Saturday, November 30, 2013

"1 dead, four people shot at Ramkhamhaeng University after clashes"

 The headline comes from a Thai Visa post.

I've been vaguely paying attention to the latest round of demonstrations in Thailand, but the headline above caught my attention.  In 2006 I taught a class for a month at Ramkhamhaeng University.  It's an open University with lots of students who wouldn't have a chance getting into more elite universities.

The image is from a Youtube videos that begins on the street in front of the University.  There's a by-pass road above and lots of shops on one side of the street and the University on the other.

It's hard keeping things in Thailand straight these days as you can see if you go to these links New Mandala and Bangkok Pundit that I've had up on the blog several years now. It's not even clear that the man killed was at the University from what I'm reading. 

This is also a reminder of where things can end up when people split on ideological lines and see only their differences and not what they have in common. 

[Feedburner note:  Basically it's been working, but 11 hours after this one was posted, it's still not showing up on blogrolls.  When it didn't go up right away, I pinged it, but that didn't help.]]

Friday, November 29, 2013

From Rainy LA To Sunny Anchorage

Somewhere in Alaska air space, I noticed another plane outside the window.  Actually this photo is blown up a bit so you can see that it's another Alaska Airlines plane below us and to the west.

The pilot had banked to the left, then to the right, and back to the left and then I noticed the plane.  I saw the contrails first, and then the plane.

This is more what it looked like out the window.  It stayed with us a minute or so.  Then we banked again and then the other plane seemed to fall back.

You can see the contrail above our engine and the plane itself is almost in the middle.  Click the picture to see it much clearer. 

Waiting to take off in rainy LA

After a week of sunny warm days in LA, it was raining Friday when we left.  But they need whatever water they can get down there.  Seems we left when it started raining in October too.

Shortly after we had flown alongside the other jet, the clouds started to break up and we had some spectacular sunset views.

Clouds hanging over the water as we're getting near Prince William Sound.  

The setting sun makes big and stark shadows in the water. 

Shooting out of airliner windows offers challenges, like all the spots in the lower left not to mention the smudges that refract the light.  But have to just make do since the picture below is so spectacular.  I've done no photoshop clean up or enhancement  on any of these

Soon we were flying up Cook Inlet.  Here the ice picks up a golden glow from the sun.

We're getting close to the airport.  This is ice on Cook Inlet.

The nicks and scratches and water on the window are much less visible when the sun's not shining directly at you.  More ice patches just before we land.

I stuck this one in to contrast with the view of the airport in LA with the rain drops on the window.  It was 3:20 pm.

People in LA were asking if it's dark all the time now, so I thought it would be good to show that it isn't.  In LA now, the sun was setting around 4:30pm.  I do have to say that it gets light in LA around 6:30am.  In Anchorage on November 29  sunrise was 9:42 am for a total of 6 hours and 12 minutes from sunrise to sunset.  Officially, the sunset was 3:54 pm according to Time and Date. 

And the twilights are much longer this far north.  In LA the sun seemed to drop into the ocean pretty fast and we knew we didn't have much time to bike home before it was dark.  But here, the glow lasts. 

And on a sunny day like Friday, even after the sun is gone in town, it's still up there in the mountains as you can see in this ride home from the airport.  The camera says this was taken at 3:48 pm.

I keep thinking these flight pictures are going to get boring, but each trip the light is different and the views are different.  Saturday is the last LA-Anchorage non-stop flight of the year.  I'm not sure when they start again in 2014.  It sure makes the trip a lot faster.  Today it was 5 hours and 15 minutes.  

Oh, yeah, it's just below 0˚F (-18˚C) here. 

AIFF 2013: This Year's Logo Way Too Busy

I like the curve of the red line that lists the venues.  In fact I like individual parts.  I like the snowflake incorporated in the film reel.  I like the colors. I like the pieces of the snowflake in the bittersweet shimmer bar on the right. (I couldn't think of a name for the color so I looked it up.) But as a whole, this logo is way too busy for me. It's like three different logos squeezed into one. My eye is scattered into all different directions.  Lettering is horizontal, vertical, and curved.  And that photo is jarring; it doesn't fit in with the rest.  Why is the curve on the left cut off?  Why does it say Freeze Frame? It's the top phrase in the largest font. Yes, I know it's a film term, but what exactly does it mean here?   It already has the word 'freezing' in it. I'm sorry, this is my least favorite of all the festival logos.  

Tell me I'm wrong and I'm missing something here.

I originally had thought that maybe this was the logo for this year because it was on the AIFF website first:

But it's just the poster for the Family Fun Films.  This one is kind of cute and whimsical.  

I also see that Lion Ark is listed for the Family Fun Films.  I saw it LA, and I think it's a fine film, but there's some pretty graphic violence against animals shown.  That PG-13 rating has a reason.  

It does appear that Lion Ark shows after the Family Fun part of the Festival. Don't bring the younger kids to this one.  There's a lot all the kids would like about this, but parts that would be disturbing to the younger ones.  At least I hope that the kids aren't so used to violence that they wouldn't be disturbed. 

Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks the logo is cumbersome.  

I found this edited version on the website of one of the films in competition.  They actually had to change the lettering (the actual logo has the date where it says Anchorage International Film Festival.) And they removed the reddish venue list that looped around on the black.

As I said, there are several logos in this logo and this one works for me - just needs a year and dates and it would be fine. 

And even Festival Genius used this portion of the logo for one of the films in the AIFF.

If different people independently find they have to edit the logo to fit, there's something wrong.  I hope the logo approvers take note for when they pick next year's logo. 

Tomás' Video

My friend Tomás, is a very talented cartoonist who lives in Spain.  When he sent me a link earlier this year to a music video he'd done the visual for, I was impressed.  Very original and imaginative.  I told him to submit it to the Anchorage International Film Festival.  He did.  But it didn't get accepted.  Perhaps they don't like music videos, but I don't think their rules say that.  I still think it's very original, well drawn, and very evocative.  (Whatever that means.)  You can see a snippet of it yourself.   And, of course, I'm looking forward to see all the animation at the festival that is better than this. 

Note: I'm not complaining that it didn't get in. Just stating facts. Each person has his own aesthetic preferences and the people who decided on the animated films made choices that were right for them. And I haven't yet seen the others. Tomás wrote recently that the trailer can now be posted. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving - Conflicted Thoughts On A Conflicted Holiday

[Every post is a draft, but this one feels more drafty than others.  Go back to cooking.]

It's hard to fault the idea of a day for giving thanks.

