D.C. is widely heralded as the home of government, power, influence, and (occasionally) a good sports team or two, but certainly not film. However, local filmmaker Jennifer Schwed is trying to change that.
On Monday, writer, director and producer Jennifer Schwed started shooting her feature length film, The Upside of Iris at the Pie Sisters shop in Georgetown. It is a quirky and loveable tale about Iris (a hopelessly romantic woman who sees the world upside-down) and how she uses her unique perspective to reconnect with her childhood love, and change the lives of those around her. The film that Iris has most been compared to is the French classic, Amélie.
In one of the more humorous (and touching) scenes filmed at the Pie Sisters shop on Monday, Iris gives her magical “perspective-enhancing glasses” to Mrs. Stanislav (the shop owner) and urges her to gaze upon her husband. After about 50 years of marriage (apparently the last couple decades of which have been spent constantly bickering) the last thing Mrs. Stanislav wants to see is see is Mr. Stanislav. However, under the pleasant pressure from dear Iris she gives in, dons the glasses and is absolutely floored! Through the specs she sees her husband, but not the crotchety old grouch she was expecting, but she sees him as the young, strapping man that she fell in love with so many years ago. She remembers what things were like, and the flame of love is reignited.
This is a truly local, indy film, and nearly the entire production team is from the D.C. area. The beautiful young woman playing the lead (Ms. Charley Tan) was actually “discovered” walking on M Street!
Schwed admitted, “Charley is absolutely perfect for the role of Iris. When I saw her walking in Georgetown, I literally said out loud, ‘That’s Iris. That’s our girl…’ The only problem on-set we’ve had is that her romantic interest in the film, well, his character’s name is ‘Charlie,’ so when I say, ‘Hey Charley, I need you to do this or that,’ two people turn and say, ‘Okay!’”
Having written, directed or produced 12 short art films that have played at over a dozen international film festivals, Schwed was asked, “What is the biggest challenge so far in making a feature length film?” Her response? “Raising money.”
Although her team has not yet reached their budget goal, they are forging ahead, but are keeping a keen eye out for those who can help. “We are definitely interested in talking with patrons of the arts, film investors and even local companies regarding sponsorship or some type of ‘tasteful’ product placement.”
You can see an earlier promotional shoot and get more information on the film and how you can help support The Upside of Iris here.
By Doug Bradshaw, associate producer of The Upside of Iris
The award-winning Arts in Foggy Bottom Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit opened for its third season in the Foggy Bottom Historic District on Saturday afternoon. Sculpting Outside the Lines, this year’s theme, is the inspiration of curator, Laura Roulet, who worked with founders and co-directors of the exhibit, Jackie Lemire, Jill Nevius and Mary Kay Shaw to create another distinctive display of public art for the neighborhood.
What began in 2008 as an effort to introduce sculpture into the community and bring neighbors together has evolved into a professional production with self-guided cell phone tours, artist-guided tours, maps, and more. Now in its third cycle with eight sculptures designed exclusively for the event, the show has the ability to match each sculpture with an appropriate outdoor space.
Sculpting Outside the Lines showcases 13 sculptures by 15 artists, most of whom are nationally recognized. The exhibit is the showcase for cast concrete angels by Dan Steinhilber who has had solo exhibitions at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Baltimore Museum of Art. Barbara Liotta, who recently showed at the Phillips Gallery as part of Intersections, will create a large-scale site-specific work. For the first time, new media is included such as a projection by Jefferson Pinder, whose exhibits include the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery and the Studio Museum of Harlem. Joseph and John Dumbacher, locally renowned for their solo exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, will install a 13’ aluminum abstract sculpture. Dalya Luttwak’s recent solo exhibitions include the Kreeger Museum, Washington DC. She will create a site-specific suspended “root work.” The other artists featured are Linda Hesh, EH-CO, Yukiko Nakashima, Foon Sham, Lina Vargas de la Hoz, and local graduate students Patrick McGowan, Adam Nelson, Blake Turner, and Peter Lee who will present three new media works.
