Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
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Thursday, Oct 25, 2012
Yoga has boomed recently, becoming a multibillion dollar industry worldwide, with 20 million people practicing in the US alone.

When Patricia Walden initiated her lifelong commitment to yoga, she remembers, it was 1974, and all the instructors were men. But still, she felt a “need for the female voice,” and so she embarked on her own path, integrating that voice into the educational and spiritual structures already in place. Her story is one of many assembled in Yogawoman, opening this month in New York and several cities in California. Yoga has boomed recently, becoming a multibillion dollar industry worldwide, with 20 million people practicing in the US alone. Some 85% of these are women, and the film tells their stories as episodes, with subjects testifying to their individual experiences of improved health and education, as well as their sense of connectedness, their appreciation of new energies found in traditional rituals.


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Friday, Aug 3, 2012
Hand it to Anthony Baxter, who makes the most of his limited moments with Donald Trump: he has no fear of the Donald.

“What would you say to the many local residents here, who feel that you’ve run roughshod over planning legislation and environmental issues simply because you’ve got lots of money?” Hand it to Anthony Baxter, who makes the most of his limited moments with Donald Trump: he has no fear of the Donald. He asks his queston—and gets no good answer—on the occasion of Trump’s visit to Scotland’s Aberdeenshire coast, where, he declares, he means to construct “the world’s greatest golf course” here, in the “birthplace of golf”. As Trump speaks, the wind blows his hair.


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Friday, Jun 22, 2012
In finding ways both to pause time in photos and let it go in memories, Rita finds where she might belong.

“I’m leaving today,” Rita (Lisa Fávero) says, standing for the last time at the table where she and her host, Madalena (Sônia Guedes), have been making bread each morning. It’s early morning in the tiny Brazilian town of Jutuomba, and the sun isn’t up yet. “But you can’t leave,” Madalena says, turning toward Rita, her lantern providing the scantest of light on the younger woman’s face and white t-shirt, which is adorned with the cheesiest of cartoon hedgehogs. “I can’t keep pretending I belong somewhere else,” Rita doesn’t quite explain. Madalena sums up: “And where do you belong?”


The question is key in Found Memories, Screening 22 through 28 June at the San Francisco Film Society Cinema. Júlia Murat’s lovely film looks at how the rhythms of daily life form not only patterns and routines, but also ways to see. When Rita, a photographer, arrives in town near film’s start, she’s enchanted by what she sees, the dirt paths and simple building structures, the mountains and the grassy fields. Madalena at this point sees something else, her routine so fixed that she can’t imagine a change. Each morning, she makes her bread, walks along railroad tracks to the coffee-making shop owned by Antônio (Luiz Serra), where they share breakfast. Rita’s arrival alters Madalena’s day and her view, and vice versa.


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Monday, Jun 18, 2012
The Northside Festival in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, beginning on 18 June, features fiction films, music, and art -- as well as a number of terrific documentaries.

“I’m looking for a specific type of girl for the Japanese market,” says Ashley, scouting girl models for the Japanese agency, Switch. She’s explaining her work for David Redmon and Ashley Sabin’s extraordinary documentary, Girl Model. “The girls need to be a certain height, not too tall, cute, young. Young is very important.” Ashley turns her own camera on a few girls as they hold up handwritten papers noting their names and birthplaces. She shoots them with their hair up and down, from the side and from the front. The session—vaguely awkward, tense and brief—introduces a disturbing phenomenon. As much as these slender, big-eyed children (and their parents) hope that the promises of agents will come true, that modeling will help them escape their impoverished small towns, they are, in fact, headed into a business designed to exploit them—in any number of ways.


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Monday, Jun 18, 2012
David Fine's inspiring documentary keeps focused on the season's effects on the first women's basketball team at the American University in Iraq.

“Our women used to cook and farm and milk the cows. There was nothing like sports.” So proclaims a grizzled man on the street, not exactly thrilled by recent changes in Iraq. Still, as demonstrated in Salaam Dunk, those changes are well underway. Filmed in 2009, during the American University’s women’s basketball team’s second season, David Fine’s inspiring documentary keeps focused on the effects on the women, as well as their American graduate student coach, Ryan Bubalo. Introduced one by one, designated by their team numbers, the players share their initial nervousness (some had never dribbled a ball before they joined the team), their frustrations and their evolving commitment to each other.


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