But the quaint story about Pilgrims feasting and thanking the local indigenous people who saved them that first winter in Plymouth has been exposed for some time now.  The left out parts have been added:  the four hundred years of European immigrants' genocide of Native Americans through war, through appropriation of their land, and death marches to distant reservations, assimilation,  and destruction of their cultures and their resources,  leave a bitter taste with the Thanksgiving turkey.

The cultural movement that exposed the hypocrisy of our Thanksgiving holiday has also exposed other hypocrisies.  The people who benefited from and still cling to the cleansed view of history are finding little cover as the lies and distortions of how they benefited from the appropriation of the land and labor from those deemed as 'the other' are dissolving.  (My use of 'they' is questionable too.  My parents arrived on these shores in the 1930s, with very little.  But at the very least, their whiteness did give them privileges that people of other skin tones didn't get.  And I still get them. But I'm not clinging to the myths.)

I think today's sharp political, economic, and world view divide among Americans, is in part due to the emergence of these new political truths, which, themselves will be modified as time passes.  And I think fundamental differences in how we see the world have always existed, but those who were, in the past, able to keep their world view as the ruling view, are seeing that power slip away.  And they aren't taking it well.

The Constitution (the most basic contract that all Americans implicitly agree on) guarantees us the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  These seem to be the basic values and all the other guarantees are the means to these ends.

But those world views, biased by our different economic and political situations, interpret 'liberty' and 'pursuit of happiness' differently.  And we don't even agree on what life means, when it begins, and when it's morally ok to end it.  

Pursuit of Happiness

'Pursuit of happiness' does NOT mean, to many with wealth (from enough not to worry to so much it's disgusting), the right of others to tax their 'hard earned' money to help others to pursue happiness.  Even many of those whose 'hard earned' money was inherited believe this.  They seem to believe Dad worked hard, so I deserve it.  And Dad believes that he earned it with no help from anyone else.  It was self-made. 

The land taken from Native Americans was their due.  As was the labor taken from slaves.  These are the most stark examples, but there are countless ways that people have been able to get laws passed that benefited them over others - gave their industry reduced taxes or increased subsidies.  Privileged their children from better schools to how the law treated them.  The list goes on and on.  If the 'self-made men' don't acknowledge these benefits, who would expect them to acknowledge the benefits we all get?

Even those who got their money from using their brain to develop an idea and to turn it into a product or service and found a way to get it to market and to earn a good profit, still didn't do it alone, as Obama so infamously said.   They had the backing of a government whose criminal and justice systems kept others from stealing their ideas and profits.  Whose banking systems allowed them to raise, safely store, and exchange funds without the value of those funds fluctuating wildly.  They were able to hire employees who had a public education that enabled them to do the work needed.  Their country's economy was strong enough that people had enough money to buy their products and services.  Their raw materials got to their factories on publicly subsidized roads and railroads and their finished products got to consumers the same way.

Yes, there were often frustrating government regulations  - but at least they were written down and passed by an elected legislature and could be challenged in court.  They weren't arbitrary decisions made on the spot by corrupt officials leaving the entrepreneur to pay a bribe or get turned down, or worse.  That happens in many countries.  And part of the reason our laws are so complicated is that their entrepreneurial colleagues, rather than accept the spirit of the law, hire lawyers to find loopholes in the letter of the law.  This forces the legislature to write more and more laws in a never ending cycle to close loopholes and expand the volume of regulations. 

Anyone whose business was set to open in Damascus two years ago, or in Juarez, or in Madrid or Athens would appreciate the importance of all the amenities that a stable, reasonably honest government provides: the infrastructures that enable people to start a business and succeed.

And, of course, there is luck.  Being at the right place at the right time.  Other would-be entrepreneurs, just as smart, with equally good ideas and talent, don't succeed because they open their business just as the economy tanks or a tornado hits, a new health report scares customers from their product, or a competitor shows up at the same time with a slightly better product or a heftier marketing budget.  

But 'self-made' men (Ayn Rand's mythical heroes) don't see any of these factors that supported their success.   Nor do they see how the system is stacked against others.

Self-made men see those who are not 'successful' as lazy and unworthy.  "If I did it, anyone can."  They don't see their luck in having innate talents that were valued in their cultural setting and useful in their business, that family networks opened the right doors at the right time, that a teacher or friend gave them an important boost when they needed it.  They don't think how the risky actions they survived (a red light run, an insult made, a lawyer trusted) could have just as easily derailed their success.

On the other hand, there are those among the poor, who blame the rich for their situations and avoid the hard work of learning skills at school, of getting and keeping a job, of planning for the future.  They see the world as so stacked against them that that they don't even try.  Just like the wealthy who disdain them, they are at the mercy of genetic inheritance and environmental breaks.  And certainly their bad breaks diminish the odds of their succeeding compared to the folks who despise them as lazy and unmotivated.  And when they stand up and protest their miserable conditions, they are condemned as unpatriotic rioters. 


And if we disagree on the 'pursuit' part, we also disagree on what the 'happiness' part means.  For some it is tied completely to monetary wealth - whether they have it or not.  For others, wealth is about relationships - family who stand by you, friends who celebrate your victories and console your losses with you.  With social wealth, there will almost always be enough to eat and pay the rent, however modest the food and shelter may be.

For me, economic wealth, without social wealth, is empty.  It's the lack of such social security that, I think, causes the 'self-made' heroes to blame poverty on the poor.  In the absence of social wealth, their economic wealth represents their success.  And social wealth is hard to achieve if one's network can't provide enough economic wealth to maintain a basic level of food and shelter and safety. 

The belief in the necessity of competition because we live in a zero-sum world, goes hand-in-hand with the self-made myth. "It's everyone for himself"  justifies the callousness to the plight of others.  But always fighting has to be tiring.  If Tony Soprano is at all realistic, it doesn't lead to happiness, only the trappings of success.

At the bottom of the economy, we find those among the hard core poor also living in a world of competition, of every-man-for-himself.   They'd understand the business leaders who are constantly raiding competitors and destroying other businesses.

OK, this is getting grim for Thanksgiving.  And straying from the Thanksgiving theme.  But I'm looking for why so many people see problems more than they see benefits.   As more of a thinker than a feeler, I believe that understanding reveals the possible paths to change.  I think that people who act more on emotion can change too, without consciously understanding why.  I think to the extent that they feel more love and more accepted and supported, they can let down their guard a bit.  And ultimately, I think 'thinkers' are ruled more by emotion than by rationality as well.

Remember, I started out saying these were more notes than a coherent post.

I like the idea of a day for giving thanks.  I seem to be able to uncouple Thanksgiving Day from the story of the Pilgrims and just make it a day of humility and appreciation for the things I have.  And I have a lot to be thankful for. 

