I was out in Boston over the weekend, and had the extreme pleasure of attending the GLAD Winter Party 2008 at the Artists for Humanity EpiCenter. It was a fantastic event to raise money for GLAD, and to celebrate "30 Years of Making History and Changing Lives". The highlight of the evening were the six live auctions- A South African Photo Safari, Red Sox vs. Yankees tickets, a Summer BBQ with GLAD's Senior Staff, a Starwood Hotels "Honeymoon" Package, Cocktails with Joan & Robert Parker, and, if I remember correctly, a trip to the South of France. All of which were, unfortunately, waaaay out of my bidding range (I did, however, bid on and win a case of wine).
It was a really great event, and the live auctions alone raised something over $18k for GLAD. The speakers talked about the the discrimination faced by the LGBT community at the St. Patty's Day Parade in Boston, and one of the speakers related her own experiences as one of the people who marched in the last parade that the LGBT members were able to take part in, and how, one year, the organizes of the parade cancelled the parade rather than let LGBT marchers participate. They cancelled an Irish parade in Boston, rather than let gays take part.
It was a moving story, and a powerful reminder of the sorts of discrimination and the lengths that people will go to, to exclude the LGBT community from taking equal part in our society.
I also had a chance to go to a movie while I was in Boston, and took the opportunity to see Persepolis. Now, I haven't seen it, but can someone explain to me how the movie about the cooking rat beat this? Because, seriously? This is some powerful stuff. Now, admittedly, Best Animated Feature is a pretty new category, and so it's tough to generalize, but I do think it's interesting that almost all of the nominees and winners have been pretty, shall we say... kid friendly? Persepolis is definitely not a kid's movie, and is only the second PG-13 rated film to be nominated in for the award.
At any rate, as you may be able to tell, I loved it. I've read Marjane Satrapi's books, upon which this was based, and the film brilliantly captures both the story, and her unique visual style perfectly. The animation is beautiful, and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the individual frames from the book are replicated in the film.
The film- an autobiographical telling of Satrapi's life during and after the Iranian revolution- is an extremely powerful tale. One of the things that the film does a really great job of (and books, as well) is show how Satrapi and her family are caught between hostile forces on both sides. After the revolution, personal liberties were strictly controlled, and women were forced to adopt head coverings and there were armed police who could arrest women who were suspected of being at all immoral or immodest. There are scenes of people fighting over the last of the food remaining in a nearly empty store, and at one point, a person dies because a group of people decided to throw a party and dance.
But, at the same time, Satrapi faced serious descrimination when she was in Europe, too. People who had heard about the Iranian revolution talked about Iranians as though they were subhuman. At one point, a group of fellow students at her university call her savage. She talks about feeling lost in two worlds- she's a stranger back in Iran, because her experiences in France have changed who she used to be, but she's also a stranger outside of Iran, because people view her through a disturbing lens.
Like I said, it's an incredibly powerful and moving film, and I don't think I can recommend it enough. It is, at times, heart-breaking, and disturbing, and full of hope... and it's also incredibly well animated (and, apparently, not computer animated). All I can say is that the rat movie had better be really fucking good to show this one up, because this is one of the most impressive and intelligent animated features I've ever seen. Two big thumbs up.