The Pulitzer at 100

First Run Features is proud to announce the theatrical premiere of The Pulitzer at 100, the latest documentary by Oscar- and Emmy-winning director Kirk Simon. The film opens at the prestigious Lincoln Plaza Cinema on July 21, with other cities to follow.

The Pulitzer at 100 celebrates the centenary of this revered and seminal national award for literary excellence in journalism and the arts. The totality of the Pulitzers has had an immeasurable impact on the American sensibility and beyond over the past 100 years. The riveting tales of the winning artists give an insider’s view of how these pinnacles of achievement are selected in the twenty-one categories and how the award has the power to change lives and communities. The diverse stories explored in the film relate to immigration, race, gender, and above all freedom of speech – all issues that are ever more relevant in America today.

Featuring interviews with several notable prize recipients, including authors, journalists, playwrights and musicians such as Toni Morrison, Michael Chabon, Junot Díaz, Tony Kushner, Paula Vogel, Ayad Akhtar, Carl Bernstein, Robert Caro, Martin Baron, Nicholas Kristof, Thomas Friedman, David Remnick, Wynton Marsalis and John Adams, the film also brings Pulitzer-winning works to life through readings by Martin Scorsese, Helen Mirren, Natalie Portman, Liev Schreiber, John Lithgow and Yara Shahidi, all of whom bring their own talents to bear on the words of their favorite writers.

Interwoven with the stories of the journalists and artists and readings is the history of the man who created it. Joseph Pulitzer, who came to America to fight as a mercenary in the Civil War, left money to Columbia University upon his death in 1911. A portion of his bequest was used to found the School of Journalism in 1912, not only to elevate the professionalism and to improve the craft but also to establish the Pulitzer Prizes, which were first awarded in 1917. Today, both the iconic prizes and the prominence of the School of Journalism at Columbia represent the highest standards of integrity and excellence in writing.

A thoughtful and colorful tapestry of the last 100 years of journalistic and artistic life in America, The Pulitzer at 100 is an illuminating and thought-provoking work that will spark the imagination of viewers, marking the beginning of a re-exploration and revisiting of the astonishing power of literature, in all forms, that have enriched our lives, whilst containing a century-long social commentary on the human condition, wherein lie many answers to the problems manifested in the world today.

There are more than a thousand recipients of this prestigious award including journalists, novelists, poets, musicians and photographers and this film has been made from the most valuable of resources, the artists themselves, many of whom are featured in The Pulitzer at 100:

  • Carl Bernstein, The Washington Post, Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, 1973
  • Thomas Friedman, Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting & Affairs, 1983,1988 & 2002
  • Martin Baron, Editor of The Washington Post, Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, National Reporting and Explanatory Journalism, 2014, 2015 & 2016
  • Robert Caro, Pulitzer Prize for Biography, 1975 & 2003
  • David Remnick, Editor-in-Chief of The New Yorker, Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, 1994
  • Sheri Fink, Pulitzer Winner for Investigative Reporting, 2010 & 2015
  • Nicholas Kristof, Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting and Commentary, 1990 & 2006
  • Carol Leonnig, Pulitzer Prize for Public Service and National Reporting, 2014 & 2015
  • Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars, Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 2012
  • Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours, Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 1999
  • Paula Vogel, writer of How I Learned To Drive, Pulitzer Prize for Drama, 1998
  • Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 2008
  • Wynton Marsalis, Pulitzer Prize for Music, 1997
  • John Adams, Pulitzer Prize for Music, 2003
  • Nick Ut, Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography, 1973

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From “Looking-Into” to “Living-Into”: Theorizing Existentialism in Cinema. By Karan Tripathi

Isabelle Huppert and Andre Marcon in L’avenir/Things to Come (Les Films du Losange, 2016)

