The Spotlight: Director Don Capria

This week, I had the opportunity to interview Don Capria, the director of a new film entitled, Eulogy, which will be shown as part of the Queens World Film Festival this Friday, March 20. at 8 pm at The Secret Theater. The entire cast has been nominated for Best Actor in a Short Narrative. Entirely shot in the Bronx, the film follows the story of Zef Celaj, who is currently serving time for a crime his brother Martin committed. Upon discovering his brother took his own life, Zef travels home to his Bronx community to deliver a eulogy at Martin’s wake.

Photograph by Alexander Richter Don Capria, Darenzia Elizabeth, Kaves

                                 Don Capria, Darenzia Elizabeth, Kaves; Photograph by Alexander Richter

Check out the interview below:

What drew you to the Bronx for this film? 

I am originally from Westchester, N.Y. I have a lot of family and friends in the Bronx and I worked in the area we filmed for a few years.  I’ve been to the building we filmed in many times before and it feels like its own world within the city. I remember reading in one of my books on screenwriting that a location for a script should not be any location, but the only location you can use. This place felt like that.
The Bronx’s Albanian population has grown significantly in recent years, and plays a role in your film. Why do you think that is?
I grew up around a lot of Albanians in high school and stayed close with them years later. While I don’t know a lot about the number of immigrants in the area, I do know a lot about my friends and the people they know. They are a small but tight knit community, and that was what I hoped to display in this short.

What are some of the benefits of filming in the Bronx? Did you encounter any challenges/struggles of filming in the borough? 

It was a very easy experience production wise. I was really sick during filming so that was the biggest challenge for me. It’s 90 percent interior shots but overall I think filming in the Bronx is a smart move for filmmakers in New York. You have the urban landscape and may not have to deal with high traffic areas if you chose the right locations.

What do you hope audiences take away from Eulogy?

I hope it feels real to them, and in some way they can identify with the characters on the screen. I want to make movies that take extraordinary circumstances that actually happen in life and translate them poetically onto the big screen. I want people to think about something after they watch a film that reflects something in their own lives and not worry about the lives of people that have no real bearing in their world.

 

Are you working on any other projects that we should be on the lookout for?  

I am currently in development of a project I wrote and will also direct – a dark drama with the same tone as Eulogy. It is a prison movie called Valhalla, and we signed up actor Lillo Brancato (A Bronx Tale/ Sopranos) to play the lead role. We will shoot in New York, hopefully by the end of 2015. I also have a biography coming out in June based upon the life of New York mob icon Joe Colombo. I wrote the book with his oldest son Anthony Colombo.


Lazy Chalkboard Decor

Next month, it’ll be a year since I moved to Bedford Park from Castle Hill. (And still no apartment tour?! I’m working on it.) Time has flown by so quickly, I feel like I just got here and some parts of the apartment still look like I just got here. I’m still gathering art work and furniture little by little so I can really make it feel like my place – the place I imagined on Pinterest.

A couple weeks ago, I decided that I’d finally attempt to work on a project I’d been wanting to do for a while, which was putting a chalkboard up in the entryway of the apartment. Right above my intercom, there’s a hideous electric panel and some other mysterious door that bulge out, so hanging a picture flat wouldn’t work too well and being as I have no idea where all of the wires are behind the wall, I was not about to risk my life drilling into it.

I scoured the internet looking for crafty ways to do this, but I know myself. I love crafts and DIY projects, but I am simply horrible at them. I sadly lack the patience and attention to detail required for most of them – chalk it up to the flightiness of my generation (pun not intended).

In Michael’s a couple months ago, I saw an Elmer’s foam chalkboard, similar to one of those flat display boards you’d use for school presentations. I was already buying other things, but I did keep it in mind. After more patrolling on Craigslist and various other stores for a reasonably priced chalkboard (can you even believe how expensive fake vintage chalkboards are?!) I decided to take myself to Michaels and get that foam chalkboard.  See below for how it turned out.

This is what I had to cover. Ick. Since I can’t drill into this wall, I used a Command hook I bought that one year I dormed in college. (The angle of this picture makes the hook look a bit crooked, but it’s not.)

