“POPULATION BOOM”— Seeing the Future

population boom

“Population Boom”

Seeing the Future

Amos Lassen

“Population Boom” is a by filmmaker Werner Boote in which he travels the globe and examines a stubborn view of the world that has existed for decades. But he sees a completely different question: Who or what is driving this catastrophic vision? The film deals with the questions of “How many people are too many? And who’s one too many? Is this even the right question to ask?” Just 25 years ago, there were five billion people living on earth. Today there are some seven billion. Resources are dwindling, toxic waste is growing, hunger and climate change are prevalent as a result of the growing number of people on earth or is it? Boote travels all over the world to look at the myths and facts about overpopulation.

Boote questions the conventional wisdom. From Kenya’s slums to Dhaka in Bangladesh to New York City, China, Japan and elsewhere, he speaks with everyone from demographic researchers to environmental activists, and arrives at a surprising conclusion. It is not overpopulation that threatens humanity’s existence… it is the developed world’s patterns of over-consumption and constant pursuit of immediate profit that looms over our future. So now we can only wonder if overpopulation is a myth with the sole purpose of covering up larger and far more important problems, and making the world’s population the scapegoat of a far more complex issue. “It is not about how many of us there are, but about how we treat each other,” Boote states. “Population Boom” starts with this as the basis for a debate, and becomes a cinematic journey with the masses between myth, facts and politics.

“THE DOVEKEEPERS” by Alice Hoffman is a New Miniseries— Women at Masada

the dovekeepers


A New Miniseries on TV–Women at Masada

“The Dovekeepers”, based on Alice Hoffman’s 2011 novel about three women during the ancient siege and fall of Masada, will premiere over two nights on CBS. Its producers are the same people who brought you The Bible (including Touched By an Angel star Roma Downey). What could go wrong?
The trailer is out, and it’s action packed. There’s sex! White people (and a few Latinos) portraying Middle Eastern Jews! Asking “Yahweh” for rain! Women disguising themselves as men! More sex! Josephus Flavius as played by Sam Neill! Even more sex!

The first part premieres March 31. 




March 19, 2015 (New York, NY) – Film Movement (www.filmmovement.com), the New York-based film distribution company, announces today the launch of Film Movement Classics, a new label the company will use to restore and re-release out of print but highly sought-after films from the recent and distant past alike. The first two films to see theatrical re-releases in vibrant HD restorations are Eric Rohmer’s acclaimed FULL MOON IN PARIS, screening at Film Society of Lincoln Center, and THE MARQUISE OF O, which will see a theatrical release in select cities alongside Jessica Hausner’s AMOUR FOU.
The new label, launching with four titles scheduled for release in 2015, is the latest evolution for Film Movement since Michael E. Rosenberg joined the company in 2014. “There are so many wonderful, important films that are not available in the US,” Rosenberg said. “Launching our Classics label allows us to expand how we can serve our audience. Our core business will remain with highly-acclaimed new independent films, but now we can also bring back favorite titles from decades ago, newly restored.”
FULL MOON IN PARIS is the 1984 relationship drama about a young woman balancing several romantic interests; called “the very best of Eric Rohmer” by the New York Times on its original release, the film opens April 17 at Film Society of Lincoln Center, part of the complete Comedies and Proverbs series – six films Rohmer made between 1980 and 1987, each based on a proverb of Rohmer’s own creation. Pascale Ogier, who would die tragically young just months after the film’s U.S. release, won Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival that year. Film Movement also premieres a brand new U.S. poster and trailer for the film Time Out London calls “elegant and incisive.” See both here.
With the March 18 theatrical release in New York (March 20 in Los Angeles) of Cannes Film Festival darling AMOUR FOU, Jessica Hausner’s meticulously executed observation of the love and death of writer Heinrich von Kleist, Film Movement also announces the release of Rohmer’s 1976 adaptation of von Kleist’s THE MARQUISE OF O, winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival that year. This classic period piece starring Bruno Ganz, called “witty, joyous and so beautiful to look at” by Vincent Canby of the New York Times, will screen in select arthouse theaters across the country alongside AMOUR FOU’s modern retelling of the end of von Kleist’s life. It will also stream on Fandor before releasing to wider On Demand platforms.
Other Film Movement Classics titles will include THE TALL BLOND MAN WITH ONE BLACK SHOE, Yves Robert’s 1972 blockbuster French comedy about a bumbling violinist mistaken for a secret agent, and Peter Greenaway’s THE PILLOW BOOK, the 1996 erotically-charged homage to calligraphy starring Vivian Wu and Ewan McGregor. Film Movement will release each restored title on DVD an Bluray, as well as include exclusive bonus content on each; THE PILLOW BOOK includes a newly-recorded director’s commentary from Greenaway. Home video release dates and additional special features for each titles will be announced as each release approaches.
“We are proud of the first several films we are able to restore and make available again, and we look forward to many more to come,” said Rosenberg.

