Life & style

How The Tribeca Film Festival Underscored The Resilience of Filmmaking

This year’s Tribeca Film Festival was, as they say, an embarrassment of riches. Incorporating films and TV series from across the world, and spanning many genres and formats, it ultimately underscored the resilience of filmmaking even during times of turmoil.

From a soul-altering pregnancy experience to the origin story of techno music and a young girl’s spiritual odyssey told through animation, these narratives were the highlights at the festival.

“Liquor Store Dreams”

Those alive amid the 1992 Los Angeles uprising might recall seeing myriad images of Korean proprietors, some who were armed, standing on the roofs of their buildings as businesses around them burst into flames. It’s a narrative that, still to this day, isn’t treated with nearly the amount of nuance as it deserves. But documentarian So Yun Um takes a humanistic approach to detailing the complicated, and at times tragic, stories of the Korean liquor store owners and their first-generation children — like herself — struggling to be seen. And while doing so, Um takes on the difficult task of exploring the fraught evolution of Black-Korean relations in LA.

There’s definitely no shortage of horror screen narratives that hinge on the terror of motherhood, from “Rosemary’s Baby” to this year’s “The Baby.” But writer-director Michelle Garza Cevera, with co-writer Abia Castillo, explores the well-worn concept with an entirely original Mexican film that is ultimately about a pregnant woman (Natalia Solián) who discovers her path to motherhood comes at grave costs. Most terrifying is her sense of self.

An image from "My Love Affair with Marriage."
An image from “My Love Affair with Marriage.”

“My Love Affair With Marriage”

With the success of last year’s “Flee,” which shattered all expectations of both animation and documentary, filmmakers seem to be taking even more chances that are paying off in dividends. With “My Love Affair with Marriage,” Latvian filmmaker Signe Baumane explores the effects of human condition in this remarkable coming-of-age story that tests the bounds of fiction as it traces a girl’s 23-year journey to achieve love and romantic partnership. Throughout the process, the film asks its protagonist, and to some extent the audience, to understand the intricacies of why she’s on this quest in the first place — for herself or to satisfy certain expectations of her.

A routine meal at the dinner table throws one family into tense discussions about deciding one’s own mortality when a father (Johan Leysen) with no known health issues announces to his adult children that his next birthday will be his last in this surprisingly earnest Dutch film. Director Floor van der Meulen, with screenwriter Bastiaan Kroeger, delicately balances drama with pitch dark comedy in a story that ponders the notion of self-determined fate and the lives, chiefly daughter Iris (a fantastic Julia Akkermans), that it impacts.

“Official Competition”

Neither Penélope Cruz nor Antonio Banderas are strangers to starring in quirky films like “Vanilla Sky” or “I’m So Excited.” But directors Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat, with co-writer Andrés Duprat, challenge the pair in a whole new way in a film essentially about the narcissistic nature of filmmaking. Cruz is an off-the-wall director who pushes her actors, played by Banderas and Oscar Martínez, to go deep into the narrative by any means (sometimes even by sacrificing their own prized possessions). Hilarity ensues.

Especially after “Fresh” earlier this year, horror fans might anticipate, and maybe even be eager for, a film that engages in the many complexities of carnal pleasure. But trust, you will not expect what happens in Austrian filmmaker Peter Hengl’s “Family Dinner,” which takes a sweet premise like a girl (Nina Katlein) visiting her aunt (Pia Hierzegger), whom she looks up to, and her new family unit and turns it into a mounting nightmare.

A still from "Butterfly in the Sky."
A still from “Butterfly in the Sky.”

“Butterfly in the Sky”

If you’re an elder millennial, chances are you grew up on a healthy diet of “Reading Rainbow” with host LeVar Burton. In fact, just the mere mention of the title of this PBS educational series, which ran from 1983 to 2006, probably stirs memories of its iconic theme song. Directors Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb engage with that nostalgia in this documentary that chronicles why the series was a success and made Burton an icon of scholarship, the racial and social barriers it broke, and why it was a tragedy when it lost its funding.

