“Little White Lie” will be showing Saturday March 28th at the Annapolis Film Festival

  • Just stopped by a panel discussion event at today’s Annapolis Film Festival on “The Pitch” and am looking forward to seeing a few movies this weekend.  In case you’re curious, I got to preview one of the wonderful feature documentaries entitled, “Little White Lie,” written, directed and produced by Lacey Schwartz;  and below I share a post/review.The evening I watched “Little White Lie” I’d just returned from a visit to my family home in Baltimore. Standing around the dining room table, my brother David Maril, our cousin Ron Becker and I tried to identify a stash of old family photographs. We searched our memories trying to recognize names and face of relatives going back several generations. There were photographs of my grandfather, a child sitting on a rocking horse and as a soldier in postwar France. Another larger photo showed my grandmother, as a young girl posing for a picture surrounded by her parents and four brothers and sisters in Bel Air Maryland where the family once had a farm. My grandmother, the eldest child, was ashamed of having been born in Russia. When the courthouse burned down and the birth records destroyed, she told everyone she was born in America. That was her little white lie. But some lies are much larger.The documentary “Little White Lie” begins with archival footage of the Jewish community in Brooklyn during the mid 20th century and there are old photographs and a timeline showing the Schwartz family arriving in the United States at the end of the 19th century. There is footage of old home movies showing parties, bat mitzvahs, picnics and other family events. Everyone looks happy.

    We all grow up hearing stories about our grandparents and great-grand parents. But what if a one line of our ancestors had been completely wiped from the family history and another group of ancestors put in their place? What if our true heritage has been hidden?

    Lacey Schwartz grew up believing both of her parents were her biological parents and that she was the descendent of Eastern European Jews, but that was only half the truth. The little girl and young woman in the family movies has darker skin and fuller features than her parents. When she asks questions about her appearance as a child she is told that her mother’s family had a Sicilian great-grandfather and that is why her skin is so dark. She accepts their explanations and when she looks in the mirror does not acknowledge her bi-racial heritage.  Children believe their parents.

    The movie is framed within the preparations for a wedding, Lacey’s wedding. As she tells her story, she shares with the viewers her belief that she did not feel ready to join her life with someone else’s until she understood the actions of her parents. They divorced when she was a teenager. What did her father know about the identity of Lacey’s biological father? Did he realize his wife had been unfaithful and that her lover had been African American? Why had her mother not been forthcoming with the truth about her heritage ? Her biological father was a family friend named Robert Parker, but he dies when Lacey is 30 with no opportunity to develop a relationship.

    Lacey’s dad Robert Schwartz is the only father she has ever known. Although her bridegroom is African American, Lacey holds steadfast to Jewish traditions complete with the breaking of the glass as the two are pronounced man and wife. She decides to retain her last name of Schwartz, delighting in the double symbolism. The word “Schwartz” means black in German.

    One of the many fine films coming to THE ANNAPOLIS FILM FESTIVAL.

Advertisements

Farewell to Blob’s Park; A Baltimore Legend and Annapolis Favorite Hang-out

Some "regulars" hanging out at the bar.
Some “regulars” hanging out at the bar.

Blob’s Park is closing in less than one month.   And I for one am going to miss its unique attributes. Where else could you go to get authentic German food, listen to live music, go waltzing across a dance floor and feel as if you’d stepped back in time to the 1960s?

Blobs

 In recent years, probably my husband Peter and I have not gone there nearly enough— but oh the memories!. A trip to Blobs Park, for many  patrons means polka dancing.  But there was so much else.  I remember visiting Blobs for an evening of dinner and dancing in the 1990’s and marveling at the wide variety of patrons. There would be women with beehive hairdo’s, men with rolled up short sleeves and crew cuts and entire wedding parties and anniversary parties set up at the various long banquet tables. Men and women still spry in their 80’s would be doing the jitterbug and the Lindy hop. Often I’d see small children sitting at some tables earlier in the evening, ready to dance along with Mom and Dad or not waiting and making up dances of their own.  On a Sunday afternoon there might be a band with an accordion playing  a variety of German and Polish folk dances and lots of folks out on the dance floor who knew all the patterns and steps.

