Won’t You Be My Neighbor? The latest from award-winning director Morgan Neville (20 Feet From Stardom, Best Of Enemies) is a heart-warming salute to Fred Rogers, the long time host of the PBS children’s series Mister Rogers Neighborhood. It traces Rogers’ Pennsylvania roots, and how his faith, love for children, and his distaste of how children’s programming was presented at that time, helped shaped the program that delighted kids for over 30 years. Neville also points out that while the show was warm look at community and pivotal childhood moments, it didn’t shy away from very adult topics such as war, racism, terrorism and divorce. His testimony before the Senate committee advocating for more funding for public broadcasting is as riveting now than it was back in 1969. With a ton of show clips, interviews and remembrances from family, friends, cast members and contemporaries, Neville has put together the ultimate tribute to a man, who, by example, encouraged us to show love for one another. One of the year’s best. Won’t You Be My Neighbor opens in select theaters this weekend. You can also go to www.mrrogersmovie.com for more information.
The Workers Cup. The FIFA World Cup won’t come to Qatar until 2022, but workers from all over the world are hard at work constructing facilities, including the stadium. Dealing with long hours, scant pay and living in isolated labor camps, they endure such conditions for the opportunity to play in The Workers Cup, a tournament in which they can put their soccer skills on display and, for a few hours, escape from the daily grind. Director Adam Sobel profiles workers from Nepal, Ghana, India and Keyna, as they deal with the paradox of being heroes on the field at night, only to return to the near prison like conditions once the final whistle sounds. He finds universal themes each of these men share – hope, meaning, purpose and ultimately, better lives for themselves and their families back home. The film also serves as a sobering reminder of how sport can unite – and divide – us in terms of economics and class. A doc that informs and inspires. The Workers Cup opens in New York and Los Angeles on June 8th. You can also go to www.theworkerscupfilm.com for more information.
Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist. Since exploding onto the cultural landscape over 40 years ago, designer Dame Vivienne Westwood shows no signs of slowing down. Lorna Tucker’s new documentary gives us unprecedented access to the fashion icon covering everything from her formative years in postwar Derbyshire, to her breakout success with former partner Malcolm McLaren with The Sex Pistols, to recent shows in Paris and Milan. The film also covers Westwood spearheading protests on behalf of Greenpeace, speaking to crowds at anti-fracking rallies and her tireless fight to maintain the integrity and core principles of her company. With contributions from Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Andreas Kornthaler and Andre Leon Talley, Tucker has put together a fitting homage that is as brash, outspoken and passionate as its subject. Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist will open in New York this weekend, Los Angeles June 15th, and in select cities staring June 22nd. You can also go to www.viviennewestwoodfilm.com for more info.
Remain In Light by Angelique Kidjo. When singer-songwriter-activist Angelique Kidjo moved to Paris from her native Benin in 1983, she was determined to hear and absorb all forms of music irrespective of genre. When Kidjo heard Remain In Light by Talking Heads, she immediately picked up the African music influences that ran through the album. Her latest album re-visits the 1980 classic, but putting the Afrobeat rhythms on top of her otherworldly vocals. Tracks such as ‘Born Under Punches’, ‘Crosseyed and Painless’, ‘The Great Curve’ ‘Houses In Motion are full on, funky rhythmic assaults that capture the spirits of such greats as Miriam Makeba, Fela and James Brown. The latter part of the album finds Kidjo transforming a number of songs into poignant social commentary. ‘Listening Wind’ finds Kidjo telling the story of Mojique, and how his village was colonized, informing us that gentrification is as much a global situation as it is local. ‘Seen And Not Seen’ is a pointed look at racism and self-acceptance as it deals a man’s struggle to accept his physical features. It’s no secret that Kidjo has been one of the best singers on the planet for nearly 30 years. Now she has put together another great work that showcases all of her skills as a singer, arranger and social commentator. One of the year’s best. Remain In Light by Angelique Kidjo will be available this Friday through Amazon, Itunes and all major music retailers.
Fear Of A Brown Planet by Brownout. After tackling the music of Black Sabbath (under the title of Brown Sabbath), the Latin-Funk-Soul band Brownout use their 6th album as a showcase for a musical salute to Public Enemy. Inspired by PE’s call to arms lyrics and The Bomb Squad’s sonic assault production, Brownout transform the blizzard of samples into a 40 minute suite of funky grooves, pulsating rhythms and guitars cross-crossing everything from hip hop and metal. Living up to the PE mantra to ‘party for your right to fight’, Brownout has created a soundtrack to the resistance that will keep your fists in the air and your hips shaking. One of the year’s best. Fear Of A Brown Planet by Brownout is available now through Amazon, Itunes and all major music outlets. You can also go to www.brownoutmusic.com for more information.
New York City. The Welling Court Mural Project. What started out as a beautification project 9 years ago is now one of New York City’s must see attractions. Over 150 artists from all of the world will unveil their latest works in and around Astoria’s Welling Court as part of a full blown block party. There will also be DJ’s spinning around the clock, showcases featuring new and classic break dancing techniques, a ton of food and much more. The best part is that its all free. An amazing way to celebrate art and New York City culture. The 2018 Welling Court Mural Project will take place Saturday, June 9th from noon to 8pm. You can also go to www.wellingcourtmuralproject.com for more information.
New York City. The Northside Festival. The music festival that celebrates all things Brooklyn is back for its 10th year. Throughout its run, Northside has served as the launchpad for artists such as Chance The Rapper, Neko Case, Zoe Kravitz, and Run The Jewels, and a chance for veteran acts such as Brian Wilson, Grandmaster Flash, and The Sun Ra Arkestra the opportunity to do intimate, once in a lifetime performances. This year’s lineup will feature Liz Phair (who will play her groundbreaking album Exile In Guyville in its entirety), Deerhoof, Mayaka McCraven, and Soccy Mommy, along with 300 other acts spread out over multiple venues in Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick. There will also be tech talks, panels, a day long block party and much more. Whether you are a fan of rock, R&B, hip hop, jazz and all things in between, Northside has your ticket. The Northside Fesitval runs June 7th through the 10th. You can also go to www.northsidefestival.com for tickets, a complete rundown of events and more information.
Los Angeles. Live Talks LA. The latest in the acclaimed talk series will feature writer/director/producer Judd Apatow interviewing photographer Mark Seliger about his latest book, Mark Seliger Photographs, which captures 30 years of some of his best portraiture. They will discuss process, the inspiration behind the work and much more. Given their creative arc and their cultural impact over the last three decades, this promises to be a discussion you don’t want to the miss. Live Talks LA with Mark Seliger and Judd Apatow will take place June 12th at the Ann & Jerry Moss Theatre. You can also go to www.livetalksla.org for tickets and additional information.