The 2022 Oscar Nominated Shorts Are Here!

Ah, the short film. An art form that tells a story and captivates an audience in under 40 minutes. In a modern world where movies can run well over two hours, whittling a narrative into these compact but powerful pieces can be a challenge, but it allows for precision, experimentation, and style. Names like Walt Disney, The Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, and Jim Henson have found this to be the case for many live action and animated nominations over the years. Since the addition of the Oscar Shorts category to the Academy Awards in 1932 (which, fun fact, was a year after The Paramount Theater first opened its doors), it is recognized as a significant part of the filmmaking industry by producers, directors, animators, actors, and film fans alike.

The award category was originally called ‘best short subject’ and was separated by comedy and novelty. This later became one-reel and two-reel, in reference to the length of the films. Today, the nominations are compiled and divided into three categories: live action, animation, and documentary, each of which include entries from all over the world. 

The films go into theaters shortly after nominations are announced and are then, a few days before the Oscars®, also made available via on demand platforms, including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and Vimeo on Demand. The theatrical release of the nominated short films each year is the world’s largest commercial release of short films on the planet, delighting audiences and giving filmmakers unprecedented opportunity to entertain short film fans.

In recent years, the Oscar® Nominated Short Films have been released in over 700 theaters across the US and Canada, garnering reviews in every major news outlet, from The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and Deadline to The New York Times and the Huffington Post. The films have also been released annually in a growing number of theaters around the world, including the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, South Africa, Mexico, Chile, China and Australia among others, making it a truly international release. (courtesy of ShortsTV)

Beginning February 25, you can see each of these categories on the big screen this weekend at The Paramount Theater!

Live Action – Friday, February 25 at 7:00PM
Documentary – Saturday, February 26 at 7:00PM
Animation – Sunday, February 26 at 2:00PM

 

NOMINEES

LIVE ACTION

Ala Kachuu – Take and Run – Maria Brendle and Nadine Lüchinger (Kyrgyzstan/Switzerland, 38 min.)
The Dress – Tadeusz Łysiak and Maciej Ślesicki (Poland, 30 min.)
The Long Goodbye – Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed (UK/Netherlands, 12 min.)
On My Mind – Martin Strange-Hansen and Kim Magnusson (Denmark, 18 min.)
Please Hold – K.D. Dávila and Levin Menekse (USA, 19 min.)

DOCUMENTARY

Audible – Matt Ogens and Geoff McLean (USA, 39 min.)
Lead Me Home – Pedro Kos and Jon Shenk (USA, 39 min.)
The Queen of Basketball – Ben Proudfoot (USA, 22 min.)
Three Songs for Benazir – Elizabeth Mirzaei and Gulistan Mirzaei (Afghanistan, 22 min.)
When We Were Bullies – Jay Rosenblatt (USA/Germany, 36 min.)

ANIMATION

Affairs of the Art – Joanna Quinn and Les Mills (UK/Canada, 16 min.)
Bestia – Hugo Covarrubias and Tevo Díaz (Chile, 15 min.)
Boxballet – Anton Dyakov (Russia, 15 min.)
Robin Robin – Dan Ojari and Mikey Please (UK, 32 min.)
The Windshield Wiper – Alberto Mielgo and Leo Sanchez (USA/Spain, 14 min.)

From Triboulet to Rigoletto: A look into theater’s “greatest creation”

 

Rigoletto was Verdi’s “Eroica,” marking the beginning of the composer’s middle period and clearly surpassing in originality and achievement all of his previous work. At its 1851 premiere and throughout the ensuing 13-performance run at Venice’s Teatro La Fenice, Rigoletto was an enormous success, and it traveled quickly from there. By 1855, the opera had been produced throughout Italy, across Europe, andas far afield as New York, Havana, and Montevideo, Uruguay. This international success, combined with the premieres of Il Trovatore and La Traviata which followed close on Rigoletto’s heels in 1853—put to rest any remaining doubt regarding Verdi’s operatic primacy. But despite Rigoletto’s eventual success, it was very nearly killed before its birth, needing something of a political miracle just to see the light of day.

After receiving the commission from La Fenice, Verdi—an ardent humanist, democrat, and patriot who longed for Italy to be free from the autocratic rule of France and Austria—turned to an uncomfortable source of inspiration: a play by Victor Hugo called Le Roi s’Amuse (The King Amuses Himself ). Scathing and bleak, it centers on the amorous exploits of the historical French king François I and the downfall of his physically deformed and morally corrupt jester Triboulet, who encourages and makes light of the king’s lechery. The hunchbacked antihero ultimately reaps the poisonous crop he has sown when François discovers and rapes his sheltered daughter, whom he has hidden away from the corruption of the court. Worse yet, in a botched attempt to arrange the king’s murder in revenge, Triboulet causes instead the death of his own daughter.