“God Said Give ’Em Drum Machines”

Even if you’re not part of the techno fandom, you’ll get something out of this documentary, directed by Kristian R. Hill, that puts credit for the music genre back into the hands of Black DJs and musicians in Detroit. This story doesn’t so much ask whether or why it was co-opted by white recording artists, though it does give that question the thought it deserves. Rather, how these young Black men created the music and found each other as well as a largely queer Black club community in the process.

“The Right to Offend: The Black Comedy Revolution”

We’re living during a time when it seems like every day a stand-up comedian is getting canceled or assaulted, whether that is verbally or physically, for the words they speak. So it seems like an interesting time to reflect on the ways particularly Black comics throughout history have never backed down from statements considered controversial to the public — from Moms Mabley and Dick Gregory to Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle. Directors Jessica Sherif and Mario Diaz trace the complexity of the punchline in this timely docuseries.

“A League of Their Own”

Admittedly, the mere idea of yet another TV series adapted from a classic film in this saturated climate is eye-roll-worthy. But showrunner Will Graham’s thoughtful exploration of the beloved female baseball players at the center of this story incorporates multiple queer characters and characters of color that help ground the humanity of both the time period, the narrative and the sport. It doesn’t take away from the original 1992 film, but it’s a nice companion piece.

“Menudo: Forever Young”

From the title alone, you might want to file this under another docuseries reflecting on one of your favorite nostalgic bands. But “Menudo: Forever Young” goes farther than that as directors Angel Manuel Soto and Kristofer Ríos grapple with the iconic boy band’s impact on their Puerto Rican community, the exploitative nature of their industry and the horrible debt they paid.

How to visit Topgolf El Segundo, L.A.’s new driving range and sports bar

For the uninitiated, the brand name Topgolf evokes a high-end performance center with video analysis, custom club fittings and serious male faces contemplating details like swing path and dynamic loft. Topgolf’s newest facility in El Segundo can be that, if you want it to. But like the company’s other 76 locations around the world, it mainly offers a freewheeling introduction to the game in which golf is the vehicle and good times are the destination.

As a 50-year-old weekend warrior athlete — albeit one who hadn’t swung a golf club since the Clinton administration — I enjoyed my first Topgolf visit a lot more than I expected. Not because I struck the ball better than anticipated, but because I felt no pressure other than the self-imposed kind, which dissipated quickly thanks to the relaxed vibe that wafts through the three-tiered, neon-splashed facility.

Friends enjoying drinks and laughing.

Kevin Moreno, from left, Hector Larios, Kimberly Lie, Brianna Casas and Jacob Reyes — co-workers at Knott’s Berry Farm — enjoy an evening at Topgolf in El Segundo.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Think of Topgolf as a high-end driving range moshed with a Cheesecake Factory; or Putt-Putt on steroid-laced edibles. The new spot in El Segundo, five minutes south of LAX, is the only Topgolf in the world with an actual golf course attached (more on that later), but you’re more likely to see a novice grandma teeing off here than an aspiring pro in $300 stretchy slacks.

That was the case on a recent Wednesday, when the bays around me were occupied by families, raucous office gatherings and at least one bachelorette party. Sometimes balls rocketed off the tee like white lasers. More often they barely rolled across the mat — or didn’t move at all following a fruitless swing-and-miss. (Whoosh!)

Whatever the outcome, no one really cared. As long as the grub and grog kept comin’, and as long as everyone had a few turns gripping and ripping.

With that in mind, allow us to tee up a few pointers before your first visit.

Dyke Day LA Is a Pride Event All Its Own

Last weekend, droves of people descended on a 15-acre park in northeast Los Angeles for an afternoon of picnicking, mingling, cheering on drag performances and a puppy costume competition, and more.

Known as Dyke Day LA, this annual Pride gathering takes a homespun approach to a month typically packed with corporate-sponsored parties, parades and concerts; one organizer estimated the crowd at about 1,500. Since its first iteration in 2007, it has gone from a scrappy Eastside alternative to the spectacle of West Hollywood’s Pride celebrations to an essential — if unofficial — event on the city’s Pride calendar, open to “dykes of all genders.” (According to the organizers, that means everyone but cisgender men.)