So I'll stop here and give thanks for the time I get to spend with my mom now, time that seems to give us both some comfort.  I give thanks for my children's ability to negotiate the world's changing economic, social, and technological environments with reasonable success and with care for others who are not so successful at it.  I give thanks for being able to participate in the beginnings of my grand daughter's journey through life.  I give thanks for a wife who puts up with all I put her through.  And I give thanks that I live where I have the freedom to write what I think. 

I hope that everyone reading this far is able to find much to be thankful for too. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

An Egyptian Adventure at Venice Beach

Riding on the bus from LAX to my mom's, we meet a man who'd just opened a new shop on the Venice Beach boardwalk.  An Egyptian shop.  His name is Peter and he invites to come see the shop and have a cup of Egyptian tea. 

It was in the brick courtyard on the boardwalk that used to be Charlie Chaplin's house where he invited his friends to stay, he told us.  Hmmm, I know where the Frank Gehry house is, why have I never heard of the Charlie Chaplin house?  Since this is on my bike to the beach route, I said I'd try to come by.

So Monday morning, after riding down to the Venice pier on a great day for a bike ride, I stopped at the brick courtyard on the way home.

Here's what it looks like from the bike trail.  517 Ocean Front Walk.

And as you go into the courtyard, it looks like this.  It's cute and quaint, but apparently it was never Charlie Chaplin's.

I had looked it up and found a site called Westland that had a post titled:   Debunking Venice's Historic Myths.  

The writer says that he's:

 "operated a Venice history display and postcard stand along Venice's Ocean Front Walk since 1979."
He talks about the many stories about Venice Beach and then goes through many of them and tells us whether they are true or not.  In one section, he talks about whether celebrities really once lived somewhere.
"517 Ocean Front Walk - Charlie Chaplin - NO

The current owner named the commercial courtyard the Charlie Chaplin Courtyard under the mistaken belief that it was built by the silent movie star. The Sea Spray Apartments were built in 1922 as exclusive apartments."
No matter.  I find Peter and get introduced to his Egyptian partner Saber.  They met in Egypt.  And, I forgot to mention, when Peter got off the bus, he then got his bike off the rack, and rode home.  Maybe after setting up this shop he can't afford a car, but I'd like to think his use of public transportation and a bike is his environmental consciousness. 

Saber and Peter at their Egyptian Shop
I'm invited in and shown around.  Since I forgot my little pocket camera in Seattle, I've taken along my big new camera.  I tell them I'm a blogger and take pictures.

I'm a little disappointed with these pictures.  I think there is so much detail in each item that it all gets lost in a picture that tries to get too much.

There's lots and lots of items for sale.  I've never been to Egypt, but I'm guessing this looks a lot like the tourist shops around the big attractions in Egypt.  All the kinds of images of Egyptian art we know from museums, television shows, and books on ancient Egypt.

Peter gets me some tea. (I took some photoshop liberties with the background.)  I know in India that shop keepers often bring tea out for their customers.  And I think it's pretty common in the Middle East.  It's the first hook the salesman puts into his customer.  I should have had my first warnings.

Then Saber starts talking to me about my family.  He pulls out a scroll and says, "This is a family tree."  It's a painting of, apparently, a family.  He asks my name and gives me a chart of the Latin alphabet with their hieroglyphic equivalents.  S.  He points to the hieroglyphic on the chart and then writes it in marker on the scroll he's holding.

Uh oh.  Now what?  I think I'm caught on his line.  Soon he's written my family members' names all over the top and bottom borders.  I've lost round one, now it's just a question of how much I'm willing to pay for this.

Sure, this is a risk he's taking as a salesman, but I'm also in awe of his salesmanship.  He's a pro.  I've met these guys before - in Greece, in Israel, and particularly in India.  But this guy is really good.  He's written my family all over this painting - I've got to buy it, right?  What's he going to do with it if I don't?  That's confidence.

So he tells me that because I'm going to write a story about the shop he will let me pay whatever I want.  But before I offer $10, he takes me to a small painting on the wall and asks me, "Which one is bigger?"  My (see, I've already accepted that I'm buying it) painting is about three times the size.  The painting on the wall is priced at what I thought was $22.  He corrected me.  It was actually $220.  Well that's absurd.  I'm out for a Monday morning bike ride and I'm being hit up for something I don't even want for $220.  I tell him I'll pay $30.  He tells me that the paintings are done by poor Egyptian students and it takes about three weeks to make one like mine.

"My" Scroll Before He Wrote On It
$30 is still way more than I need to spend on this.  But it's a new store, some of the money will somehow, I rationalize, go back to people in Egypt, though I have no idea whether his family is connected to the military dictatorship, the Muslim brotherhood, or any of the other factions and who will get the money.

I have no cash.  They credit card reader on Peter's iPhone isn't working right so I end up at an ATM at a shop nearby.  When I get back Saber tells me to write a good story about the shop.  Will he like this?  If he doesn't will he reclaim his papyrus?

As I ride home with my new scroll, I'm asking myself:  Is it a dry erase pen he could just clean off if I didn't buy it?  (It turns out to be permanent ink.)  Is it really painted or just a print that costs them a dollar or two each, so that marking up one is worth it if they sell two out of every ten they mark?

I don't know.  I don't really care.  I'm not easily separated from my money by salesmen like this, but he was really good.

I did go online today to see how much Egyptian papyrus paintings cost.  At Pyramid Imports you can get an 8"x12" painting for from $13 to $14 reduced to $5.99-%6.99.  This is about the size of the one they had marked as $220.
A 13x17" painting sells for $14.99 reduced to from $6.99 to $7.99.
A 13x33" painting sells for $24.99, no reductions.

And all these prices will add shipping but no tea and no banter.   And the online sales folk don't have to pay rent for a highly trafficked tourist spot. 

Mine is 17.5" high and I'm guessing at least 36" wide. (It's all rolled up and well wrapped and I don't want to open and have to rewrap it.)  So I probably paid a fair price for it.  If I wanted it.

I first encountered serious bargaining in Greece as a college student.  Storekeepers would tell you how much you were robbing them and they would fight tooth and nail over a price.  But if you met the shopkeeper socially, he would treat you with utmost generosity.  A little later I was in the flea market in Rome and wanted to buy a pot of geraniums for the American family I was staying with.  Since it was a gift, I erased the chalked price on the flower pot, as I gave it to the salesperson, who promptly wrote a lower price on the pot.

As a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand, I got much more skilled at the fine art of bargaining, though the Thais are much less serious about this than the Greeks or Indians.  And, I'll add now, Egyptians.

Saber was a pro.  It was like watching anyone really skilled at what he did.  Say, like watching a magician make the money in my pocket mysteriously jump to his pocket.  I knew he was doing it, yet I couldn't stop him. 

