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‘A Woman’s Place’- On Trailblazing Women In Culinary

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In a world leagues away from achieving equity, works such as A Woman’s Place offers a fresh perspective on the seemingly mundane odds one encounters on a daily. Directed by Rayka Zehtabchi, the aptly titled documentary flips the normative gendered narrative on its head by adding to the question- why it is that the kitchen is a “woman’s place” only within the four walls of a household?  A Woman’s Place is a story on trailblazing women in culinary. Created with the aim to empower women in the industry, the documentary looks at how three women, Karyn Tomlinson, Etana Diaz and Marielle Fabie, are carving out their own niches in the cut-throat world of the same. With a humble smile and an enthusiastic demeanor to match, the Academy award winner opened up to Cliché about her most recent work.

I would love to know how this project came to be. 

This project came to me through Ventureland, which is a production company I work with quite a bit. The project really originated from KitchenAid. They essentially saw that there’s this issue in the culinary industry. I think around 50% or so of culinary school graduates are women. But when you look at the statistics for executive chefs, only 7% of them are women. So there’s this disparity between culinary school graduates and what is actually happening in the industry. And, they wanted to look at these biases that female chefs face as they navigate the culinary industry. KitchenAid basically partnered with Digitas and Vox Creative to help them make this film. 

They did a lot of heavy lifting before I even came into the picture… in terms of choosing the subjects for the film, interviewing them beforehand, and really kind of whittling things down. So when the project came to me, we knew that it was going to be these three subjects- a restauranteur, a butcher, and a chef. Really, when I came on board, it was a question of… what is the creative vision of the film? 

The three subjects… they encounter different glass ceilings, different pushbacks. I was wondering if you could comment on that? 

I think it is interesting that you ask about me having to shatter glass ceilings. And I think this was one of the main reasons why I was so excited to direct this film. I felt so connected to the project and to the women as well. Even though I knew nothing about the culinary industry before I came on to direct the film. I just felt like I understood the women and so much of what they were going through. I understood so much of what they had to fight for every day, just working in their industry. And that is why I felt so connected.

A crew member with a camera in hand- behind the scenes of the documentary shooting

Adding to your point, another thing that I felt was wonderful about the project is that they all touch upon different biases. They all have their unique, distinctive experiences. No one experience is ever the same. But I do think there are significant overlaps and similarities between them. At the end of the day, they are trying to climb the ladder in an industry that really does not support them. They have to fight, not just for themselves, but also to be leaders. It is about trying to figuring out what is important to you as a leader… what is your management style? Are you going to repeat the same acts that were pressed upon you when you were trying to climb the ladder?

Or are you going to lead in a different way by trying to garner respect by respecting other people who are climbing the ladder with you? 

Bearing in mind the previous question, what kind of glass ceilings have you had to encounter and shatter yourself?

I really enjoyed speaking to the subjects about a lot of that. I felt like it is very much something that I experience being a young filmmaker. We had a lot of discussions about questions like- what is it that you have had to fight through to get to the place you are in? What does the future look like for you in this type of an industry? It was really great. Another thing that I really loved and appreciated about the project is that KitchenAid as a client fully financed the project. Yet, they had no interest in having their logos or product shots all over the film.

They really wanted us to make a truly authentic film that came… not from KitchenAid but from the subjects themselves. Let them guide the film. I really appreciated that as a filmmaker. Authenticity, for me, is really important in my work. I also think it is one of the most effective ways for audineces to connect with the characters on screen. I just think audiences are smart and nowadays, we can tell when brands are trying to attach themselves to a cause. 

We see different approaches to leadership in the documentary short. One of the subjects, Karyn, states that she does not want to be the archetypal “rough tough chef”. Could you perhaps comment on why that is important?

The question is… why do we all have to be that way in order to be taken seriously. I love that. In my eyes, these women are trailblazers. They are kind of going out there, kind of into the wild wild west, and figuring out ways that work for them. Ways in which they can be leaders. They are creating a world that they wish to see, a world that I think we all wish to see. In that world, you can be a boss and have people working under you but you can still respect them. It is a collaboration between the team members as opposed to there being just one superior. 

I think this is especially interesting as Karyn wants to take up space outside of where she is expected to, she does not just want to be a pastry chef.