The name asserts that a term once widely taken as a misogynistic and homophobic slur can be seen as a positive, liberating label. However, attendees were split, mostly along generational lines, about whether the word “dyke” suited the moment, when labels like “nonbinary” and “genderqueer” are used to affirm identities that are more fluid.

“‘Dyke’ is not our generation’s name to reclaim,” said Melanie Marx, 31. “I feel like we’ve reclaimed ‘queer,’ and it’s far more inclusive.”

Several people in their 40s, 50s and 60s spoke of the word with affection. “I’ve always identified as a dyke,” said Tristan Taormino, 51, a feminist author and sex educator. “To me it’s a politicized identity. It’s not just about who I love and have sex with, but my culture, my point of view, my politics. It’s an absolute reclamation.”

This year’s Dyke Day, held for the first time in person since the pandemic began and as legislation is advancing around the United States that could curb the rights of L.G.B.T.Q. people, felt both celebratory and politically defiant. Under a canopy of tree leaves and rainbow balloons in Sycamore Grove Park, attendees ate ice cream sandwiches, sipped homemade cocktails, took naps, played backgammon, petted each other’s dogs, met each other’s pandemic babies (“I got it from my moms,” read a toddler’s T-shirt) and swapped numbers. Everyone was sparkling with glitter and possibility and also beads of sweat.

Leola Davis, 37, an aesthetician in Sherman Oaks who specializes in post-operation treatments for people recovering from mastectomies known as top surgery (she goes by @thelezthetician on Instagram), was excited to be back at Dyke Day after the pandemic hiatus. “There are no events in Los Angeles where you can see this many queer people at once, so it’s amazing for cruising,” she said.

Hannah Einbinder, the 27-year-old comedian and “Hacks” star, said, “There are very few centralized areas or bars or restaurants that are dedicated to queer femmes or non-cis male queers, so it’s nice to be here.” She added that it was “rare” to find this kind of scene in Los Angeles.

Mekleit Dix, a 25-year-old researcher who splits her time between New York and Los Angeles, said that Dyke Day was a welcome counterpoint to to the heavily branded hubbub in West Hollywood. “I think the sense of programming there is like: ‘It gets better, that’s why we’re partnering with JPMorgan Chase,’” she said.

Dyke Day, by comparison, is staunchly anti-corporate. In tents dotting the park, there were workshops on B.D.S.M. and other forms of kink; demonstrations of how to administer Narcan, a nasal spray, to reverse an opioid overdose; and resources for gender-inclusive health care. Elsewhere, artists recorded oral histories from patrons of lesbian bars that had closed between 1925 and 2005. American Sign Language interpreters and accessible paths ensured that all in attendance would feel welcome.

There were plenty of newcomers and allies in the crowd. “I’m just happy to be here with all my girls,” said the musician Lana Del Rey. “We have the best girls in town right here.”

Dyke Day follows a lineage of grass-roots Pride gatherings that have aimed to center people who identify as femme, including the first Dyke March, in 1993, in Washington, D.C., followed by New York the same year. Dyke Day LA, run by a nonprofit, is free and welcomes attendees of all ages. (For the children in attendance this year, there was face-painting, a bounce house and an inflatable slide.)

Marissa Marqusee, a nurse who manages the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Audre Lorde Health Program and sits on Dyke Day’s planning committee, said it was important to the organizers to create an inclusive environment.

“We wanted the committee to be representative of the people who attend Dyke Day,” said Mx. Marqusee, who is transgender and nonbinary. “That means Black, brown, Indigenous, people of color. Queer and trans people. Service providers of all different backgrounds.”

“It’s like dyke Christmas,” said Lynn Ballen, a Dyke Day LA organizer and board member. She noted that, “traditionally, Pride events come out of a history that is more gay men, more cis, more white.” She and her fellow organizers were looking to foster a more diverse and inclusive environment.

That context, along with the expansion of gender identities, has shaped some people’s feelings about the word “dyke.”

