All posts by Malorie Marshall

Issues: No room for healthy snacks in theaters?

I’ve been a movie-goer my entire life, and I have never seen anyone escorted out of a film. Not even the time I complained about a group of teenagers cursing out a friend and talking over “Paranormal Activity,” though that would have been nice.

This March, a Brooklyn man was escorted out of the Pavilion Theatre for bringing in a healthy snack. Michael Kass, who suffers from Type 2 diabetes, was escorted from the Park Slope theatre by police for bringing in a container of strawberries. Kass brought the snack to control his blood sugar.

“What I am is a 41-year old type II diabetic who loves movies and would like to be able to see them in public and enjoy a healthy snack,” Kass said in a complaint on the theater’s Facebook page. (The page has since been deleted.)

Photo courtesy of New York Post; Paul Martinka and James Messerschmidt
The Pavilion Theatre in Park Slope; Michael Kass holding berries. (Photo courtesy of New York Post; Paul Martinka and James Messerschmidt)

According to 2013 statistics from the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million adults and children in the United States are living with diabetes.

Pavilion’s website doesn’t mention anything about patrons and outside snacks. When I contacted the theatre for comment, I was told multiple times that the general manager had “just stepped out.”  Pavilion’s owner Ben Kafash did tell the Daily News that he wants to start offering more health-conscious options for patrons and wants to involve Kass in the process.

Though Pavilion does offer options like sandwiches and salads, those options still might be a problem for someone struggling with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, those who struggle with the disease should always carry food with them, and should request meals low in sugars, fats and cholesterols.

Though buttered popcorn and large sodas aren’t tailored to someone struggling with diabetes, they are tailored to theatres’ bottom lines. Concessions are what keeps movie theatres afloat, according to reports from research firms like the Chicago-based Spectrem Group.

Profile: Tonja Renée Stidhum, Screenwriter.

 

Tonja Renée Stidhum, screenwriter and director. (Photo: Tonja’s about.me page.)

Tonja Renee Stidhum is a creator and a storyteller with one goal in mind.

“I’ve known I wanted to be a screenwriter from the moment I realized you could get paid for writing films,” Stidhum said.

She’s hoping that goal leads her to become a member of a very small group of women in Hollywood.

The 2014 Hollywood Writers Report conducted by the Writers Guild of America West found that the percentage of employed women writers in film for 2012 was only 15 percent.

Though the film industry has had well-known female screenwriters like Nora Ephron, women writers seem to have better odds working in television, with 27 percent of television writers being female. Regardless, the business is still predominantly male.

Additionally, in 2012 there was an $18,224 pay gap for female screenwriters versus male ones; females made 77 cents for every dollar made by a male. Those statistics don’t specifically account for the difficulty a female screenwriter of color may face.

Stidhum is currently looking for jobs in Los Angeles so she can move from her native Chicago to further pursue her craft. Stidhum has already written five features. She’s currently in post-production of a couple shorts she wrote and directed. One focuses on society’s desire for instant gratification and the other on escaping the 9-to-5 grind.

I ask Stidhum whether reports like this make her wary about an industry where talented female–let alone black–screenwriters can oft go unnoticed.

“I must admit, I am cynical when it comes to this industry,” Stidhum said. “But I do have hope. I have to be familiar with hope to keep going in an industry that has odds stacked against you even as a white male, let alone a black female.”

Issues: No room for healthy snacks in theaters?

I’ve been a movie-goer my entire life, and I have never seen anyone escorted out. Not even the time I complained about a group of teenagers cursing out a friend and talking over “Paranormal Activity.”

This past weekend, a Brooklyn man was escorted out of a theatre for doing something I’m sure we’ve all done. Michael Kass was apparently escorted from the Pavillion Theatre in Park Slope for bringing in a container of strawberries to snack on. Kass brought his own snacks because he suffers from Type 2 diabetes. According to the most recent statistics from the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million adults and children in the United States are living with the disease.