In the early scenes of L’avenir (Things to Come, 2016) we see a French artist resting in peace at a place where he wanted to submerge himself in the music of winds and sea till the eternity. Commenting on the same, Heinz (Andre Marcon) tells Nathalie (Isabelle Huppert) that music is not only felt, it is seen. As the movie progresses, we see Nathalie experiencing the same contradiction, a semiotic rather, in her own self. We see her exploring and experiencing the various interpretations of herself, a development of an empathy she creates with the space and circumstances. In a cinematic construction that enables it, we see Nathalie oscillating from a life which she “thinks” of being hers and the life she somehow indulges herself with. It is the fascinating movement of her identity from the past to the present to the future and the constant divergence of it all that made me question the idea of linearity and unity of life and identity. Continue reading

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Anna Kendrick: Acting Real in Tinseltown. By Luke Batten

 

Abstract

This first academic piece on Anna Kendrick examines her constructed and individualistic off-screen and on-screen persona, with particular emphasis on the prevailing issues of patriarchy within the film industry. This is achieved through a study of the representation of women within the melodrama, romantic comedy/chick flick, fantasy, and musical genres of film, whilst considering Kendrick’s own perspective on the subject from interviews and her observations in her memoir Scrappy Little Nobody. The aim of this article is to further discourse on the representation of women within the aforementioned genres, and interrogate the portrayal of the female performer more broadly, both on- and off-screen.

Chapter one of this dissertation analyzes Kendrick’s off-screen depiction in conjunction with her child star status, celebrity culture, and social media. The following chapter investigates her on-screen personality as Natalie Keener in Up in the Air and Beca Mitchell in Pitch Perfect, the films which brought her to international recognition as an actor. The final chapter of this work evaluates her more recent on-screen characterization as Cinderella in Into the Woods and Cathy Hiatt in The Last Five Years.

Author Biography

Luke Batten is a film and TV graduate from the UK currently working part-time whilst he pursues his aspirations as a writer. His primary interest is in contemporary American film, with his approach to film criticism focused on films’ sociological implications. He has a great passion for both mainstream and independent film, and has contributed to Diegesis Magazine.

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Exploring Film History: An Interview with Dr. Jon Cowans. By Emmett Williams

Jon Cowans is associate professor in the Department of History at Rutgers University–Newark and author of Empire Films and the Crisis of Colonialism, 1946–1959 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015). Dr. Cowans participated in this Film Matters interview via email in spring 2017.

Emmett Williams: You did your Master’s and your PhD at Stanford University, studying modern European history. What drew you to this field of study? What attracted you about Stanford’s graduate program?

Jon Cowans: I wanted to become a historian because I loved learning about history and I thought Americans needed to know more about it. It seemed like an enjoyable, stimulating field of work with positive social consequences. I actually went to Stanford to study Brazilian history, but when I was there I ended up changing my field to modern Europe. Long story. Continue reading

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Interview with As Good as You Star, Laura Heisler. By Kim Carr

Laura Heisler

Laura Heisler is a theater, film, and television actress. She has appeared in many Off-Broadway productions as well as television shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, The Americans, and Madame Secretary. In 2015, she was cast as the lead in the feature film As Good as You, where she portrays a woman who struggles with grief after the death of her wife. The film was released in LA theaters on June 9.

Kim Carr: Please tell us about yourself. 

Laura Heisler: I’m an actor, born in Chicago, and raised in Bethesda, MD, outside DC. I was a New York theater actor for many years, before moving to LA for a spell, doing more television work. My husband and I recently moved back to the East Coast. I’m also a mom to two wondrous little boys: a two-and-a-half-year-old and an eleven-month-old. I was actually pregnant with my first son while I was shooting As Good as YouContinue reading

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Interview with As Good as You Director, Heather de Michele. By Kim Carr

Heather de Michele

Heather de Michele, a former New Yorker, cofounded  Lesbian Pulp-o-rama, a sketch comedy troupe that performed live shows in New York.  She went on to produce and direct a variety of film genres including commercials, web series, and shorts before venturing into feature films.   Now based in Los Angeles, de Michele’s first feature, As Good as You, has won best LGBT feature at the Hollywood International Film Festival.  It was released in LA theaters and on iTunes on June 9.

Kim Carr: Please tell us about yourself.