“I’m a dyke, and in the ’90s, when I was a teenager, I was closeted,” said Romy Hoffman, a 41-year-old musician from Sydney, Australia. “I was into grunge, the Riot Grrrl stuff. I was discovering queer cinema. The word ‘dyke’ definitely represents that period of time, but I don’t know if it has been adapted to the age of queerness.”

Some prefer different terminology altogether. “I’m kind of old school and identify with ‘lesbian,’ personally,” said Ann Engel, 59, a therapist in Palm Springs.

“I grew up hearing people call women ‘marimacha.’ I understood it to mean, like, ‘butch woman,’” said Salvador de La Torre, 32, who is transgender and grew up on the Texas border. “It’s definitely derogatory and can be used as an insult, depending on the context.”

They said that the term continued to resonate with them. “Even though now I’m not a woman — I was socialized as one and I was assigned female at birth — I’ll always be fond of that association, and love the word ‘dyke,’” they said.

Protect your family with private health cover | The Canberra Times

Protect your family with private health cover

This is a commercial collaboration with GMHBA.

Is your family prepared for health surprises? What if the unthinkable happens, and the kids need their appendix taken out, or a parent pulls their back at the gym. Would you have adequate health cover?

When the worst happens, you’ve got plenty of other stressors to deal with, and there’s no time or calm to think about insurance.

So give yourself peace of mind and prepare ahead by looking in detail at your health cover today.

Especially as your family grows and changes, your insurance needs will too. So it’s always smart to keep your policy up-to-date and have it reassessed by experts.

And while more than half of all Australians have some type of private health insurance. Are we getting the best value for our hard-earned dollars?

There are plenty of options on offer in the world of health cover. To help you understand it all, make sure you talk through your family’s lifestyle with a local health insurance expert. When choosing the right insurance for your family, it pays to shop around, as not all plans will be worth your time and money.

Australian insurer GMHBA will simplify the confusion and help you find the most cost-effective extras for your family’s needs, including dental, optical and physiotherapy.

Some plans charge extra the more children you have. Hence, families need to look at whether their insurance charges excess or co-payments for children.

At GMHBA, you won’t pay extra as your family grows. Whether you have two children or four, you’ll pay the same amount for your insurance. The cost is calculated by the level of cover and extras you choose.

Most family health cover is available in a few different tiers. The higher the tier, the greater the cover, but also the higher the price tag.

Protect your family with private health cover

When your family grows, it can be an exciting but also stressful time. Consider making private health cover part of your family planning to make sure you’re prepared well before the baby comes along. As most policies have a 12 month waiting period before full pregnancy, and birth claims can be made.

For families that lead an active lifestyle, extras like physiotherapy and remedial massage could be beneficial. You’ll get the benefit of knowing your protected and you could even save money come tax time.

Whatever the unexpected injury, private health cover will give you more flexibility, less stress and help you get back to your best self in no time. With private cover, you’ll have more control over the important decisions regarding your and your family’s health. If you need to go to the hospital, you can often decide the who, what and where to help you in your recovery.

The reality is no two families are alike, and each household has its own set of needs, wants and budget constraints.

Whatever your circumstances GMHBA will help you analyse your lifestyle and select the extras that will be the most valuable investment for your family.

Visit GMHBA for more information.

NSW Labor leader Chris Minns slams NSW budget

The NSW Treasurer spent a billion dollars a minute when he announced the state budget, according to the Opposition Leader.

NSW Labor has slammed the 2022-23 NSW budget as a record-spending “cash splash” for votes that will need to be paid for with “debt, debt, debt”.

Opposition Leader Chris Minns said the NSW Treasurer spent a billion dollars for every minute he spoke when he announced the budget in parliament on Tuesday.

Mr Minns spoke to the media an hour after receiving the NSW budget and emphasised the total debt for the state was estimated to hit an “unsustainable” record-breaking high of $182bn.

“This is the largest debt figure NSW has ever had, both in absolute terms or as a percentage of gross state product, in our history,” he said.

The Labor leader said the budget was motivated by the upcoming state election and accused NSW Treasurer Matt Kean of “spraying money in every direction at a rate of knots months before the general election”.

