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Thad, Jessica and Gabriella at BAM

Anomaly was well-received in February at its West Coast Premiere in LA and its Brooklyn Premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Director Jessica Chen Drammeh, and Gabriella Callender and Thad Rutkowski, featured in the film, were on hand at BAM for a Q&A after the screening!

Later this month, we’ll premiere in Atlanta at the Women of Color Arts & Film Festival. In April, we’

ll be headed to Seattle for another festival screening. Stay tuned for details soon!

* ATLANTA PREMIERE *

WOCAF: Women of Color Arts & Film Festival

>When: Saturday, March 27 at 1pm

>Where: Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture & History

Heritage Education Center Auditorium, Fourth Floor

101 Auburn Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30303

>For more info, check out  http://www.iyalodeproductions.com/wocaf/wocaf-festival-2010/film-festival/anomaly-2/

The Women of Color Arts & Film Festival is the only one of its kind in the southeast of the United States to exclusively present, promote and celebrate the artistic talents of women of color filmmakers and artists. Community partner: Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System.

Dear Friends and Supporters of ANOMALY,

We hope that 2010 has been treating you well! We are thrilled about our accomplishments in 2009, such as Anomaly‘s film festival world premiere at the African Diaspora Film Festival in New York City.

>>1. RECAP OF RECENT SCREENINGS

In December, we had successful screenings in New York and Philadelphia. Audiences laughed, nodded and cried in all the right places.

At the African Diaspora Film Festival world premiere, Director/Producer Jessica Chen Drammeh conducted Q&As after the screening. Highlights included:

  • Feedback such as: “Loved it!”…”Enchanting…I was so interested in what happened to the characters…very well-done…thank you for the years of hard work you put into Anomaly and eloquently weaving a story.”
  • The discussion on Dec. 9th was a testament to the kind of positive impact the film can make. Audience members interacted with participant Gabriella Callender in an inspirational dialogue.
  • We thank Gabriella for participating in the Q&A!

At the Asian Arts Initiative in Philadelphia on Dec. 18th:

  • We were warmly hosted by Anomaly participant Michelle Myers, of the spoken word duo Yellow Rage, with Catzie Vilayphonh.
  • Anomaly participant Thaddeus Rutkowski was also featured. His set included the hilarious piece, “White and Wong,” also seen in Anomaly.

As a result of these recent appearances, new screening requests are already coming in from venues in California, Connecticut, Maryland and more!

>>2. OUTREACH IN 2010

In 2010, there will be more opportunities to enjoy the film. We’ll continue screenings at film festivals, colleges/universities/high schools, conferences, art centers, and community events. In February, join us at screenings in NY and LA. The upcoming dates are:

* WEST COAST PREMIERE *

Pan African Film Festival, Feb. 10-17, 2010

The Los Angeles-based PAFF is the largest film festival in the U.S. dedicated to the exhibition of Black films. Last year, more than 40,000 people viewed films made in the U.S., Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, the South Pacific, Latin America and Canada.

>When: Monday, February 15 at 3:30pm

>Where: Culver Plaza Theaters in Culver City, CA, http://www.culverplazatheatres.com

To help us attend the festival, please make a donation! See Step 4 below.

* BROOKLYN PREMIERE *

Best of the African Diaspora Film Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Feb. 19-24, 2010

Hot off its world premiere in December, the ADFF has selected Anomaly to be screened in a “best of” series at BAM. We are delighted to be showcased with the ADFF to reach even more New York City audiences in BAM’s lovely theaters! Director will attend.

>When: Sunday, February 21 at 2pm

>Where: Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, NY

>>3. CONNECT AND SPREAD THE WORD

As we expand our outreach, here’s four ways that you can help spread the word of mouth about Anomaly, and fun ways to recommend us to your friends!

Step 1.

Become friends with us on Facebook (“Anomaly Thefilm”):

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1471315421

Step 2.

Read the blog and stay up-to-date on the latest news:

https://anomalythefilm.wordpress.com

Step 3.

