With eight translations slated for his works in the Western world, Vladimir Sorokin, a Russian writer, encourages his fellow countrymen (and women) to combat Putin’s “fake news” with the truth.
Having left Russia for Germany three days before the invasion of Ukraine, Alexandra Alter of The New York Times writes that Vladimir Sorokin “seemed disoriented, but not surprised, to find himself facing what could be a long exile.” Beginning his career in letters as an underground Soviet author, English-language publishers are currently preparing eight new translations of his subversive works for Western audiences. An admirer of Dostoyevsky, Sorokin said in an interview last month, “A Russian writer has two options: Either you are afraid, or you write.”
With Putin’s right-wing ideology penetrating democracies around the globe (perhaps most alarmingly in the United States, where Trumpism almost sparked an apocalyptic war against China), Sorokin’s words ring true not just in Russia. Indeed, President Vladimir Putin, dictator of the Russian Federation, compared himself to transphobic English author J.K. Rowling in his own condemnation of “cancel culture.” As Putin’s propaganda spreads worldwide, all literary artists must meet misinformation with the truth, or else watch their respective cultures enter the future while returning to a regressive past, much like in one of Sorokin’s stories.
Ennio Morricone died yesterday in Rome at ninety-one years old, according to The Los Angeles Times. Staff writer Randall Roberts describes him as not only “the most important film composer of the twentieth century,” but “also the busiest.” Roberts lists his top ten scores as: Sergio Leone’s Trilogia del dollaro; Gillo Pontecorvo’s La battaglia di Algeri (1966); Sergio Sollima’s La resa dei conti (1968); Dario Argento’s Il gatto a nove code (1971); Bernardo Bertolucci’s Novecento (1976); Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven (1978); John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982); Roland Joffé’s The Mission (1986); Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables (1987); and Quentin Tarantino’s The H8teful Eight (2015).
The late pop superstar Michael Jackson’s daughter, model and actress Paris Jackson, was cast back in April alongside Bella Thorne and musician Gavin Rossdale in a film called Habit, according to The Guardian. Jackson is to play a lesbian Jesus, complete with “a nose ring, tousled waves and a traditional robe,” while Thorne will portray “a street smart girl with a Jesus fetish [who] gets mixed up in a violent drug deal and finds a possible way out by masquerading as a nun.” One Million Moms is circulating a petition against the production, which has attracted sixty-nine thousand signatures.
In the season finale of the YouTube series Reunited Apart with Josh Gad, the core cast of John Hughes’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) joined together for the first time in thirty-four years, according to NBC Chicago. Matthew Broderick, Jennifer Grey, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Cindy Pickett, Lyman Ward, as well as Ben Stein all hopped onto a Zoom call with Gad. Broderick, who hadn’t seen Ruck in at least fifteen years, told Gad about how he hurt his knee before shooting the parade scene, before the cast went on to act out iconic scenes from the cult classic.
Fantastic Beasts star Eddie Redmayne has joined “Harry Potter” himself, Daniel Radcliffe, in condemning JK Rowling’s recent transphobic social media posts, according to The Guardian. Redmayne – who played Lili Elbe in Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl (2015), the first known person to undergo sex reassignment surgery – says, “Respect for transgender people remains a cultural imperative, and over the years I have been trying to constantly educate myself.” Similarly, Radcliffe says, “Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations, who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I.”
On Thursday, the Criterion Channel has joined the likes of A24 and Bad Robot in coming out to help support the fight against systemic racism, as well as advocate police reform and support for protestors throughout the United States, according to IndieWire. In an email from Criterion president Peter Becker and CEO Jonathan Turell, the company announced a $25,000 initial contribution, in addition to an ongoing $5,000 monthly donation, to organizations that back Black Lives Matter. Criterion will also lift the paywall on titles from Black filmmakers and white documentarians who have captured the Black experience, available on their homepage.
Between violent confrontations with police in protests over George Floyd’s death, the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as record unemployment rates, there is little to celebrate about this year’s Pride Month, according to The New York Times. This isn’t to say all Pride events are canceled or postponed, because many can still be enjoyed online, such as virtual drag shows, benefit concerts, and, of course, “entertaining and evocative” films about the queer community and its history. Seven of these movies are: Arthur J. Bressan Junior’s Gay USA (1977); Greta Schiller and Robert Rosenberg’s Before Stonewall (1984); Christopher Ashley’s Jeffrey (1995); Gus Van Sant’s Milk (2008); Matthew Warchus’s Pride (2014); Robin Campillo’s BPM (Beats Per Minute) (2017); and David France’s The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (2017).
As protests continue to rage over the death of George Floyd, Black social justice leaders as well as scholars urge people wanting to make a change to educate themselves on systemic racism through books, conversations, movies, and documentaries, according to ABC. Doctor Creshema Murray, founding fellow at The Center for Critical Race Studies at the University of Houston-Downtown, published her first book in 2018, Leadership Through The Lens: Interrogating Production, Presentation, and Power. “Television and film is a way for us to disconnect from what’s happening in the real world, but it’s also a tool for us to understand,” says Doctor Murray.
Extinction Rebellion has enlisted sixty-four-year-old Hollywood star Whoopi Goldberg for their three-minute climate change film, The Gigantic Change, which goes live on their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram for World Environment Day, according to Inside Nova. The short takes a look back from the year 2050 at how people came together to save the world and ends by directing audiences to a page outlining the most effective actions they can take to fight global warming. Goldberg, who has been a co-host on ABC’s The View (1997-) since 2007, announced earlier this year that her calling in life is to help people.
SpringHill Entertainment, a film company co-founded by Maverick Carter and his business partner, NBA megastar LeBron James, will produce a documentary about Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre (with no release date as of yet announced), according to KTUL. Salima Koroma, who pitched the project back in April, will direct the picture, tweeting that, “The Tulsa Race Massacre is not just a black story but American history. The fabric of this country is soaked in racism and today 99 years later, we’re still fighting for change.” This week marks the ninety-ninth anniversary of white rioters destroying the prosperous black community in Oklahoma.