About Film Movement:
Launched in 2002, Film Movement is a full-service North American distributor of award-winning independent and foreign films, based in New York City. Film Movement has released more than 250 feature films and shorts from 50 countries on six continents, including top prize winners from Sundance, Cannes, Venice, Toronto, Berlin, Tribeca and other prestigious festivals. Film Movement releases its films through numerous distribution channels, including thousands of art-house cinemas, universities and libraries; home video; television outlets; Cable Video on Demand (including its very own branded cable VOD platform—Film Festival on Demand—available in over 40 million US homes); In-flight Entertainment, and broadband outlets. For more information, please visit www.filmmovement.com.

“THE KING OF MASKS”— Like a Fable

the king of masks

“The King of Masks”

Like a Fable

Amos Lassen

 Wang Bianlian (Zhu Xu), an aging street performer is known as the King of Masks. This is his story. His wife left him with and infant son over 30 years ago. When his son died at just 10 years old. Wang was terribly depressed and hoped for a son who would learn art. When a famous master performer of the Sichuan Opera offered to bring him into his act, Wang jumped at the chance fame and a possible fortune, but he decided to stay a simple street performer. One night, he buys a young boy from a slave trader posing as the boy’s parent. He thus found joy in life as he makes plans to teach “Doggie” (an affectionate nickname often used for young children in China) his art. But then he discovered that Doggie (Zhou Ren-ying) is really a girl.

Wu Tianming directs this film about an old man who opens his heart to an orphan. As much as he tries, Wang can’t stop loving the kid, even with all the trouble she stirs up. The story is reminiscent of Charles Dickens in the treatment of the father and child. Despite the humiliations Doggie has to endure, she is resilient girl and stays on as Wang’s cook and apprentice acrobat.We see what Doggie is willing to go to demonstrate her love and loyalty to the man she cherishes. In one of the film’s most poignant moments, she picks up a goddess statue on his boat and points out that he worships her.

When Doggie is kidnapped by a band of street thugs, presumably intent on selling the child into slavery, Wang is inconsolable, though when she returns with a real male heir in tow, he finds his fortunes looking up. But things get bad again. Wang needs love and affection and this story is told to us with beautiful direction and excellent performances. This becomes a story of redemption that shows us the alleyways and snaking trails of turn-of-the-century China, where child slavery was commonplace as starving families. Families often regarded daughters not so much as family members but as family members but as meal tickets.

“The King of Masks” pulls us into its simplicity, beauty and surprising emotional power. It benefits by the survival of ancient ways into modern times. Today a street performer might be scorned, but in the 1930s, he was seen as a member of an elite fraternity. Wang has a certain fame in the cities where he appears and gains respect from his colleagues–even the female impersonator who is a great opera star, doted on by army generals.. The story is something of a fable (the changeling, ancient secrets), but gains weight because we know that to Wang it makes a great difference whether Doggie is a boy or a girl.

“YOU’RE CUTE FOR A BLACK GUY”— Race and Racism in Gay Dating


“You’re Cute For A Black Guy”

 Race And Racism In Gay Dating: 

 Filmmaker Cameron Johnson examines the role of race and racism in the world of gay dating from the perception and vantage point of gay black men.

The documentary  begins with Johnson speaking of his own experience of being told by a white love interest, “I’m really into mulatto guys.” Statements like this and others  led him to look at the issue in depth and his  documentary became a way for him to confirm that he wasn’t the only gay black man hearing racist and objectifying remarks from gay white men. J

In an article in the Huffington Post, he said, “I made this piece because I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t crazy. I couldn’t be the only gay black man who white dates have said insane things to, so I ventured to find others who shared my experiences. What I discovered is that my story isn’t uncommon, it’s just untold.” His film fills in where the stories have been unrelated and he hopes, “I hope that my work will help to broaden the discussions of what it looks like to be a gay man in 2015, and give people insight into worlds they haven’t understood. Also, seriously never say any of these things to black men again.”

“A Fairy Tale” by John Saul (Writing as S. Steinberg)— Aunt Sylvia and Solly

a fairy tale

Saul, John. “A Fairy Tale”, ADS, 2015.

