Well, it’s about damn time that Kasi Lemmons, veteran actress and the director of such idiosyncratic films as Eve’s Bayou, The Caveman’s ValentineTalk to Me and, most recently, Black Nativity — inspired by poet Langston Hughes’ 1961 play — is awarded for her exemplary filmmaking.  Lemmons will be among the illustrious women honored at the 2014 Athena Film Festival Awards, scheduled to take place at Barnard College, New York, February 6-9, 2014.

Other distinguished honorees will include:  Sherry Lansing, former chairwoman and chief executive officer of Paramount Pictures, and former president of 20th Century Fox, who is set to receive the Laura Ziskin Lifetime Achievement Award; Callie Khouri, Oscar-winning screenwriter of Thelma & Louise and creator of the TV series “Nashville”; and Keri Putnam, executive director of the Sundance Institute.

My first cinematic memory of Lemmons is her small role in Robert Bierman’s 1989 existential black comedy, Vampire’s Kiss, now a cult classic.  In Vampire’s Kiss, Lemmons portrayed Jackie, the jerked-around boho girlfriend of paranoid yuppie lit agent Peter Loew.  She was quite credible as she hysterically fended off a vampire bat that had intruded on their intense sex play in Peter’s Manhattan flat, and she gained my sympathy pouting every time her batty beau stood her up to take another bite from Jennifer Beals’ predatory vampire, Rachel (even though Rachel was only the product of the protagonist’s hallucination).

According to the “Thompson on Hollywood” blog on Indiewire.com, early-bird passes for the fourth annual Athena Film Festival are available on-line, but individual ticket sales will begin next month.  And attention, all you screenwriters out there:  Indiewire.com also reported that there’s a newly created Athena List calling for three to five “completed screenplays with strong leading female characterd that have yet to be made into films.”  The current list will be announced at the upcoming Athena Film Festival, but you should try out for future Athena Lists.

For more information about the 2014 Athena Film Festival Awards and/or the Athena List, please check out http://athenafilmfestival.com.

And to Kasi Lemmons:  Congrats on your forthcoming award!!!

© 2013 Chantale Rêve

All Rights Reserved

Top Photo:  Director-actress Kasi Lemmons and (partially cropped out at left) her director-actor husband, Vondie Curtis-Hall — what a stellar couple!

Photo Source:  Indiewire.com


After tuning into WBLS-FM this evening and listening and swaying to a suite of hippitydippityhopheavenly songs by A Tribe Called Quest — including “Lyrics to Go,” which samples Minnie Riperton‘s “Inside My Love” and loops her incredible, extended note in the whistle register appropriately on that ethereal ballad’s climax — I turned to the Internet to research how many rap tracks sampled Riperton’s voice and/or instrumental hooks from songs that she recorded solo and, years prior, with the band Rotary Connection. Serendipity intervened when I found Ismael AbduSalaam‘s excellent blog post, which I’ve reblogged here.

Beats, Boxing and Mayhem

For many casual listeners, Minnie Riperton is remembered as a one hit wonder of sorts for her classic 1975 single “Loving You.” That is truly a shame because Minnie has, in my opinion, of the greatest voices and octave ranges in music history. Over 30 years after her tragic early death, I take a look back on how Riperton’s music has blessed Hip-Hop culture.

Minnie Julia Riperton was born in Chicago on November 8, 1947, the youngest of 8 children. Her parents recognized her predeliction to music early on, and enrolled her in operatic training at the Lincoln Center. While she would retain her opera influences, Riperton later dropped out of college to pursue soul and rock music.

After bumping around in the mid 60s singing backup with assorted girl groups, Riperton recorded her first solo songs (“Lonely Girl,” “You Gave Me Soul”) under the pseudonym Andrea Davis, which was…

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This weekend, through the intermittent rain that keeps getting in my eyes, I nevertheless can still see Nelson Mandela waving to us — a crowd of tens of thousands of people along 125th Street in Harlem in 1991.  He wasn’t yet president of South Africa, waving  from far above our heads as his motorized procession drifted along, and he must’ve been treading among clouds, then, because he seemed taller than the highest mountain peak that day — when he visited Harlem after being freed from prison in South Africa.  Waving to us — the  disenfranchised and oppressed, packed butt to butt in a neighborhood that now is being taken over by the gentrifiers, the yuppified, buppified, complicitous displacers — Mandela was the picture of grace and nobility while my mind spun back to a dramatization of the atrocity of apartheid:  Sarafina.

However, no words I express here come close to those in political commentator and university professor Melissa Harris-Perry‘s open letter to the Nobel Peace Prize winning freedom warrior, President Mandela.  Below, I have provided a link to Harris-Perry’s letter.  If the link does not work, please don’t waste time cursing me.  Just copy it and paste it to your browser.  And don’t forget to check out her show on MSNBC, “Melissa Harris-Perry.”


Perhaps I will catch a glimpse of your wings between dispersing clouds.  If I do, I will press my palms up toward the heavens.  For now, rest in peace, Madiba.  Down here on Earth, a luta continua!


Paul Walker

Paul Walker (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has taken me nearly two dawns to cough up the words to memorialize you.  Like the title of your second major flick — 2 Fast 2 Furious — you blazed across the screen.  Then, like a fierce star shining brighter and spinning faster than the sun, one that we mere mortals look forward to spotting again and again in the night sky, you flashed out of this life.  How I wish I could’ve watched  live, your diving deep down into a Besson-like le grand bleu. Luc’s ’88 film was a cult classic, and you are, too.  Damn!  Who knew there wouldn’t be enough time.

Time to vent and say to those who told me they hated Into the Blue, not knowing marine biology was your thing from way back — well, they know whom to screw.   Thanks to the rewind function on the remote, and to the DVR, for you dove and dove and drove me and lots of other chicks (and dudes) craaaazy.  Yet in the end, you were in the passenger seat headed for a fiery sun.

California-dreamy, you won us over with your art and smart-ass smile.  We’ll miss your retro-cool style.  Perhaps it was the sparkle in your eyes — especially in Noël, opposite Penelope Cruz — or that reserved sensuality, but I always thought of you as the 21st-century Steve McQueen, whom we also lost too soon many moons ago.   Like the greatest ones, you died young — and therefore you will always be, in the words of Rod Stewart, forever …

Paul William Walker IV:  Actor and Philanthropist



paul-walker02 (Photo credit: Tim Evanson)