Rayka Zehtabchi and Karyn Tomlinson while shooting A Woman's Place

And there is nothing wrong with that. What a lot of them are saying is… there is nothing wrong with being a pastry chef. But why should that be the only option available to me just because I am a woman? Etana says, “I want to be a butcher!” She has had all of these experiences coming into the industry where the men sort of set the rules. They tell you what your role is in their world. By taking the leap, selling everything she had, and moving across the globe to be a butcher, she sort of rejected all of that, that certain narrative. She said… I am going to create my own story.

I think that is why, in my eyes, these women are trailblazers. It is because they do not continue to play a role in the patriarchal structure. 

Has there ever been a moment in your life where you have felt like it was time to change things up and amplify unheard voices? If so, how do you incorporate that into your creative voice?

I have always kind of felt like an oddball. I think it was just the fact that I was an Iranian growing up in America. Inherently, you sort of feel like an outsider sometimes. My identity is one of the reasons why I feel so compelled to be a filmmaker and tell stories. Growing up, I did not see a lot of people like me on the screen… whether that be seeing a lot of women’s stories or Iranians that were being accurately portrayed. Once I started growing up, I think I knew that I had a distinct voice. I had something to offer since I have a more unique perspective. My way of seeing the world could offer a lot to the film industry as a storyteller. 

Every project I look at is automatically filtered through that perspective. It is not like I intentionally go out of my way to tell certain stories, it is just who I am. I think it is what I will always naturally gravitate towards. 

What can we expect to see from you next?

Speaking about identity and being Iranian, this is a project that I feel like I have been working on for forever now! But I finally feel like I am getting there. It is a script about my family coming from Iran to America and settling here. It is a story that is really close to my heart as it includes a lot of my personal memories. I do not know when that film is going to be made, but I am getting close to the script, hopefully!

More about Rayka Zehtabchi- here

Photos by Amanda Scherping.
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Why Beyoncé’s Homecoming is a Masterclass on Excellence

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When Beyoncé hit the Coachella stage last year, many of us expected amazing live vocals, her iconic hits, and memorable choreography. Instead, when she hit the stage, the audience at Coachella and those watching online were left in awe when Beyoncé delivered more than just a regular performance. In a 105-minute set, Beyoncé presented a statement on Black culture and history. No one could’ve guessed one of the many songs she performed would be The Black National Anthem. No one expected Beyonce to have a full marching band (from Historically Black Colleges and Universities) to help lead her performance. And of course, no one expected a Destiny’s Child reunion.

Beyoncé’s Coachella performance was not only celebrated because of her amazing talent, but because it was a tribute to Black American culture. In the film, Beyoncé said she “wanted every person that has ever been dismissed because of the way they look to feel like they were on that stage.” And that night, she did just that.

A year later, Netflix set the internet on fire when they released the trailer for Homecoming. The trailer included a voiceover from Maya Angelou discussing the honor of representing her race through her art. Though Homecoming included the entire Coachella performance, there were interviews and rehearsal footage of Beyoncé sprinkled throughout. Those clips detail Beyoncé’s extensive eight-month rehearsal for the performance plus her journey post pregnancy. The excellence in Homecoming is not just the actual performance, but being able to witness what it takes to be the undisputed greatest performer of our generation.

In the film, not only do we hear Beyoncé struggle with her ridiculously strict diet post giving birth, but we witness her calling all the shots from the shape of the stage, the lights, and costumes, all the way down to the camera shots. We see Beyoncé hold meetings with her team demanding them to do better and then leave to take care of her two infant children. We hear Beyoncé, who we have crowned the Queen, doubt her performance abilities after giving birth to twins. Homecoming is a masterclass on excellence because Beyoncé never makes excuses nor does she slack off. She gathers her crew, has three sound stages and rehearses for eight months straight. Homecoming shows that the brilliance of Beyoncé does not come from magic, but from determination. Seeing the blood, sweat, and tears she puts into her performances and seeing her leave her heart out on that Coachella stage, reinforced the truth that Beyoncé has no equals.

It’s impossible to watch Beyoncé at her peak and not be inspired. However, the beauty of it is Beyoncé doesn’t make you want to be her, she inspires you to be the best version of yourself. She inspires women who watch her, to be excellent at whatever it is they do. Beyoncé shows women that there are no limits to the greatness within us.

