Tag Archives: statement

Martin Scorsese: ‘Cinema is gone’

Martin Scorsese’s Manhattan office, in a midtown building a few blocks northwest of the cordoned-off Trump Tower, may be the most concentrated bastion of reverence for cinema on the face of the earth.

There’s a small screening room where Scorsese screens early cuts of his films and classic movies for his daughter and his friends. There’s his personal library of thousands of films, some he taped himself decades ago. Film posters line the walls. Bookshelves are stuffed with film histories. And there are editing suites, including the one where Scorsese and his longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker regularly toil with a monitor dedicated to the continuous, muted playing of Turner Classic Movies.

“It’s a temple of worship, really,” says Schoonmaker.

Scorsese’s latest, “Silence,” may be the film that most purely fuses the twin passions of his life: God and cinema.

Scorsese, who briefly pursued becoming a priest before fervently dedicating himself to moviemaking, has sometimes seemed to conflate the two.

“Silence” is a solemn, religious epic about Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver) in a violently anti-Catholic 17th century Japan. Scorsese has wanted to make it for nearly 30 years. He was given the book it’s based on, Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel, by a bishop after a screening of his famously controversial “The Last Temptation of Christ” in 1988.

“Silence” is an examination of belief and doubt and mysterious acts of faith.

But making the film was such an act in itself.

“Acting it out, maybe that’s what existence is all about,” Scorsese says of his faith. “The documentary on George Harrison I made, ‘Living in the Material World,’ that says it better. He said if you want an old man in the sky with a beard, fine. I don’t mean to be relativist about it. I happen to feel more comfortable with Christianity. But what is Christianity? That’s the issue and that’s why I made this film.”

It wasn’t easy.

Scorsese, 74, may be among the most revered directors in Hollywood, but “Silence” is almost the antithesis of today’s studio film.

To make it Scorsese had to drum up foreign money in Cannes and ultimately made the film for about $46 million. Everyone, including himself, worked for scale.

Few today are making movies with the scope and ambition of “Silence” — a fact, he grants, that makes him feel like one of the last of a dying breed in today’s film industry.

“Cinema is gone,” Scorsese says. “The cinema I grew up with and that I’m making, it’s gone.”

“The theater will always be there for that communal experience, there’s no doubt. But what kind of experience is it going to be?” he continues. “Is it always going to be a theme-park movie? I sound like an old man, which I am. The big screen for us in the ‘50s, you go from Westerns to ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ to the special experience of ‘2001’ in 1968. The experience of seeing ‘Vertigo’ and ‘The Searchers’ in VistaVision.”

Scorsese points to the proliferation of images and the overreliance on superficial techniques as trends that have diminished the power of cinema to younger audiences. “It should matter to your life,” he says. “Unfortunately the latest generations don’t know that it mattered so much.”

Scorsese’s comments echo a tender letter he wrote his daughter two years ago. The future of movies, he believes, is in the freedom that technology has yielded for anyone to make a movie.

“TV, I don’t think has taken that place. Not yet,” adds Scorsese, whose “Boardwalk Empire” was lauded but whose high-priced “Vinyl” was canceled after one season. “I tried it. I had success to a certain extent. ‘Vinyl’ we tried but we found that the atmosphere for the type of picture we wanted to make — the nature of the language, the drugs, the sex, depicting the rock ‘n’ roll world of the ‘70s — we got a lot of resistance. So I don’t know about that freedom.”

Since the election of Donald Trump, some have expressed hope for a return to the kind of ‘70s filmmaking Scorsese is synonymous with.

“If the younger people have something to say and they find a way to say through visual means as well as literary, there’s the new cinema,” says Scorsese.

But the current climate reminds him more of the ‘50s of his youth.

“I’m worried about double-think or triple-think, which is make you believe you have the freedom, but they can make it very difficult to get the picture shown, to get it made, ruin reputations. It’s happened before.”

“Silence,” which Scorsese screened for Jesuits at the Vatican before meeting with the pope, remains a powerful exception in a changing Hollywood.