Friends Doug and Wendy enjoying a dance!
Friends Doug and Wendy enjoying a dance!

Max Blob, opened Blob’s Park in 1928 as a private gathering place (think Speakeasy) It opened to the public in 1933.  He was known affectionately as “Onkle Max. “ In recent years Blobs has hosted Latin Bands, Country Music, and last Friday night it was a 1940s style Swing Band.  Unfortunately, despite the good music, the hall has become increasingly empty.

But that’s not why they are closing.

December 2012  and January 2013, 29 acres of Blobs Park land was sold to the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore. The plan is for a church and school to be built on the land but the current owner/manager Max Eggerl, who is a grandson of Max Blob, the original founder , thought he had a verbal agreement to keep occupying the Hall for a few more years. Evidently that is not to be. Blob’s Park will be closing at the end of the month. The last event at the hall that has seating for 1000 people, will be  “Our Last Polka and will feature Mike Surratt and The Continentals on March 30th

In the last few remaining weeks that Blob’s Park remains open, make a  pilgrimage and walk around the place. A bit of the spirit of “Onkle Max” still remains.

Blobs Park is located at the Intersection of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Route 1765 in Jessup, Maryland; just a short drive down the highway from the entrance to Fort Meade.   As the western part of Anne Arundel County continues to grow in density, another little piece of history is lost.Bar Band

Last DInner?
Last Dance at Blobs?

Meeting filmmakers at Annapolis Film Festival

Angela Gibbs wrote and directed the short film “The Ties That Bind” shown at the Annapolis Film Festival yesterday in at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. I saw a number of thought provoking films, but what I didn’t anticipate were the opportunities to meet and talk with the film makers, writers, and actors. The presence of phenomenal actress Marla Gibbs  (remember her from the television series The Jeffersons?) took me by surprise. My friend Catherine Davidson texted me afterwards and told me Marla is 81 years old! Hard to believe. Her daughter Angela wrote the script inspired by the true story of her friend Sandra Davis who has an abusive alcoholic mother, but overcame her past and became a successful businesswoman.  Today the festival continues. At noon over at the Bay Theatre. one of the short films showing is a”A Younger Man”. I had the opportunity to interview the screen writer earlier in the year and here is the link to the related article.

Angela Gibbs and Marla Gibbs at Annapolis FIlm Festival
Angela Gibbs and Marla Gibbs at Annapolis FIlm Festival

Movies can be memorable

filmfst

Everyone has a favorite movie and mine is “Groundhog Day.” I’ve watched it at least a half a dozen times, which is fitting since the premise of the film is that if you have the opportunity to do something over and over again, you have the ability to achieve perfection. Or at the very least, a happy ending. It stars one of my favorite actors, Bill Murray, cast an ornery television meteorologist named Phil, who is sent to cover Groundhog’s Day in Punxsutawney Pa. He awakes the following morning only to discover he must relive Groundhog’s Day. As the movie progresses, a very irritable Phil starts to enjoy his fate, as he realizes he can use the knowledge he gains each day to enhance his experience the following day. It reminds me of a play you rehearse again and again until the actors have learned their lines and the technical cast their cues, until magically everything is in sync.

Our world has changed dramatically since “Groundhog Day” was released 20 years ago. Technological advances have made it easier to send photographs, messages, music, and video around the globe in a matter of seconds. Suddenly, with the aid of a device we can hold in the palm of our hand, we are all recording our experiences and sharing them in a variety of ways. The possibilities are endless. And while the captured moments we record may not achieve the polish of a scripted film or documentary, we have the freedom to experiment with little out-of-pocket cost. And if we work at it, again and again, some of us can become good videographers.  We also start developing an appreciation of what it takes to make a professional film.

Here in  Annapolis, Maryland, this weekend, we have the opportunity to meet aspiring and accomplished film producers, directors, and screenwriters from all over the world at the First Annual Annapolis Film Festival, through Sunday March 24th. It’s a chance to learn more about the business and art of making movies, as well as the ability to see and discuss a multitude of films.