Naturally, Austrian censors (who had jurisdiction over northern Italy, most of which was a province of the Habsburg Empire at the time) were not impressed with Verdi and librettist Francesco Maria Piave’s work. Three months before the scheduled premiere, the administration of La Fenice received a letter from the authorities expressing the regional governor’s disappointment that Verdi and Piave “should not have chosen a more worthy vehicle to display their talents than the revolting immorality and obscene triviality of La Maledizione [The Curse, Rigoletto’s original title].” The letter communicated that any performance of the opera was absolutely forbidden and instructed that no one’s time be wasted with protestations or appeals. Luckily, this last directive was ignored, and after extensive revisions to the work’s setting and its characters’ identities—the scene moved from the French court to Mantua, King François became the local duke, Triboulet became Rigoletto, and so on—the newly titled Rigoletto won its approval for performance from a censor who, by a crucial twist of fate, was an opera lover and an admirer of Verdi’s work.

Though the play’s political bent surely played its part in attracting Verdi’s attention, it was the emotional, psychological, and narrative power of Le Rois’ Amuse, and the depth and inherent contradiction of Triboulet’s character, that most appealed to Verdi, an intensely intellectual and extremely well-read man for whom literature, poetry, and drama held as much significance as music. (The collection of authors on whose work he based his operas reads like a crosssection of history’s great writers: Hugo, Byron, Schiller, Voltaire, and most of all, Shakespeare, a formative influence and continual source of inspiration for Verdi, who claimed to have read and re-read the playwright’s works since childhood.) It is therefore hard to overestimate the composer’s level of admiration for Hugo’s play, which he described in a letter to Piave as “one of the greatest creations of modern theatre. The story is great, immense, and includes a character who is one of the greatest creations that the theatres of all nations and all times will boast… Triboulet is a creation worthy of Shakespeare.”

Excerpt from Jay Goodwin’s Program Note in the January 29, 2022 production of Rigoletto.

National Popcorn Day – January 19, 2022

Popcorn is For Sharing

We sure did with folks on the downtown mall who stopped by for a snack around lunchtime. The smell of freshly popped corn wafting through the air is certainly hard to resist!

Catch us next year under The Marquee!

 

 

See our original post on Instagram and follow for more Paramount fun.

Over the Rainbow 90 Years Later: The Wizard of Oz

 

We’re kicking off the year with the 1939 release of The Wizard of Oz in celebration of The Paramount Theater’s 90th Anniversary! Starring Judy Garland in the leading role of Dorothy Gale, this timeless classic of Frank L. Baum’s story is arguably the most influential film of all time. The innovative Technicolor picture, lovable characters, and memorable songs continue to resonate with audiences of today, bridging generations of old and new. To honor its history, we’re sharing a few facts about the making of the movie.

Let’s break it down by character:

Cowardly Lion

The Cowardly Lion’s costume was made of real lion pelts.

It weighed 90lbs! Bert Lahr’s face makeup and mask included pieces of brown paper bag and foam latex, a technique first used by makeup artist Jack Dawn.

Lahr removed his suit between takes.

The Technicolor process at the time required very bright lighting that made the set uncomfortably hot. Temperatures could reach over 100°F (38°C)! With a costume that thick and heavy, we don’t blame Lahr for shedding his suit.

Scarecrow

Ray Bolger looked like a scarecrow off-camera. 

The same makeup technique and prosthetics used on the Cowardly Lion was used for the Scarecrow. Peeling off the glued-on mask for an hour each day of filming left lines on Ray Bolger’s mouth and chin. The marks took about a year to disappear.

The Scarecrow was supposed to be the Tin Man.

Ray Bolger was originally cast as the Tin Man, but wanted the role of the Scarecrow instead. Buddy Ebsen, who was cast as the Scarecrow, agreed to swap roles and so became the Tin Man.

Tin Man

Jack Haley wasn’t the first Tin Man.

Buddy Ebsen, after swapping with Bolger for the role of Tin Man and ten days into filming, had an allergic reaction to the aluminum powder used in his makeup. He was hospitalized in critical condition for having trouble breathing, and was later forced to leave the project. Production paused until they found a replacement – Jack Haley. Fortunately, Haley did not have as severe of a reaction to the makeup after it was changed to an aluminum paste with a layer of white greasepaint underneath, but it did give him an eye infection at one point.

I can’t believe it’s not… oil?

Apparently real machine oil does not photograph well. When the Tin Man cries and oils his joints, you’re actually seeing chocolate syrup instead. Now those are some tears that could be worth licking!

Wicked Witch of the West

Liquid diet only.

Margaret Hamilton had to drink her food through a straw when they were on set due to the toxicity of her copper-based makeup.

