Schaefer: In film and in the flesh

Documentary: The comptroller will introduce `Baltimore's West Side Story' -- he's seen in the 9-minute film -- at the Senator today.


January 28, 2000|By Ann Hornaday | Ann Hornaday,SUN FILM CRITIC

Tell them Willie Don is here: William Donald Schaefer, comptroller of the state of Maryland, former governor of the state of Maryland and former mayor of the city of Baltimore, will introduce "Baltimore's West Side Story" at the Senator Theatre today at 5: 45 p.m. Neil Rubenstein's scrappy and provocative nine-minute film examines current plans for redeveloping the city's West Side, and presents portraits of several of the small businesses that will be dislocated by those plans.

Schaefer appears in the film lamenting his decision during the 1970s to go along with urban renewal efforts that razed several historic buildings. James W. Rouse Jr., head of the Charles Street Association, also appears, pointing out that West Side businesses "pay half again as much rent on the average as Charles Street merchants, and do more dollars per square foot of business than the average merchant on Charles Street."

"Baltimore's West Side Story" will be shown at the Senator for an indefinite run, before the theater's feature presentations. The film was commissioned by attorney John Murphy with the support of preservation organizations Baltimore Heritage and Preservation Maryland.

Doctoral essay

Peter E. Dans, M.D., author of "Doctors in the Movies," will be signing copies of his book at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Borders Books & Music bookstore in Towson. Dans' book traces the depiction of physicians and medicine in film from the 1930s to the present, and has inspired the TCM series currently airing on Monday nights.

Wrong song

Last week, we incorrectly reported that Cinema Sundays at the Charles Theater was meeting last Sunday, when in fact the group will convene this weekend. On view will be "Genghis Blues," Roko and Adrian Belic's disarming documentary about blues singer Paul Pena, who becomes enchanted with the ancient throat-singing tradition of Tuva (a tiny country on the Russia-Mongolia border), learns Tuvan, and enters the country's national throat-singing contest.

Oh, and he happens to be blind.

Cinema Sundays favorite Jonathan Palevsky will play host this Sunday, and will lead the post-screening discussion. Doors open at 9: 45 a.m. for bagels and coffee. Show time is 10: 30 a.m. Six-film membership packages are available at the door for $66. Four-film mini-memberships are also available for $52. Individual tickets may be bought for $15, seating permitting. Call 410-727-3464.

Black women in film

The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions Office of Cultural Affairs will dedicate Wednesdays in February to exploring the image of African-American women in films from the 1930s to the present. "Getting Her Groove Back" opens Feb. 2 with a screening of the original 1934 production of "Imitation of Life" starring Claudette Colbert, who finds fame and fortune thanks to Louise Beavers' pancake recipe. Sheri Parks, associate professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland and co-host of "Media Matters" on WJHU, will discuss the film.

Upcoming films include "Carmen Jones," "Cleopatra Jones" and "Waiting to Exhale." The "Getting Her Groove Back" series will take place Wednesdays at 7 p.m. through Feb. 23 at the Preclinical Teaching Building, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Wolfe and Monument streets. Admission is free. Call 410-955-3363.

Sundance dispatches

Baltimore and Maryland are being well represented again this year at the Sundance Film Festival. Maryland Film Festival founder Jed Dietz called on -- what else? -- his cell phone to report that former "Homicide" writer Henry Bromell showed his feature debut "Panic" to a positive response. The drama stars Neve Campbell, William H. Macy and Donald Sutherland. Rodrigo Garcia, who received last year's Producers Club of Maryland Fellowship, screened his comedy "Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her," which was also well received at the festival.

Former Baltimorean Anna Deveare Smith was also there with the film adaptation of "Twilight," her one-woman stage show. Marc Levin ("Slam") directed, and none other than diva Jessye Norman -- who is represented in the theater piece -- was in the audience for the film's world premiere.

"Everywhere you move there's a Baltimore connection," said Dietz between hurried bites of a veggie pizza before a screening of "Settin' the Woods on Fire," Paul Stekler's documentary about George Wallace. He noted that the Maryland Film Office's party Monday night was packed, and that Gabe Wardell and Skizz Cyzyk are once again helping to run the alterna-fest, Slamdance.

Dietz added that the Maryland team has seen lots of potential movies for the Maryland fest, which will unspool April 27-30. "We've got our sights on a bunch of stuff, several things that could be major showcases," he said. Sundance wraps up Sunday.

Picking up the pieces

The three artists burned out of their loft space in the fire at 423 W. Baltimore St. last week lost everything, including records of their work. Flora McGarrell, Brian Stansbury and Sue Frame would like anyone who has documentation of their work, in photographs, videos or audiotapes, to contact them. Call McGarrell at 443-804-5174. Meanwhile, a fund raiser is being planned for the artists. McGarrell says some of the proceeds will go toward buying smoke detectors and fire extinguishers "for other artists and people living in warehouses that don't have them. Because we wouldn't have made it out alive without them."

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