Arts and Culture

Couple travels to Iowa, gets married and accidentally makes a gay rights movie

February 3, 2011

This week’s issue of Philadelphia Weekly includes the story of West Philly couple Amanda Kole and Rachel Turanski, whose journey to Iowa last summer to marry is the subject of a documentary due out this spring.

The couple says that the film, Married in Spandex, is not overtly political and was never meant to be a film at all. It was supposed to be just a wedding video that included footage of their 18-hour trek to Iowa, one of five states where same-sex marriage is legal (plus the District of Columbia), and their wedding.

“I never thought we’d be people who were political or controversial. We just wanted to exercise our rights, and we had to go to Iowa to do it,” Kole told reporter Michael Alan Goldberg.

Kole’s sister and her sister’s boyfriend, both filmmakers, recorded the trip and the wedding, which featured a cast of zany characters but also family members who are conservative but came to accept, and enjoy, the wedding.

“We’re not Michael Moore-ing it up,” Turanski laughs. “Fighting fire with fire doesn’t do anything but make people more angry. Ideally, people will watch this and think, ‘They love each other, they’re stable, they have great jobs, they’re hilarious, they’re putting good into the world—why not just let them get married and have it be legal in Pennsylvania?’”

Here is a video released to help raise money for the production of the film:

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Art show and sale for fire relief tonight

February 2, 2011

An Amanada Hamtil piece.

A group of Philadelphia artists will be hosting a benefit show, sale and raffle tonight at 5:30 p.m. at City Tap House (3925 Walnut St.) for victims of the Jan. 10 Windermere Court Apartments fire in West Philly.

Amanda Hamtil, Gaby Heit, Christopher Kontoes and S. Leser are members of the artist’s group “In Here.” They work in photography, acrylic painting, pen and ink and pencil drawing. Twenty percent of all their sales will go to the Salvation Army West Philadelphia Fire Distress Relief fund. The artists will also donate pieces to a raffle that will also be held tonight at the City Tap House.

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West Philly filmmaker dazzles Sundance

February 2, 2011

toynbee tileYou have probably stepped on Toynbee Tile a hundred times – maybe a thousand times – and never took notice. The little cryptic messages are embedded in streets in about 30 cities in the United States and South America. You can find them all over Center City Philadelphia. The Toynbee Tiles mystery intrigued Jon Foy, a West Philly resident, so much that he taught himself filmmaking and cleaned houses to pay for a documentary he shot and produced called “Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles.”

His efforts were recently noticed. Big time. Foy has won the U.S. Documentary Competition Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival.

“I had no idea that such things were possible in life. Just a few weeks ago I was a housecleaner,” Foy said. “This is for all the artists working in obscurity out there.” “Never give up, because if you do, you know what will happen. If you don’t give up, you don’t know what will happen.”

Here is an impromptu interview with Foy soon after he received his award. Needless to say, if John cleans your house you may want to start looking for someone else.

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Film screenings tonight in West Philly

January 25, 2011

Two film screenings are on tap tonight in the hood.

Entrapment or Foiling Terror? • 7 p.m. • Calvary Center for Community and Culture • 801 S. 48th St. • Free

Journalists Anjali Kamat and Petra Bartosiewicz tell the stories of Muslim communities in New York and New Jersey grappling with increased law enforcement scrutiny chalked up to the “War on Terror.” Specifically, they detail three cases, including the “Newburgh Four,” four men accused of bombing a community center in Newburgh, New York. The cases question the FBI’s use of paid informants in conducting the investigations of “homegrown terror.”

Exit Through the Gift Shop • 8:30 p.m. • Dock Street Brewing Co. • 701 S. 50th St. • Free

A Los Angeles immigrant turned street artist … OK I could write a lot about this film and not do it justice. Go see it. Here’s a preview:

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West Philly weekend

January 14, 2011

As we head into the weekend our thoughts and prayers are still with our neighbors who were victims of the devastating fire this week and its aftermath. We will continue to post any efforts we hear about  to help those folks.

Meanwhile, here are some things going on this weekend:

Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement (PYPM) and Friends at The Rotunda (4014 Walnut St.) on Saturday at 7 p.m. This is part of the PYPM Dream Big Literary Arts Festival. This is about youth using their voices and their talent to make positive change in our community. If you can’t get behind that, then what can you get behind? Tickets are $7. The Dream Big festival is going on all weekend with several events at the International House (3701 Chestnut) in addition to this one at The Rotunda. See the schedule here. Here is an artist you will see around, Safiya:

• The Five Minute Follies is tonight (Friday) at The Rotunda (4014 Walnut St.) at 8:30 p.m. This should be kind of wild – a bunch of wacky and cool five-minute acts. Organizers bill it as a “live, onstage variety extravaganza.” Among the performers will be Philly’s Queen of Rockabilly Kathia Jane. A $5 donation at the door is suggested, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. Organizers warn that some material may not be suitable for all audiences.

• If  “A girl like you” likes acts that are maybe a little more polished (and a lot more expensive) then 80s rockers The Smithereens are playing at World Cafe Live (3025 Walnut St.) on Friday. The doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30.50 to $40.50.

idiosynCrazy Productions presents Flatland 2010 on Saturday at the Annenberg Center for Performing Arts‘ Harold Prince Theater at 8 p.m. The Annenberg Center (3680 Walnut St.) explains that the production: “is a physical theatre work that examines contemporary human (mis-)communication. This diverse cast of 11 athletic performers explores what happens to human relationships in a ‘flattened’ world of abbreviation and oversimplification, where the sound bite supersedes substance and the instant message overpowers the intellectual one. The great news on this one is that it is part of the West Philly Rush Hour program, which means people that live in 19104, 19131, 19139, 19142, 19143, 19151, 19153 and can prove it get in for $10.

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West Philadelphia Gospel Choir Competition deadline extended

January 14, 2011

The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts has extended the entry deadline for the West Philadelphia Gospel Choir Competition to January 31. Choirs can compete in one of three categories in the April 2 competition: Traditional Gospel; A Cappella; and Contemporary (Jazz/Rap). The winners in each category will open for the vocal jazz group Take 6 on April 30th at the Annenberg Center and receive a $250 cash prize and archival recording of the performance.

More information, including an entry application, is available on the Annenberg Center website here.

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