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I really didn’t want to have to buy anything for this project, so I used what I had in my house – Gorilla Glue, yarn, and packing tape. I stuck some of the Gorilla Glue onto two pieces of tape and attached the yarn to the back of the board. It’s important during this step to make sure that everything is exactly where you want it, because that glue WILL NOT come off. 

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This was the final look. All that’s left is to write a clever quote on it!

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I may add a frame later if I can find one that’s not too heavy. But for now, I like its simplicity and the fact that it’s covering those unsightly boxes on the wall.


Bronx Awesome Birthday Expo

Looking to host a birthday party for your child this year? Then you definitely need to check out Bronx Awesome’s Birthday Expo on April 18th. Featuring vendors and venues that are all right here in the Bronx, you’re sure to find something that fits your needs.

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Read below for details:

BRONX, NY- Bronx Awesome will be hosting the first ever Bronx Awesome Birthday Expo on April 18th, 2015. The Expo will be an event where families from all over the Bronx will have a chance to meet with representatives from venues, entertainment services,and more.The expo serves to build stronger ties among local Bronx businesses and the community they serve. The event will be hosted at Asmara Ballroom, located in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx.
Attendees of the event will have a chance to learn about the many birthday options for their children in the Bronx by visiting exhibitor booths, take part in fun activities and a photo booth, and the first 100 in attendance will go home with a gift bag filled with information about various venues and services. Families can register for their free badges to attend the event at http://bronxawesomebirthdayexpo.eventbrite.com 
“The Bronx needs an event where families can learn about birthday options in the Bronx. Too many times the information is not out there and families end up celebrating outside of our borough, this expo will help to highlight all of the great options the Bronx offers,” Nicole Perrino, founder of Bronxmama.com said.
Bronx businesses who wish to become an exhibitor at the expo can sign up through the Eventbrite page as well or contact Bronx Awesome for more information.
Brands who would like to sponsor or be a part of the birthday fun, there are customized packages available.

About Bronx Awesome

Bronx Awesome is a community building group with an emphasis on family, the arts, and education started by Production & Design Company Actuator Inc. founders Pope Jackson & Nicole Beauchamp-Jackson, Bronx Family & Style Blogger Bronx Mama Nicole Perrino & Community Activist and G.I.V.E. (Getting Involved, Virgina Ave Efforts), Inc. founder Nilka Martell.

Bronx Awesome currently hosts three exclusive events annually; Events Expo, Father’s Day & Back to School. We also produce one-of-a-kind launch parties for brand partners.

More information at www.bronxawesome.nyc

Spice it up this winter at Bronx’s new Indian restaurant, Hungry Bird

My top two favorite types of food are Indian and Mexican. I love the blend of spices and fresh ingredients in addition to the fact that it’s impossible to leave a Mexican or Indian restaurant hungry. I normally want to eat everything (so I do) and feel like I need someone with a wheelbarrow to carry me out. There are no shortage of Mexican restaurants in the Bronx, from my favorite Taqueria Tlaxcalli to the well-known and loved Mexicocina. However, it’s a bit harder to find a really great Indian restaurant here. Not anymore!

While we do have places like, Curry Spot, which was good, it still didn’t hold a candle to my favorite places downtown or in Queens. :(  So, when I read Ed’s post on Welcome 2 the Bronx, I knew I had to find my way over there ASAP. Even better, they had a Groupon deal, $15 for $30 worth of food.

So, I hopped on the bus and found my way over to 164th and Morris to meet up with a friend. The outside is unassuming, so if you’re not paying attention, you could miss the place, but do yourself a favor and don’t.

We started with an order of vegetable samosas and onion bhaji. Both were delicious, flavorful, and thankfully not too greasy. Because I lack self-control when it comes to Indian condiments, I slathered everything with tangy tamarind sauce, slightly spicy red pepper chutney, and hari (green) chutney. Hungry Bird2

I also ordered a glass of mango lassi, which had a nice balance of thickness and was perfectly sweet.

For my entree, I ordered tandoori chicken. It arrived steaming in a small pan, covered in sliced onions, cilantro, and peppers. The chicken was tender and had the necessary right off the grill taste.

