Category Archives: Uncategorized

Artist Marie Peter-Toltz and Psychotherapist Tracy Sidesinger to Present at the Art and Psyche: The Illuminated Imagination conference

“Tristes Tropiques” Acrylic and spray paint on canvas 55 x 55 inches 2018
Marie Peter-Toltz’s ‘Tristes Tropiques’, Acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 55 x 55 inches, 2018. ‘Tristes Tropiques’ is currently on view at Show Gallery’s (Los Angeles)

Beyond its aesthetic appeal, art gives viewers insight into the inner workings of an artist’s mind, their values, desires, culture, the society they live in, and so much more. Along with the ability to shed light on the artist’s world, art also reveals a great deal about the inner psyche of the viewer in the way that they personally experience it.

The deep connection between art and the psyche is one that renowned painter Marie Peter-Toltz and esteemed New York psychoanalytic psychologist Tracy Sidesinger will be exploring next month at the University of California, Santa Barbara during the Art and Psyche: The Illuminated Imagination conference, which runs from April 4 – 7. Sidesinger and Peter-Toltz will be presenting their ideas on Friday April 5 in the workshop “Constructing a Life of Jouissance from Feminine Desire: Voices from Psychotherapy and Painting.”

Marie Peter Toltz Olivia Fougeirol
Artist Marie Peter-Toltz photographed by Olivia Fougeirol, Los Angeles, 2019

Artist Marie Peter-Toltz explains, “Jouissance is reclaimed as ecstatic, sacred development of the individual fostered by collaboration between psychotherapist/patient and artist/viewer, requiring desire over its inhibition.”

Discussing their work from the standpoint of desire, the two women, both respected figures in their fields, will cover the psychoanalytic history of desire and its inhibitions, develop conflict theories while also drawing attention to relationists and French feminists. Sidesinger and Peter-Toltz propose that desire is ‘accessed through the imaginary, on an individual level but also co-experienced with others.’ They will dive into the way desire manifests in practice within the realm of the creative space and through artistic expression.

Tracy Sidesinger
Psychologist Tracy Sidesinger in New York, 2018. 

“To speak about desire, we also have to speak about what inhibits it. This is particularly true for women who are still much more understood as the objects of desire, than as those who also have their own desires,” says Sidesinger. “Yet the tension between desire and inhibition is psychologically present for everyone, to the extent that desires are seen as culturally disruptive, dangerous, or limited by the traumas of life.”

Peter-Toltz says, “I think a lot of the artistic impulses and desires or lack of desire are embedded in our psychological state of mind. A lot of the creative process and/or the work in the studio is about each individual’s psychology, one doesn’t exist without the other one.”

Bringing together experts from the art and psychology worlds, the Art and Psyche Conference is designed to engage the imaginative processes of psychotherapists of all kinds alongside members of the art community in order to creatively expand one’s understanding of depth psychology.

Peter-Toltz is known throughout the art world for her intimate and expressive paintings, many of which weave in biblical and mythological themes with a heavy emphasis on feminine sexuality. Though the natural evolution of her work reveal a marked change in her subjects and the way she has portrayed them over the years, it is near impossible to look at any one of Peter-Toltz’s paintings without experiencing an emotional response.

“Each artist has different methods of working, each series has a different purpose, the way our cells are constantly renewing themselves, the creative process is in constant ‘mutation’. I want the paintings to make me feel a particular way which often is completely opposite to what comes out as paint,” admits Peter-Toltz.

“The sadder I am the brighter the colors become. I am interested in this dichotomy, how sadness, frustration, fear can be expressed with bright happy colors and how bright happy colors can be fueled with despair and hopelessness.”

Marie Peter-Toltz
Marie Peter-Toltz’s ‘de Toi à Moi et de Moi à Toi’, Oil on canvas, 52 x 48 inches, 2018. ‘de Toi à Moi et de Moi à Toi’ is currently on view in the Sydney CBD at the UBS/ Chifley Tower (Courtesy of Nanda/Hobbs Gallery), Sydney, Australia

Since childhood Peter-Toltz has immersed herself in the arts with the unceasing courage to allow her inspirations to come out through creative expression. However it is in the past decade that she has really come into her own. The presence of desire is clearly apparent in Peter-Toltz’s paintings and with desire being a cornerstone of the presentation she will give alongside Sidesinger next month, she’s the perfect art expert to talk about its unignorable presence in the creative process.

“I have been asked to participate in diverse conferences, although this particular one, is very specific and will mainly relate to the divine feminine and the illuminated imagination,” explains Peter-Toltz. “I am thrilled that our proposition was accepted, and it will be the first conference that I will give on this particular subject of third wave feminism, human psychology and creative process.”

Sidesinger has practiced clinical psychology for over a decade, emphasizing unconscious processes in healing and creativity. When asked why she focuses on desire, she says “returning to the emotions of what one desires is to enter the true space of loss, creativity, and being. What we think of as feminine desire is particularly suited to healing because it is more comfortable with the unknown. It takes us to what remains yet in possibility.”

Earning widespread recognition for her work as an artist, some of the accolades Peter-Toltz has accrued in recent years include praise for her “Tonight Think of Me” exhibit at Australia’s renowned Nanda/Hobbs gallery in Sydney, as well the most recent Artist Award from the University of California (Santa Barbara) for the “Art and Psyche” upcoming conference, the  LCU Award for Women, the New York Studio School’s Concordia and Fellowship awards, the National Association of Women Artists Membership Award, and more.

Marie Peter-Toltz
Marie Peter-Toltz’s ‘Le Monde Retrouvé’, Oil on canvas, 52 x 48 inches, 2018. ‘Le Monde Retrouvé’ is currently on view at the UBS Bank / Chifley Tower (Courtesy of Nanda/Hobbs Gallery), Sydney, Australia

Peter-Toltz’s voice as an artist is one that strikes a chord with international audiences, so it’s not at all surprising that galleries across the globe such as those in Paris, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles have chosen to exhibit her work.