 

 

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Why Beyoncé’s Homecoming is a Masterclass on Excellence: Featured Image: @Beyonce on Instagram 

Blockchain Media Firm Acquires Bitcoin Documentary

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Blockchain Media Firm Acquires Bitcoin Documentary.  Slate Entertainment Group announced during Cannes film festival that it has agreed to a seven-figure deal on purchasing rights to a documentary all about the blockchain. Slate plans to broadcast the new doc, Beyond Bitcoin, on Binge, its blockchain-based web streaming platform. The platform provides high-definition, high-speed, and low-cost access to media for consumers worldwide, according to its press release.

Blockchain Media Firm Acquires Bitcoin Documentary

“Silver Bitcoin” (CC BY 2.0) by wuestenigel

Front and center

During this year’s Cannes festival, Slate took centre stage when it came to blockchain and the potential that exists for it to change entertainment as we know it. Slate announced in Cannes that its new partnership with Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival will see Sitges incorporate its digital ticket platform Slatix for purchasing both festival passes and individual tickets. The platform is powered by the cryptocurrency SLATE SLX. The press release said that this will be the first time that a film festival has accepted cryptocurrency alongside more conventional payment methods.

Bitcoin is having quite a year, having passed a significant test. After it recovered from a major decline earlier in 2018, many experts went on to advise that the digital currency is here to stay. As such, Bitcoin doesn’t seem to be slowing down on its mission to disrupt industries. One sector where it’s proving successful is the charity sector, particularly in countries where their traditional currency is close to being worthless. United Way and Human Rights Foundation are just two charities that accept bitcoin. The cryptocurrency is also making waves in the online gambling space, with casinos such as 32Red jumping on board. In addition to accepting bitcoin, gamers can click here to see that the casino backs up its diverse payment methods with a wide range of games and a $10 award to new players: two more incentives for gamers to start spending their currency. It appears that making its mark on the film industry is next on bitcoin’s agenda.

Blockchain Media Firm Acquires Bitcoin Documentary

“Bitcoin Wallpaper (2560×1600)” (Public Domain) by PerfectHue

Loyalty benefits

Slatix is a low-cost, blockchain-based tokenised ticket system that provides consumer benefits based on loyalty. The press release claims that both small and medium-sized companies have something to gain from Slatix’s minimal setup and running costs, while the app is designed to simplify DIY ticket redemption and distribution. Based in Los Angeles and Toronto, Slate Entertainment Group has developed multiple media platforms on its blockchain, such as Slatix and Binge. Slate went into resale mode in May of this year, with an end date of June 9th. It passed its soft cap target having raised more than $20 million.

One of the world’s top 10 cryptocurrency exchanges, Hong Kong’s HitBTC, will be including SLX on its exchange. HitBTC will be hosting SLX with trading pairs against Tether (USDT) and Bitcoin (BTC). Slate Entertainment Group spoke in its press release about how happy it was to reveal news of the partnership while the resale was active, as it could provide confidence to buyers that they could trade SLX on the open market. The release went on to say that the inclusion in a major exchange will expand SLX’s reach into new markets, as well as increase distribution, post-initial sale.

Read more tech articles at Cliché Magazine
Images provided by Flickr CC License

HBO’s Powerhouse Documentary, André the Giant

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Everyone knew who André the Giant was, whether you were a die hard wrestling fan or not. A seven foot four professional wrestler became the biggest phenomenon in the world. HBO’s documentary André the Giant, aired April 10th, gave us an inside look into the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” The documentary not only gave us perspective on one of the most loved professional wrestlers in the industry, but of André René Roussimoff from Moliens, France who often felt different in a world made too small for him. Although, the documentary kept certain factors of his deteriorating health in the ring a blur.

 

Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

 

André the Giant had hands the size of a dinner plate and were so big they made a normal beer cans look like a child’s juice box.  The documentary made André into a mythical creature that everyone could not help but be amazed by. Wrestling legend, Ric Flair expressed André’s appetite for alcohol, so much so that they drank 106 beers in one night and he could put away a case of wine like water. It is quite comical to see Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan immitae André’s legendary thirty second flatulence.

