'Criticism is the only thing that stands between the audience and advertising.' - Pauline Kael


Paul Robeson With Oakland, Ca. Shipyard Workers, 1942

Black August

So in order to best cover all bases, progressive film critics tend to consider three categories of assessment, rather than two: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. The first two are self-explanatory. And the third category is reserved for movies that may have been impressively put together, but there's just something offensively anti-humanistic about them.

Stay tuned......

The Organizer

Monday, February 16, 2009


Ed Rampell Talks Progies On Burt Cohen's Roadside Radio Show: CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

: Recipient of The James Agee Cinema Circle Modern Times Award for Best Progressive Satire, is named after Charlie Chaplin, who made 1936's Modern Times and 1940's The Great Dictator. Religulous shares the award this year with War, Inc.

The Progies are the “Anti-Oscars” annually awarded by the James Agee Cinema Circle – an international group of left movie critics and historians -- for the Best Progressive Films and Filmmakers of conscience and consciousness.

1. THE TRUMBO: The Progie Award for BEST PROGRESSIVE PICTURE is named after Oscar-winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, a member of the Hollywood Ten, who was imprisoned for his beliefs and refusing to inform. Trumbo helped break the Blacklist when he received screen credit for "Spartacus" and "Exodus" in 1960.


2. THE GARFIELD: The Progie Award for BEST ACTOR is named after John Garfield, who rose from the proletarian theatre to star in progressive pictures such as "Gentleman's Agreement" and "Force of Evil," only to run afoul of the Hollywood Blacklist.


3. KAREN MORLEY AWARD: For BEST ACTRESS. Named for Karen Morley, who was driven out of Hollywood in the 1930s for her leftist views, but who maintained her militant political activism for the rest of her life, running for Lieutenant Governor on the American Labor Party ticket in 1954. She passed away in 2003, unrepentant to the end, at the age of 93.


4. THE RENOIR: The Progie Award for BEST ANTI-WAR FILM is named after the great French filmmaker Jean Renoir, who directed the 1937 anti-militarism masterpiece "Grand Illusion."


5. THE GILLO: The Progie Award for BEST PROGRESSIVE FOREIGN FILM is named after the Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo, who lensed the 1960s classics "The Battle of Algiers" and "Burn!"


6. THE DZIGA: The Progie Award for BEST PROGRESSIVE DOCUMENTARY is named after the Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov, who directed 1920s nonfiction films such as the "Kino Pravda" ("Film Truth") series and "The Man With the Movie Camera."


7. ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD: Named after brutally slain young actress, Adrienne Shelly. For the movie this year most opposing violence against women.


8. LA PASSIONARA AWARD: For the most positive female images in a movie, and in light of the historically demeaning portrayal of women in movies


9. OUR DAILY BREAD AWARD: For the most positive and inspiring working class images in a movie this year.


10. THE ROBESON AWARD: Named after courageous performing legend, Paul Robeson. The award is for the movie that best expresses the people of color in light of the historically demeaning portrayal of them in films.


11. THE BRANDO: The Progie Award for BEST PROGRESSIVE FILM ACTIVIST is named after Marlon Brando, who starred in movies such as the Black power-themed "Burn!" and 1987's anti-apartheid "A Dry White Season," and championed underdogs like the American Indian Movement offscreen.


12. THE TOMAS GUTIERREZ ALEA AWARD: Named after the late legendary Cuban filmmaker. For best depicting mass popular uprising or revolutionary transformation in a movie.


14. THE SERGEI: The Progie Award for Best Progressive LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT is named after the Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, who created Russian revolutionary classics such as 1925's "Potemkin" and 1927's "10 Days That Shook the World."


15. THE LAWSON: The Progie Award for BEST ANTI-FASCIST FILM this year, is named after screenwriter John Howard Lawson, one of the Hollywood Ten, who wrote Hollywood's first feature about the Spanish Civil War, 1938's "Blockade," with Henry Fonda, and anti-Nazi movies such as 1943's "Sahara," starring Humphrey Bogart.


16. THE MODERN TIMES: The Progie Award for Best Progressive Film SATIRE is named after Charlie Chaplin, who made 1936's "Modern Times" and 1940's "The Great Dictator."




17. THE ORSON: The Progie Award for BEST OVERLOOKED OR THEATRICALLY UNRELEASED [seen at festivals, or on TV or DVD only] Progressive Film is named after actor/director Orson Welles. After he directed the masterpiece "Citizen Kane" Welles had difficulty getting most of his other movies made.


18. THE LORENTZ: The Progie Award for Best ENVIRONMENTALIST film is named after Pare Lorentz, who directed the Depression era classic documentaries "The Plow That Broke the Plains" and "The River."


19. THE PASOLINI: The Progie Award for Best PRO-GAY RIGHTS Film is named after Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini, who directed 1964's "The Gospel According to St. Matthew" and "The Decameron" and "The Canterbury Tales" in the 1970S


20. THE LENNON: The Progie Award for Best Progressive MUSICAL OR FILM ABOUT MUSIC is named after peace activist and musician John Lennon, who co-starred in the 1967 satire "How I Won the War" and the 2006 doc "The U.S. vs. John Lennon."


ELIA KAZAN HALL OF SHAME 2008: Citations for the worst anti-workingclass and right wing movies of the year.

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE: For its reinforcement of the status quo on mass-es and un-Critic-call levels. And for its colonialist mentality, including refusal to honor or recognize for awards the Indian co-director Tandan Loveleen, and for not compensating the still impoverished Indian children playing impoverished Indian children in Slumdog Millionaire, while the movie amasses millions in profits.

CHE: Patronizing and exploitive artsy distortion of the real life and struggle of Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution. Cultural imperialism, alive and well at the movies.

ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED: A premeditated act of promotional propaganda masquerading as a balanced documentary. And in the service of exonerating - with a creative genius defense - the noted fugitive from justice filmmaker's rape of a drugged child.

THE LIFE BEFORE HER EYES: Orthodox family values in fake free spirit female coed Columbine comeuppance clothing. Or in other words, a woman's place is in the delivery room. Not exactly a road movie, but certainly an anti-abortion mandatory teen motherhood guilt trip. All that's missing are the pamphlet tables in the theater lobbies.

HOUSE OF THE SLEEPING BEAUTIES: A movie that might have been more aptly titled, Sexually Desirable When Drugged, the film allows lewd elderly director Vadim Glowna to star himself as molester and rapist of a series of nude adolescent slumbering sex slaves, in what may or may not be a fantasy brothel for necrophiliacs. Nothing less than a romanticized and lusty aesthetic portrayal of date rape.

DOUBT: African American mom confesses that she doesn't mind if her son is being molested by a pedophile priest, as long as he gets to graduate. Will all the mothers in the audience who have ever heard such an idea even hinted at from the lips of a fellow female parent, please raise your hands.

THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON: For those black mammies still showing up on the screen, even when they're men. Include Hounddog, Nights In Rodanthe, The Secret Life Of Bees, and Miracle At St. Anna.

AN AMERICAN CAROL: Hyper-reactionary rant. And cast member John Voight, a once fine actor, for backing the insupportable Rudolph Giuliani, the left-baiter at the GOP convention, for president.


Military recruitment ads in theaters and on television.

Rick Warren's video on his church's website the week of Dec. 21st.

Mel Gibson, for his un-repented anti-Semitism.

Monday, February 2, 2009

JACC Member Lisa Collins Screens Film At Oscar Micheaux Event In NYC

The Columbia University School of the Arts Film Program, The Film Society of Lincoln Center, and University Seminars on Cinema and Interdisciplinary Interpretation at Columbia University are presenting a landmark film event, Faded Glory: Oscar Micheaux And The Pre-War Black Independent Cinema. The series takes place February 6th and 7th, and conferences are free and open to the public.

This unique presentation will focus on the work by the influential African-American filmmaker, Oscar Micheaux. Newly discovered prints and materials will be shown and discussed for the the first time ever by speakers at this conference. The Film Society at Lincoln Center will screen Micheaux's movies in conjunction with the conference.

A special event will be the presentation by Lisa Collins of her work-in-progress film short, Oscar's Comeback, on Friday February 6th at 3:45pm at Columbia's Schermerhorn Hall, Room 501. It's a sly, complex non-fiction feature set in rural South Dakota about a small, all-white town celebrating its most famous ‘native’ son - black, controversial early 1900s film pioneer Oscar Micheaux. Lisa is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle and the James Agee Cinema Circle, and she produced this film in collaboration with Mark Schwartzburt. A more extensive bio of Lisa Collins is below.

Lisa and Mark (center) shooting on location in Gregory, South Dakota

Professors and film critics and scholars from Columbia University, Yale University, University of Puerto Rico, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Emory University, Duke University, CUNY Graduate Center, Brooklyn College, Northwestern and more, will appear.

It has been more than fifteen years since the last conference on Micheaux's work, and a new generation of critical thinking and writing has since emerged. The full daytime conferences and evening screening schedule, and a full list of presenters, can be viewed at http://arts.columbia.edu.

Tickets for the screenings are available through the Film Society of Lincoln Center. The venues are: Columbia University Campus, Broadway and 116th Street, Schermerhorn Hall Room 501, and Saturday, February 7th, at The Film Society, 70 Lincoln Center Plaza. For all public inquiries, please contact SoAevents@columbia.edu

* Brooklyn-native, Lisa Collins earned her MFA in Screenwriting & Directing from Columbia University Film School, with a BA from Yale University in American Studies & Photography. She’s developing several feature projects and a TV pilot.

An all-round media-maker, Lisa is Sr. Editor/Sr. Segment Producer for Hollywood.com and Hollywood.com TV. Lisa wrote, directed and has produced two shorts: Miss Ruby's House, a mockumentary, which played in festivals across the country; and Tree Shade, a surreal black comedy that garnered the Gold Medal for Best Alternative Film at the Student Academy Awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Top honors include: a DGA East Coast Filmmaker award, Best American short at Avignon’s Film Festival, Polo Ralph Lauren Award, and two Rockefeller Foundation nominations. When broadcast, her film headlined PBS’s “Reel New York” series.

With a sharp eye for filmmaking, Lisa has been invited to speak at universities, museums and on panels about her film work; as well she’s been asked to serve on various film juries for festivals and grant fellowships. She also served as a teaching assistant at Columbia University, and has mentored other students. Lisa is a member of the James Agee Cinema Circle and the Women Film Critics Circle.

Lisa Collins was named by Filmmaker Magazine: 'One of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film.' She was invited to workshop her feature-length script, The Grass Is Greener at the Sundance Writers, Filmmakers and Producers Labs, respectively. The project was also invited to participate in the IFFM / IFP’s No Borders Feature Project program.

Currently, Lisa is in post-production with Oscar’s Comeback. She is director/producer on the film with co-director/producer Mark Schwartzburt for Right on Time Productions. So far, the film-in-progress was awarded a prestigious NYSCA grant and two South Dakota Humanities Council grants, with Women Make Movies as its fiscal sponsor. In April 2007, the documentary’s 'presentation trailer' was invited to screen as part of a special program, Creatively Speaking, at BAM. In spring 2008 at Tribeca All Access Awards, Oscar’s Comeback won 2nd Top Prize for Creative Promise (Honorable Mention). Shortly thereafter, it was invited to screen at the Studio Museum in Harlem.