“I believe we are all born artists. Every child is born a natural artist, a creator, a maker. The only difference is that some of us – as we grow and become adults – continue to make art and others stop. There are so many factors and reasons that come into play as to why one person becomes an artist and another person moves away from it.  Maybe this could explain why people are so drawn to the arts, because art is in each and everyone of us.”

 

Advertisements

Filmmaker Tom Edwards Strikes a Balance between Producing and Directing

Tom Edwards
Producer and director Tom Edwards at the Napa Valley Film Festival

It takes a very unique talent to effectively balance the work of a producer and director simultaneously on a project. Though it is no easy task, it is one where filmmaker Tom Edwards has proven his skill time and time again.

One of Edwards’ recent projects as producer and director is the music video for folk-punk artist Sunny War’s single “Gotta Live It,” which premiered last year to great praise on Vice’s Noisey outlet, which is known for showcasing hot new music and music videos.

Edwards captures the juxtaposition of melancholy sadness and perseverance present in Sunny War’s “Gotta Live It,” which the artist says is “a very personal song about my struggle with alcoholism, my dysfunctional love life and the confusion I face daily participating in this rat race society.”

Prior to directing and producing “Gotta Live It,” Edwards directed and produced the music video for Sunny War’s  “Goodbye LA.” That first time collaboration obviously ran smoothly because the artist called him back again for “Gotta Live It.”

Working with Tom is very chill. He has a nice easy going personality but at the same time he is very organized. [He] is good at what he does… he plans every shot, communicates the ideas with you beforehand… and actually follows through,” says Sunny War. “He is also always willing to listen to any crazy ideas you might have and is kind when explaining why those ideas are crazy and won’t work.”

Though Tom Edwards’ boundless creativity as a visionary director is evident in his work, his ability to balance what does and doesn’t work from the standpoint of a producer in terms of managing the budget, shoot days and all of the other odds and ends that go into producing are what make him such a sought after talent.

“As the producer I was working with a very limited budget. It was important to find the right location and that the filming could be completed in one day. As director I needed to make sure that my vision aligned with Sunny’s and that she was happy with the idea before I started to shoot. The last thing you want when working with an artist is to find out after shooting that they don’t like the final video,” explains Edwards.

“It’s essential to have good communication skills to ensure both sides of the party agree on the expectations. My role as producer was about coordinating crew, finding locations, getting permits and making sure we had the right amount of gear to tell the story. I like to keep all the logistics out of the way when I’m directing, it’s important to make sure I have my undivided attention on the artistic choices and performance.”

Some of the other music videos Edwards has produced and directed include “Fire” from  American ukulele virtuoso Taimane, The Main Squeeze’s “Only Time,” Westside FX “War ft. Bro Burch,” Calix’s “California Dream’n,” “Bad Blood,” and more. He’s also directed and produced commercials for brands including Lamborghini, The Sirius, Garrison Bespoke and the Shaolin Temple.

While he’s made a name for himself as a powerful producer and director in the world of commercials and music videos he’s no stranger to producing and directing narrative films.

In 2013 Edwards wrote, directed and produced the film “Ninety One: A Tainted Page,” which earned multiple awards including those for Best Overall Film, Best Actor and Best International Baccalaureate Film at the Shanghai Student Film Festival.

Actor Anson Lau, who plays the lead in the film, says, “I’ve always known Tom for his passion for making films… When he puts together a project he’s always enthusiastic… When he directs he knows exactly what he wants.”

Over the years Edwards strength as a producer has also led him to be tapped to produce a long list of projects for other directors.

He explains, “Aside from directing and producing my own films, I find a lot of pleasure helping others and bringing their visions to life. I enjoy being critical and being able to provide valuable feedback.”

One such film where Edwards proved critical in the success of the film as a producer behind the scenes is the 2016 dramatic sci-fi film “Visitors” starring Kei’la Ryan from “Escape the Night,” “The Doctors” and “American Hashtag.”

“I worked with Tom on a large number of projects, from commercials and music videos to narrative films. He always blew me away with his creativity and hard work. His work on the film ‘Visitors’ was significantly important and was one of our best collaborations,” says “Visitors” director Alon Juwal. “Tom had a large creative input both in the development phase and in the production phase. He contributed greatly in the writing of the screenplay and managed to lock some amazing crew members for the project.”

A film about two siblings who return home to their estranged father’s house after a long absence, only to find their home being invaded by a group of uninvited visitors from another world as the night progresses, “Visitors” made a strong impact on audiences and festival judges across the globe.

In addition to earning the Honorable Mention Award from the Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival and the Festival Award from the New York International Film Festival “Visitors” was nominated for several awards at festivals including the USA Film Festival, Vail Film Festival, Phoenix Comic-Con, Newport Beach Film Festival, and more.

“After careful review of the [Visitors] script, there were a few scenes that needed more attention. In one scene, the main character is blasted with a beam of light as if a spaceship about to abduct him. We had to make sure that we could get a rig and the right people to achieve this,” recalls Edwards about some of his key contributions to the project.

Edwards’ personal experience writing and directing projects have endowed him with an unparalleled understanding of what needs to happen on set for a director to be able to effectively make their vision come to life; and this is one reason why he has proven himself as such a powerful producer.

Director Alon Juwal adds, “All of my collaborations with Tom ended in successful productions. He brings a great deal of enthusiasm and grace to each project that he signs up for. Tom takes every small task that he is given with great seriousness and simply brings amazing results. He is fast, extremely efficient and a very hard worker.”