Watch videos at:

www.youtube.com/anomalyJCD

Step 4.

Become a supporting fan of Anomaly by making a tax-deductible contribution! Your donation can make a huge difference in our ability to reach more audiences.

  1. Make your check out to our non-profit fiscal sponsor, Third World Newsreel, write Anomaly on the memo line, and mail to c/o Jessica Chen Drammeh, PO Box 300, Prince Street Station, New York, NY 10012; or,
  1. Donate online through this link:

http://www.nycharities.org/donate/c_donate.asp?CharityCode=2026

Note: Please be sure to list Anomaly as the Designated Program and include info@anomalythefilm.com for email notification.

>>4. HOST THE FILM

Bring Anomaly to your community! Anomaly is available for rental screenings at colleges, universities, film festivals, community groups, conferences, and more. The filmmakers can attend screenings for Q&As and panel discussions. Or, bring a performance artist from the film to your live event! There are many kinds of presentations, programs and workshops that can be offered around Anomaly.

A moving, thought-provoking exploration of multiracial identity, Anomaly is a fantastic discussion starter about cross-cultural issues. If you’d like to host a screening of the film, then email us at info@anomalythefilm.com for more details!

>>5. SPECIAL THANKS

We’d like to thank all the collaborators, sponsors and supporters who have made our efforts over the past year possible. We could not have done this without you!

Special thanks to our skilled sound designer, Brett Hammond, of Studio 11211 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Thanks for hosting screenings in 2009: The African Diaspora Film Festival/ArtMattan Productions; Asian Arts Initiative of Philadelphia; Yellow Rage; Prof. Laura Kina and Prof. Yvonne Lau at DePaul University, Chicago.

Thank you to all of our old & new friends that came out to the ADFF screenings last month. We are excited you came to celebrate the world premiere!

A very grateful thanks to our returning and new supporters for their generous donations: Pearl Potter, Richard Lee, Linda Nathan Marks, Berenice Fisher, Eric and Lisa Potter, and Thaddeus Rutkowski.

Finally, we thank all of the participants/interviewees, crew members, consultants, donors, and supporters of the film over its eight-year creative journey. You have special listings in the film’s end credits. We hope you have seen your name on the big screen!

We are looking forward to seeing you at an Anomaly screening in 2010 and appreciate your help in spreading the word. Thank you and best wishes to you and yours for an exciting year!

Jessica Chen Drammeh

Director/Producer/Writer

Sharon K. Smith

Co-Producer

Barack Obama’s presidency highlights the continued struggles around U.S. race issues. Anomaly provides a thought-provoking look at multiracial identity by combining personal narratives with the larger drama of mixed race in American culture. The characters use spoken word and music to tell their stories of navigating identity, family and community in a changing world.

For a closer look, visit https://anomalythefilm.wordpress.com

and sign up for email newsletters through update@anomalythefilm.com.

ANOMALY / PO Box 300 / Prince Street Station / New York, NY 10012

Our second screening of Anomaly at the ADFF on Wednesday was a rousing success! Thanks to Gabriella for participating in the Q&A, and all of our friends & community that came out to support the screening. The audience laughed, nodded and cried in all the right places. 🙂 We were so thrilled to see you there and hear your wonderful feedback! 

“Loved it!”

“I was so moved by your film and by all the subjects. Thank you for the years of hard work you put into Anomaly and eloquently weaving a story that all people of mixed heritage can relate to.”

Asian Arts Initiative

 

Next on the winter tour is Philadelphia. Join us Dec. 18th at the Asian Arts Initiative for “Hapa Happy: Celebrating All That is Mixed & Multi.” We’ll be screening Anomaly, and slam poet Thaddeus Rutkowski (featured in Anomaly) will be performing a set. The evening will be hosted by Yellow Rage–another Anomaly connection! Yellow Rage is Catzie Vilayphonh and Michelle Myers, who is also featured in Anomaly.

