All Things Media
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That’s A Wrap: DC’s Film Festivals
Amos Gelb • May 23, 2011
On June 22 there will be a little taste of Kazakhstan in Washington. Perhaps a little Korea or India better suits your taste? If you are looking for something a little rushed, there is a 48 Hour challenge, or if you just have a few minutes, some DC Shorts.
For those in the know, these don’t refer to restaurants or urban athletics but an underappreciated trend in the cultural life of our city. While nobody was watching, except for those who attended them, Washington has become something of a film festival mecca.
Each year, according to Jon Gann, organizer of the seven-year-old DC Shorts — in which all entries have to be under 10 minutes — there are approximately 75 film festivals in the D.C. area. Nobody seems to quite know many exactly because there are new ones all the time. “I get calls every week from someone saying, “I want to start a film festival. How do I do it?” He credits the cheap accessibility of technology, film schools pumping out people on a mission to make their great opus, and a thirst for something other than the latest canned Hollywood profit enterprise.
And it is not just film festivals. There are regular screenings and documentary award gatherings like the CINE Awards, Emmys, and Kennedy Center Honors awards. Perhaps the most prestigious U.S. documentary festival, Silverdocs, takes place in Silver Spring each summer, and the world’s largest documentary conference, RealScreen, takes over a downtown hotel each spring.
And all this in a town that traditionally “frowns on people who wear black,” jokes Lauren Cardillo, an independent film maker and one of the folks behind the CINE Awards. Award-winning documentary makers Sean and Andrea Nix Fine (Sundance-winning “War Dance”) see it as the difference between watching a movie at home and going to the film screening — where the audience has a richer experience and the ability to interact with the moviemakers themselves. “For us it is also an amazing experience to watch people react to our work.”
Susan Barocas, who heads the DCJCC’s 16-year-old Jewish Film Festival, which had 60 films last year, also says it provides an alternative route to get movies seen as the distribution network has consolidated, squeezing out the small filmmaker.
Credit is due to National Geographic and Discovery, which about two decades ago laid the foundation to make D.C. a hive for independent filmmakers. Yet, to quote comedian Rodney Dangerfield, we still get no respect when it comes to filmmaking, even though D.C. is closing in rapidly on L.A. and New York in festival stature.
Filmmaker Sean Fine says that when he is asked at festivals elsewhere where he is from, people seem reluctant to believe that D.C. could be a hub for filmmakers. But if L.A. has its Hollywood, and New York its Tribeca, DC has its Potomac, and these days lots of great little movies run through it.
The next time you see an eclectic mob strolling out of an embassy wearing a pensive smile, nod knowingly. Or wait for the next showing — another film is likely already being cued up.
Don’t miss these festivals coming up in Washington:
DC Shorts festival (September 9-16) — www.dcshorts.com
Truly independent short films, created by new and established filmmakers with a special focus on films by Washington D.C.-based directors and writers.
ReelAffirmations (October 14-23) — www.reelaffirmations.org
Films focusing on the GLBTQ experience.
Arabian Sights Film Festival (October 9-18) — www.filmfestdc.org/arabiansights
Offering the newest and most provocative films from the Arab world (an offshoot of the D.C. International Film Festival).
Washington Jewish Film Festival (December 2-12) — www.wjff.org
New and award-winning films from around the world, telling unexpected stories on the Jewish experience and debunking stereotypes.
Capital Irish Film Festival (December 2-12) — www.irishfilmdc.org
Featuring the work of contemporary Irish directors. Produced by Solas Nua.
Amos Gelb is the director for the George Washington University’s Semester in Washington Journalism program. Contact him at email@example.com.
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In an economy where small luxuries win the day, George’s at the Four Seasons salon lands high on the list of places to go that cost that extra dollar but are worth every penny. Just ask some of George’s well known clientele, including Nancy Pelosi, Norah O’Donnell, Jamie Gangel, Kathleen Matthews and Chris Matthews (men go too), Maureen Dowd, Desiree Rogers and so many more. Or ask Rick, who schedules appointments. He’ll take care of you along with everyone else who works there.
Why would a national media consultant be writing about a Georgetown hair salon? Because it’s Georgetown’s best kept secret — a mecca for headliners and legends from near and far for all people. And when you walk in, regardless of who you are, they make you feel like a star and you walk out looking like one.
I came across George’s when I needed my hair touched up for a black tie party, having just moved back here from NY and Los Angeles. Omer Cevirme, known for his signature blow dries (He’s made Washingtonian’s Best list a few times), blew my hair to sleek perfection. I met my husband later that night and the rest is hair history. Omer did my hair for my wedding at National Cathedral and has for every special occasion since, including baby christenings, showers, and birthdays to come. I just feel fabulous when I leave, along with so many of George’s loyal followers.