The ever busy producer and director is currently working with writer Phil Giangrande on the upcoming dystopian film “Now It Begins,” which takes place in a future society where resources are scarce and poses the question over whether it is ethical for a father to be replaced by artificial intelligence.

Edwards is also working with an a LA based production company on what he says is a “Very exciting series of educational videos that will launch sometime this year.”

Though he’s not yet able to announce the details on the upcoming video project, with such a track record of successful productions already under his belt we know it’s one you will be hearing about very soon.

Down To Earth Casey Wright: A (Stunt) Actor’s (Stunt) Actor

It’s more often than not a stunt actor’s job to not get any attention, which is why award-winning stunt performing veteran Casey Wright was somewhat resistant to being interviewed for this feature.

“I tend to stay on the sidelines, I don’t like the limelight too much – probably a big part of why I do what I do and I’m not a TV or film actor,” Casey adds with a chuckle.  

fast-furious-stunts
Stunt actors risk their lives every day, often without the kudos regular actors receive. 

Casey’s recent bursts of success however have meant it was difficult for our editors to keep themselves from profiling this down-to-earth home-grown talent who, in an era of crowded filmmaking and TV production, has truly made a name for himself as one of the few likeable guys working in the industry today.

“The best advice I was ever given was ‘Don’t get a big head’. You realise pretty quickly how lucky you are to be in the industry, and there’s no room for egos. The performers I look up to, the ones with the most successful careers – there’s no ego there. So I try to model myself on that” Casey adds

Since his win at the illustrious SAG-awards for Best Stunts in Mel Gibson’s Oscar-winning “Hacksaw Ridge”, Casey’s career has continued to go from strength-to-strength.

hacksaw-ridge-2016-ryan-corr-vince-vaughn
A scene from Mel Gibson’s Oscar-winning “Hacksaw Ridge,” for which Casey was awarded with a SAG award for Best Stunts.

Only just last year, he worked as a stunt double to Dan Fogler in the acclaimed feature film, In Like Flynn, a sweeping biopic of the swashbuckling Australian screen legend Errol Flynn.

inlikeflynnpostermainbigimgsv59902b
Casey performed crucial stunts in the biopic “In Like Flynn,” helmed by “Teen Wolf” director Russell Mulcahy.

Instead of regaling tales of celebrity that others may have spilled in relation to the filming process, true to Casey’s nature, he offers a tidbit about his role in offering crucial safety guidance during the shoot.

“Dan…had tweaked his ankle during a scene where he was being chased by headhunters. I was called in to double Dan. This meant that I had to perform the actions required in character, which involved sprinting through the bush, swimming across running rivers, and more. My work meant that Dan was able to rest and heal up, and filming wasn’t disrupted.”

The humble way in which Casey reflects on this experience is a testament to his practical nature, and clear aspirations to only offer meaningful contributions to the project as a whole rather than use it for his own entertainment leverage.

The other project that has benefited from Casey’s hard-working nature is the acclaimed TBS comedy series, Wrecked.

Working on 2 seasons of Wrecked, Casey had to not only perform the requisite stunt and safety actions also do them in character as Brian Sacca’s persona, Danny. This meant taking cues from Brian’s body language and immersing himself in how Brian holds himself in a scene, and so on.

sacca double
Casey (right), acted as stunt double to “Wolf of Wall Street” actor Brian Sacca. 

Casey’s remarkable success in doing this role effortlessly meant viewers are never taken out of the scenes while watching the comedy favourite. As a corollary to this, Casey’s actions had to match the comedic tone of the show that meant he stretched his performing wheelhouse.

“Most of my work has been on big action films,” Casey goes to explain. “Explosions, runaway horses, all that kind of stuff. Working on a comedy like Wrecked was a whole different beast. At one point a crew member came up to me and said ‘Just remember – it doesn’t matter if you stuff up. Sometimes that can be even funnier than what’s planned.”

Casey adds to that last thought.

“Coming from a world where everything was marked to a tee, that took all the pressure off me. I still had to be safe, but I didn’t have to be perfect. It was a very different experience, but it was one of the best of my career.”

Casey is equally complimentary of the TBS team and Brian too, when asked about his experience.

“I had a great time. Everyone was warm and welcoming, and made me feel right at home. When I came back for Season 3, I was greeted with a big hug from Brian – I found out later that he had actually gone up to the stunt coordinator for the new season and requested me back personally.”

bn-ol880_wrecke_p_20160613182141
TBS hit comedy “Wrecked” is known for being a hilarious parody of the iconic TV show, “Lost.”

No doubt Casey’s vital contributions to the show’s success were reason for him being brought back, and the personal request of his return to the set is valuable proof in demonstrating how he offered indispensable contributions to the show’s success.

“I’m very lucky to do different things – and am looking forward to doing more of it in the US.”

There’s no doubt Casey would be embraced by the American community, as he already proved on the Fiji set of the American produced series

“I was told by the [“Wrecked”] stunt coordinator that I may have been the most accurate stunt double he has ever hired. During breaks in filming, I had producers, the director and others come up to me to to discuss upcoming scenes. Once they heard my Australian accent, they jumped back, as they had no idea it wasn’t actually the actor they were speaking to. Everyone loved it, and it made me really feel at home with the crew.”

Karlisha Hurley: At the Top of Her Game

Karlisha Hurley arrives to our interview fresh from a pre-release screening of her latest film, Wrapped, directed by Calen Coates. In it, she plays the lead role, Abby, who overcomes her insecurities and learns to stand up for herself by stealing back a birthday present from a drug dealer who has robbed her. The unopened present was from her mother who had recently been killed in a car accident. Abby’s journey is just like life itself; it’s both comedic and tragic.

red carpet for newfilmakers film festival
Karlisha Hurley celebrating film in Los Angeles on a night off from her busy schedule.