But behind the quite literal larger the life character, André was sensitive. HBO’s powerhouse documentary showed a wounded giant. André was too big to be comfortable. He frequently had to alleviate himself in a bucket behind a curtain because airplane bathrooms were too small. People were often times cruel with what they said about him as he walked by.

 

Photo Credit: HBO

 

While the documentary alluded to the strain his career caused on his health, it did not question Vince McMahon convincing André to wrestle Hogan in Wrestlemania 3, knowing of Andrés physical pain in his back and knees. Yet, it showed André’s relentlessness to continue a life in the ring.

HBO’s powerhouse documentary André the Giant, did its job in portraying one of the most renowned entertainers in the industry. A man dedicated to his career. A man that still had feelings like any of us and who sometimes wanted time away from it all.

 

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HBO’s Powerhouse Documentary, André the Giant: Featured Image Credit: Associated Press

Netflix To Release Rap Documentary Series

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It was announced in late January that Netflix is gearing up to release a rap documentary series entitled Rapture. The first season will be eight episodes long, with each episode focusing on the personal and professional life of a famous rapper.

The list of rappers that will be featured in the first season is quite impressive: Nas, Logic, T.I., 2 Chainz, Just Blaze, Rapsody, Dave East, G-Eazy, and A Boogie Wit da Hoodie. The 30-second trailer released by Netflix shows flashing scenes of the rappers, with short narrations from a few explaining the importance of creating rap music.

Nas begins the trailer, explaining, “hip hop is about being truthful. You tell the real story.” Often called one of the best rappers of all time‒by sources like MTV, Billboard, The Source, and more‒Nas is known for his poetic verses that went against rap conventions during his debut in the 90s. Not only is he a regarded as a hip hop legend for his controversial flows, but he also has been continuously praised for his poignant verses about the harsh realities of life for black men in America.

From Nas, the trailer quickly jumps to Logic, whose breakout single “1-800-273-8255” received enormous radio play and media attention in 2017. The single, which is about suicide prevention, was nominated for the Song of the Year and Best Music Video awards at the Grammys. As one of only a few rappers to have opened up about mental health issues, Logic is committed to spreading awareness and prevention methods. “That’s my way to vent, and let other people know that I’ve been there,” he says in a quick sound bite, “and I know what it’s like.”

The rest of the trailer goes on to feature other clips that discuss the value of words, truth, freedom, and power. The show is set to become available for streaming on March 30th.

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Netflix Will Release a Rap Documentary Series: Featured image courtesy of Netflix

Chef’s Table S3 Review: Third Season Looks A Little Burnt

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What is so unique about this Netflix documentary series is that it does not only go into depth of the specialty food of the chef but into the chef’s particular background as well. The new season focuses on six world-renowned chefs, Jeong Kwan, Vladimir Mukhin, Nancy Silverton, Ivan Orkin, Tim Raue and Virgilio Martinez. They focus not only on the food but the chef’s past experiences, struggles, and successes. Even though these chefs’ come from diverse backgrounds and have diverse cooking styles, they all have similar personalities of conviction and compassion, which clearly distinguishes itself from other cooking documentaries. However, this season falls a little flat with over-familiar visual and audio styles that will leave a veteran viewer of the show wondering if the series will modify their structures of storytelling.

 

 

The sweet and emotional orchestral sounds will try to hook you into the third season of some standout satisfying stories about individuals who happened to find their voice through cooking.  What intrigues me is the specific personalities of these people, such as the story of the Zen Buddhist nun/chef, Jeong Kwan who is calm and collected while also spiritually and emotionally balanced in both her lifestyle and cooking in temple food. The peculiar yet relaxing tone of her story about becoming a Zen Buddhist nun and a chef was interesting and hooks the viewer into crafting a different definition of a chef. Also, throughout her story, there is a deeper understanding of Kwan’s connection with nature and how she translates that connection through her cooking.

 

Another standout of this season was Nancy Silverton, the Los Angeles native who faultlessly obsesses in the precision of her craftsmanship as a baker with bread and as a chef with her style of Italian food. During her story, it was clear that she’s bossy and determined when dealing with the other chefs in her kitchens and the vendors she bargains with for food. The merriment of storytelling and distinct orchestral sounds worked perfectly with the stories of Kwan and Silverton and highlighted the success of their achievements.