Sculpting Outside the Lines engages the community by expanding the boundaries of traditional outdoor sculpture, exploring the discourse between public and private in an active social space.
The exhibit can be seen in the yards of homes and businesses between 24th and 26th streets NW and H and K Streets. Self-guided tours are available on the web site or by picking up brochures that will be available at each of the sculpture sites. Artist-guided tours will be held on the third Saturday of each month at 11:00 am originating at the corner New Hampshire Avenue and Eye Street NW.
Arts in Foggy Bottom with its inaugural outdoor sculpture exhibit won the Mayor’s Arts Awards for “Innovation in the Arts” in 2009. It is funded by The Foggy Bottom Association Defense and Improvement Corporation. For more information, visit Foggy Bottom Association.
By Robin Jones, a marketing and style consultant.
The cheery spirit of cherry blossoms has inspired bakers across town to create special offerings during the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
Though the blossoms peaked a few weeks ago, the annual parade is April 14th and the festival continues until April 27th.
So do most of these sweet treats at area bakeries.
Georgetown Cupcake is serving a Madagascar bourbon vanilla cupcake baked with fresh cherries and topped with vanilla cream cheese frosting. The masterful creation holds true to the cupcakery’s signature traits: premium-quality ingredients, skillful baking and the sister-owners’ heartfelt passion for their craft.
Mother Nature has a hand in the arrival of cherry cupcakes at Baked & Wired. They appear in the bakery case as soon as co-owner Teresa Velazquez sees flowers on the cherry tree in her back yard. Velazquez’s cupcake is a vanilla cake with chopped maraschino cherries. Cherry juice tints the cake pink and so vividly colors the frosting that it’s hard to believe the electric pink is natural.
The unmistakable taste of real fruit dominates Sprinkles’ cherry blossom cupcake. Cherry flavor shines through in the pink frosting, which tops a vanilla cake accented with moist diced cherries. The cupcake is adorned with an official National Cherry Blossom Festival decoration.
If the cherry cupcakes in the window of Georgetown Scoops catch your eye, don’t be deterred by the fact that it’s an ice cream shop. These first-rate artisan cupcakes are made with European butter and other imported ingredients. The cherry blossom cupcake is vanilla cake with dried cherries. Its value comes not from its bottom but from its top: a graceful swirl of light, airy and luscious frosting. Containing markedly less sugar than conventional American recipes, the frosting is hands-down the best kept secret in Georgetown bakery news.
Georgetown Scoops has also crafted a cherry blossom ice cream with cherry chunks and notes of rose and Amaretto.
PAUL Bakery is showcasing a capsule collection of cherry pastries. The ensemble includes torsade cerises (cherry twisted bread), croissant aux cerises filled with pastry cream and cherries, cherry cramique brioche with sugar pearls and sour cherries, flan aux cerises (cherry flan tart), millefeuille aux cerises (Cherry Napoleon) and eclair aux cerises.
The millefeuille, for one, makes a statement even before the first bite is sampled. From the way the knife hits the crust, it’s obvious the pastry is optimally crispy and fresh. The flaky crust perfectly complements the exquisite, creamy filling.
If you like your desserts frozen, you can get your fill at Häagen-Dazs and Johnny Rockets. Haagen-Dazs is featuring a cherry sorbet smoothie and Johnny Rockets will make an off-menu cherry milkshake upon request.
Even after the Cherry Blossom Festival concludes, cherry desserts can be found year around at several sweet shops.
Pies are a best-seller at Baked & Wired, which offers traditional cherry pies and single-serving cherry hand pies.
Newcomer Pie Sisters is making a cherry pie with a dash of almond extract, gaining recognition for the flaky, hand-rolled crusts that encase their sweet and savory pies and individual “cuppies.”
Whole Foods is promoting a line of retro soda-pop cupcakes, including a vanilla cherry flavor with a subtly effervescent frosting.
With so many choices, cherry fans have plenty to cheer this season and all year.
By Andrea Adleman, a communications consultant