A particularly captivating scene in Wrapped is during the kidnapping of the two lead characters, Karlisha and Sawyer, played by actor Danny Irizarry. The scene is an emotionally difficult one because of the detail Karlisha has to go within the character to honestly portray the actions and depth of the overall situation. The diversity of Karlisha’s skills are superbly conveyed here as she speaks to Sawyer. Not only is she frightened and angry about the situation she finds them in but she begins to openly grieve about her mother’s passing and exposes her own guilt and self-destruction as she blames herself. Karlisha’s natural reaction combined with masterful technique captures the audience’s sympathy and draws them into her character so deeply they are mesmerised into willing her to succeed.

wrapped - karlisha shooting-img_0179
Karlisha in a particularly intense scene from the set of feature film Wrapped, in which she has a leading role.

The role marks a continuation of a trend in Karlisha’s career – that of appearing in compelling film projects, while also staying in the public consciousness through a successful run of commercially driven projects befitting any young Hollywood star.

“It’s not necessarily planned – I just gravitate towards what roles I’m interested in and they are often gritty, challenging and highly emotional roles. As it happens, those types of roles and projects – I guess, the more ‘indie’ ones – are what attracts more commercial opportunities.”

It’s a common pattern: big-budget producers generally want to borrow from the street cred of artistically driven actors like Karlisha. Oscar-winner Casey Affleck has built a career on it, much like Oscar-nominee Chloé Sevigny or Michelle Williams.

While Karlisha has jumped from edgy film projects like Red Wire (directed by Gary O’Toole), Hello Tom Sullivan (directed by David Raynor) and Hostages: Don’t Take Another Step (from Kristine May), shot all over the world, she’s most recently garnered the attention of audiences in her role in O.A.R.’s music video – Miss You All the Time – which attracted nearly 4 million views.

oar church w karlisha 3.79m views
Karlisha’s appearance in the music video “Miss You All The Time

Indeed, it would be entirely untruthful to say that Karlisha turns her back on the mainstream parts of the industry. For one, the industry has embraced her with awards from the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival, the same year that Constance Ejuma of Black Panther and Robert Clohessy of The Avengers, The Wolf of Wall Street and The Place Beyond the Pines, with Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, won acting awards. Adding to that triumph, Karlisha maintains a tie to her home country by playing a major role at Australians in Film (AIF), the esteemed organisation that has solidified Australian A-listers’ places in the film and TV worlds of Los Angeles.

“AIF is so supportive, I’m really lucky to be an Industry Member there.”

Karlisha’s ‘industry membership’, reserved only for VIPs in the same vein of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, is one such watershed in the career of the young Miss Hurley, who in the past several years has had work screen at a number of international and American film festivals.

Among these were the San Francisco Film Awards and LA Independent Film Festival for projects like Hello Tom Sullivan and Karlisha and Morgan, directed By David Raynor. Industry insiders acclaimed Karlisha’s work, which in the performance of Karlisha and Morgan – playing two roles in the same film – demonstrated a nuanced sense of her craft few other young performers are able to showcase.

One example was the scene in which she plays ‘Morgan’, the spirit of a dead teenager who has suicided after being bullied at school; she is angry and wants the world to stop ‘sweeping under the carpet’ student suicides and do something about addressing their cause. The intensity of Karlisha’s anger balanced with her empathy for the victims and shown through the deep control of her revealing stare, her emotional facial expression and reactive body movement are all captivating and disturbing, demonstrating an award winning performance of a quality well beyond her years.

mv5bnmq2owiwnjgtnwriny00mja4ltk1ndctyti1zdi4zdq0nmy5xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymja0ndg1odq@._v1_sy1000_cr0,0,1481,1000_al_
Karlisha is well-known for her award-winning performance in the acclaimed film project, Karlisha and Morgan. 

The Other Project, Hello Tom Sullivan – in which Karlisha rescues a disadvantaged teenage boy, Tom Sullivan, from bullying – called for Karlisha to deliver an immense level of strength and sympathy for the role of Cynthia. When Cynthia and Tom meet for the first time, you can see a genuine evolving spark between the two characters, showing a high level of skill and technique delivered naturally by Karlisha. When introducing a character to an audience, it can be difficult for an actor to portray exactly the emotions and qualities of the character as envisioned by a director, but Karlisha depicts the essence of the character beautifully. As Cynthia walks Tom home after rescuing him, Karlisha’s body movement and emotion when talking to him gives the audience a perfect idea of what her character is like; her quirkiness and innocence, rising beneath her need for affirmation and acceptance.     

Producer/Director Lucinda Bruce (The Faceless Man, 350 Days and FSM) says: “Karlisha has an amazing presence about her. Her acting is beautifully structured and I can’t wait to see all the projects she has in the making.”

Editor of Sharknado William Boodell, who directed Karlisha in Sister Mercy, says: “Karlisha is truly a remarkable performer able to work under high pressure on difficult material with great finesse.”

wrapped - coseup - filmedwcamera -img_9665
Despite the pressures of a leading role, Karlisha always maintains a relatable and self-effacing nature on set. Here, she’s pictured in a close-up while filming her leading role in the feature Wrapped.

Performances such as these have not gone unnoticed by mainstream media, as Karlisha has been featured prominently in publications like the Northern Territory News, Surfcoast Times, Leader newspapers and Cinema Australia.

“I’m so grateful for the amount of interest and support I get from the media. Honestly I’m just happy they love hearing about my latest films and enjoy my contributions to the Hollywood film industry as much as I do.”

