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Thalia Book Club Camp offers up-close interaction with renowned children's book authors and illustrators, book discussions, and book-related field trips around the city. This blog follows the camp's activities.

Ed Budz is blogging the films he sees at the Tribeca Film Festival. To see his thoughts on the rest of the festival, clicking here.

Knowing I was going to have a very full day between screenings and my desk, I decided to sleep in and miss my 9:15am screening of Dog Pound. I really want to catch this, so hopefully I’ll get another chance.

Started off with a very funny film, The Infidel by Josh Appignanesi, UK. Comedian Omid Djalili plays an ordinary, working class East Londoner. He has a house, a family, a lamp by his bed in the form of a soccer ball and a hot temper. He’s also Muslim, but not the most observant. He rarely prays, he seldom fasts and he has been known to have a pint or two. Deep inside though, he is a believer. His entire world-view gets flipped upside-down when he finds out he was adopted and his birth mother Jewish. A la, La Cage Aux Folles, his son who’s about to get married to the stepdaughter of an orthodox Imam wants him to be ‘more’ Muslim and the rabbi of his birth father, whom he has tracked down, wants him to learn how to be Jewish. As the stereotypes of both worlds are called forth and then torn down, what’s left is the commonality of being human.

I was originally stuck with more than an hour to kill before my next film when I saw that a screening was added of No Woman, No Cry, USA, by Christy Turlington Burns. I was in luck as it’s only an hour long and I could still make my next screening, and I really wanted to catch this one. Glad I did. It tells the story of the threat of maternal deaths from childbirth (or crude abortions) from a Maasai woman as well as women from Bangladesh, Guatemala and the US, which has a higher mortality rate than many poorer nations. Cultural values are explored and we learn how the loss of a mother can rend an entire family as in losing her, they lose the family farmer and caretaker. Interestingly, we are only shown success stories where help was received in time. Appropriate, I think, as this is the message of the film and it’s heartbreaking enough just to imagine the tragedies that could be prevented with education, pre-natal care and safe and sanitary birthing centers.

Monica & David by Alexandra Codina, USA, is a delightful look at an irrepressible couple. When Monica and David were younger, their life expectancy was 25. Now, it is 60. So it is for people with Down syndrome. Monica’s cousin documents their life for a year – from planning their big wedding to learning how to cook and live together. It is also the story of their mothers – who were both left by their husbands when their children were very young. For these families, their children are a lifelong commitment. The camera never feels intrusive as we are allowed a private look into their lives. Full of humor and sweet moments, as well as the difficulty of such a life, we also see why these parents feel blessed.

Catch the rest of Ed’s thoughts about the Tribeca Film Festival by clicking here

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