As regular readers know, I'm trying to get rid of things not buy new ones.  But now I have an Egyptian family painting with all the names of my immediate family members written on the border in hieroglyphics in felt pen.

So, I do recommend you at least stop in this shop if you're on the Boardwalk.   The address is 517 Ocean Front Walk shop number 16 in the courtyard.  The buildings were NOT built or owned by Charlie Chaplin, but it's a good possibility that he walked by them at some point.  It's south of Rose about four or five blocks. 

After thinking things over, I know that I would be much more interested in modern Egyptian art and posters that reflect what's happening in Egypt today.  These copies of ancient art are nice, but I'd rather see and buy art that connects me with today's Egyptians and their struggle for democracy. 

I'm guessing this shop is as close as many people will get to stepping into a tourist shop in Cairo.  Just check out the prices of Egyptian stuff online and don't pay anything close to the prices marked on the goods in the store.  Remember, don't ever feel like you've been cheap.  If they sell it to you, they're making money.  If your price is too low, they'll say no.  And if you are too easy, it's no fun for them.  The prices marked on things are just the beginning points of an elaborate bargaining process.  Your best weapon is knowing what these things go for and checking online makes that pretty easy. 

And these are, I'm convinced, two decent men trying to pay their way in life and support their families with this store.

AIFF 2013: Shorts In Competition - Irish Lambs, Danish Street Kids, Alaska Dream, Pregnant On A Hot Day, Fantasy v. Real Life

Short Narrative Fiction (10 min to 54min 49 secs) seems to be films made by film students and/or as way to show what you can do, or to get started on a feature film.  The AIFF saw, for example, Dear Lemon Lima first as a short and then as a feature a couple years later.

This looks like an interesting group of films - all quite different.  All the films have a √ because that's how the Festival identifies those films in each category that are 'in competition' - that is, in contention for an award.

I'm organizing the films here by the group of short films they are showing with.
Group 1:  Real/Reel Life 
Sunday Dec. 8 at 3:00 pm at Alaska Exp Large Theater
Saturday Dec. 14 at 11:30 am at Alaska Exp Small Theater

Fucking Tøs (Damn Girl*)
Kira Richards Hansen
13m √

Den tolvårige drengepige Alex har svært ved at forholde sig til at være pige. Hun har opbygget sit eget drengeunivers, hvor hun maler grafitti og strejfer rundt med sine venner. Aggressivt kæmper hun for at holde sine følelser og sin spirende seksualitet fra livet. (From Ekkofilms)
 Don't read Danish?  Try this from the Danish Film Institute:
A coming-of-age story about a 12-year-old girl who has a hard time dealing with being female. She has built her own boyish universe in which she paints graffiti and roams around with her male friends. Aggressively she struggles to keep her emotions and her budding sexuality at a distance. Her best friend challenges her and that makes her go to even further extremes to keep her emotions at bay. She fights hard to sustain her position in the hierarchy amongst her homies. The accompanying music video "A Long Time Ago" with music by Malk de Koijn won awards in Honolulu and Vancouver.
*I'd note that when I put "Fucking Tøs" into Bing Translator, the English came out a lot rougher than "Damn Girl."

Part of Real/Reel Life Group that plays:
Sunday Dec. 8 at 3:00 pm at Alaska Exp Large Theater
Saturday Dec. 14 at 11:30 am at Alaska Exp Small Theater


Reel Life
Laurence Relton
United Kingdom
Adam Sinclair Reel Life Screenshot from Twitter
13m    ✓

Anchorage will be only the second showing of this film which just premiered here in LA on Nov. 14.  After AIFF it will go to the London Short Film Festival.  So despite being a far off northern outpost, Anchorage audiences will see this film before anyone except the LA audience, even before this UK film plays in UK. 

Don't read anything about this film!  Just see it.  Trust me, it's beautifully made and the concept is good and well executed. It's a great spoof of film making.  I think it will be  more fun to watch it with no prior knowledge of what you're going to see.  Discover it as it happens. But I can give you this short quote from the director's statement that is relevant but not a spoiler.
"Which leaves the fundamental question for Maddy and the viewer: is the fantasy world we are presented with at our local multiplexes better than real life?" 
I had the whole description up for this film from the LA Comedy Fest, where Reel Life won the best actor award and tied for the audience award.  I contacted the film crew and got to talk to the producer Oliver Dennis who sent me a link to preview the movie.  After seeing it, I took down the description.   I haven't seen any of the other shorts, and they look interesting too.  But I know this one is well worth watching.  I suspect people involved in film will especially like it, bu it's definitely accessible to anyone who watches a lot of movies. It's the kind of movie that makes you think about stuff you take for granted - a perfect fit for what I try to do on this blog.

The time gap between the LA Festival and Anchorage is just too long to stick around here - Oliver said they all have young kids at home - but they really want to come to Anchorage and I encouraged them to do so.

This film is so new that the website is just getting developed.  Here's what's up so far.

I'd note that another British film - the documentary Lion Ark - also just showed in LA but the directors are flying back and forth to a couple other festivals before going to Anchorage.  But they have all their warm weather clothes back in England. 

Part of Real/Reel Life Group that plays:
Sunday Dec. 8 at 3:00 pm at Alaska Exp Large Theater
Saturday Dec. 14 at 11:30 am at Alaska Exp Small Theater


Group 2:  Global Village
Saturday Dec. 7 at 2:30 pm at Alaska Exp Large Theater 
Saturday Dec. 7 at 1:30 pm at Alaska Exp Small Theater

Kirill Modylevsky
Russian Federation 
25m    ✓

I'm having trouble tracking down information on this film, but I'm working on it.  Here's what I've found so far about the  director Kirill Modylevsky:
Born in 1963 in Irkutsk. In 1985- 1988 worked at the “East Siberian” newsreel. In 1985-1990 years studied at department of economy of the VGIK. He is currently a student of the department of additional professional education “Cinema drama” of the VGIK (workshop of D.Rodimin). (From Kinoglaz)

Part of Global Village Group that plays:
Saturday Dec. 7 at 2:30 pm at Alaska Exp Large Theater
Saturday Dec. 7 at 1:30 pm at Alaska Exp Small Theater


Group 3:  Destination Unknown
Saturday Dec. 7 at 7:00 pm at Alaska Exp Large Theater
Saturday Dec. 14 at 8:00 pm at Alaska Exp Large Theater

Lambing Season
Jeannie Donahue
Not a Video - Screenshot from Kickstarter video
15m    ✓

From her Kickstarter page:

Lambing Season is the offbeat tale of Bridget, an Irish-American woman who travels to rural Ireland with her husband in order to track down the father she's never met.  She poses as a stranger in order to conceal her identity, but when things don't go according to her convoluted plan, it's clear that Bridget and her father have more in common than anyone guessed.
My inspirations for the film range from my personal experiences in Ireland: meeting a distant family member, seeing newborn lambs join the flock... to Jay-Z's potent lyrics about family and identity: "Damn that man's face is just like my face."