HAPA HAPPY: Celebrating All That Is Mixed & Multi

hosted by YELLOW RAGE & featuring THADDEUS RUTKOWSKI & “ANOMALY” by JESSICA CHEN DRAMMEH

Friday, December 18, 2009

7:30-9:30pm

Asian Arts Initiative

1219 Vine Street

Philadelphia, PA

FAMILY STYLE is a new family-friendly, positive space that honors Asian American artists and extended “family” from all communities and cultures. For the full event description, please visit:

I’m bringing this interview back from the website archives. At the time, I even asked her about the possibility of Barack Obama becoming president. What a difference a year makes. -JCD

Q&A with Gabriella Callender

Interviewed by Jessica Chen Drammeh

Originally published April 2008

Gabriella Callender is a singer/songwriter/performer whose riveting story is featured in Anomaly. She grew up in Hollis, Queens, adopted by an African American family. Coming into adulthood, she made several attempts at finding out more about her biological mother, Winnie. During the film, Gabriella has a touching reunion with Winnie. The film also interweaves Gabriella’s original songs, such as “Black and White” and “It’s You.” At a screening, one audience member called Gabriella’s singing “the voice of an angel.”

Speak the Fire

Speak the Fire

Director Jessica Chen Drammeh caught up with Gabriella to find out where she is now, and about her upcoming album release, “Speak the Fire,” with Mahina Movement.

Q: Tell me a secret! (Or a little-known fact about Gabby.)

A: I absolutely love to cook, bake and I adore colorful fabric…There. I said it. Let’s please move on. [Gabby smiles.]

Q: What was the most fascinating part of being involved in Anomaly?

A: Capturing Winnie on film – to know that a small part of her huge story will be heard by your audiences… it makes me so happy because I know, even though she doesn’t say it – it means a lot to her. Also, your diligence in seeing this project through. Your commitment to excellence – it is inspiring.

Jessica: Well, thank you! One of the most fun and rewarding parts about doing documentary work is that you get to interact with people in their real lives. And to be part of your reunion with Winnie, and follow the many parts of your life, has been an honor.

Winnie and Gabriella

Winnie and Gabriella

Q: In Anomaly, we see your reunion with your biological mother, Winnie. What is your relationship with her like nowadays?

A: Just yesterday Winnie called me up, like she does once a week, with her joke for the week …

She really thinks they are funny and gets such a kick out of telling them that I have to laugh. Winnie and I have nothing hidden between us. We accept each other for who we are and where we are. Priceless.

Q: Do you have any mantras, mottos, or favorite quotations?

A: Honor your word – it’s all you have in this whole world.

Q: How did you first meet Moana and Erica (of Mahina Movement) and what has your process been like working with them?

Mahina Movement: Moana, Gabby and Erica

Mahina Movement: Moana, Gabby and Erica

A: I first met Moana at Bluestockings Bookstore on Allen Street. She was doing a reading from her then play, “Tongue In Paint.” She got so involved during her monologue that tears came and snot began to run out of her nose – she never wiped the snot off her face, she just let it stay there…I was like “Man! That’s someone I’d love to work with.”

 A few months later I came on board and met Erica.

A lot of people ask us about our process. Well, you know, we never factored it in as a formula or anything. We show up with our pieces, then we break out the food. We warm up, go over line-ups, perform them for each other, then we are really honest about what we think works and what does not work, then we take it to the next level. We collaborate our pieces together, get them into our body through different exercises, tweak, tweak, tweak, take turns directing each other, call each other out on our shitskas and then we break out some more food. We cry a lot, laugh a lot, yell sometimes, get on each others’ nerves, have each others’ backs, and then we come back and do it all over again. If I had to sum it all up in one sentence I would say the strongest, most valuable quality of our process is that we persevere – we keep showing up for each other week after week, month after month, year after year – everything else falls into place.

Q: Mahina Movement is a trio or trinity. Do you find any symbolism in that?

