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August 24, 2007


"Going to New Orleans, eh?", asked our cabbie.
"Yes," I replied.
"You must be crazy, man!" was his response. "It's still flooded down there."
My wife and I looked at each other.
"Not that I know of."
"Tell you what," the cabbie said, "give me a call when you return. I wanna hear this."

Well, in the spirit of pictures saving thousands of words of writing, here are a couple of snaps from our trip.

BeignetsBeignets from the Cafe Du Monde are of course a NOLA staple.

French QuarterThis is not tourist season in NOLA - a big reason is the weather which can get hot and muggy. This French Quarter street corner, though, is at its best in broad daylight, sunstroke be damned.

Ferry BuildingLooking for some shade? This is inside the Ferry Building - the ferry runs to Algiers and it's free!

Katrina DevastationDespite two years having elapsed since Katrina, NOLA is still one major hurricane away from a repeat. A big reason is due to the fundmantal flaws in the construction of the levees themselves. Repair is ongoing but those only address the ones that broke.

Bob French and BandMusic still flows in NOLA. This is Bob French and Band at dba's. Paraphrasing him: "The federal government gave us nothing, the people did. The state government gave us nothing, the people did."

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- August 24, 2007 1:01 PM // Travel

August 11, 2007

Foreign Films In India: 2007

"Arr mateys, prepare to be boarded!". Hollywood is having a banner year in India for 2007. Variety reports:

Boosted by other hits including "Spider-Man 3" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," Hollywood's market share is tracking at around 8%-10% this year. That's whammo in a country with an all-powerful tradition of watching Bollywood and other local-language movies. And it compares well with a short while back when 3%-4% for Hollywood would have been considered good.

And why?

What's making the difference is India's hurtle toward economic modernity and the willingness of distribs to mix it up and experiment with such things as multiple-language dubbed versions.

The multiplexing of India is making more screens available, and an increasingly world-wise Indian population doesn't want to wait for entertainment that is available elsewhere.

As five or six screeners replace single theaters, there is much more choice for cinemagoers and room for programming diversity.

I wrote about relatively low budget desi multiplex films benefiting from this trend but it looks like Hollywood is starting to make inroads as well. And they're not the only beneficiaries:

Korean record-breaker "The Host" grossed a solid Rupees8.39 million ($208,000) in its maiden week in Indian cinemas.

Release, thought to be a first for a Korean movie in India, was handled by indie Indo-Overseas Films.

Interestingly enough, I wonder if the low budget horror films by Ram Gopal Verma ("Bhoot", "Darna Mana Hai") intended for multiplexes actually opened up the audience to fare of this type. In any case, competition is good for the consumer - the resulting pressure will hopefully force Bollywood to raise their own game.

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- August 11, 2007 10:33 PM // Bollywood , Film , India

August 10, 2007

Vanity Fair Yoga Pictorial

In their June issue, Vanity Fair had a pictorial on yoga's leading practitioners. Along with the Stings and the supermodels, there were even a couple of Indians in there. Of course, you had to have founded a major yoga school to have that honor. The outtakes were more of the same, mostly. Still, no Bikram which is kinda surprising. Payback for his (All American) chutzpah to patent yoga sequences, perhaps?

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- August 10, 2007 11:13 PM // Fashion

August 3, 2007

Devi Brown Update I

So, as a first step, we e-mailed out previews of "Devi Brown" to a couple of folks whose opinions I trust - filmmakers, film critic/curators, actors and acquaintances. At this stage, we weren't looking for sugarcoating. If we were going to hear harsh words, we would rather get them from this audience than pats on the head from friends (and snickers elsewhere).

After a day or so of nervous pacing, the responses began coming in. We were suitably mortified - the words of praise were better than we'd hoped! And, without even asking for it, "Devi Brown" was accepted to its first festival! That's right: "Devi Brown" will play at the Third I South Asian Film Festival in San Francisco this November! Needless to say, we're chuffed. Ivan - you rock :-)

Interestingly enough - this acceptance also brings up a conundrum that I expect many filmmakers face these days. Would it just be easier to upload the damn thing to some video sharing site somewhere and take your chances at being an overnight sensation? Or is it more worthwhile touring the festival circuit? The latter takes time and some money - the festival entry fees are non-trivial and festivals are spread out in time and location. It's impossible to attend them all, particularly if you, like us, have fairly intense day jobs. On the other hand, you do get to interact with a dedicated audience of film-lovers and make contacts therein. When you upload to YouTube, you are automatically competing with millions and millions of other videos of all types - fratboys lighting their farts, cats sleeping, Mexican gang bang boasts, movie clips, politics, etc etc. Without some kind of online marketing strategy, it's easy to get lost in the tsunami. Bear with us as we try to navigate our baby through all of this.

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- August 3, 2007 9:13 AM // Devi Brown