Aunt Sylvia and Solly

Amos Lassen

Solly Steinberg is in his thirties and his Aunt Sylvia is worried that he is not married. What was Aunt Sylvia thinking about her nephew who lives in San Francisco in the 70s where there are many unmarried men. She is determined to not only get him married but to a nice Jewish girl and she wants it taken care of by his next birthday. She does not understand that Solly has no problem getting married to someone Jewish or Catholic or Buddhist or any religion as long as it is a male. Sylvia is very upset by this and when Solly tells her that she sends

Uncle Hymie “to straighten their nephew out.” Many things do get straightened out, but Solly isn’t among them. Yes, this is the same John Saul that writes thrillers but this is not one of them. Rather, this is the story of what life was like for a lot of gay men nearly half a century ago in San Francisco, barely after they became vocal with Stonewall but still long before AIDS.

Saul writes about coming ‘out’ as a gay man in the 1970s, which means he’s been ‘out’ now for almost four decades. Now he comes out to his public and it is good to welcome him “home”. This is a very funny read, for me especially, since it mirrors sp much of my life and what I went through as a gay man in a Jewish family at a time when we were referred to as faigeles.

Solly tells his aunt all the time that he is gay but she stays in denial and then when she realizes that this is who he is, she reminds him to stop being who he is (whatever that means). Uncle Hymie is a sensitive and delightful character that goes to visit Solly (at Aunt Sylvia’s prodding) to understand what being gay is all about. Solly is now Murray and Hymie meets his friends and even dresses in drag not to be too conspicuous around the “feigeles”. Uncle Hymie remains non-judgmental, looking for the positive aspects of his nephew’s gay life and gay friends.

Then there is the necessary scene with the psychiatrist, Dr. Coleman and this is an aside to a more serious topic on the nature of homosexuality and what happens to those who fall in the “trap”. “There’s no framework for their lives, they make a lot of mistakes.” What we get is insight into the tormenting issues that gays of both genders have had to deal with.

But then, and the same happened to me, the handsome Dr. Coleman, who just happens to be handsome, admits that he himself is gay. Though he and Murray are increasingly attracted to each other, both are shy, and make no headway in starting a romance. It is only through the subtle conspiring of Uncle Hymie and Aunt Sylvia, (making the two men share a ‘queen’ bed in the guest room) that they finally become lovers. This is Aunt Sylvia’s coming-out, her way of saying she finally understands, and she accepts Murray’s way of life.

Once Aunt Sylvia accepts Murray’s ‘gayness,’ she becomes lovable just like Uncle Hymie and they decide to help other gay men come out of the closet. This is a fun light read and recommended. You will laugh and you will tear up and you will also have a good time reading.

“New Boy” by William Sutcliffle— Who Knew London Has a Bagel Belt?

new boy

Sutcliffe, William. “New Boy”, Penguin UK, 1998.

Who Knew London Has a Bagel Belt?

Amos Lassen

 I was surprised to learn about London’s Bagel Belt—I new there were many Jews in London but just never thought of the Jewish community there being anything like the way we live here. “New Boy” is a dark modern comedy about the hormonal angst of a Jewish lad growing up in northwest London’s that is known as the bagel belt. “

William Sutcliffe is a wonderful writer who manages to be funny and interesting as well as totally informative. He writes with gritty realism and obviously knows something about the mind of young adults.

We meet Mark, a self obsessed boy who is in a relationship with the new boy at school, Barry. Mark worries about his own sexuality, especially as he feels strongly about Barry. While the title of the book is “New boy” and that refers to Barry, the book is actually more about Mark, but only a small part of the book is actually about the new boy, Barry. Mark tells us as we read about him that what he says is not really what happened. He says that he makes up stories because telling the truth would make the book and the stories in “too boring” and this happens in chapter after chapter. He is willing to humiliate others so that he can be “one of the boys” and sees nothing wrong with it unless the victim turns out to be stronger than he is. He generally feels nothing for other people and he feels that the world revolves around him.

The book is basically about what it was like to be a student in an all-boys school in the mid-1980’s and there are some very funny scenes. But there is not much plot and the main character is offensive.

“The Franz Document” by Joseph Itiel— Making Peace

the franz document

Itiel, Joseph. “The Franz Document”, Orchid House, 1989.

Making Peace

Amos Lassen

In “The Franz Document”, we meet a Viennese student who is half-Jewish and gay and whose father holds a position in the Austrian Nazi party. After the invasion of Austria by the Germans, he is sent to a concentration camp and accused of being an anarchist, homosexual, and Jew. When he is released, he goes to Switzerland where he spends the war years. Later, he gets a job as an interpreter for the American occupation forces in Vienna. Ultimately, he wends his way to India to seek spiritual enlightenment and from there he travels to Thailand and the Philippines. It is there that he makes peace with his homosexuality.

The descriptions in the story of vivid and the pace of the plot keeps the reader totally interested. The characters are wonderfully drawn and presented in short vignettes that make the powerful story all the more real. Author Joseph Itiel has written quite a story that is complex and filled with compassion and that gives a new and unique look at sexuality and love. He does not just use the word “gay” with no explanation; he delves into the character and disregards stereotypes.