But when I ask George, for whom the salon is named, to comment, he says no, it’s all about the talented people who work with him, the Omers of the world who make people like you look and feel so good. George Ozturk and his wife Deniz run things with a few of their handsome sons (they have five sons and three are in the business) and have been open since 1986. George says People and W magazines have hounded him for interviews but he’s not budging an inch. In this town of so many names, George’s understated way is comforting. He’ll never confirm or deny his list of clientele. What happens at George’s stays at George’s.
A few more important tips: Minh gives the best pedicure in town, I swear. Good luck getting an appointment — she’s booked solid, but try. Her colleagues are good too. And Carl Ray, who does make-up like you read about in glamour magazines, gives that extra touch that might win you that award you were talking about. He’s always booked for weddings, black ties or something at the White House. A few years ago, I walked in and there was Rory Kennedy, having a touch up at Carl’s booth before the premiere of her film on Helen Thomas. She looked fabulous by the way. Shh.
All in all, George’s is a place where Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, and just plain moms (and dads), share one beautiful thing: our comfort and our vanity. At your fingertips, you’ve got Washington’s best blow dries and color treatments of a lifetime, the best manicures, pedicures and a make-up job that might give you that extra ratings point or vote you were searching for. In the end, my favorite part about George’s is that everybody is somebody when you are there, and when you walk out, you feel that way.
George at the Four Seasons Salon is located at in the Four Seasons Hotel at 2828 Pennsylvania Ave. Contact the salon at 202-342-1942.
All Things Media is a monthly column. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with comments.
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The Player: Lincoln Pilcher
Georgetowner • March 23, 2011
Next time you’re at Georgetown’s Rugby Cafe, say ‘Hi’ to co-owner Lincoln Pilcher, a former rugby player and Ralph Lauren model. The Australian native’s string of rustic restaurants spans the country: LA’s Eveleigh is the new “it” spot; NYC’s Ruby’s is a “cool college kid hangout”, and the West Village’s Kingswood is “an equally fun big sister” to the Rugby Cafe. Pilcher’s empire is even expanding to the Middle East – a Little Ruby’s recently opened in Kuwait City.
In 1999, 20-year-old Pilcher arrived in New York to model and shoot fashion photos. Last week, he shared beer and kangaroo with Australian Prime Minster Julia Gillard. This is Pilcher’s intriguing story.
Humble Beginnings – “My partner [Nicholas Mathers], who is my partner in all the restaurants, he decided he was going to start a cafe. And I told him he was crazy because we couldn’t get any good coffee in New York and we were sick of drinking Starbucks,” says Pilcher in his cool, candid manner. “He went ahead and signed a lease and did all these things and I still thought he was crazy. Eventually I jumped on board with him and became a partner with him in Ruby’s, which we opened in 2004. It just snowballed from there.
“We started with cupcakes, bizarrely enough—selling cupcakes and selling coffee—and then we went to paninis. Then someone said we should do pastas. We did pastas. Then at one stage we started cooking burgers off panini grills,” he says, summarizing the improvised first year and a half. “There wasn’t even an exhaust system at Ruby’s.
“You’d come to Ruby’s and eat burgers, and leave smelling like the burger you ate.”
“The Bedroom Effect” – “We exported the Sydney-style, the Melbourne-style cafe. Australia is a cafe society, it’s wake up, everyone meet in the morning and have panini and coffee,” says Pilcher, describing the ambience he and partners Mathers and Nick Hatsatouris sought to export.
“We try to make it about the vibe. One of the big things we’ve done over the years is trying to create the bedroom effect, the whole lounge effect so you feel comfortable. It’s polished food in a relaxed environment.”
Naming the Burgers – “The burger, that’s what’s really hit it off. The burger in New York is different from here. We change buns, we try to keep it alive. The Iggys burger, which is in the middle,” he says, referencing a chalkboard menu on the wall. “That’s the one that’s standardized. Every restaurant has that.”
“The [burgers] at Ruby’s are all named after the beaches in Australia. So Bondi, which is the famous Bondi, and the Bronte. Then these [Rugby Cafe burgers] are all the famous rugby schools in Australia. Scots is where I went to school.”
Pilcher’s Rugby Past – For seven years, Pilcher reveled in the nonstop, rough and tumble nature of the game. “It’s super tough.” Did he break anything? “Collarbones, split-open lips. You don’t wear pads, it’s intense but the game doesn’t stop, that’s why rugby’s such a great game.”
“Rugby, yeah,” he says with a rueful smile. “That was when I was younger.”
