Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Movie Awards Season: In and Out of Hollywood

The 83th Academy Awards will be broadcast on ABC on Sunday, February 27th, live coast to coast: 8 PM Eastern, 7 PM Central, 5 PM Pacific. The show's hosts are actors James Franco and Anne Hathaway.

Watch the nominees being announced and try your hand at selecting the winners at the official website for The Oscars.

It's always interesting to compare and contrast the movies selected to be honored for Film Independent's Spirit Awards. Hosted by Joel McHale, the Spirit Awards will be shown on IFC on Saturday, February 26, at 10 ET/PT.

There was a time when films like "The Kids Are All Right" and "Winter's Bone" would have been much more likely to receive critical acclaim and indie recognition than Oscar nominations, so there's been some merging of the two aesthetics over the years.

I'll be writing more about the nominated movies before the award ceremonies.

Check out both groups of nominees, and add a comment here.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Dangerous Unselfishness: On Martin Luther King and Service

The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., lives in my childhood recollections. He looms larger than presidents and potentates, his voice ringing through the corridors of my memory.

Dr. King made me believe in possibilities, not just for what a little black girl in Pasadena could become, but for what I could do for others.

Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to have college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. --- The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I was a shy kid, but Dr. King's call to action urged me to make the most of my life. I reached out beyond myself, sought out a diverse group of friends and associates. My friend Sara taught me about Jewish traditions, my best friend Lee and I both reached beyond our cultures and attended the Japanese Obon Festival, and my friend Richard, the dancer, showed me there was no reason to fear or dislike a person for being gay.

Now let me say that the next thing we must be concerned about if we are to have peace on earth and good will toward men is the nonviolent affirmation of the sacredness of all human life. Every man is somebody because he is a child of God.

If the cause was just, it did not matter to me if the cause was "my own," because I was learning that all just causes were mine. Still years shy of being able to vote, I joined the protests against the recall of our school board members who had voted for integration, I worked with other students helping to rebuild our school's theatre building that had been destroyed by arson, I raised my voice against the war, and I stood with those fighting for human rights: women's rights, civil rights and gay rights.

Little gestures. It was a start.

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.

In the twenty years following Dr. King's death, I graduated from UCLA, became a member of the Directors Guild of America, travelled to explore other peoples and other cultures.

And I remembered The Dream that Martin Luther King, Jr. gave voice to.

But MLK was never just a dreamer. He was a man of action: mobilizing, inspiring, marching, striking, accomplishing. And he was my reminder to ask myself, "What can I do?"

Either we go up together or we go down together. Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness.

What is this "dangerous unselfishness" King spoke of?

It is dangerous to challenge the status quo, dangerous to shatter the limits of tradition, dangerous to "be the change you want to see in the world."

Sometimes the danger is to self, to be sure, but I believe that a commitment to unselfishness is dangerous to selfishness, dangerous to greed, dangerous to hatred and exclusion.

It is far more dangerous not to change and grow, because nothing stays the same. It either thrives or shrivels.

I've done well in the world of work, but the money I've made has not enriched my life anywhere near as much as the service I've given. I wish I'd done more. I'm still in the act of rising above my confines.

A day of service is a wonderful start and a potent symbol, but it is not enough. We need to make this holiday honoring Dr. King's dreams and actions Day One of years of service, a philosophy of unselfishness.

Disturb the complacent. Look beyond limits. Serve.

To build a better city, a better country, a better world, embrace the transformative act of a life of service.

Dare to be great.


A few resources:
Volunteer Match

A Better Community

United Negro College Fund

Habitat for Humanity Intl.

National Inclusion Project

U.S. Fund for UNICEF

Give A Damn Campaign

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