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Posted by: Cathy and Len

We had a great time Tuesday afternoon watching the five short documentaries nominated for Academy Awards this year.  All really interesting films, one of which we even have a tangential connection to!  Read to the bottom to see what that connection is.  The five films are:

Kings Point.  Follows the lives of senior citizens living in Florida.  All had moved there at a younger age with their spouses and now deal with issues of loss, love and companionship.

Mondays at Racine.  A very moving look at the lives of women with breast cancer and the beauty salon owners who open their shop to them to help them deal with the realities of chemotherapy and disfigurement caused by the disease and its treatment.

Inocente.  A 15-year old homeless girl displays amazing artistic talent.  Great camerawork — including mounting a camera on a paintbrush — captures the creative process.

Open Heart.  Rwandan children travel 2,500 miles to a hospital in Sudan for critical cardiac surgery available nowhere else in Africa.  Angelique steals the show.

Redemption.  Follows the lives of New York City “canners,” people who collect cans and bottles and redeem them for the deposit as a way of surviving tough economic times.

Oscar winning director Dan Junge was the “MC” for the shorts presentation.  His comments on making documentaries and why the short form is useful were so on the mark, and it is worth getting the DVD with the shorts compilation for his comments alone.  Thank you Dan.

So what is our (tangential) connection?  When we went to The Good Pitch in San Francisco in the autumn of 2010, at a very early stage of the Threads project,  to see how documentaries are pitched to potential funders, Inocente was one of the films being pitched.  While at the Good Pitch, Cathy met and had a nice talk with Yael Melamede, producer of Inocente.

Thanks to the Grand Cinema in Tacoma for showing these films.  It is great to see these independent documentary shorts get recognition.  Congratulations to everyone involved and keep up the good work.  You are teaching and inspiring us!

Posted by Cathy and Len

Thanks to the Gig Harbor Film Festival (GHFF) for inviting us to do a presentation to the new filmmakers’ group on February 11.  This was a real honor for us, and a lot of fun to interact with others who are interested in learning how to make their own films.  We talked about the joys and challenges involved in making Threads, and some of the lessons we have learned and resources we have discovered during this process.  We also showed some clips of the footage that we have from Bangladesh.

It’s a great group and one we always enjoy getting together with.  Many of the participants have competed in the GHFF 72-hour film competition, a fast-growing part of the festival, and want to improve their skills.

We are all learning together and really enjoy the opportunity to talk about where we are and what we’re doing!

Posted by: Cathy and Len

Collage of quilts from the "Why Quilts Matter" homepage.

Collage of quilts from the “Why Quilts Matter” homepage.

We recently had the chance to watch a very interesting nine-part series called: Why Quilts Matter.  Hosted by Shelly Zegart, the series of half-hour programs covers the history, art and politics of quilts and quilting, primarily in the U.S., as well as collecting quilts and the market for them.  There is a segment devoted to the quilts of Gee’s Bend, which we were first exposed to several years ago through an excellent documentary film of the same name.  Why Quilts Matter is informative and well worth watching.  We checked the DVDs out from our local library; PBS stations in the U.S. have rights to air the series through 2014, so it may be broadcast where you live — check your local listings or ask your local PBS station.  You can also buy the DVDs online.

We knew from our research for Threads that there were more than 20 million quilters in the U.S.  Why Quilts Matter goes into detail on the numbers and economic impact of quilting.  It was also interesting for us to learn more about how quilt shows in Japan attract huge numbers of attendees.  Going back to our research for Threads, some of the first customers for the “nakshi kantha tapestries” that Surayia designed were Japanese, and throughout her career Japanese customers were consistent buyers of her work.  Reflecting the strong interest that people from Japan have shown in her,  about 10 years ago the Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh interviewed Surayia on video about her life and work.

Not long after we watched Why Quilts Matter, Cathy had the opportunity to have a conversation with Shelly Zegart.  Shelly is even more engaging and interesting in person than she is on film.

Why Quilts Matter got us thinking about the many quilting traditions around the world, including nakshi kantha in Bengal.  Quilts in North America are now being documented and valued as both historical objects and art.  Will that happen for other quilts before the traditions are lost?

Posted by: Len

Update:  for some reason our hyperlinks on this post — other than for Tumblr — aren’t working properly.  They are listed at the bottom.  Sorry for the inconvenience until we get this fixed. 

At the urging of several friends and supporters, Cathy and I have set up a board on Pinterest, where we add items of interest on women, kantha, quilts, embroidery, fiber art, and whatever other topics strike us as interesting.  We’re thinking about other good topics for Pinterest boards:  film making, Bangladesh, development issues — who knows?  Suggestions are welcome!

Our friend Sitara Ahmed has started a Pinterest board on nakshi kantha, which we follow and enjoy.  Surayia’s designs have certainly been influential on contemporary nakshi kantha, as we note a number of sites offering for sale versions of her original designs — almost always without her knowledge or permission.

Threads:  The Art and Life of Surayia Rahman is also on Facebook, Google+ and Tumblr.   Stop by and give us a “like” or a +1.  See you soon.

The missing hyperlinks!  You can cut and paste these into your browser.

Threads Pinterest:    http://pinterest.com/kanthathreads/threads-women-kantha-quilting-embroidery/

Threads Facebook:   www.facebook.com/pages/Threads-The-Art-and-Life-of-Surayia-Rahman/108518349201767

Threads Google+:   http://plus.google.com/u/0/b/114288447626656500337/114288447626656500337/posts

Threads Tumblr:    http://http://kanthathreads.tumblr.com/

Nakshi Kantha Pinterest:  http://pinterest.com/bappi/nakshi-kantha/

Posted by:  Len

Thanks to our friend Sitara Ahmed for pointing out this article on the origins of kantha.  The Asia Encyclopedia of Intangible Cultural Heritage is full of information on handicrafts, crafts and artisans from across Asia.  There’s a lot to learn from this site.  Congratulations to the Craft Revival Trust for this initiative.

Posted by:  Len

A short slideshow about Threads and its themes is online for viewing and sharing.  You can see it on Vimeo here or on SlideRocket here.  I’m also thinking about embedding it on the website.

Please take a look and pass the links on to people who would be interested in this story of overcoming challenges through inspiration, dedication and art.

Thanks, as always, to Anil Advani for the wonderful photos of Surayia, the women of Arshi and the art.

 

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