A: We know, as do our spiritual followers, that we have been chosen by the Almighty God to be Her disciples….ok…ok…I’m just kidding! [big laugh] These kinds of questions make me want to make jokes. [another big laugh] Well, we each have our own meaning and personal symbols for the word Trinity – mine is this – at the end of the day we are one. Our energies are different, our personalities are very different. If you met us each individually you might not think the three of would even know each other – that’s what makes us special. When we perform together our individual ways of being fuses into something all its own –it is its own life force and for the most part it seems to work.

Q: On your new album, “Speak the Fire”–if you could make it into a food analogy, what kind of food dish would it be?

A: It wouldn’t be a food dish– it would be an entire entrée of delicious food dishes to choose from …fried chicken, baked macaroni and cheese, collard greens, corn bread, enchiladas con mole, tortas, candied yams, yucca, fish with coconut, potato salad, octopus, stuffed peppers, mmm, yum, chocolate chip cookies, flan, chocolate layer cake, coconut and mango ice cream…lots of different juices to drink and of course…sparkling water.

Q: You have one night only for a jam session to play with any four musicians or vocalists, living or deceased. Who is in your fab five?

A: Just one night? Well, Omari Brown (3 years old), Imani Brown (5 years old), Angelique (3 years old) and give me two more 3 – 5 year old kids who love music ….If I only had ONE night I would definitely jam with the kids – the talent is off the hook, they are waaaaaaaayyyy fun and I can’t tell you how much I learn about being open, vulnerable and having fun when I jam with kids.

Q: If you could go forward/backward in time (or be in the present), to have dinner with one person, who would that be and why?

A: It would absolutely be the person who cooks the best food in the entire world, wouldn’t mind me with cooking with her/him, knows good wine, loves to eat, knows the art of a great conversation, and knows how to have a ton of fun without being weird.

Barack Obama at the DNC 2004

Barack Obama at the DNC 2004

Q: Barack Obama is probably the most visible mixed race person in the U.S. today. Is America ready for a black, multiracial president? (or Latino/a, Asian American, Native, Arab American, etc.)

A: We are ready for Blacks, Multiracial folks, Transgender people, Queer folks, Lesbians, Gay men (well, we’ve actually already had a few of these), Latinos, Asian Americans, Indigenous Peoples, Women, Arab Americans, Pacific Islanders, Physically impaired people, even People with piercings and tattoos – it doesn’t matter as long as they can listen to the people and get our job done. That’s what George Bush did – he got us READY. We have been eating crap for years. We are now READY for a real meal. The only people who aren’t ready are the people who aren’t ready – but they have never been ready and they might never be ready…we can’t afford to wait on them anymore.

Q: Say that in the next lifetime, you had to come back as someone of a completely different ethnic background. What would you be?

A: When I come back I’m coming back as a Gabican from the planet Gabulous …yep by that time we’ll be mixing with beings from other planets …you know, get things a little more interesting cuz lord knows those census questions could use some more flava.

Thanks so much, Gabby, for getting us up to date on your work! If you are in New York, come to the CD release party of “Speak the Fire” on Saturday, April 12th. Or, visit the Mahina Movement website to sample songs and get your very own copy of the CD! www.mahinamovement.com

For details on hosting a screening of Anomaly and having Gabriella perform live, email info@anomalythefilm.com

Candid. Thought-provoking. Compelling. Anomaly interweaves the thoughts and experiences of the participants with the director’s narration, creating a rich tapestry of mixed dynamics. Unlike prior works on mixed race issues that focus on one ethnic mix, Anomaly is truly multiracial. Our participants come from many diverse backgrounds and multiple generations. Meet the voices and spirit of Anomaly here…

Gabriella Callender

Gabriella performing her song, "It's You"

Gabriella performing her song, "It's You"

 

“Genealogically, I’m multiethnic. Culturally, I’m African American, with European influence…  Once upon a time I used to say ‘I’m black’ because that’s how I was raised and to say anything other than black meant you’re trying to pass, and if you’re trying to pass then that is just it: you do not belong in our community, how dare you! It was a big taboo.”