“He wanted to make this film extremely differently from anything out there,” says Schoonmaker, Scorsese’s editor since “Raging Bull.” “He’s just tired of slam-bam-crash. Telling the audience what to think is what he really hates. Trying to do a meditative movie at this point, in this insane world we’re in now, was incredibly brave. He wanted to stamp the film with that throughout: the pace, the very subtle use of music.

“How many movies start without music at the very beginning under the logos?” she adds. “He said, ‘Take out all that big Hollywood.””

Scorsese, apostle of cinema, continues the fight.

His Film Foundation has helped restore more than 750 films. And he regularly pens supportive letters to young directors whose films he admires.

Imagine that in your mailbox. Almost like getting a letter from your god.

UW-Madison statement calls Obama noose costume ‘despicable’

At the University of Wisconsin weekend football game against Nebraska, a fan wore a President Barack Obama mask and a noose around his neck.

The fan took off the noose when asked by Camp Randall Stadium staff.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank says that once the noose was removed, the rest of the costume fell within the stadium’s costume policies.

Blank and athletic director Barry Alvare have issued this statement on the incident:

To the Badger community,

What we saw Saturday night at Camp Randall was despicable and caused an immense amount of pain throughout our community. And it should have, as a noose is a symbol of one of the vilest forms of racial hatred and intimidation in our country’s history.

As many have noted, thousands of African-Americans were lynched in the United States from 1882-1968. We can’t ignore the significance of this history and we can’t underestimate the symbolism of a noose to all those who see that image today.

A noose displayed in this fashion has no place on campus. Together, the Athletics Department and the University’s Office of Legal Affairs are initiating a review of stadium policies with the goal of ensuring that symbols of this type are not displayed in our stadium again.

We have work to do at UW-Madison on campus climate issues, and an incident like this only deepens the divides across campus. Both the University administration and Athletics Department are committed to doing this hard work, while being acutely aware that we are a long way from where we want to be.

To those who have spoken out about this, we hear you and we thank you for your feedback and concern. Together, we will continue to strive to make UW-Madison a place where all Badgers can thrive.

Rebecca Blank, Chancellor

Barry Alvarez, Athletic Director

ACLU statement on death of Tony Robinson

On March 6, a Madison police officer shot and killed Tony Robinson, an unarmed African-American man. As further details of the shooting become known, the Madison Police Department and the city it serves will hopefully learn how to reduce officer-involved deaths. 

Mr. Robinson is the third individual to be killed by a Madison police officer in the last 10 months. Madison has a problem that cannot be ignored. Whatever this problem’s causes may be, the Madison Police Department needs to take all steps possible to reduce the likelihood of excessive use of force incidents and other types of misconduct, including biased policing.

The ACLU of Wisconsin has supplied neutral, trained legal observers to protect the rights of demonstrators protesting Mr. Robinson’s killing. It will continue to offer advice on the rights of protesters as well as on the rights of residents in encounters with law enforcement http://bit.ly/aclukyrmadison. 

Local ACLU members and volunteer attorneys look forward to participating in the community’s search for solutions along with the Madison Police Department.  The ACLU’s experience in police community relations has developed over many years and across our nation.

Urban League statement on death of Tony Robinson

The Urban League of Greater Madison is deeply disturbed and saddened by the police shooting of 19-year old Tony Robinson. The thoughts and prayers of the entire Urban League movement go out to the friends and family of Mr. Robinson.  

Thanks to recent statewide legislation championed by state Rep. Chris Taylor and others, there will be an independent investigation. The Urban League is confident that Madison police will fully cooperate with this investigation. 

We fully support the right of those who choose to assemble and protest and we urge that those protests remain peaceful.  

We also urge that the media be to sensitive to the unfortunate bias and stereotyping that often plays out in the coverage of these type of events. 

The Urban League of Greater Madison promises to closely monitor the investigation as it progresses, and we encourage community dialogue on this critical issue to avoid such tragedies in the future.