This is one of those rare books that I happened by chance when doing a search for gay Jewish fiction and it is quite a read.


“Heather and Her Mommies” March into the 21st Century!— She’s Back!

“Heather and Her Mommies” March into the 21st Century



Heather Has Two Mommies 
Illustrated by Laura Cornell
Candlewick Press 2015

heather iHeather’s favorite number is two. She has two arms, two legs, two hands, two feet, two pets, and two mommies! When a child at her new school asks her about her daddy, Heather’s teacher has all the children draw pictures of their families and learns “the most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other.” A brand new edition, with updated lively illustrations carries the same message of celebration of diversity.

Buy this book
Ages 5 and up
Why I wrote this book

Many years ago, a woman stopped me on the street and said, “I don’t have a book to read to my daughter that shows a family like ours. Someone should write one.” So I did! I hope Heather Has Two Mommies shows that there are many types of families in the world, and the most important thing about any family is that it is filled with love.


Excerpt – Heather Has Two Mommies
“Heather lives in a little white house with a big apple tree in the front yard and lots of tall grass in the backyard. Heather’s favorite number is two. She has two arms, two legs, two eyes, two ears, two hands, and two feet. Heather has two pets: a ginger-colored cat named Gingersnap and a big black dog named Midnight. Heather also has two mommies, Mama Jane and Mama Kate.”

© 2015 Lesléa Newman

Reviews – Heather Has Two Mommies

“For twenty-five years, Heather Has Two Mommies, a gentle-sweet-natured book that acknowledges the existene of different family structures, has been a resource for libraries and schools, a relief for parents and educators, and a delight to kids from all kinds of families. It has become a national touchstone, and ultimately a historic landmark of American cultural progression and regression. You really should read this book again-it will make your day and it changed the world.” –Rachel Maddow
Review from School Library Journal

This is a new edition of the now classic picture book, first published in 1989. The story opens with descriptions of Heather playing with toys in the tall grass behind her house. The child has two of many things including arms, legs, feet, and elbows. “Heather has two pets: a ginger-colored cat named Gingersnap and a big black dog named Midnight. Heather also has two mommies: Mama Jane and Mama Kate.” As Heather enters school for the first time she observes that many of the students in her classroom have unique families. To illustrate, Ms. Molly asks the children to draw pictures of their families. Each drawing displays the differences found within each household, yet as Heather’s teacher comments, “The most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other.” The author’s text is simple yet powerful in its ability to move readers of all ages. Cornell’s fluid watercolor and gouache illustrations breathe life into this delightful story. Each page is artfully and distinctly rendered to be a visual depiction of the beauty and joy of diversity. VERDICT Readers will be warmed by this glimpse into Heather’s family, whether revisiting the text or experiencing it for the first time. –Claire Moore, Darien Library, CT

New in April 2013 from Bruno Gmunder

bgNew in April


Jake Jaxson & RJ Sebastian
Sixty Nine – Joyful Gay Sex featuring CockyBoys
Want to know how to have all the fun of sensual sex without shame? Let the CockyBoys show you.
Anything but a conventional photo book, Sixty Nine shows how joyful gay sex can be, in every situation and location. The sweet boys showcase their favorite positions, accompanied with passionate essays by CockyBoys masterminds Jake Jaxson & RJ Sebastian. Sixty Nine represents the feeling of a new generation.

128 pages, full color
Hardcover with dust jacket 10 ¼ x 13 ½“ (26,0 x 34,0 cm)
€ 49,99 / US$ 69.99 / C$ 78.99 / £ 49.99
ISBN 978-3-86787-881-4


the last boys

Barry Marré
The Last Boys
The Last Boys is Barry Marré’s first photo book. This young photographer, who is renown from magazines and fashion blogs, has a sense for dreamy and sensual shots. His models look fragile, yet expressive. This book is an adventurous experiment of young photography with a modern, juvenile touch, using real light.

128 pages, full color
Hardcover with dust jacket, 8 ½ x 11 ¼” (21, 5 x 28 ,5 cm)
€ 39,99 / US$ 59.99 / C$ 69.99 / £ 39.99
ISBN 978-3-86787-838-8

Mentaiko Itto
You can’t imagine Japan ’s manga scene without Mentaiko Itto’s amusing gay mangas anymore. Bruno Gmünder now publishes his works for the first time in English, introducing him to a broader audience.

160 pages, black/white
Softcover with flaps, 6 ¾ x 9 ½” (17,0 x 23,8 cm)
€ 19,99 / US$ 24.99 / C$ 27.99 / £ 19.99
ISBN 978-3-86787-794-7