Behind the Scenes with Yoshie Morino

On the heels of the Golden-Globe nominated and box-office sensation Crazy Rich Asians, there’s no doubt that Hollywood has started to embrace a more diverse casting strategy when it comes to filling out the roster of its biggest films.

Japanese actress Yoshie Morino, well-known for her turns in Sharknado with Tara Reid and The Cat Diaries TV series, is one such beneficiary.

mv5bywq3yjdjodmtn2qyyy00zda4lwfjmzktmzuwmzzmyzjmnmvixkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtk2mzuzody@._v1_
Morino at the premiere of Sharknado 5. Photo credit: Ethan Miller, Getty Images

“I’m really excited to be a part of this new wave of talent, and to bring much needed diversity to the American filmmaking and acting landscape.”

Morino has recently joined the cast of Team 4, cementing her place within the company of celebrated filmmaker Len Davies, known for directing Emergency: LA. Indeed, Morino is currently working on two projects with Davies, who’s also been acclaimed for his work producing Bomber Command and World Association of Wrestling.

len-davies-85500642
Renowned producer Len Davies has worked on many different projects, and Morino is thrilled to be working with him.

“I’m very lucky to be working with Len on multiple projects – it’s validating as an actress to be a part of a production family. It means I can make meaningful economic and creative contributions to my industry, and to America more generally.”

In Team 4, Morino plays the leading role of Kumiko Kobayashi, a controller and leader in the mission preparation laboratory.

The series, which is about agents enhanced with nanotechnology who risk all to protect their world from evil forces, will showcase the character of Kumiko as having to shoulder the responsibility of programming the very nanotechnology inside each of the team members.

The role has therefore required Morino to access her strong sense of power and authority that, in real life she says, doesn’t come very easily.

“I’m very shy in real life, but that’s why I love acting – I get to play a part and do things that I would feel like I have to apologize for in my everyday world.”

The series also relied on Morino’s ability to effortlessly demonstrate her grasp of scientific terminology, as her character was an assistant on the original project that created the nanotechnology system and has the highest level security clearance from the NSA.

It’s not all serious business for Morino, though, as she enjoys some lighthearted scenes with another character who is a student to whom Kumiko imparts her knowledge. This allows the procedure to be carried on in the form of a legacy, as Morino’s character is the only person who understands the procedure and is therefore vitally important to the progression of the series’ hero journeys.

“My character Kumiko is totally unique in her field,” Morino adds proudly.

Aside from the character’s role in the plot, the role has also called on Morino’s unique screen talents and heritage to bring some authenticity to the project. Her gripping and powerful presence on camera brings out the best in the character of Kumiko Kobayashi, as well as revealing a vulnerability that engages viewers in a really effective (suggested: visceral ) way. Ultimately, as the director Len Davies and Morino both attest, Morino’s Japanese heritage grounds the series with an authentic representation of Asian culture that helps the series connect with audiences all over the world.

 

The other project Morino will be working on with Len Davies and his company is the feature film Astral Princess.

Don’t think though that Morino is intimidated at all by the change in medium, as it simply represents another opportunity to give service to a character and story.

Morino’s role is similarly demanding in Astral Princess, as she plays Ami Sato, an FBI field agent working with the lead agent Joel Finn.

“Joel,” Morino tells us, “is assigned to work on Suzannah Foster’s unique situation and as the pilot story develops, they become more involved in her abilities and the saving of Ricky Santos from the kidnappers. As the series progresses Ami becomes the liaison between the FBI and Suzannah.”

30665342443_169186f6f5_b-1024x640
Morino will be called on to participate and act in a wide range of high-octane action and stunt sequences. 

It’s clear that Morino’s multi-cultural heritage gives her the added ability to transcend cultures in order to deliver a compelling performance that relates to viewers of different backgrounds, a skillset that marks her as an actress at the top of her game.

“I think actors have a responsibility to relate to as many humans as possible, as we’re supposed to give life to the human experience and make people think and feel things they don’t otherwise get to experience in real life.”

Morino’s position as an Asian actress carving out a place at the top of Hollywood has been recently cemented with her contributions to the Glendale International Film Festival.

“The President of the Glendale International Film Festival even requested me to present the closing awards,” Yoshie tells us with a big smile.

“It was an amazing experience to present the awards to fellow filmmakers.”

Overall, the experience of being a judge also allowed her to use her own experiences to help others.

“I am grateful to be a part of these prestigious, well-known film festivals and to have been able to contribute my own acting experience.”

giff
The Glendale International Film Festival is considered ‘The Most Elegant Film Festival in the World.’ 

Aside from this integral perspective on her artistry, Yoshie’s successful career and relationships with illustrious companies have also brought her a degree of commercial success that would make any other actor envious. Perhaps a role in Crazy Rich Asians sequel is on the cards?

mv5bmtyxndmyotaxn15bml5banbnxkftztgwmdg1odyzntm@._v1_sy1000_cr0,0,674,1000_al_
The success of “Crazy Rich Asians” has sparked a wave of interest in actors of non-Caucasian heritage like Morino.

“I can’t quite say,” Yoshie says with a coy smile.

She adds, “I don’t think about the numbers, or money, I just think about the art.”

Australian actress Ayeshah Rose on international projects and storytelling

Ayeshah Rose is the embodiment of an international storyteller. Now more than ever, artists whose talents and skills traverse the globe and transcend cultural barriers are in demand, and Ayeshah’s career shows no signs of slowing down.

img_5773.jpeg
Ayeshah Rose

When asked about her success, Ayeshah is humble and points to her craft.

“Being trained but not strictly offers me more flexibility in my work. I am able to sense moments for a character quicker and deeper. I can indulge in a character’s identity which allows me to respond to the other actors that helps them stay empathetic.”