Gwen Moore: Walker continues assault on working-class Wisconsin

In the ongoing assault on Wisconsin’s working class, Gov. Scott Walker signed another crippling anti-worker bill into law.

This so-called “right to work” legislation is nothing but a bald-faced attempt by our Republican governor and Legislature to protect special interests at the expense of working class families. I am reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King, who once said, “In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights.”

During his re-election campaign, Gov. Walker made numerous claims that he would refrain from pushing for such legislation in his new term. Instead of keeping that promise, Gov. Walker once again broke his word and asked the Republican-controlled Legislature to “fast-track” their “right to work” bill.

In addition to hurting his already damaged credibility, this unprecedented move made it possible for Republicans to limit the amount of time available to opposition groups to organize against the bill. Limiting transparency and public dialogue with this approach goes against the fundamentals of our democracy and further exposes the governor’s utter lack of respect for his constituents.

Unions have been a vital source of economic strength for Wisconsin and the nation. They have given workers a collective voice to fight against unfair business practices by companies that prioritize profit over employees. While I am greatly distressed over the actions taken today by the governor and state Legislature, it only strengthens my resolve to continue our fight for fair treatment of the working class. As the backbone of our nation, our working families deserve better.

Background: White House issues guidance on executive order protecting some LGBT workers

The White House early on July 21 issued a statement on President Barack Obama’s signing of an executive order intended to protect federal workers and those who work for federal contractors from discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity.

The statement and guidance from the White House:

America is built on the fundamental promise that if you work hard, and play by the rules, you can get ahead. But today, millions of Americans in most states in the country go to work every day fearing that they could lose their jobs simply because of who they are or who they love. No current federal law adequately protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workers from employment discrimination. This is completely contrary to our values as Americans – and it’s also bad for business.
President Obama declared 2014 a year of action – working with Congress where they’re willing, but acting where he can when they refuse to take action.

As part of this commitment to expanding opportunity for hardworking Americans, today, the President will sign an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees and prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity in federal employment.

At a critical time for our nation’s economy, we need all of our workers to be focused on making the most of their talent, skill, and ingenuity, rather than worrying about losing their job due to discrimination. The economy functions best when workers are matched to the jobs with the best fit, maximizing their productivity, increasing wages and helping the bottom line for businesses. Discrimination is not just wrong, it also can keep qualified workers from maximizing their potential to contribute to the strengthening of our economy. For decades, companies have found that benefits and inclusive, flexible, and supportive workplace policies make it easier and more cost effective to recruit, retain, and motivate employees. The same logic applies to extending these basic protections and policies to LGBT workers. 

American workers should be judged by one thing only: their ability to get the job done. That’s why the President has long supported federal legislation to explicitly prohibit employers across the country from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. For forty years, Congress has considered various pieces of legislation meant to address LGBT workplace equality. Last November, the Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act with strong bipartisan support. However, the House has failed to act.

Today’s action is consistent with the President’s commitment to advancing equality for the LGBT community, as well as his commitment to expanding opportunity for American workers and strengthening American business. And it is consistent with actions being taken by employers, including many federal contractors, across the country to support workplace equality, because they recognize it improves productivity, reduces turnover and supports their bottom line.

• Workplace Inequality Still Impacts Millions of LGBT Workers. Today, only 18 states and the District of Columbia have laws explicitly protecting LGBT workers from being fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and no federal law adequately protects LGBT workers from being fired because of who they are or who they love. According to surveys and studies, more than four in ten lesbian, gay, and bisexual people have experienced some form of employment discrimination based on their sexual orientation at some point in their lives, and 90 percent of transgender employees have experienced harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job.

• Employers Are Taking Action on Their Own to Support Workplace Equality – Because They Recognize It Is In Their Interest:According to an analysis of 36 research studies by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, “LGBT-supportive policies and workplace climates are linked to greater job commitment, improved workplace relationships, increased job satisfaction, and improved health outcomes among LGBT employees.”