The Witch was burned.

Hamilton’s copper makeup was a lot more trouble than just diet. In her dramatic exit from Munchkinland, fire and smoke erupts as she is lowered by a concealed elevator that takes her below stage level. The effects ran smoothly in the first take, but in the second, they were set off too soon. The flames set fire to her green copper face-paint, causing third degree burns on her face and hands that had her recuperating for six weeks before returning to filming.

Toto

Lucky Dog

Terry, the little female terrier that played Toto, was paid $125 a week. She was paid more than the munchkins, who took home less than half the amount at $50 a week. That’s quite the penny, especially since it took as many as twelve takes for her to run next to the actors when skipping down the Yellow Brick Road.

Dorothy

Dorothy gets a makeover.

George Cukor, the second of the four directors of the film (who ended up dropping the production to direct Gone With the Wind), made the creative decision to have Dorothy look more natural. Initially, she was very exaggerated and Garland had to wear a blond wig with heavy “baby-doll” makeup. Hamilton’s makeup and costume was also changed, so scenes they had previously filmed together had to be reshot. Victor Fleming (the main director) replaced Cukor and decided to continue with the direction that Cukor had taken.

Technicol-y pink and silver.

Dorothy’s iconic blue-and-white gingham dress was technically blue-and-light pink since this was easier to shoot in Technicolor. The MGM producer Louis B. Mayer also changed the original silver-sequined shoes in Baum’s story to what we know as the ruby-red slippers to show off the innovative technology and color.

Through the decades

Clearly, the making of The Wizard of Oz was a tremendous effort on multiple fronts that warrants the need to see the film and appreciate it in its entirety. While it wasn’t initially a box office success in 1939 despite a few Oscar wins, the movie really took off after it was shown on television in 1956. Since then, it’s been watched countless times over the decades and now makes its way to the big screen again at 2PM on Sunday, January 23rd at The Paramount Theater.

The Wizard of Oz is the first in our series of classic film screenings every month. Our 12-month long celebration of The Paramount’s 90th Anniversary will include a film from each decade as we count up to present day.

Join us next month on February 20 for The Philadelphia Story (1940) starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant!

Composer Spotlight: Fire Shut Up in My Bones

Terence Blanchard

 

Terence Blanchard makes history this season as the first opera by a Black composer to be performed by The Met. Below are some fast facts on the noteworthy creator and his contributions to music and culture.

Jazz Roots

Born in 1957 in New Orleans, Louisiana, Terence Blanchard is most known for his work in composition and jazz. As a child, he first learned to play the piano, but soon switched to trumpet after hearing Alvin Alcorn. At Rutgers University, he continued to study trumpet along with jazz and music composition while also touring with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra starting in 1982. He later became part of Jazz Messengers, leaving in 1990 to pursue his solo career.

Filmography and Awards

Blanchard has made an impressive impact in the film industry, composing and performing in scores for over 60 films. Most recently, he collaborated with director Spike Lee in BlacKkKlansman (2018) and Da 5 Bloods (2020), which earned him nominations for Academy Awards. He also scored the HBO series, Perry Mason (2020). 

Among his other numerous accolades are six Grammy Awards (from 14 nominations), BAFTA and Golden Globe Award nominations, and a 2018 United States Artists fellowship (The Metropolitan Opera).

The Opera

This is Blanchard’s second opera. Although he is known as a jazz composer, Blanchard aims to transcend the genre with the music in Fire Shut Up in My Bones. “I’m trying to take American folklore that I know, that I’ve experienced, which is jazz,” he says, “and bring that into the operatic world, but not totally use the entire piece to make a statement about jazz (NPR).

Blanchard isn’t the only one making waves. In this production, Charles M. Blow, the real-life subject of Fire Shut Up in My Bones who currently works as a staff writer and op-ed columnist for The New York Times, shares a story that has long needed to be heard. Camille A. Brown is the first Black librettist to lead a mainstage Met production, co-directing and choreographing the cast and crew. It is clear that this opera is one to pay attention to, as the outstanding creative team sets the stage for the Met, the black community, and more masterpieces to come.

The Velvet Underground: What to know before watching

The Velvet Underground created a new sound that changed the world of music, cementing its place as one of rock ’n’ roll’s most revered bands. After its smashing premier in July 2021 at the Cannes Film Festival, Todd Hayes’ documentary, The Velvet Underground, is scheduled for release in theaters and Apple TV on October 15. Whether you are familiar with the group or not, this quick rundown will help refresh your memory or catch you up on The Velvet Underground’s history and influence before watching.

Who is The Velvet Underground?