A visit to the Pavillion Theatre’s website doesn’t say anything about patrons not being allowed to bring in outside snacks, though it’s generally an unspoken rule that outside snacks are frowned upon in theaters. Pavillon, nor other movie houses are looking to detract from their own concession deals, like Pavillon’s $18 smoothie and crepe deal.

In a report from 2009, it was found that movie theatres profit 85 percent from concession sales. But items like buttered popcorn and large sodas aren’t tailored to someone struggling with Type 2 diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, those who struggle with the disease should always carry food with them, and should have meals low in sugars, fats and cholesterols.

Though Kass did break the rules, it seems excessive that he was escorted out by a manager and two police officers–especially after initially asking for a refund when confronted and being denied one. I’m sure that other diabetes sufferers and others with particular dietary needs will continue to sneak in snacks, as it doesn’t appear as though movie theaters will offer fresh fruits or healthier snacks any time soon.

Critical Assessment: “The Giver”

In step with the wave of popular young adult novels-turned-films, an official trailer for the film version of Lois Lowry’s “The Giver” has been released.

The film, produced by The Weinstein Company, is based on Lowry’s 1994 Newberry Medal-winning dystopian novel about Jonas, a young boy about to turn 12 and receive the job title that he’ll have for the rest of his life. Once he is appointed as the  new “Receiver of Memory,” Jonas learns the world as he knew it isn’t what he thought it was.

The trailer is only about a minute and a half long and doesn’t offer much story, but plenty of visuals. The editing is extremely fast-paced. There may be at least 40 shots (I lost count at the flashing montage) stacked into less than two minutes. The voiceover and the dramatic score gives a sense of impending doom, but again, not much story.

Additionally, all the scenes are shot in color. One of the poignant revelations of the novel is that neither Jonas, nor anyone in his community experiences color, because the community banned it in order to have “Sameness.” There is a possibility that only the trailer was shot in all-color.

Having read the book,  the trailer does not attract me to the film. The shots are so quick that I felt like I needed just a couple seconds more of each shot to actually see the scene. (The length of the shot of Jonas and the Giver felt the longest, and it was only about six seconds long.) The trailer reminded me much more of the recent “Hunger Games” films rather than what I envisioned for “The Giver,” but that may be a selling point for fans of other films based on young adult novels.

The film opens in theaters on Aug. 15.

 

Recent Development: Face of Darkness

Suicide in Hollywood films isn’t a new idea. In fact, many films have touched on or featured the subject, though a new documentary looks to shed light on a struggle that often seems to be overlooked, even amongst fellow actors.

Face of Darkness is a documentary that will focus on two mental health specialists and also brings attention to the rise in suicides in the Black community, especially among Black males.

 According to information from the American Association of Suicidology, though Black females may be more likely to attempt suicide, Black males have a higher rate of completion. Suicide is also listed as one of top ten reasons of male deaths in the United States.*

 Face of Darkness filmmaker Kenneth Nelson attributes these types of stats to the stigma in the Black community surrounding issues of mental health.

“As an African American male, I was taught that a man could not express his feelings and never to cry,” Nelson said via press release. “There is a stigma in my community that prevents males from sharing emotions, hugging or admitting that we are afraid.”

 With this documentary, hopefully the doors will be opened for people who are struggling to talk, which mental health advocate Terrie Williams says is one of the most important tools for survival.

“The reality is, if you don’t go and talk to someone, you will die,” Williams said in a phone interview. The licensed psychotherapist, who has her own public relations firm, also appears in the film.

“It may be a slow death, but you will die. You will not be all that God intended you to be.”

The documentary is currently in pre-production and is trying to raise $87,000 over the next month via an Indiegogo campaign.

Malorie Marshall

 

*The stats reported from both the American Association of Suicidology and the CDC are from the mid 2000s. As I was told by one of the sources I spoke to for a different story, often reports feature numbers that are years old because it takes a while to bring in data. Hopefully, that is the cause and not an oversight on my part.