When looking at her body of work however, it’s clear that her consistency in building relationships with award-winning filmmakers and production companies in different facets of the industry have equally contributed to her current place atop the heap of Australian filmmakers making waves overseas. Indeed, she has recently been cast in the American film project “Vendetta”, to be shot in the US in the coming months.

“This project excites me…because of the technology involved…I’ll be working with weapons and using green screens and using skills that I’ve learnt over the years…it requires a lot of commitment and discipline.”

Ayeshah is blessed with a leading role, playing Elena, best friend to the protagonist Sofia.

“[The characters] went to school together for most of their lives. Elena recently changed schools after going down the wrong path and getting involved with a member of the mafia’s son. She’s terrified of being involved again, especially as she is the only one who knows their next target.”

In a reflection of Ayeshah’s impressive ability to connect and collaborate with highly revered filmmakers and companies, she’ll be working with Ryde Studios.

“With Ryde Studio’s reputation I am so excited to join a team that is making its mark significantly in the film industry as well as the resources I will get to experience while working on Vendetta. I am really excited to work in a professional environment which such a high calibre team that I know of so far. It’s the first big step I will have to the trajectory I hoped for. This is an opportunity to learn whilst performing which is so stimulating for me.”

Our interview soon turns to one of Ayeshah’s recent projects. In the feature film “Angel of Mine”, Ayeshah worked with Sundance award-winning filmmaker Kim Farrant (who directed Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman in the drama/thriller “Strangerland” alongside Hugo Weaving). “Angel of Mine” also boasts a top cast in “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” star Noomi Rapace (also known for her role in the “Alien” prequel, “Prometheus”) and “Fast and Furious” actor Luke Evans .   

“My character is a regular client at the hairdressing business of Noomi’s character,” Ayeshah astutely explains.

“She has a constant dialogue with Noomi’s character and serves as a confidante.”

When one understands that the film is about a woman grieving the loss of her daughter, only then to lose her grip on reality after she thinks her daughter may still be alive, it’s clear that any person considered a confidante to Noomi’s character is vitally important to story and the protagonist’s development. Ayeshah’s significance in the film therefore does not go unnoticed.

When asked about the shooting process, Ayeshah is quick to praise her co-stars while also touching on the demanding work schedule.

“Yvonne Stravoski and Noomi Rapace are both revered and honoured actresses – and rightfully so. They’re really fantastic. Being onset with both of them was exactly what I had imagined working with actors you can bounce off. Seeing their professionalism and focus was what I wanted within a professional team. I am so happy I got this moment in time where I felt I was of the same calibre.”

'Handmaids Tale' TV Show, presentation, Arrivals, Paleyfest, Los Angeles, USA - 18 Mar 2018
Ayeshah spent valuable time on set with “Handmaid’s Tale” star Yvonne Strahovski. PHOTO CREDIT: MEDIAPUNCH/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

Filming, Ayeshah elaborates, “required a lot of patience. My role was a crucial cross-over between Noomi’s character being confronted by Yvonne’s character about a murder.”

Not all elements of filming though were arduous, as Ayeshah is quick to reference a comical moment she shared with Noomi on set.

“In between [takes], I complimented Noomi’s nose (which I thought was very striking) and she informed me that Orlando Bloom broke it onset the film “ Unlocked” giving her that lovely nose of hers.” Ayeshah adds with a small laugh.

An ability to be flexible on set has in part been informed with Ayeshah’s other roles, including the leading character of Jane in film “My Day Job.”

“I had the ability to adlib when the other actors changed their lines by mistake and the focus was necessary for an intimate and dramatic scene. I had to also learn a Latina accent very last minute.”

Skills such as these are impressive, but ultimately, what motivates Ayeshah is not being good at something to impress a stranger, but to work in service of story and character.

“I am excited to merge into the US industry because I feel my look will be celebrated with the variety of roles I’ll be able to play, accessing all the colours and content that will allow my multi-skilled artistry to thrive and therefore I’ll be able to add value to the industry”.

A Child Prodigy: Chapter Two

Lorenzo Pelosini
Italian Novelist Lorenzo Pelosini

What happens to child prodigies when they grow up?

The proof that such genius doesn’t always die off is in Lorenzo Pelosini’s last novel, River Runner – The Golden Thread. It was John Irving who first noticed Pelosini’s early development as a narrative genius. The best-selling author read The Flight of the Hawk, written by Pelosini when he was only 14 years old, and decided to promote his young fellow author with a flattering introduction to his novel. And in 2014 Pelosini’s transition into a full-grown talent was confirmed with the release of his novel River Runner- The Golden Thread.

In the case of River Runner, it was the famous critic Fabio Canessa, an Italian authority on film and international literature, who discovered the novel, and expanded its notoriety across Italy. Ironically enough, the struggle for this specific form of talent to transition from childhood to maturity is also the central conflict of the story within River Runner. In fact, it is this meta-narrative reflection that makes the novel so brilliant. The main character’s battle to escape his prison is the perfect parallel to the one the author faced himself. In spite of that, this isn’t a story fueled by narcissism. It is one that’s propelled by an authentic desire for freedom, a motivation to grow into a more honest version of oneself, something we can all relate to. Although River Runner is indeed a fantasy, at least officially, Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings aren’t the tales that come to mind, instead, it is a cross between Shawshank Redemption and The Truman Show.

While fantastic literature and movies of the same genre take us up in the air and out of our world for a ride, River Runner takes us deep within it, straight into the very core of our personal little world, where our greatest demons lie alongside the best parts of us. This is essentially why River Runner works. It succeeds where many stories fail in the sense that it offers us a looking glass into the terrifying and often hidden parts of our souls– which are arguably the most valuable. This is not to say that the novel is the best product to come out of the world of popular young adult narratives. In fact, we are not talking about excellence, but rather, transcendence. If we visualize contemporary literature as a two-dimensional flat land, to quote Edwin Abbott Abbott, excellence would be creating a product that extends miles and miles in the two dimensions that such flatland conceives. On the other hand, transcendence would be moving even just one inch up, into that third dimension which lies all around it, yet almost inconceivable.