• Fortune 500 Companies Support LGBT Workplace Equality. Most of America’s major companies know that workplace equality is important to staying competitive and retaining their best talent, and as a result, nondiscrimination policies are good for business. 91 percent of Fortune 500 companies already prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation; and 61 percent already prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.

• Small Businesses Support LGBT Workplace Equality. According to research conducted by Small Business Majority, six in ten small business owners believe that employment nondiscrimination laws improve their bottom line by helping employers attract the best and brightest employees. And of small business owners who have adopted nondiscrimination policies to protect LGBT workers, 86 percent report that nondiscrimination policies cost them “nothing or next to nothing,” 2 percent said such policies had a small but significant cost, and none said they had a substantial cost.

• Many Federal Contractors Already Have Policies on LGBT Workplace Equality. Of the largest 50 federal contractors, which represent nearly half of all federal contracting dollars, 86 percent prohibit sexual orientation discrimination and 61 percent prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. In addition, the five top federal contractors, which receive nearly a quarter of all federal contracting dollars, already bar discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity.

• The American Public Supports LGBT Workplace Equality. A recent national survey of 1,200 registered voters found that 63 percent of those surveyed favor a federal law that protects LGBT people from employment discrimination. When asked specifically about LGBT nondiscrimination in federal contracting, another poll found that 73 percent of those surveyed favor such policies.

• States and Local Jurisdictions Support LGBT Workplace Equality. Over the last several years, there has been significant progress in moving LGBT inclusive non-discrimination laws through statehouses and city halls across the nation. Since 2011, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Nevada have added gender identity to their existing employment non-discrimination laws. Today, 18 states and the District of Columbia have inclusive non-discrimination laws, and over 200 cities and counties – from small towns like Bozeman, Montana and Vicco, Kentucky to large cities like Houston, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia – prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Nine of the ten most populous cities in the country already have these protections in place. 

• Diverse Faith Communities Support LGBT Workplace Equality. A diverse range of religious communities  and organizations support workplace protections, including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society; The Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries; and the Union of Reform Judaism. Majorities of Christian denominations polled support workplace protections, including 76 percent of Catholics, 75 percent of white mainline Protestants, 61 percent of minority Protestants, and 59 percent of white evangelical Protestants. Another poll shows that 74 percent of born-again Christians favor LGBT workplace protections. 

• Additional Information about Obama’s Executive Order: Executive Order 11246, issued by President Lyndon B. Johnson, prohibits federal contractors from discriminating “against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” President Obama’s Executive Order will add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected categories.

Obama’s Executive Order does not allow for any exemption beyond the one added by Executive Order 13279, issued by President George W. Bush, which permits religiously affiliated contractors to favor individuals of a particular religion when making employment decisions, by specifying that Executive Order 11246, “shall not apply to a Government contractor or subcontractor that is a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society, with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with the carrying on by such corporation, association, educational institution, or society of its activities. Such contractors and subcontractors are not exempted or excused from complying with the other requirements contained in this Order.” In addition, under the First Amendment, religious entities are permitted to make employment decisions about their ministers as they see fit.

Executive Order 11246 governs only federal contractors and federally-assisted construction contractors and subcontractors who do over $10,000 in Government business in one year. It does not affect grants and President Obama’s Executive Order does not impact the administration of federal grants. The Order is administered and enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). As part of these duties, OFCCP conducts compliance reviews, receives complaints from individuals who believe they have been discriminated against, and provides technical assistance to contractors regarding their contractual obligations.

Executive Order 11478, issued by President Nixon, bars discrimination against federal employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, and age, and was amended by Executive Order 13087, issued by President Clinton, to include sexual orientation. 