Gabriella Callender is a singer/songwriter who was raised in Queens, New York, by an adopted family during the 1960s and 1970s. In Anomaly, she performs her autobiographical song, “Black and White,” which tells the story of growing up in a family where “it was all about the black and white.” In the film, Gabriella speaks about her adoption and journey of self-discovery to find her birth mother. To hear Gabriella’s work, visit the Mahina Movement website at www.mahinamovement.com.

Michelle Myers

Michelle on location in Philadelphia

Michelle on location in Philadelphia

 

“Epic memory awakened, I remember you: you are the land of my birth. I will return to you.” –from Michelle’s piece, “Arirang”

Spoken word artist Michelle Myers, who grew up in rural New Jersey, reflects on the intense alienation she experienced in her childhood from peers and the white side of her family for being half Korean. Through her work in the duo Yellow Rage and the collective Asians Misbehavin’, she confronts stereotypes and myths about Asian Americans in an outspoken, controversial way. She is also the mother of three mixed race children featured in Anomaly. To sample Michelle’s pieces, such as “I’m a Woman (Not a Flava),” visit www.yellowrage.com.

Pete Shungu

Pete on trumpet

Pete on trumpet

 

“I’ve found my way, comin’ from parents of completely different heritage/So I got a problem with you if you got a problem with interracial marriages…” –from Pete’s piece, “Third Eye-dentity”

Pete is a musician/poet based in Boston. His mother is Caucasian from Kansas, and his father African from the Congo. Showing a younger generation coming of age, Pete was born in the early 1980s. Like Michelle, he grew up in New Jersey, but found a more supportive family life for acknowledging both of his heritages. Through his poems and music, like “Third Identity” and “Other,” Pete challenges the social categorization of mixed race people, while exploring both sides of his rich family identity. Pete’s website is at www.afroDZak.com.

Thaddeus Rutkowski

Thad Rutkowski

Thad Rutkowski

 

Thaddeus Rutkowski is a spoken word artist and poet who grew up in central Pennsylvania and lives in New York. His work has appeared in numerous publications and he has been a resident at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and Ragdale. He is a winner of the Poetry Slam at the Nuyorican Poets Café, and performs pieces like “White and Wong” in Anomaly. Thad identifies as biracial; his mother is Chinese, and his father was Polish American. Find out about his first book, Roughhouse, and his latest novel, Tetched, at www.thaddeusrutkowski.com.

Rona Taylor

Rona hails from the Bay Area and took one of the first people of mixed heritage courses in the U.S. at UC Berkeley in the 1980s. In Anomaly, she recalls her childhood navigating Filipino and African American/Native American heritages. Early on, she identified as a “world citizen.” She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and is raising two daughters and a son.

Additional participants include:

Sabrina Margarita Alcantara-Tan, Jazz Biancci, Ella Mei Yon Biggadike, Kiyomi Burchill, Brenda Gannam, Stephanie Nokes, Ajani Schuster,  Rebecca Schuster, and James Spooner

Key experts contextualize the issues:

Jennifer Chan
Former Adjunct Professor, “Asian Americans of Mixed Heritage” course, A/P/A Studies Program and Institute, New York University.

Jen Chau
Founder/Executive Director, Swirl, Inc., a national community organization founded in 2000 that serves the mixed race community.

Michele Elam, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of English, Director of African American Studies at Stanford University; author of Race, Work and Desire in American Literature and the forthcoming Mixtries: Mixed Race in the New Millennium.

Eric Hamako
Doctoral student in the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Social Justice Education Program. Eric has been involved in mixed-race community organizing since 2000.

Ann Morning, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Sociology at New York University, specializing in race and ethnicity, especially racial classification; the multiracial population; and demography. Fulbright Scholar and Ford Foundation Fellow.

Maria P.P. Root, Ph.D. (advisor)
Clinical Psychologist; Editor of The Multiracial Experience; Author of Love’s Revolution: Interracial Marriage and “The Bill of Rights for Racially Mixed People.”