There is so much more potential to be explored in Pelosini’s already breathtaking repertoire of work as a writer. His fluid style stretches light years beyond his age, something that is clearly revealed within the pages of River Runner. And whereas excellence is surely encrypted in this young author’s future, transcendence is already a part of his present.

There is a sharp edge in River Runner that tears a hole in the placenta that each person needs to outgrow in order to be reborn. Such birth isn’t the obligatory one we all undergo, nor is it a regular transition into adulthood. It is an alternative. A peek into something beyond our everyday existence and step onto a path that we do not often imagine. Not only is this transcendent quality rare, it is also essential to every time, decade and generation. And since hope and its nature is essentially the content of River Runner, we can only hope for Pelosini to soon deliver a successful continuation of this trans-dimensional saga. Thankfully for us, he intends River Runner to be the first novel in a highly anticipated trilogy.

 

Hollywood Recognizes Filmmaker Livi Zheng as Asian Pioneer

Livi Zheng and Terrence Howard at the Unforgettable Gala

“When I first started my career in film someone told me that I am everything wrong about a director, because I am Asian,  I am a woman and I am young.” That was the opening salvo in Livi Zheng’s speech at the Unforgettable Gala. Zheng was honored with an award as an Asian pioneer in Hollywood along with the actor John Cho and the Director of Crazy Rich Asians, Jon M. Chu.  The speech was unforgettable; the crowd cheered for the young director at the conclusion of her speech.

Already a household name in Indonesia, Zheng’s rise to fame in the United States is not a surprise to her many followers back home. She is the product of three countries: Indonesia, China, and the United States. A simple search of her name will show Zheng’s popularity amongst Indonesians and Chinese and the enthusiasm they express for this talented young filmmaker.

Who is Livi Zheng? She’s an Chinese-Indonesian director who directed her first feature film at the young age of twenty-three. Her directing debut Brush with Danger released theatrically in the US and was distributed internationally. Besides directing, Zheng has spoken and lectured at more than 30 universities worldwide including Yale University, University of Southern California (USC) and University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), Communications University of China, and the University of Indonesia. Zheng graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Washington-Seattle and a Masters in Film Production from USC. She is a prolific and respected speaker and was invited to speak at the Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington D.C..

Zheng spent her young adult life as a martial artist. She got her start as a stuntwoman but soon realized the power of storytelling. She embarked on an odyssey to realize her dreams; that decision has catapulted her as a leader in the new generation of upcoming directors in the film business. Her remarkable confidence and bubbly personality is paired with her humility. When interviewed, Zheng never forgets to mention her roots.

Just this year, Zheng brought the vibrant world of Bali: Beats of Paradise to screens when it premiered at the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences and Arts in Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.  The 1010 seat theater was filled to capacity.  The Academy security was even surprised at the draw this movie had compared to many big studio movies that have premiered at the same venue. The documentary narrative did so well that a Disney Animation Executive in attendance invited Zheng to screen the film for other heads of departments at Disney.

Zheng is not only an inspiration to young women and people of color within the United States but also to people around the world. She’s truly a one of a kind director who bridges the West and the East .

“Promised” star Daniel Berini on authentic storytelling

In an industry that claims to be constantly innovating and chasing the latest trend, it’s always refreshing to encounter actors and creatives who maintain a solid grounding that renders them eternally appealing no matter what age or what the marketplace is like. Australian actor Daniel Berini has built a firm footing in his niche as a profoundly heartfelt actor who transcends time and place. Indeed, there’s a recurring trend in Daniel’s recent work of him being cast in projects set in the mid-20th century, the most obvious of which is the feature film “Promised”, co-starring “Strictly Ballroom” legend Paul Mercurio and famed-performer Tina Arena.

MV5BYjI5NDgwMTctNGIxMy00Y2MxLTk3YTgtMTUzMTIzYzNjOGQwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjU0NzE3NDA@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,666,1000_AL_
Daniel Berini as shot by Marnya Rothe

“Promised” concerns two young Italians in 1970s Australia dealing with the terms of their arranged marriage as negotiated by their fathers when they were born. Set against the backdrop of an Australia that was becoming increasingly liberal alongside fading traditions, “Promised” hails from “Hippocratic Oath” filmmaker Nathan Primmer and writer/director Nick Conidi.

A celebrated and impressive roster of filmmakers might make one expect there were clashing egos on set, but Daniel attests to how the production became something of a family during shooting.

As Daniel explains, “[a]s an Italian myself, I was able to appreciate and understand the world of Promised, which made the whole experience so very rewarding. Rocking up on set everyday felt like rocking up to Christmas lunch at my Nonna’s house, surrounded by cousins that you didn’t realise you had, and enough good food to feed an army. There was a sense of family around the production; family being the central tenet of the story.”

The story, which quite literally revolves around Robert, is a heartfelt one that resonates with audiences around the world despite the specificity of its time and place setting.

As Daniel explains, “[i]t was quite refreshing to read a script that celebrated Italian culture in Australia but didn’t make fun of it. This is a story that follows two people from two Italian families in Melbourne, but it doesn’t feature Italian cliches that are so often presented in film. There are no ‘lounge suites wrapped in plastic’, ‘concrete backyards’, or colourful depictions of ‘sauce day’ and stuff like that.”

Put more distinctly, Daniel highlights why he thinks viewers relate to the story and therefore why the film is an acclaimed one. “Promised is a story about relationships, that comments on Italian culture and the changing times, but ultimately it’s about Robert and Angela. This is a love story,…audiences…relish in its ornate simplicity.”