A Glamorous Modeling Lifestyle – Pilcher’s mother, a Pittsburgh native, was the editor of Australian Vogue for 28 years. Even as a young child Pilcher was always well dressed, often sporting Ralph Lauren. He started modeling as a pre-teen, landing a contract with Ford Models in his early twenties.
“We had a great, great time, literally traveling the world and making enough money to go to the next place. It was a vagabond style of life but it was definitely fun.
“We traveled around do to shows in Paris, Milan, New York; a lot of advertising, Abercombie and print magazine editorial.”
They did let him smile, he assures me – his modeling career wasn’t about “pulling a Zoolander,” making the same face in every photo. “That movie kind of changed everything: ‘blue steel’ that’s it,” he snaps as he remembers the name for Ben Stiller’s pouty model pose. “Fun, fun, fun.”
A big budget shoot for Australian GQ was particularly memorable. “We went to this amazing island. It was three guys and three girls,” he recalls. “We were there for four days. We shot for like an hour a day because we’d shoot sunrise and sunset. We were all surfers, we were surfing. Those were the kind of trips that I liked.”
Ultimately the narrow focus of the industry wasn’t a comfortable fit. “You’re judged purely on one thing – what you look like – so it wasn’t really my thing.”
On the Restaurant Business and Life in DC – The restaurant industry seems to be a better fit, though Pilcher does enjoy keeping up with some aspects of his former life. “Broken dishwashers and beer taps, that’s Monday through Friday, and then on the weekends you can do what you want to do,” he says. The former rugby player embraces an active lifestyle of tennis, running and surfing, but his true passion is high-end photography.
“I still love taking pictures, it’s my hobby, it’s my passion,” he says, becoming energized by the turn in the conversation. “I have my studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for my pictures. It’s kind of like my little Warhol sanctuary to do what I want to do on the weekends.”
His hobbies help to offset the more trying aspects of being a partner in such a successful set of restaurants. On negotiating with providers for his businesses, Pilcher notes that “Consistency is the biggest thing in restaurants. It’s the hardest thing to do. If you are consistent, you’ll be successful.
“Avocados can be a dollar, all of a sudden there’s a flood then they’re $5 … Fish is the worst. Providers call us and they say, ‘This has gone up to this much.’ Some of the theories I’ve gotten from providers over the years,” he marvels. “It’s like, ‘You’re pulling my leg. China’s buying it all and they’re freezing it? That’s a good excuse. You just can’t get any fish and you want to charge me more for it.’”
While negotiating with providers and finding alone time for his photography isn’t always easy, Pilcher clearly enjoys his new career. His favorite aspect of the restaurant business? “The interaction with people, making people feel happy and at home.” He gets to know his DC customers particularly well, he says. “Loyalty is the big thing down here.”
Mr. Potter Goes to Washington
Amos Gelb • January 13, 2011
Friday, November 19. 12:02 a.m.
Harry! Harry! Harry!
Yes, for those of you who missed it somehow amid minor distractions like the persistently faltering economy, overpriced coffee, and the possible end of your mortgage deduction, last night at exactly 12:01 a.m., the last but one installment of the Harry Potter blockbuster-novel-turned-blockbuster- movie franchise hit all 14 screens at the Georgetown Loews Cineplex.
Well, to be exact, it hit at 12:19 because there are 18 minutes of previews at the start of the two hour and 40 minute runtime.
“All Things Media” couldn’t let the biggest media happening of the year happen without some kind of… thing.
So filing this under the “we stayed up so you didn’t have to” (with apologies for malaproping the Post’s tv columnist’s favorite line), the entire staff of All Things Media gallantly waded into the crowds lining K Street under the Whitehurst Freeway.
It was to be mayhem. Dancing in the street. Quiddich on K. I unfortunately am young enough to remember the original Rocky Horror Picture Show. And to have at least seen the footage of the Beatles at Shea Stadium.
So there was to be pandemonium at 11:30 between Wisconsin and 31.
Nope. Nothing. No crowds. No dancing. No broomsticks.
“Sorry, we started letting them in around 8:30, said a cinema employee, let’s call him “Mr. we can’t speak officially, you will have call headquarters No. 1.”
“It would have been too much. 3,000 people in 14 screens. And we have another showing at 3.30am.” How is that one doing, I asked. “Just sold out one, got another filling and we will keep opening as they come.”
But what about the dancing in the street? the crowds? My story?
“Sorry. They started lining up around 5:30pm.” said No.1, “But you are welcome to hang out if you want. This is about as much mayhem as we will get.”
