs though June 15. Free. The Getty Museum, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 440-7300.

Thursday

Barbara Cook is only giving us a few days to catch the act that earned her a 2002 Tony nomination for Special Theatrical Event on Broadway. She stars in “Mostly Sondheim” at the Ahmanson with Wally Harper on piano and Jon Burr on bass. As you might have gathered, they’ll be doing songs by Sondheim, as well as others, like Harold Arlen, E.Y. Harburg and Irving Berlin.8 p.m. (Thursday, Friday and Saturday), 2 p.m. (Sunday). Runs through March 9. $20-$55. The Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 628-2772.

Friday

Titian meets tango in Ruth Weisberg’s latest exhibition, “Ruth Weisberg: Love, Sacred and Profane.” Her work is often inspired by fine art images, like Titian’s “Amor, Sacro e Profano” and William Blake’s engravings for Dante’s “Inferno.” In this exhibition, she uses both of these works as foundations for depicting the confluence of art history and personal history, as in her Titian-inspired piece, where lovers slow dance in the forefront of the painting.10 a.m.-6 p.m. (Tuesdays-Fridays), 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Saturdays). Runs through April 30. Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, 357 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 938-5222.

Fine Cut: A Festival of Student Film


Student films from throughout Southern California are currentlybeing featured on the three-part KCET series “Fine Cut: A Festival ofStudent Film,” airing on Sundays at 10 p.m. The series, hosted bydirector Michael Apted, will feature a total of 17 films fromstudents at UCLA, USC, CalArts, Loyola Marymount and the AmericanFilm Institute. Ranging in length from three to 32 minutes, theentries include dramas, documentaries and animation.

Debuting last Sunday, “Fine Cut” continues this week with anotherentertaining lineup. “In the Hole,” the true story of a Queensteen-ager who steals a New York subway train for a joyride, isfeatured; “Hole” debuted at last year’s Telluride Film Festival’sFilmmakers of Tomorrow program. Also this week: Tony Bui’s impressivedebut, “Yellow Lotus,” the first American film shot in Vietnam, whichwowed audiences at Telluride in 1995 and won the Loyola Marymountgraduate a lucrative feature contract; “The Projects,” a satiricallook at California immigration policies; and “INFITD,” a UCLA dramaabout a young boy who wards off evil forces by chanting “INFITD,” anacronym for “I’ll not fall into the Devil.”

Both of this week’s animated shorts are courtesy of CalArts. MarkOsborne’s “Greener” uses a variety of techniques, including thepainstaking stop-motion and hand-coloring processes, and “Stampede”is a three minute piece created with hand-carved rubber stamps.

Next week’s installment includes “Independent Little Cuss,” winnerof the Gold Medal at the 1996 Student Academy Awards, which documentsthe story of disabled-rights activist Carole Patterson as sheprepares to marry a non-disabled man against the wishes of herfamily. Also scheduled is “Unbearable Being,” an animated short abouta personal identity crisis; the computer-generated “Cocoon”; and”Sitting in Limbo,” starring Adam Wylie (“Picket Fences”).

Buñuel in Mexico

Fans of Spanish director Luis Bunuel will want to check out theLos Angeles County Museum of Art’s current series that showcases hisMexican work. “El Bruto,” “Abismos de Pasion” (his surreal “WutheringHeights” remake), and many other works unavailable on video are amongthose featured. At LACMA’s Bing Theater, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., LosAngeles. Call (213) 857-6010 for a complete schedule.

Documentary Days

Laemmle Theatres’ current series of documentaries continues at theGrande 4-Plex in downtown Los Angeles. This week: “Colors StraightUp,” which profiles a year in the life of Colors United, anafter-school drama program for youth in Watts. The Grande is at 345S. Figueroa St. Call (213) 617-0268 for show times.

Go to The Jewish Journal’s 7 Days in theArts

Fine Cut: A Festival of Student Film


Student films from throughout Southern California are currentlybeing featured on the three-part KCET series “Fine Cut: A Festival ofStudent Film,” airing on Sundays at 10 p.m. The series, hosted bydirector Michael Apted, will feature a total of 17 films fromstudents at UCLA, USC, CalArts, Loyola Marymount and the AmericanFilm Institute. Ranging in length from three to 32 minutes, theentries include dramas, documentaries and animation.

Debuting last Sunday, “Fine Cut” continues this week with anotherentertaining lineup. “In the Hole,” the true story of a Queensteen-ager who steals a New York subway train for a joyride, isfeatured; “Hole” debuted at last year’s Telluride Film Festival’sFilmmakers of Tomorrow program. Also this week: Tony Bui’s impressivedebut, “Yellow Lotus,” the first American film shot in Vietnam, whichwowed audiences at Telluride in 1995 and won the Loyola Marymountgraduate a lucrative feature contract; “The Projects,” a satiricallook at California immigration policies; and “INFITD,” a UCLA dramaabout a young boy who wards off evil forces by chanting “INFITD,” anacronym for “I’ll not fall into the Devil.”

Both of this week’s animated shorts are courtesy of CalArts. MarkOsborne’s “Greener” uses a variety of techniques, including thepainstaking stop-motion and hand-coloring processes, and “Stampede”is a three minute piece created with hand-carved rubber stamps.

Next week’s installment includes “Independent Little Cuss,” winnerof the Gold Medal at the 1996 Student Academy Awards, which documentsthe story of disabled-rights activist Carole Patterson as sheprepares to marry a non-disabled man against the wishes of herfamily. Also scheduled is “Unbearable Being,” an animated short abouta personal identity crisis; the computer-generated “Cocoon”; and”Sitting in Limbo,” starring Adam Wylie (“Picket Fences”).

Buñuel in Mexico

Fans of Spanish director Luis Bunuel will want to check out theLos Angeles County Museum of Art’s current series that showcases hisMexican work. “El Bruto,” “Abismos de Pasion” (his surreal “WutheringHeights” remake), and many other works unavailable on video are amongthose featured. At LACMA’s Bing Theater, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., LosAngeles. Call (213) 857-6010 for a complete schedule.

Documentary Days

Laemmle Theatres’ current series of documentaries continues at theGrande 4-Plex in downtown Los Angeles. This week: “Colors StraightUp,” which profiles a year in the life of Colors United, anafter-school drama program for youth in Watts. The Grande is at 345S. Figueroa St. Call (213) 617-0268 for show times.

Go to The Jewish Journal’s 7 Days in theArts

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