Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sirocco Research Lab Screens 'Red Moon' in Chicago Tonight

Remember when we did that beautiful profile on Sirocco Research Labs in our summer issue this year? Well, the creators of a seriously awesome short film titled Red Moon are in Chicago this week to screen their film at Co-Prosperity Sphere in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood.

Red Moon is a werewolf story set on a Soviet submersible. Filmed and produced in Los Angeles, we met up with Sirocco while we were out working on the West Coast. They made us dinner, showed us around their studio and talked with us in-depth about starting their own production company and making movies.

Not to be missed, the screening begins at 9 p.m. and will include a showing of Red Moon and Cleo in the Universe. Both films are excellently done, with beautiful set design and costume work. Jettison will be there and you should be too.

Co-Prosperity Sphere is located at 3219 S. Morgan Street. After the screening, the Sirocco crew will be dancing the night away with music provide by Bryan John Appleby and Clique Talk.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Higher Calling

Image Credit: The Kindling Group

The Calling, a four-hour documentary series to air on Independent Lens on PBS Dec. 20 and 21, follows seven young students as they study to become leaders in their respective faiths. The film allows the viewer to peek into the lives of our religious guides as they struggle to balance identifiable themes from their personal lives—finding love, raising a family and questioning faith in times of loss—all while maintaining their clerical responsibilities. The film is seven years in the making and directed by a talented group of multi-faith filmmakers, and produced by the Chicago-based Kindling Group.

“As a [documentary] filmmaker I set off to look at faith in the US with a keen eye—to ask challenging questions and a critical approach— but I also wanted to balance this with a warm heart— respect and understanding,” said Danny Alpert, director for the series and executive director of the Kindling Group.

Alpert was raised in a self-described, “suburban, Jewish cocoon” and at the age of 15 moved to Israel in what he said his parents, “saw as the fulfillment of their Jewish identity.”

These unique experiences lead Alpert to consider becoming a rabbi. However, eight months from beginning a pre-rabbinical program Alpert realized it was not his calling.

“From that moment—through travel, school, living in a region at war, marriage, parenthood—I learned that the ideas, peoples and individuals in this world are never simple and moved away from my religious observance,” Alpert said.

In order to create a film that was at once critical and respectful, Alpert enlisted a group of talented filmmakers whom also are practitioners of the different faiths explored in the film.

“The point was not only to find a crew of outstanding professional quality— which I fortunately did—but also to find the right people for this project. Religion is not easy—people have strong feelings and it comes with its own baggage. I wanted to find people who I know would look critically and ask the hard questions, but who also had respect and understanding of faith and the faithful… It was not an easy search, but I was blessed to find a talented and dedicated team in Yoni Brook, Alicia Dwyer, Maggie Bowman and Musa Seed,” Alpert said.

While the film follows those who are called by their God, Alpert found that the power behind these stories, as they play out on film, is in the relationships these young clergy-in-training make with other people. He also found hope in the generation’s attitude of wanting to have its cake and eat it too: They want to lead prayer and listen to hip-hop, to use humor as a tool to connect alongside prayer and preaching. They fully embrace their religious lives and at the same time, they are unwilling to sacrifice their identity as young, modern Americans.

The Calling follows Shmuly Yanklowitz and Yerachmiel Shapiro, two rabbis in training, each facing their own personal struggles despite a shared faith, which reminds viewers that the experience of religion is vast and personal.

Tahera Ahmad and Bilal Ansari are both students in the Hartford Seminary’s Muslim Chaplaincy program in Connecticut. However, their familial and religious experiences differ immensely from one another. Bilal is an African-American father of four whose accomplishments include lecturing to prisoners and at-risk youth. Tahera is a recently engaged, strong-headed woman whose undertakings focus on the Arabic language, Qur’an recitation, Islamic studies and other goals from her suburban Chicago community.

Jeneen Robinson is a single mother, who struggles to raise her young son, supplementing her income with an acting career, while studying to become an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Steven Gamez is learning to become a Catholic priest, a role that differs from the others in its commitment to celibacy. And finally, there is Rob Pene, a Christian rapper of Samoan heritage, who has committed his time as a mentor to young people. He offers his support to underprivileged young men in his community, and teaches science at a public school.

While The Calling is a compilation of seven individual stories, together these subjects complete a larger narrative—one that speaks of the nuanced religious climate Americans experience today. With all of the shared goals for community development recognized on film, as well as points of extreme opposition between them, The Calling is a film that does not seek to answer, but rather question what religious leadership, and therefore faith, means today.

The Calling will air on the PBS series Independent Lens Monday, Dec. 20 and Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010 at 8 p.m. CST.

- Brittany Hayford for Jettison Quarterly

What’s your Calling?

In conjuncture with the film, Kindling Group has created an interactive project that brings the dialogue from the big screen to your computer screen. The website at continues the discussion with videos, interviews and articles organized into thirty different themes. From art, education and family to balance, identity, and transformation, there is surely a conversation to participate in, or something new to learn about. The site allows users to engage in a multitude of dialogues in a “Join the Conversation” section, where users can post their reactions, questions, or stories. The site also functions as a base for activity. The website has partnered with other organizations in an attempt to get users involved in their communities through the, “Service Call to Action” section which provides links to like-minded institutions.

* Jettison's Winter Issue will be released in early January. Click here to sign up for a FREE subscription and see our full interview with Director Danny Alpert in the new issue, as well as other great content.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dan Shea's 'Misanthropy' opens Sunday

One of Jettison's favorite photographers is having a must-see show in Pilsen starting this Sunday. Stop by, we'll see you there!

Lesson 1: Misanthropy
new work by Daniel Shea
December 12-13
Opening Reception: Sunday, December 12, 4-8
Open Hours: Monday, December 13, noon-4
ACRE Projects
1913 W 17th Street

Lesson 1: Misanthropy is a series of works exploring longing and potential within a misanthropic worldview. The photographs, sculptures, and video work in the show, all made in 2010, combine modern materials and nihilistic sensibility with primitive gestural forms. A 13-year-old boy speaking on metaphysics, group performance ritual, and art’s complicated relationship with landscape depiction all come together in a single narrative exploring the mythology of beginning and ending.