 

However, other episodes turned up a little short specifically the episode that focused on the provocative and egotistical, Tim Raue because it failed to set up its own tone and significantly focused on Raue’s ego and persistence whilst in the kitchen. Even though it was entertaining to see this kind of chef bring back the food culture in Berlin it was a little tiresome when Raue kept talking about his own accomplishments as a chef in Berlin. There was also not a clear distinct tone that was found with Kwan and Silverton. In addition, I feel like there was more to Raue’s story than his harsh upbringing and his selfish drive to be the best in Germany. Peruvian chef, Virgilio Martinez’s story had a resourceful and dependent tone but it seemed very similar to a past chef’s story in previous seasons, which may stray some dedicated viewers.

 

This season had good and detailed stories about amazingly talented chefs but the third season reveals that the documentary series seems to be using the same story structure with the particular chef’s downfall and rise and the expected use of string instruments in the background. Maybe there is hope that the series will be able to pull off diverse story structures and newly vibrant tones but for this season of Chef’s Table, for me, deserves a B.

 

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Chef’s Table S3 Review: Third Season Looks A Little Burnt. Image courtesy of Netflix.

‘All This Panic’ Documents the Fear of Growing Up

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Do you ever walk into a movie, not knowing what to expect (aside from an exceptionally vague synopsis you read online) and leave feeling overwhelmed by an array of emotions you can’t quite define? No? Just me?

Well, if you’re in the mood to experience a surge of emotion, check out All This Panic, a documentary filmed over three years that chronicles the trials and tribulations of growing up as a girl that premiered at The Tribeca Film Festival this year.

An obvious connection to this intimate portrait of youth would be to Richard Linklater’s Boyhood–although that was a narrative and this is so real that it’s sometimes uncomfortable to watch. Sure, some of the experiences throughout this film are unique to those privileged enough to grow up in Brooklyn, but the candid moments were eerily familiar, as if I was actually the one on screen re-living this tumultuous period of life. Scratch that–I’m still in thick of it with these girls.

ALL_THIS_PANIC_Web_THIS_ONEIn just 79 minutes, we see a selection of girls transition through their awkward and perplexing teenage years into young women who, ultimately, begin to find out who they are, what they want, and where they want to be. The group, who are all connected in a way but vastly different from one another, show us just how decisive this time in your life actually is. We watch, almost voyeuristically, as each of the girls go through both trivial and consequential moments. More than that, we can see just minutes later the impact those experiences have had on their lives years down the line.  

The film is marketed as documenting the lives of two sisters, Ginger and Dusty, but the real star is Lena, Ginger’s best friend. When we are introduced to Lena at age 16, she is visibly uncomfortable in her own skin. Her family has deep-rooted issues spanning from mental health to financial negligence and it becomes clear, quite quickly, that all Lena wants is to make something of herself and find a more stable footing than she had growing up. Whether that’s as baker, a philosophy professor, the president (or perhaps a mixture of all three), she wants more for herself.  As the film continues, we watch her blossom–especially once she leaves her family and goes to college at Sarah Lawrence. She dyes her hair, makes new friends, meets a boy, and most importantly stops cutting herself. If you need a new poster girl for ‘It Gets Better,’ look no farther.

Panic+Premiere+2016+Tribeca+Film+Festival+6H3t8x3dqIZl

Although their stories weren’t as gripping as I found Lena’s, the film also follows Ginger and Ivy, who feel lost after graduating high school; Olivia, who struggles with coming out to her family; Sage, who is working through the recent death of her father; Delia, who feels constant pressure and insecurity by her peers who are having sex; and Dusty, who can’t quite figure out when she’s going to feel grown up and not like a fraudulent child masquerading as a 17-year-old.

With incredibly introspective and honest interviews taken through various experiences, (anywhere from drinking too much for the first time to being rejected by your crush), director Jenny Gage and her husband Tom Betterton somehow capture the excitement, confusion, and terror that seep into every moment of life as you approach adulthood–a feeling we can all relate to regardless of how or where we grew up.

Although there is no public release date for this, if the buzz following it’s premiere is any indication, it won’t be long until this film hits the big screen nationwide.

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‘All This Panic’ Documents the Fear of Growing Up: Photographs courtesy of Getty Images and Tribeca Film Festival