Heather de Michele: Hey, Kim! Okay! I am a theater director and filmmaker living in Los Angeles with my wife (Lisa in As Good as You) and our two awesome daughters. Continue reading

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As Good as You (2015). Reviewed by Kim Carr

Jo (Laura Heisler) and Jamie (Bryan Dechart) during their interrogation by Dr. Berg (Annie Potts) in As Good as You (Off-Chance Productions and Tanky Productions, 2015)

In Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare writes: “Everyone can master a grief but he who has it.”  This summarizes the plot of Heather de Michelle’s film As Good as You (2015).  The audience watches the protagonist Jo (Laura Heisler) attempt to master her grief after the death of her wife Amanda.  Her friends offer support, but she proceeds to alienate them, one by one, until she is forced to reconcile her past with her present. Continue reading

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Interview with Blake Atwood, Author of Reform Cinema in Iran: Film and Political Change in the Islamic Republic (Colombia University Press, 2016). By Chamberlain Staub

Reform Cinema in Iran: Film and Political Change in the Islamic Republic by Blake Atwood (2016) is a book that shines a detailed light on Iranian sociopolitical constructs and the media that aided the shift of these ideals. Although the author has published in academic journals, this is Atwood’s first book. He is fluent in Persian and his knowledge of the language and the politics of Iran is supported by his field visits to the country, along with his obvious passion and in-depth research. In his book, Atwood discusses reform movements linked to filmmakers and cinema, and their power to influence and instigate change. He provides a grand overview of a transitional time for Iran and film itself but focuses his ideas of Iranian politics and cinema primarily within the nine-year timeframe of Mohammed Khatami’s presidency, from 1997 to 2005. Atwood discussed his work with me for Film Matters via email in spring 2017.

Chamberlain Staub: To start off, what else should we know about you and your work?

Blake Atwood: My work explores the intersection of cinema, technology, and politics in the Middle East, and I have published extensively on media practices Iran and Lebanon. I believe that we need to globalize our understanding of film history, and in order to do that, we have to study languages, cultures, and histories outside of the economic flows of North America and Europe. Why should we understand the advent of sound technology, for example, through The Jazz Singer [1927] and the Hollywood studio system, rather than thinking about what the transition to sound meant in an Iranian context or an Egyptian one? The Persian language is really crucial to the work I do, because it gives me access to movies that aren’t represented by international distribution companies and also allows me to find and read historical sources that have not been translated. As far as what you need to know about me, I think my Instagram profile says it all: film historian/donut artisan.  Continue reading

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The Boss Baby: A Surrealist Tour de Force That Reconciles Capitalism and Love. Reviewed by Daniel Spielberger

The Boss Baby (DreamWorks Animation, 2017)

In a recent Fresh Air interview with Alec Baldwin, Terry Gross welcomed the fifty-nine-year-old star, “First things first, congrats on The Boss Baby.” I couldn’t help but laugh at this opening — a title like The Boss Baby (2017) solicits mockery, memes, and ironic engagement, not a serious, engaging panel discussion hosted by Terry’s colleague David Bianculli.  The idea of a computer-animated film about a baby played by the deep-voiced poster child of a Hollywood dynasty is absurd. Its trailer builds up to the punch line: a baby gets introduced to his family, the sibling is jealous, and then boom, the baby is played by Alec Baldwin, suggesting the film itself would be one note — the same joke of an adult’s consciousness trapped in a baby’s body over and over again. However, when I watched the film a month later, not only was I surprised, I was moved. Continue reading

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Hollywood Is Everywhere, Melis Behlil, (2016). Reviewed by Zulaika Popal

Melis Behlil, associate professor at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, takes it upon herself to interrogate the definition of Hollywood, with the perspective and focus on global directors in the twentieth century: “If it was difficult to define Hollywood in the times of Ford or Forman, it became even more challenging in the final decades of the twentieth century, when media industries underwent major changes, particularly in terms of ownership and organization” (27). In other words, in this book, Behlil illustrates the transnationality Hollywood has achieved over time and development. Continue reading

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