Of course, this description would have been before the movie was made, but I like the idea of comparing the original concept to the finished film.

Part of Destination Unknown Group that plays
Saturday Dec. 7 at 7:00 pm at Alaska Exp Large Theater
Saturday Dec. 14 at 8:00 pm at Alaska Exp Large Theater


Pyro and Klepto
Justin Chandra
26m    ✓
Screen shot from Pyro and Klepto trailer
"When Wyatt James, a lonely kleptomaniac, meets Mindy Michaels, a troubled and outspoken, pyromaniac, they begin an adventure of stealing and burning in pursuit of her dream of going to Alaska. However, when Mindy's antic's escalate to the point of recklessness, and their relationship is called into question, will they be able to look within themselves and their past, for answers?" (emphasis added)
This was a thesis for the American Film Institute.   Here are Justin and editor Kyla talking about the film with Asians on Film.


Part of Destination Unknown Group that plays
Saturday Dec. 7 at 7:00 pm at Alaska Exp Large Theater
Saturday Dec. 14 at 8:00 pm at Alaska Exp Large Theater


The River
Sam Handel
12m    ✓

From a mostly not there website (but the home page is a good start):
  FILMMAKER'S STATEMENT The River was an idea initially hatched upon learning of my wife's pregnancy and realizing she would be ridiculously pregnant during the summer months. With The River, I wanted to simplify everything and create a strong lead character with a clear, easily understandable, and completely relatable goal. In order to capture the sense of place that is so important to the film, I shot The River with a heavily local crew, many of whom had little or no experience in filmmaking. The talent that everyone involved brought to the set was humbling and the experience of making the film reinforced my love of our little mountain town. 

I also found this short trailer for The River at Lauren Ambrose's Tumblr page.  Lauren Ambrose, the star, from what I can tell, was Claire Fischer, the daughter in Six Feet Under

Part of Destination Unkown Group that plays
Saturday Dec. 7 at 7:00 pm at Alaska Exp Large Theater
Saturday Dec. 14 at 8:00 pm at Alaska Exp Large Theater


Remember these are just the shorts in competition. There are other shorts and I'm sure everyone will find some not-in-competition that they think are better. The advantage of the shorts is that they play in a groups, so you can see films not in competition too.

The scheduling for these is going to make planning necessary to see all those in competition because they are spread out over three different programs:  Real/Reel Life; Global Village;  and Destination Unknown.

Here's the first week schedule link. (Sat. Dec. 7 and Sunday Dec. 8)
And the second week schedule.  (Sat. Dec. 14)

There's one more shorts program - Horror Program - that doesn't have any of the 'in competition' films.

And don't get confused with documentary shorts or animated shorts or even boxer shorts.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Atheist "Coming Out" Movement

I'd seen a clip of Wolf Blitzer asking a tornado victim if she thanked the lord that she had survived and she replied,  after a pause, "Actually, I'm an atheist."

"Wow", I thought." I've never seen that on television before." But I didn't really get how significant it was until I saw this woman, Rebecca Vitsmun, talking about the experience of coming out on national television in early November.

In the first eight minutes or so of the video she gives her account of escaping from the path of the storm with her young child.  Then she talks about how she had never told her family she was an atheist and that the question from Blitzer, forced her to come out as an atheist. (I've cued the video - see previous post on how to do that - to start about where she begins talking about the Blitzer interview.)

"I realized, I'm about to do this.  He got me. I'm busted.  My mom didn't know.  My family didn't know.  My in-laws didn't know.  Nobody knew.  I've been hiding this for over a decade. I wasn't out yet.  He put me in a place where you either have to be honest with yourself, right now, or you have to lie.  I wasn't about to lie. .  . You hear me trying to get it out. . . I'm actually an atheist.  I just laughed.  There's no way he saw that coming . . ."
[This is a reasonably close, but not exact, transcript I made.]

I'd never thought about atheists having to 'come out' in the same sense that gays would.  But it makes sense, particularly if someone's in a religious family where atheists are considered the enemy. 

But it seems that the Blitzer interview hit a nerve.  On national television, instead of a  stock answer to Blitzer's perfunctory question,  Vitsmun told him the truth, "I'm actually an atheist."

My first thought was, "Did she really say that?"  My second thought was, "They didn't cut that out?"

It was a watershed television moment.    And then I started noticing this use of 'coming out' by atheists in other places.

I think something is happening here that may be significant in the United States.  We've all tried to be respectful of people's religions, but some religious groups haven't been respectful back.  Some have taken advantage of the First Amendment protections of religion and people's genuine attempts to respect others' religious beliefs, to abuse others under the guise of religion.  I think that people, more than just a few, are going to start standing up to religions that try to impose their beliefs on everyone else.

Here are some more examples of atheists connected with the term "coming out."

NBC News about atheists in the military:

"If the Fort Bragg group succeeds, it will be overseen by the Chaplain Corps. That might seem contradictory for a group defined by its lack of belief, but it means MASH's [Military Atheists and Secular Humanists] literature would be available along with Bibles and Qurans. It could raise funds on base and, its members say, they could feel more comfortable approaching chaplains for help with personal problems. Recognition would also be an official sign that not believing in God is acceptable, something members say is lacking now.
"They call it 'coming out of the atheist closet,'" Griffith said. "There are people who won't say anything to anyone outside of their own close-knit group. They don't want Grandma to find out, or whoever. People feel like they have to lie about it.'" (emphasis added)

New York Times article about clergy who stop believing:

All he had ever wanted was to be a comfort and a support to the people he grew up with, but now a divide stood between him and them. He could no longer hide his disbelief. He walked into the bathroom and stared at himself in the mirror. “I remember thinking, Who on this planet has any idea what I’m going through?” DeWitt told me.
As his wife slept, he fumbled through the darkness for his laptop. After a few quick searches with the terms “pastor” and “atheist,” he discovered that a cottage industry of atheist outreach groups had grown up in the past few years. Within days, he joined an online network called the Clergy Project, created for clerics who no longer believe in God and want to communicate anonymously through a secure Web site. .  .