Remember that even if you think you don’t have enough time to participate, you could just go for a day or afternoon. In the movie, “Groundhog Day,” Bill Murray has the luxury of never running out of time, until he wakes up one morning in bed with news producer Rita (Andie McDowell), with whom he has fallen in love, and time moves forward again.  Before his Groundhog day experience  he was just too rushed to stop and contemplate what it was all about? Sound familiar?

And maybe just maybe the cold weather will dissipate and warmer temperatures will come back and we can feel like its really Spring!

“Looper” an excellent movie to rent

With so many great movies released in 2012, it is not surprising that there may have been a few gems that were overlooked. Probably one of the most original screenplays of the year, if you are a fan of science fiction and time travel, Looper was quickly cast aside after its release in September and is now readily available via blue ray and DVD.  I highly recommend it, and have already watched it twice, as there are many plot intricacies to ponder. So while you may be scrambling to see some of the 2012 Oscar winners still playing at the cinemas, you can see Looper at leisure while sitting on your couch.

While Looper was marketed by Sony as a Sci-fi action film, there are interesting nuances addressing culture and family relationships. Set in the future by just a few decades, everyone other than the homeless. own a gun and they use those guns to protect their home, cars, and anything else they value.  It’s too bad the film was not released closer to our current debate on gun control legislation. It’s every person for themselves in a society that ingest drugs through eye drops and lives for present self-gratification. But there is still the human desire for lasting love and commitment.  Written and directed by Rian Johnsons, lead actors include Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Emily Blunt. I highly recommend this film.

Hot independence day in Annapolis

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We’ve got one more day left of the brutal heat, here in the Mid-Atlantic.  The Washington D.C. region has long been known for its brutal summers but this is one for the record books. July 4th and the accompanying celebrations, at least broke the week in half with a one day brake but it wasn’t easy getting off to work Thursday morning knowing temperature would climb towards 100 degrees. I’m not certain how many folks braved the heat to watch the Annapolis parade but I’d certainly like to commend all those brave souls who marched in the heat. My husband and I still talk about the year we did a float for the girl scout troop I was leading. A generous neighbor lent us their white pick-up truck which we decorated and my husband drove, while I stood in the back of the truck with the girls holding up a banner and throwing out candy. It was hot, really hot, and by the time I stepped down off the back of the truck I was soaked in perspiration from head to toe. But the girls had a good time. My daughter had always wanted to throw candy at a parade, and she got her chance.

If you weren’t there, enjoy the slideshow. There were plenty of politicians, as predicted, plus some wonderful South American dancers, dog walkers, horses, and an antique fire engine.

Chili: A Great Pre-Holiday Feast

If the chili looks this good cold, you can imagine it looks piping hot ladled over a little Basmati rice with some grated cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream. I was too busy and the kitchen was too crowded to take photos of the holiday Master’s swim group gathering. I figured that after swimming miles and miles in the U.S. Naval Academy pool, attendees would be hungry and they were.
This is the week when everyone is rushing around procuring last-minute gifts, even when you told yourself that you were planning to keep gift giving to a minimum. So chili is a good item to prepare and have on hand for family and friends. I don’t have an exact recipe, but for this particular batch I used: 4 pounds of ground beef, 1 pound of ground turkey, two medium onions diced, one large yellow sweet pepper diced, one giant can of red kidney beans, one 8 ounce can of black beans, five 8 ounce cans of chopped tomatoes plus the following herbs and spices: cilantro, cumin, a California pepper blend, parsley, tabasco sauce and approximately 4 ounces of medium heat salsa. Because of the quantity of ingredients, I sauteed the onions, meat, and pepper in batches and combined them in a large pot. Simmer slowly over several hours and stir frequently. Serve with raw onions, a choice of hot sauces, and tortillas if desired.
If you want to avoid the crowds at the mall, walk downtown. It doesn’t matter where you live, there are small downtown areas everywhere, which do not get the traffic and hustle and bustle of the big box stores. Support your local economy. Buy services: beauty gift certificates, lawn care, a massage, personal trainer, pet portrait, the ideas of endless, all make thoughtful gifts that help local residents. Happy Holidays, whether you only have a little time off to relax or a lot.