Mayhem indeed ensued. It is tough to keep a large popcorn and two sodas balanced when someone eight inches shorter than you is drawing a mascara Potter scar on your forehead. There was indeed one sighting of a broom and a dressing gown, but the lone wearer looked like he was regretting his one-man effort to get into the spirit.
“The biggest issue for us is keeping up with the popcorn,” said “Mr. we can’t speak officially, you will have call headquarters No. 2.”, before trying to defer my questions to higher authority.
Now, if you had some house elves…problem solved.
Instead it was just college kids, a smattering of high schoolers and one or two adults who were bringing the ones they did not trust out alone. All far too orderly. Something of which the minister of magic would have approved (for those unread of All Things Potter, that is not a good thing).
Upon leaving, there was one last glimmer of hope. Or ember, I should say. Two college students were smoking on a bench as time wore down to H-Hour (as in Harry Hour). Were they so determined to get into the spirit that they came without tickets just to be there?
“Nah. We are about to head in. Didn’t feel like fighting the crowds.”
Reading Tea Leaves at TBD
The announcement of Jim Brady’s departure from TBD is not just the old “different direction” story. It is akin to Roger Ailes leaving FOX, Aaron Sorkin leaving the West Wing, or Steve Jobs leaving Apple. TBD, Brady’s visionary idea for the next great media thing, was a truly online local news organization that leveraged all those much-ballyhooed elements of new media — blogs, linking, social media etc. It really was a different concept.
Brady was not just the head of TBD but its guiding light. Previously the online editor for the Washington Post, he made his reputation by nurturing the old media dinosaur into a viable new media incarnation but moved on when new management took a left instead of the right he was trying to steer. Brady is an unrecognized pioneer of modern media.
Then Robert Albritton, backer of Politico and arguably the most imaginative and inventive media executive working in the American media business, had the foresight and brilliance to buy into Brady’s idea for TBD about two years ago, putting his money where everybody else’s mouth is.
So here is what rings hollow about Brady’s departure. Brady was said to be a technology guy, while Albritton wanted to focus on content generation.
But Brady actually is that rarest of beings: the content guy who is equally as comfortable with its technology. Was it simply a personality conflict, a financial equation, or Albritton’s looking for a right when Brady was going left? Was it literally a rejection of Brady’s vision by the paymaster? It’s all possible
and just business.
But I would suggest that this is now a critical moment for the new TBD idea, which was a truly new concept in online-driven, locally focused journalism in a sustainable form. Just as Politico is the personification
of its leaders John Harris and Jim VandeHei, TBD was Jim Brady. Albritton seems more than committed to growing his newest adventure, but TBD runs the risk of so many other new media incarnations today: To start with a promise and an idea but evolve into something not much different from traditional legacy media, just with fewer unions for bosses to worry about.
Washington Wizards Defeat Philadelphia 76ers 116-114 In OT Thriller
Jeff Malet • December 1, 2010
The Washington Wizards came back from a 15 point fourth-quarter deficit and defeated the Philadelphia 76ers in an overtime thriller at the Verizon Center in Washington DC on November 23, 2010.
See our slideshow of exclusive action photos of the game. (All photos by Jeff Malet / www.maletphoto.com) [gallery ids="99563,104709,104714,104719,104724,104729,104734,104739,104744,104749,104754,104759,104764,104769,104774,104779,104704,104699,104694,104800,104796,104639,104792,104788,104644,104649,104654,104659,104664,104669,104674,104679,104684,104689,104784" nav="thumbs"]
Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery – Photo Gallery
Jeff Malet • November 19, 2010
The Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on November 11th at Arlington National Cemetery . The ceremony commences precisely at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations and remarks from dignitaries. The ceremony is intended to honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces. (All photos by Jeff Malet www.maletphoto.com) [gallery ids="99521,99535,99536,99537,99538,99539,99540,99541,99542,99543,99544,99534,99533,99532,99522,99523,99524,99525,99526,99527,99528,99529,99530,99531,99545" nav="thumbs"]
NBA: Wizards vs. Cavs photo slideshow
Jeff Malet • November 12, 2010
Gilbert Arenas made his first regular season appearance at the Verizon Center as the Wizards battled the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday Nov. 6, 2010. The Wizards led 95-93 with 3 minutes 16 seconds left, but ended on the short end of a 107-102 score before an announced crowd of 14,442. Al Thornton led the Wizards scoring with 23 points. Mo Williams of the Cavs led all scoring with 28 points. (All photos by Jeff Malet www.maletphoto.com) [gallery ids="99495,99509,99510,99511,99512,99513,99514,99515,99516,99517,99518,99508,99507,99506,99496,99497,99498,99499,99500,99501,99502,99503,99504,99505,99519" nav="thumbs"]