Atheists, he discovered, were starting to reach out to one another not just in the urban North but also in states across the South and West, in the kinds of places­ DeWitt had spent much of his career as a traveling preacher. After a few months he took to the road again, this time as the newest of a new breed of celebrity, the atheist convert. They have their own apostles (Bertrand Russell, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens) and their own language, a glossary borrowed from Alcoholics Anonymous, the Bible and gay liberation (you always “come out” of the atheist closet).  (emphasis added)

Student Body President at Christian College:
Many students at Northwest Christian University, in Oregon, knew that their student-body president was an atheist. But when the news—and some misunderstandings—spread after Eric Fromm explained his beliefs to a classroom of freshmen, he decided to “come out” in the student newspaper.  (emphasis added)

Another article that may interest readers that I came across while writing this is a 2012 interview in the LA Times with atheist Nate Phelps one of the 13 children of Westboro Baptist Church's Fred Phelps who pickets veteran funerals and is an outspoken hater of gays. Fred Phelps is clearly one of the more extreme cases of using the First Amendment protection for religion to abuse others.

Monday, November 25, 2013

How to Choose Where To Start (And End) An Embedded Youtube Video

Suppose only a short part of the video is relevant to what you're posting?  You just want from 8 minutes in to 10 minutes in.  (Sorry, this is a post mainly directed at other bloggers, but I think readers should get to peek behind the scenes sometimes too.)

I found a great website where you just plug in the
Screenshot from Tech Tips For All
  • Youtube url
  • Starting point
  • Ending point
Then you hit the 'get the code' button, and it gives you the embed code! It couldn't be easier. Your viewers don't have to cue the video to the right place.  You do it for them.

Arriving in San Francisco By Air

Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco

The bigger camera definitely takes better pictures than the little one.  But it doesn't quite fit in my pocket.  These look much better if you click them.

Between Seattle and San Francisco there's a lot of apparently unpopulated, rugged land. I'd love it if I could find a way to track where I am on a plane so I could identify the geographical features and towns I'm flying over. I was surprised at how much barren looking land exists north of San Francisco. It made me want to jump in the van and just drive around the area to see what all is there.

This was Saturday afternoon on the way back to LA.  We had to go out of security and back through to get to the other plane.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Wisconsin Judge Strikes Down One Big Religious Tax Exemption

From Forbes
"The Freedom From Religion Foundation has won a stunning victory in the United States District  Court For The Western District Of Wisconsin where Judge Barbara Crabb has ruled that a substantial tax benefit enjoyed by many thousands of clergy – ministers, priests, rabbis, imams and others – is unconstitutional.  Code Section 107(2) provides that the gross income of a “minister of the gospel” does not include:
the rental allowance paid to him as part of his compensation, to the extent used by him to rent or provide a home and to the extent such allowance does not exceed the fair rental value of the home, including furnishings and appurtenances such as a garage, plus the cost of utilities. . .
According to the Joint Committee on Taxation Estimate of Federal Tax Expenditure the exclusion is worth about $700,000,000 per year.  The estimate is not broken down between in-kind, which remains intact, and cash, declared unconstitutional.  Over the decades, churches have moved away from owning parsonages to paying cash allowances, so I would hazard a guess that more of the lost revenue comes from the cash allowance."
There's a lot more at the link.   The writer, Peter J. Reilly says the obstacle for those challenging this law over the years, has been lack of standing.  The Freedom of Religion Foundation got around this by paying their staff housing allowances, which their staff can NOT take deductions for.  And while he says he's a CPA and not a politico, he suspects this decision will be repealed.  And that there is likely enough religious support on both sides of the aisle in Congress to pass new legislation.

I'm sure the professional Christians will loudly proclaim this is one more attack in the war against Christians in the US.  But, of course, others might see this as a special privilege religious groups have enjoyed and the Right hates special privileges, unless they go to them.  And besides, this ruling also affects Jews and Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists.

In August, another Wisconsin judge ruled in favor of a church tax exemption:
Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Christopher Foley has found that the Jerusalem Empowered African Methodist Episcopal Church, 9540 W. Good Hope Road, had met the legal requirements to be tax exempt. And Foley declared a portion of state law governing certain nonprofit benevolent organizations to be unconstitutional.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Leaving Seattle - Sun on Water, Ferries, and Ranier

We had five days on Bainbridge with my daughter and granddaughter and the rest of the family.  My son was there for the last couple of days too.  And it was sunny the whole time.  Now we're back with my mom in LA.

I realized when it was too late to go back, that I didn't have my pocket camera with me.  But I did have the big camera and so I got better pictures flying out than I would have.

All of these pictures are much better if you click and enlarge them.

The ferry is a big part of life for people living on Bainbridge Island.  It's a 35 minute ride to downtown Seattle.   For walk-ons, it's free from Bainbridge to Seattle, but not the other way.  And cars always cost. I've posted pictures here of the ferry most times I'm here.   So I enjoyed our bird's eye views of the ferry today as we left Seattle on a flight to San Francisco and then to LA.  The seem big when you're on one, but so small in this shot.

This one's headed back to where we started this morning - Bainbridge Island.

That's Mt. Ranier in the background, the mountain that looms over Seattle on clear days.

And here's a closer look from further south.

I'm afraid I'm starting to sound repetitive here with all this back and forth between Anchorage, Los Angeles, and Seattle, but it's time to be with my mom as much as I can, but also with my grand daughter.  And watching one lose abilities as the other one gains them makes me ponder life and family and generations and death. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Things I Haven't Posted

There's a slew of things I haven't posted about yet and stray photos.  I'm hoping some of these will become posts of their own, but here's a preview.

LA Sunset (no photoshop here, this is what it looked like)

History of photography exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

LA no crosswalk sign.

One of the lions freed from illegal Bolivian circuses in the movie Lion Ark.  We got to see it in LA - it will be in the Anchorage International Film Festival.

The food wasn't actually dangerously good, but we were treated well in Komodo and we had a quick fun dinner - in LA near Pico and Robertson.  They said a new one was coming soon in Venice much closer to my mom's.

And I'm a big fan of monitor lizards.

Last night we caught the 4:35pm ferry from Bainbridge to Seattle - here it's just arriving in Bainbridge, with Mt. Rainer in the background.  And yes, we've had four sunny days in a row here. 

The ferry got us into downtown Seattle for 
 Fledge Demo Day.

"Fledge is the “conscious company” accelerator, here to help those entrepreneurs who are bringing products and services to the growing number of consumers, who in their consumption are conscious of the environment, their health, of community, sustainability, and even conscious of consumption itself."
 The founder of Fledge is a relative, which is how I got there. 

Yes, we're back in Seattle to get more time with this young lady.

In fact she's kept me pretty busy all week.  This is all pleasurable busyness. 