Our waiter was very friendly and helpful in suggesting dishes for us to try (I’d never had onion bhaji before!) Bonus: they accept cards!

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Call for Artist Submissions!

Montefiore is looking to purchase (yes, with $$$) artwork to display in their multitude of medical centers. It is open to artists who live or work in the Bronx.

Is that you? Read below for more information from Montefiore (via BX200):

The Art Acquisition program strives to:
• Collect original artwork of high quality in design and concept;

• Showcase the wide range of excellent artwork created by Bronx artists with diversity in theme, medium, and execution

• Appeal to a wide audience: children to adults, who come from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds

• Reflect and support the Medical Center’s mission as a world-class patient centered integrated academic medical center.

CRITERIA FOR ARTWORK
Seeking submissions from artists with a connection to the Bronx for a variety of artwork to be considered for future purchase or commission for Montefiore’s new Fine Art Program and Collection.

Seeking positive and contemporary artwork of all styles. Artwork for consideration includes sculpture, two-and three-dimensional artwork, oil, watercolor and acrylic paintings, photography, prints, mixed media, glass, mosaics, wall sculpture, fabric art including fiber/textile, new media, ceramics, recycled material, etc.

Art will be placed in main lobbies, waiting rooms, corridors, consultation rooms, patient rooms and a variety of other public areas. Artwork must be suitable and have a broad appeal for long-term use in a healthcare environment.

SUBMISSION PROCESS
Artists must submit the information as identified below via email:

• A maximum of ten (10) works/artist, images must be saved as JPEGS

• clearly identify the following:
Title of Artwork
Date of Work
Media with Dimensions
Brief description of work as necessary
Retail value of work

• Artist’s statement and resume. Please include your full contact information: name, address, phone, email and website address.

All questions and submissions should be submitted to: art@montefiore.org. Please indicate “Montefiore Fine Art Program and Collection – Call to Artists/Bronx” in the subject line.


Bronx Narratives x The Mix Coffeehaus

This past Saturday, I headed down to  The Mix Coffeehaus in Mott Haven. I’d been meaning to go for a while, but things kept coming up. When I saw on Instagram that they were hosting a screening of a film called Bronx Narratives, I made sure that my schedule was clear!

Let me start with the coffeehouse itself; its spacious brightly lit interior on a frigid Saturday afternoon was exactly what I needed. I ordered a chai latte (bonus points for having almond milk for all my fellow lactose intolerant people!)  and a blueberry cheese danish that was delicious. As it is only a pop up shop, it was set to close at the end of January, but may stay open a little longer – fingers crossed!

Prior to the screening of the film, a slideshow of a series of tweets bashing the Bronx played across the screen, setting a really poignant scene for the film itself. The brainchild of Bronxites Dondre Green, Decota Letman, and Hoay Smith, Bronx Narratives aims to reveal the personal anecdotes of Bronxites themselves. Entirely honest, the film featured stories from Bronxites who loved the Bronx to those who longed for developments to solve some of the borough’s problems and voids.

Following the screening, there was an open forum in which members of the audience shared their Bronx narratives and we (yes, ALL of us in the audience) discussed ways to unite our communities to improve the Bronx and promote all the wonderful sights and attractions we have.

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Photo courtesy of Dondre Green

It was beautiful.

Watch Bronx Narratives below.


Connect with Your Neighbors on Shoutloc

It’s almost too stereotypical – the New Yorker who lives in a neighborhood for years upon years, but has no idea who their neighbors are. We like our space, which is fine, but being as nosy as I am, I’m always curious about the people around me – what are they like? why does it always sound like the Tasmanian devil is over for dinner? Countless unanswered questions!

You may not get the answers to all of you burning questions, but now there is a way for you to connect with your neighbors an app called Shoutloc.

Created by Bronxite Leo Gjoni, the app allows neighbors to post information or questions about events happening nearby. For example, planning on hosting a yard sale after you’ve finished spring cleaning? Let your neighbors know on Shoutloc to promote it.

Check out the video below  to learn more!


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