Tag Archives: performers

The Ambush Interview: Emil Lager

If you follow my video  and documentary work, you might know I happen to do a lot of ambush interviews. If I see something interesting and I can get a camera ASAP or have one in my bag, I will more likely than not, start interviewing the subject.

I try to be nice and unthreatening by all means. I don’t want to scare the subject off. I haven’t had an ambush interview go extremely wrong or get out of hand. But one day in London’s South Bank, I definitely stumbled upon one of my most unique subjects and perhaps awkward interviews.

What resulted was the following video costarring musical artist Emil Lager and his friend Amy.

Lager has a number of well-recorded, yet raw recordings on his MySpace music page and has a few shows set up for the summer. He is also an actor, playing a role in a French indie film called Cassie and playing in a fringe theatre company called Scandimaniacs.

And, according to his biography, he, “Is currently appearing in season IV of SKINS on E4 and as the lead guitarist in the Japanese mega star Ayumi Hamasaki’s two latest music videos MICROPHONE and SEXY LITTLE THINGS.”

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Arab arts comes to the Kennedy Center

“Arabesque: Arts of the Arab World” opened at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. yesterday.

The three week festival is bringing together and showcasing Arab cultures of 22 Arab nations. According to The Associated Press, 800 artists will be featured in the $10 million festival and it may be, “the largest presentation of Arab arts ever in the United States.”

Included are such exhibitions as cuisine, music, dance, art installations, film, fashion, literature and more. 

Part of the goal in bringing “Arabesque” to the United States was to understand and recognize Arab  people and culture rather than the images of war and terror and the politics attached.

Not only intended to unite American culture with Arab culture, the festival brings together various Arab cultures all the way from Morocco to Egypt to Lebanon to Iraq.

“Signing artists on to the festival turned out to be only the first level of complication,” reported Ellen McCarthy of the Washington Post. Other troubles were getting past the language barrier when scouting out artists, and then trying to find individual’s homes. Communication was an issue as few signed-on members had phones or Internet access. Traveling was also difficult as the visa process took nine months to complete, and services to airports and back had to be scheduled.

Organizing the festival, the Kennedy Center partnered with the League of Arab States. Funding contributions were made by the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, the HRH Foundation, and others. 

Overall, it is hoped that people will leave with a better understanding of Arab culture and embrace a culture they may know little about.

Visit the News Hour Web site to watch a report and read its transcript about the festival.

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Under Angel Tunnel

I was in Central Park on November 29, 2008. I don’t get to the city much.

Around every other corner were those street performing groups that flip and dance around to hip-hop music. They generate large audiences, engaging with crowd members. Throwing jokes back and forth, and successfully flipping over a tourist kid, members of the audience give dollar bills the young men.

The atmosphere was fun, but my attention towards them didn’t last long. It never does. Groups like these seem to be in every tourist city. My eyes wandered towards the surrounding architecture.

There were a group of friends posing for pictures under Angel Tunnel.

Then there was Toth. He performs.

Growing up Stephen Kaufmann,  Thoth felt uncomfortable in his own skin. He’s of a biracial marriage, and experienced much racism growing up. He was often fearful and shy. He dealt with suicide, and a father who wasn’t there. Eventually he figured himself out and began dancing and performing and dressing as he pleased.

 There’s a documentary about him. It’s by Sarah Kernochan. It won an Academy Award. 

In the moment at Central Park that I saw Thoth, he watched the other street performers and the crowd that surrounded them. He stood tall, hardly making any movement. Set up behind him was something like a shrine. His name spelt out. The ying and yang symbol made the “O”. The scent of inscense wafted. Occasionally he would quietly walk away; he seemed to disappear. Then, reappear. Bells adorned his shins. They are part of the music he makes. He sings and plays the violin.

In Kernochan’s documentary, people criticize his way of life. Thoth seems unaffected by any of it.

Under Angel Tunnel in Central Park there was Thoth, unaffected by the stares of passersby. 

Thoth’s MySpace.

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