Daniel, who’s also known for his roles in TV in shows like “The Secret Daughter” and “Black Comedy”, has been affiliated with period pieces before. Notably, he appeared in the 1970s set Logie-award winning show “Love Child” in a key role as a part of the most recent season.

“Love Child is one of Australia’s most-loved television shows, and joining the final season was a real privilege,” Daniel beams.

Daniel’s experience on family-oriented shoots like “Promised” probably serves him well in an industry that can oftentimes be intimidating. With an acclaimed career like Daniel’s however, it’s unsurprising that he’s an actor who can not only ingratiate himself into a period TV show effortlessly, but also the cast and crew that makes it happen.

“I must admit, it was a bit intimidating arriving on set amidst a show at the tail end of its run,” Daniel concedes.

“You feel like you’re intruding on a family affair in a way, everybody there has been working together for years now and are all very comfortable. However, the cast and crew of Love Child could not have been more accommodating towards me and very quickly made me feel like I was also apart of the family.”

LOVE CHILD 2
Daniel Berini alongside “Doctor Doctor” star Chloe Bayliss and AACTA-winner Mandy McElhinney in a scene from “Love Child”

Daniel served critical moments in the emotional arc of “Love Child”s story. His truly honest portrayal of a young man nervous about the birth of his first child was both memorable and refreshingly authentic. Daniel’s unique look, incredibly befitting of the show’s 1970s setting, proved him irreplaceable within a production that prides itself on portraying the period as authentically as possible – an element that no doubt has led to “Love Child’s” numerous award-wins. This, coupled with the fact that he shared screen-time with AACTA-nominee Andrew Ryan and “Doctor Doctor” star Chloe Bayliss as his wife, both Australian household names, firmly cements Daniel as an actor working at the top level of his field.

This aside, Daniel’s clearly committed to character and serving the story, a testament to his dedication to authenticity and artistic integrity.

“It can be really good fun diving into a ‘period piece’ as an actor. There’s a weight to your choices, as you’re not only representing a person, but you are also representing the views of a time period, and you want that to come across as genuine as possible. It goes far deeper than tone and costume. It’s about finding the truth of your world, and then allowing it to influence your motivations as that character. I feel very privileged that I’ve had this opportunity on numerous occasions.”

LOVE CHILD 4
Daniel Berini in a scene from the 1970s Channel Nine show, “Love Child”

‘THE NUTRACKER’ actor Alexander Loxton on acting, dancing and staying humble

Birmingham native Alexander Loxton is a rare breed: accomplished not only as an actor, the heartthrob is also a revered dancer, having originally trained at the Royal Ballet School where was school mates with the renowned Sergei Polunin and actress Sonoya Mizuno. This heritage laid a solid foundation for his current status as a British export taking Hollywood by storm, having recently been cast in a US feature film and currently appearing in cinemas around the world in Disney’s “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.”

bafta 2
Acting and dancing British sensation Alexander Loxton at the BAFTA awards in Los Angeles.  

Alexander’s thoughts about his role in the movie reveal a modesty often displayed by performers working at the top of their field, demonstrative of the important notion that successful entertainers need only to prioritise craft and skill above fame and work will come.

“Being a dance movie it was central to the production to have the highest calibre dancers in the world to represent “The Nutcracker” suitably and working alongside artists such as Misty Copeland displays that.”

null
Alexander spent meaningful time on the same set as Oscar-nominee, Keira Knightley, in ‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms’.

In the movie, Alexander shares the silver screen with Oscar-nominated A-lister Keira Knightly, and in doing so cements his status as one of the leading young British actors working today, having carved out a phenomenal niche for himself as a dashing Brit who often plays a charming foil to American or narcissistic characters. In College Humor series “The Britishes,” for instance, Alexander was credited as Lord Harry, while he also is listed as a series regular in hilarious comedy “Bro-Dum” where he played the suitably-British role of ‘Rupert.’

“I’m very lucky I get to use my national heritage in all of my performances, as it’s an important part of my identity that I want to share with the world. And that’s why I’m a performer.”

“Outside of dance lessons I was a typical young lad from the midlands, I was in fights at school, in detention and was more comfortable in a tracksuit than anything else. My parents were not at all artistic.”

Despite the reservations Alexander had to dancing as a child, which was the pathway that eventually lead to acting, he found himself drawn to the discipline and craftsmanship that dancing afforded him.

“I started training at a local school from the age of 8 as a tap dancer and then was persuaded into trying classical ballet and started to reluctantly find myself enjoying it. I would later train at a run down sportshall and whilst groups of men would bustle into the changing room to play football I was pulling up my tights ready to dance.”

This keen awareness of his surroundings, and the humility with which he treated his artistic pursuits, clearly forms a core part of his intuition as a performer. Such a unique curiosity about life and perspective on people is a crucial tenet of Alexander’s one-of-a-kind talents as an artist.

“I can’t help but feel pulled towards the arts – I think now more than ever we have a responsibility to keep people filled with joy, and the easiest way to do that is through moving forms of entertainment.”

When asked about Alexander’s talents, co-star Jayden Fowora-Knight sung the Brit’s praises. “Alexander is definitely a one-of-a-kind talent – he’s so charming but he’s always willing to be vulnerable, and that’s crucial for a performer. Whether he’s acting on screen, or performing on stage – he draws you in because he’s so intently focused on the present.”

Alex had to remain tight-lipped about his upcoming project. “All I can say is that I’m really excited – that I’ve been given the opportunity to work as an actor in an American feature film is the culmination of many years of hard work. I can’t wait to start!”

alex jump 2
Alexander mid-dance from one of his many highly regarded performances.