Obama’s Executive Order will add gender identity to the list of protected categories.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other federal agencies already apply Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect federal employees from discrimination on the basis of gender identity as a form of sex discrimination. The President believes it is important to explicitly prohibit — in both Executive Action and in legislation — discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

Oregon’s attorney general won’t defend ban on gay marriages

Oregon’s attorney general today (Feb. 20) said she will not defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The following is the statement Oregon Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum delivered today:

Good morning. As many Oregonians are aware, four couples have brought suit against the state, asking a federal court to find that Oregon’s ban on marriage by couples of the same sex violates the right of equality enshrined in the United States Constitution. I am named as a defendant in the lawsuits, along with the Governor, and it falls on my office to appear on behalf of the state before the court and answer the couples’ claims.

Usually — though not always — my office defends the state in litigation.  As Attorney General, I have sworn an oath to uphold our state’s constitution. The lawyers in my office have sworn the same oath.  The oath we took also requires us to uphold the Constitution of the United States – which is the supreme law of our land. Of course, we all take these oaths very seriously.

So it is after much careful study and consideration that I stand before you today to announce that the Oregon Department of Justice will not defend the prohibition in our state’s constitution against marriages between people of the same sex.  A document called an “answer” filed with the court earlier this morning informed Judge McShane of our decision. Copies are available for you.

Because our office also represents the people of Oregon, a brief explanation is in order.

The Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution gives people the right to be treated equally by their government, unless there is a good reason for unequal treatment. That is, any time the government establishes different sets of rules or laws for different sets of people, there must at least be what the law calls a “rational basis” for those differences.

The law in this area is developing and it is now clear that there is no rational basis for Oregon to refuse to honor the commitments made by same-sex couples in the same way it honors the commitments of opposite-sex couples. Marriage is the way that loving couples become family to each other and to their extended families, and there is no good reason to exclude same-sex couples from marriage in Oregon, or from having their marriages recognized here.

Because we cannot identify a valid reason for the state to prevent the couples who have filed these lawsuits from marrying in Oregon, we find ourselves unable to stand before federal Judge McShane to defend the state’s prohibition against marriages between two men or two women.

We will be explaining our legal reasoning to Judge McShane as this case proceeds.  Those of you who are interested will be more than welcome to review our pleadings as they are filed. Legal papers that are due by April will fully address our analysis and that of the other parties in the two cases that are now consolidated.

Thank you.

LGBT coalition issues statement in Trayvon Martin case

A coalition of national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights organizations has issued a statement describing the killing of Trayvon Martin as a “national call to action,” urging local and federal authorities to find answers in the case that has garnered worldwide attention and demanding justice be served.

The statement reads:

The tragic killing of Trayvon Martin is a national call to action. Our hearts go out to Trayvon’s family and friends for the loss they have experienced. We stand in solidarity with them as they demand answers and justice. We represent organizations with diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender constituencies.

Many in our community have been targets of bigotry and bias. We have a great deal of experience grappling with the role bias plays in violent crimes against our communities. We well know the stories of young people targeted for violence just because of who they are: Rashawn Brazell, Lawrence King, Ali Forney, Deoni Jones, Brandon White, Matthew Shepard, Angie Zapata, Sean Kennedy and countless others.

Trayvon’s killing is a wakeup call to the enduring cancer of racism and racial profiling. The pain his family continues to endure transcends communities and unites us all. Every person, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, must be able to walk the streets without fear for their safety.

Trayvon’s killing is tragic and the stark reality that racial bias played a role in his death has alarmed our nation. Questions must be asked. Answers must be sought. And justice must be served. We join our voices to the chorus of so many others to demand that local and federal authorities find those answers. We stand in solidarity with Trayvon’s family and friends as they seek justice for his killing. In the timeless words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

The organizations that signed the statement include:

CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers

Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals

Equality Federation

Family Equality Council

Freedom to Marry

GLAAD

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)

GLSEN

Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)

Human Rights Campaign

Immigration Equality

International Federation of Black Prides

Lambda Legal

LGBT Progress at the Center for American Progress

National Black Justice Coalition

National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)

National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE)

National Coalition for LGBT Health

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

National Stonewall Democrats

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates

PFLAG National

Pride at Work

Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN)

The Trevor Project

UNID@S