But back to LA tomorrow to get more time with my mom before returning to Anchorage. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Gov Parnell Rejects Medicaid Expansion Although Lewin Report on Alaska Expansion Says State Would Gain Bigtime

"Under our baseline participation assumptions, expanding Medicaid would cost the state $200.6 million more over the 2014 to 2020 period, compared to not expanding Medicaid, for a total increased cost of $240.5 million.  However, the state would receive $2.9 billion in additional federal funds and fewer individuals would remain uninsured.  Additionally, this new cost would comprise only 1.4 percent of total Medicaid costs from 2014 to 2020 (Figure E-4).
 To minimize state costs under expansion, the state could also elect to implement expansion under a number of alternative design scenarios."

Summarizing Cost To Alaska if Medicaid Expanded:
  • Cost to the state:  $240 million from 2014-2020
  • Federal $ to state:  $2.9 billion
  • Impact on population:  fewer individuals uninsured*

*How many fewer individuals, you ask.

Here's what it says on page 13:
"We estimate that there will be about 144,983  uninsured in Alaska in 2014 in the absence of the ACA. Taking into account all other provisions of the ACA, our estimates show that if the state expands Medicaid, the number of uninsured would be reduced to 60,435 — an 84,548 total decrease, or a 58.3 percent change ( Figure 7 ). However, if the state decides not to expand Medicaid, then the number of uninsured would decrease by a lesser amount — a 64,563 total decrease, or 44.5 percent change. This means that under the no expansion option, about 19,900 individuals will remain uninsured that would otherwise have coverage under Medicaid expansion.

Of the uninsured, it is those under 138 percent of FPL [Federal Poverty Level] who would primarily be affected under the decision to expand Medicaid . Those remaining uninsured will continue to strain the finances of other public health programs and safety net providers for their care, while likely forgoing or reducing necessary care and risking a drain o n personal finances." (page 13)
Here's what I read in that:

Without Medicaid Expansion19,900 more uninsured Alaskans than with expansion.  Though even with expansion there would still be 60,435 uninsured Alaskans. 

Here's what the Alaska Journal of Commerce reported
"Parnell said the additional federal dollars were “tempting” but that the expansion is not in the best interest of the state, for now, because the overall cost of the federal health care program will prove unsustainable and huge costs would fall back on Alaska at some point.
“The expansion of Obamacare will see skyrocketing costs and there is no guarantee this can be sustained. This is not ‘free money’. It’s being funded by debt and printing money,” on the federal level, Parnell said."
If things got as bad as Parnell says, there would be a problem for all the other states as well and adjustments would be made.  There's no way all the states would take the kind of hit that Parnell's folks suggest.  And I don't think he tells us where this data comes from.

The Journal went on to say the decision was against the advice of many in the business community.
"The governor’s decision has prompted an avalanche of criticism, including from business groups. In a statement, the Alaska Chamber (formerly Alaska State Chamber of Commerce) expressed disappointment.
“As a policy priority for chamber members, the expansion of Medicaid is an important part of our goal to reduce and contain the cost of doing business in Alaska,” said Rachael Petro, president of the chamber."
The State's Department of Health and Social Services' announcement on the governor's decision outlines the Parnell Administration's plan to take care of the uninsured:
"Recently, the Governor has been meeting with health care providers, large and small business organizations, and other stakeholders from across Alaska discussing recommendations for Alaskans who fall under 100 percent of the FPL and are the main users of Alaska’s safety net services.

It is imperative that we know more about the people who make up this category — who they are, their health care needs, and whether the current services available to them are being utilized or if different services need to be created. The state remains committed to funding the safety net of health care services and to improving the delivery of those services in the most efficient and cost - effective way.

The Department of Health and Social Services is in the process of developing an improved communications plan in the Division of Public Assistance directly targeted at those Alaskans who are the most vulnerable and who are in need of accessing the programs and services offered by the state and federal governments . In the months ahead, DHSS will execute the communications plan, and will strive to better identify and inform income - eligible Alaskans about the services available to them at little or no cost." (emphasis added)
So, the state isn't going to pay $200 million and get $2.9 from the Feds to take care of the problem.  Yet they remain committed to funding the safety net.  How can this, if they actually do it, not cost more than $200 million?  It can't.  And since the Governor has given $2 billion a year to the oil companies . . . what can one say?

But, rest assured, they will "execute a communication plan" to tell the poor how to get services that don't exist. "available to them at little or no cost."  I guess that means going to the emergency room and everyone else pays for their higher bills because they are forced to put off care until it becomes more serious and more expensive to treat. 

When I attended the confirmation hearing for then Attorney General Dan Sullivan, he outlined his plan for dealing with the Feds:  work with other attorneys general to fight the feds and to sue them if necessary.  The Parnell Administration has been following that strategy.  One can't help but scratch one's head at how ideology can blind one to the obvious.

The Lewin study which was finished back in January 2013 [and updated in April], was finally released a few days ago. (It's not dated on the DHSS site so it's not clear when. It's listed between items dated 11/8 and 11/15)  As I suspected, the results are a lot like their study for New Hampshire.  Here's the whole report:

If you'd like to compare the Alaska study to the Lewin Group's New Hampshire study on the same topic, you can find that study here.

At least they used different pictures on the cover.  And in New Hampshire they did an evaluation while in Alaska they did an analysis. 

[Feedburner update:  got to my email subscription in 2 hours, but it hasn't reached blogrolls yet 9 hours later.  Last few posts have gotten up in minutes. Grrr]

AIFF 2013: UFAQ's Updated for 2013

No one is asking me these questions about the film festival, but they should be.  So I'm calling them UFAQs - Unasked Frequently Asked Questions. This is information people might be or should be asking for. Below are links to posts with general information about the Anchorage International Film Festival.  This is an update of a post I first put up about five years ago.  I've been checking the links to be sure they too are current.

This year's festival starts Dec. 6!

Q: Where's the official Anchorage International Film Festival site?  Click the AIFF link here.

Q: What do all the categories mean? ("official selection;" "films in competition," etc.) This is a post from 2008, but still gets the basic information across.  It also covers the process for how films get selected for the Festival and how the winners get chosen. 

Q: What  films are the best films this year (2013)?
Films in Competition are the ones chosen  to compete for the Golden Oosiker awards.  I have lists of the films in competition for each category - something about each film and when and where they will play.  [For the film categories I have up for 2013, you can find the films in competition posts listed at the AIFF2013 page.  Films in competition are marked with a check on the Official AIFF website.]