He said the enormous spending announced by the government was an expensive Band-Aid to fix the government’s continued lack of investment in frontline services, particularly the overstretched healthcare system.

Mr Minns also characterised the economic projections as overly optimistic.

“There are heroic assumptions in relation to growth that underpin so much of the huge spending that Mr Kean announced moments ago,” he said.

“They expect the NSW economy to grow at unprecedented rates.”

Shadow treasurer Daniel Mookhey said the “ridiculous” budget revealed $42n of new spending that would be paid for with “debt, debt, debt”.

He said the government had overpromised with the budget, which he declared was “grim news for households and horrible news for state finances”.

“Mr Perrottet’s budget plan is buy now, pay later. NSW deserve better than this,” he said.

“His plan to pay for it is debt, debt, debt.”

Both Mr Mookhey and Mr Minns said the proposed property tax for first-home buyers would create a dangerous precedent for the state.

Mr Mookhey labelled it a “very complicated system” and said some homeowners would be paying those debts off for the rest of their lives.

NSW Labor will issue a budget reply with a detailed response to the state budget on Thursday.

Originally published as Labor slams $182bn NSW budget as ‘debt, debt, debt’

Daily hacks: Four ways to care for your wooden furniture

Many furniture items deteriorate over time, and usually wooden furniture starts to get grimy and the finish on the wood starts to fade, making the furniture item look bad and old.

Most times it would be ideal for you to call in wooden furniture experts to assist in bringing life back into your furniture, but sometimes the damage is not too big, and you can fix and care for your wooden furniture all on your own.

These four easy and effective tips from Garden and Home to care for your wooden furniture are the best in ensuring that your furniture looks good and lasts for many years.

Get rid of the dirt

One of the easiest ways to ensure that your wooden furniture lasts very long is to get rid of any dirt as soon as it appears.

Be careful when you are cleaning your wooden furniture though, because sometimes over cleaning your furniture could slowly eat away at the wood’s finish.

Make sure you are using gentle suitable products for your wooden furniture, which will not cause any harm to the finish of the wood or the wood in general.

Coffee stains on the table. Picture: iStock

ALSO READ: Daily hacks: How to use gas safely when cooking and heating your home

Polish like a pro

One of the best ways to polish your wooden furniture effectively is to spray the polish onto a soft cloth which you will then apply to the wooden surface.

Remember to buff off any access polish 20 minutes after polishing your furniture.

Polishing a wooden table with varnish. Picture: iStock

Go the extra mile with caring for your furniture

Mix three parts linseed oil with one part turpentine, then add to two cups hot water. Use a super-fine steel wool or a soft cloth and dip it into the mixture before wiping the furniture to get rid of all the grime and old polish.

Once you are done, you can polish your wood once again, while keeping in mind that you should buff off any excess polish 20 minutes after polishing.

wooden furniture
Homemade remedy to care for your furniture. Picture: iStock

Great hack on removing scratches

If you find any light, small or superficial scratches on your wooden furniture, there is no need to worry or panic. Simply halve a walnut, rub the flat side of the halved walnut on the scratches, and watch them magically disappear.

Scratches on your wooden furniture. Picture: iStock

The power and promise of Japanese after-school activities

Whether you’re just dipping your toes into the world of extracurricular activities with your young child, or you’re already practiced at juggling kid schedules and interests after-school, read on to learn about why and how extracurricular activities or naraigoto in Japanese can be a positive influence in your family’s life. 

A gateway to Japanese society

Little kids need time to play and grow at their own pace. But they also need positive learning experiences that set them up for success in Japanese society. Indeed, here in Japan, the choice of whether to send your young kid to extracurriculars is not only considered from the point of view of individual family philosophies. Rather, it is viewed as an essential step to familiarizing children with living as part of larger Japanese society. Unlike bukatsu (club activities) or other extracurriculars run by preschools or elementary schools, naraigoto are activities in the private sector which are unrelated to children’s primary schooling.