Formed in New York City in 1964, The Velvet Underground was said to be so influential that those who saw them perform went and started their own bands. Led by singer and guitarist Lou Reed, the violist, bassist, and pianist John Cale, guitarist Sterling Morrison, and drummer Moe Tucker (who replaced original drummer Angus MacLise in 1965), disrupted the world of punk and alternative rock with their avant-garde sound and controversial lyrics, which often explored topics of drug use, sadomasochism, and numbing despair. 

Andy Warhol + Nico

The famous pop artist Andy Warhol became the band’s manager and producer in 1966 after seeing them perform in a Greenwich Village club. The artist’s reputation helped the band gain visibility when he took them on tour for his performance art roadshow, Exploding Plastic Inevitable, combining his films with their music from 1966 to 1967.

Warhol also introduced them to Nico, a German singer, actress, and model who was featured in three songs of their first album, The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967). In 1967, Nico later moved on to a solo career when Reed fired Warhol as the band manager.

The Music

The Velvet Underground’s music was stylistically diverse, rebellious, and characteristically woven with experimental sounds like drones, distortion, and atonal feedback. This new take on rock, now universally recognized and hailed, was initially overlooked with poor album sales and criticism in the industry.

Nonetheless, the band released four albums: The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967), White Light/White Heat (1968), The Velvet Underground (1969), and Loaded (1970).

Relations and Reunions

The Velvet Underground’s pursuit for specific artistic vision yielded little recognition in their time, which resulted in tension within. Cale was replaced by Doug Yule in 1968 after the release White Light/White Heat, and Reed quit in August of 1970. Both Cale and Reed continued on as solo artists. Morrison and Tucker also departed the group shortly after, leaving Yule and The Velvet Underground effectively disbanded. After Morrison’s death in 1995, the three surviving members, Reed, Cale, and Tucker reunited and played for the last time in 1996 for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Documentary

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Todd Haynes, The Velvet Underground shows just how the group became a cultural touchstone representing a range of contradictions: the band is both of their time, yet timeless; literary yet realistic; rooted in high art and street culture. The film features in-depth interviews with the key players of that time combined with a treasure trove of never-before-seen performances and a rich collection of recordings, Warhol films, and other experimental art that creates an immersive experience into what founding member John Cale describes as the band’s creative ethos: “how to be elegant and how to be brutal.” (Apple News)

Cul-de-Sac Kids Make “Ginormous” Gift to The Paramount

 

On Monday, May 17, The Paramount Theater was honored to welcome a special group of young children – The Cul-de-Sac Kids – who have been making a difference in our community, one pumpkin at a time!

The Cul-de-Sac Kids, a group of motivated local children led by their parents, turned their neighborhood garden into “Penny’s Pumpkin Patch” to raise money for several local non-profit organizations, including The Paramount Theater.

The children chose to name their pumpkin patch in memory of their neighbor and our mutual friend, Penny Bosworth. Penny is special to The Paramount, serving on the Paramount’s Board of Directors and chairing our Arts Education Committee for 15 wonderful years. She loved Halloween and had a well-known (but not spooky!) spirit for giving, and we know that a pumpkin patch with her name on it would have made her incredibly proud.

Kristin Freese, lead parent for the Cul-de-Sac Kids and Penny’s Pumpkin Patch told us, “Penny was an inspiration. We hope our small gesture is a conduit in which her spirit, generosity, and community centric ideals live on!”

Beaming with pride on the Paramount stage, the Cul-de-Sac kids presented us with a “ginormous pumpkin check” for $1,000 that will help support The Paramount’s mission. In receiving the check, Cathy von Storch, Education & Outreach Manager, said:

“We love that you created Penny’s Pumpkin Patch to raise money for several nonprofit organizations that were near and dear to Penny Bosworth. The Paramount is so grateful and humbled to be one of the beneficiaries.  As you know, Penny loved The Paramount Theater. She strongly believed that everyone should have the opportunity to come and experience the best of live performing arts, young and old.  Penny also cared very deeply about making sure that the historic Paramount Theater stayed financially healthy so that it would be here for generations to come.”

Following their presentation and a photo op, the Cul-de-Sac Kids’ were treated to a round of applause from The Paramount staff and a special, VIP backstage tour led by Cathy.

Thank you, Cul-de-Sac kids! We truly appreciate your hard work and dedication to the community!

Visit us at https://www.theparamount.net/support-us/ to learn how you can help support The Paramount, too.

CBS19 News Local Business Spotlight

A huge thank you to the Virginia National Bank for highlighting The Paramount through CBS19 NEWS‘ local business spotlight! We are so thankful for both of these amazing organizations for supporting our historic nonprofit Theater. To see the full video spotlight, click on the image below!

It’s a Girl!

IT’S A GIRL 🎀

We were thrilled to be a part of this special moment. Congratulations to these soon-to-be parents!