Films in Competition  - Features 2013
Films in Competition -  Documentaries 2013
Films in Competition -  Shorts 2013
Films in Competition -  Animation 2013
Films in Competition -  Super Shorts 2013

But often there are other films that I thought were as good or better than the films in competition.  And there are some films, which for various reasons, are not eligible for prizes, so they aren't 'in competition, but they're good.

Q: Who won in each category?  None yet this year, but here are the previous winners.
2012 Winners - My 2012 winners Official compared to AIFF 2012 Winners Page
2011 Winners -  My 2011 winners (none) - Official AIFF 2011 Winners Page
2010 Winners -  My 2010 winners post -  Official AIFF 2010 Winners Page
2009 Winners -  My 2009 winners post -  Official AIFF 2009 Winners Page
2008 Winners - My 2008 winners post  -  Official AIFF 2008 Winners Page
[Note:  'My winners' are films I liked best.  Sometimes I've only discussed one category, sometimes more than one.  Sometimes my comments on a particular film  are buried in posts even I can't find.]

Q:  Short films are grouped together into 'programs.'  How do I find which short films are playing together in the same of program?

Animation Programs  2013 [There's only one program for 2013. There's also an animation in the Horror Group -The Narrative of Victor Karloch.]
Snowdance Programs  2013 (films made in Alaska or by Alaskans)
Short Docs 2013
Super Short Narrative 2013
Family Program 2013
(The links only go to week one.  Be sure to change the setting to week two to find showings for Friday and Saturday November 13, and 14.)

Q:  I'm not interested in the festival, but if there are any films on my favorite place, food, sport, etc.,  I'd go.  Are there any?

Festival Genius - the site with the schedule -  allows you to look at a list of countries and then see what films are being shown from that country.  Click on the blue (where the red arrow points below) and it will open a list of countries.  Then pick a country, and wait until it loads the films from that country.
Cick to enlarge and focus

Also note the red box in the lower left.  The film festival (2013) spans two calendar weeks and so you have to check for each week.  Just click on the week and it changes. The image above is 2010, but you can go to the same page for 2013 at the link below:

To find out about films of special topics, you need to look through the films themselves. I'll try to make some lists of topics if I see any patterns and I'll link here. 

How do I find your blog posts on specific films or film makers?  In the AIFF 2013 Page - It's a tab on the top of my blog - I'll have an index of posts by category and an index of posts in reverse chronological order.  Here's a link to that tab.
Also all my posts on the festival start with AIFF2013 and you can see them in the archive on the right side.  They'll mostly be in December, with some in November. 

Do you have videos of the Festival? - I'll add the video posts as they happen to the blog and list them in the AIFF2013 Page.  I already have some video of the directors of Lion Ark which I took when I saw the film in Los Angeles last week.  It's not up yet.

Where will the films be shown?

 Bear Tooth, is the main venue.  
1230 West 27th Avenue (West of Spenard Road) - 907.276.4200

Alaska Experience Theater
333 W 4th Ave #207, Anchorage, AK 99501 (907) 272-9076
There is a large and a small theater there

Anchorage Community Works** This is a new venue this year
 349 E Ship Creek Ave

Anchorage Museum
625 C Street 

Marston Theater (Loussac Library) Family Programming on Saturday Dec. 14
3600 Denali St.

There are special events at other venues.  You can check all the venues next to window where you check the countries (see screenshot above). 

Q:  What workshops are there?
There are four workshops with film makers.

Q:  What are your criteria for a good movie? When I made my picks for the 2008 best films, at the end of the post I outlined my criteria. The link takes you to that post, scroll down to second part.  I also did a post last year on what I thought makes a good documentary.

Q:  Should I buy a pass or just buy tickets as I go?  

Tickets are only $8 per film. All films passes are $100. ($90 until Thanksgiving Eve.) So, if you go to twelve films, the pass is cheaper. But there are other benefits to the pass. You do have to get a ticket (free) for each film and only a certain number of seats are held for passholders, but you do get priority seating with your pass.
And if you have a pass, you'll go see more films because you'll think "I've paid for them. I should go and get my money's worth."
All Films passes get you into Workshops, and discounts for a few extra events, like the opening night film (which is actually $30 a ticket) and the awards. These extra events also have food.

Another option is to volunteer and get a pass to a movie.

You can buy tickets at the venues.  You can also get advanced tickets at the venues.
You can also buy them online.

Q:  What about family films? 
Saturday, December 14 at Loussac Library - in the Marston Auditorium.
Here are the AIFF links for the family program.  I would warn folks that Lion Ark is listed on the Family Program poster and plays right after the Family Program (at 3:15pm) at Loussac.  There is video of animals being beaten that could be disturbing for little kids.  The movie is rated PG-13.  But it is a very compelling and well made film more for adults than kids. 

Q:  Who Are You Anyways? - who's paying you to do this? does your brother have a film in competition? What is your connection to the festival? From an earlier post here's my  Disclosure:

 I blogged about the  2007 festival  and the AIFF people liked what I did and asked if I would be the official blogger in 2008. They promised me I could say what I wanted, but I decided it was better to blog on my own and then if I write something that upsets one of the film makers, the Festival isn't responsible.  They have a link to my site.  They also threw in a free pass for me in each year since 2008. 

I probably won't say anything terrible about a film, but I did rant about one film two years that I thought was exploiting its subject as well as boorishly demeaning a whole country. I mentioned in an earlier post that if I sound a little promotional at times, it's only because I like films and I like the kinds of quirky films that show up at festivals, so I want as many people to know about the festival as possible so the festival will continue. Will I fudge on what I write to get people out? No way. There are plenty of people in Anchorage who like films. They're my main target - to get them out of the house in the dark December chill when inertia tugs heavily if they even think about leaving the house. But if others who normally don't go out to films hear about a movie on a topic they're into, that's good too.

I did a post a couple of years ago for Film Festival Skeptics who might be sitting on the fence and need to be given reasons to go and strategies to make it work.  

Q:  How do I Keep Track of What's Happening at the Festival?
I'll be blogging the film festival every day.  The link below will be my festival posts only, starting with the most recent.  There should also be printed programs you can pick up around town as well and go to the Festival Page

Anchorage International Film Festival (AIFF 2013)

Q:  Are there other Alaskan Film Festivals? 
There are some events called 'festival' that I know of in Anchorage, but they aren't major film events like this one.  There is another organization,  that puts Alaska in it's name and rents a postal box in Alaska, but has no other connection that we can find to Alaska.  You can read about that at  Comparing the ANCHORAGE and ALASKA International Film Festivals - Real Festival? Scam?

Anyone who knows of other legitimate film festivals in Alaska, let me know.  I've heard stuff about Sitka Film Festival  in February. And there's also an Indigenous Film Festival in February and   Alaska Native Film Festival was in October.