So, for one thing, the kids in a naraigoto are not the same ones your child sees at school every day and they are all there (hopefully!) because of a shared interest which can foster friendships. They also learn persistence and perseverance in extracurriculars while navigating new teachers and other kids, much like the experiences of bukatsu awaiting them in late elementary school and beyond, or even the company teams and events of the adult world. Also, naraigoto can complement (pre)school curriculum by helping young children with their greetings, physical strength and flexibility, fine motor skills and/or concentration. 

Choosing an activity 

In the not-so-distant past in Japan, parents chose their kids’ naraigoto. Recently, however, other parents I spoke with as well as contemporary parenting books and websites that I consulted almost unanimously recommended letting your child guide the process. In other words, feel out if they are interested in participating in activities, and which they feel drawn to.

Photo: iStock: Yagi-Studio

Of course, this is not to say that we should blindly sign them up for whatever strikes their fancy; little kids often change interests and predilections as they try out social roles for themselves. Also, three to seven year olds really can’t grasp the time and resource constraints that may factor into your decision-making. And so, in this balancing act, it’s important to be clear about your family’s situation as well as allowing your child room to explore.  

Click here to read more.

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Which Microsoft Surface laptop or tablet is best for you? | The Canberra Times

Which Microsoft Surface laptop or tablet is best for you?

This is a commercial collaboration with JB Hi-Fi.

Whether you need a computer for work, school or play, we’ve got you covered with our pick of the best Microsoft Surface laptops and tablets.

Microsoft is one of the biggest and most trusted names in the tech world. Its Surface range of laptops and tablets delivers excellence and versatility. You’ll be able to easily carry around each one wherever you go because of their thin, sleek and light design.

And in terms of quality, they tick all the boxes with their high-resolution screens, edge-to-edge designs and touchscreen displays. Whether you’re after a Microsoft Surface Laptop, Go, Pro or Book you’ll love the way it looks and feels, and you can get the best deals on the whole range at JB Hi-Fi.

Before you choose which model best suits your lifestyle, know that the whole range includes features that will impress, such as discreet speakers and USB ports, display connections, docking stations and charging points.

And what’s inside is just as top-class. You’ll be able to choose from a range of different processors across the models. But, the whole Surface range will give you more multi-tasking power, a smoother flow when switching between tabs and faster overall performance. So you can easily get more than one thing done at a time.

Let’s take a look at the best models depending on what your needs are. All the models support the latest Windows 11 operating system.

For those after high-performance, you can’t look past the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 series. You’ll be able to work, play, and create in the way you always dreamed of with 70 per cent more speed than before and a powerful 11th Gen Intel® Core™ processor. Always get the job done with improved all-day battery life and look your best on video calls, thanks to a front-facing 720p HD camera. The Surface Laptop 4 is available in two sizes, the light & portable 13.5″ or the larger 15″ that’s perfect for multi-tasking. Its cutting-edge sleek design is brimming with powerful features and redefines the word “productivity”.

Laptop-to-tablet portability

A popular choice, the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 series delivers the best of both worlds. You’ll get the power and functionality of a laptop with the flexibility of a tablet. It comes with the iconic Kickstand, larger 13″ touchscreen and detachable keyboard with Slim Pen that’s even smoother and more responsive than ever. Max out your entertainment and playtime experience with seriously good sound with the dual front-facing speakers with Dolby Atmos® and a high-res display. The Surface Pro 8 will be a hit for the whole family, and you’ll be able to take it wherever you need to go.

Now that you’ve got the best laptop to make you a star in the office, the classroom, or the entertainment game let’s keep you up-to-date. Ensure you’ve got your computer decked out in the latest Microsoft 365 apps (formerly Office 365) to get your tasks done quicker and more efficiently. There are two options that most computer users usually choose between:

  • A yearly subscription to Microsoft 365. It will unlock access to the latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneDrive and Editor. You’ll get 1TB of cloud storage to securely save, edit and share your treasured photos and files across all your devices.
  • .A one-time purchase of Microsoft Office Home & Business. You’ll be able to accomplish all your goals and move your business ahead with access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote and Microsoft Teams. The classic apps have all been updated for better speed and performance to help you get the job done.