This past summer, Georgia filmmaker James Ponsoldt helmed his third feature, an adaption of the popular young adult novel "The Spectacular Now" by Tim Tharp. This is the first feature that Ponsoldt didn't write himself (the script was written by 500 Days of Summer scribes Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber). It's also the first film he shot in his adopted hometown of Athens, Ga.
He took some time to answer some questions about the experience of shooting in Georgia, and share his thoughts on representations of the South on screen.
Whereas Southern literature is defined by William Faulkner, Robert Penn Warren, Eudora Welty, or Flannery O'Connor, is there such a thing as "Southern" cinema?
When I was younger I very much wanted to be a "Southern" filmmaker, and I'm definitely obsessed with regional cinema, but I think in this day and age it's tougher to be defined by region. Trends in music and film don't seem to be confined by locale. With the Internet, a kid in rural Georgia can listen to music from Mali and get into African polyrhythms, etc. Conversely, a kid across the world can watch YouTube clip of the Drive-By Truckers performing at the 40 Watt Club.
Information is fairly democratic.
That being said, I think people like John Sayles, Victor Nunez, David Gordon Green, and Julie Dash made some pretty iconic "Southern" films. There's some amazing documentaries I think really capture the spirit of the South - films like Benjamin Smoke, Southern Comfort, and Sherman's March. But ironically, one of my absolute favorite films that's set in the South - The Southerner - was made by a Frenchman (Jean Renoir). Is it any less "Southern" because the director is European? I don't know. Regionalism is a funny thing.
My worldview was certainly shaped by growing up in Athens, Ga., but my parents are from northern New Jersey, and they obviously had a profound effect on me. I'm acutely aware of where I grew up - and Athens wasn't a huge city, but it wasn't the boondocks, either. It was - and is - a really cultural, youthful, friendly small city/large town in the deep south. A blue city in a red state, if you will. And I love everything about Athens, Ga.
But my first two features (Off the Black and Smashed) were made in New York state (in towns along the Hudson River) and Los Angeles, respectively. And while The Spectacular Now was filmed 100 percent in Athens, and I think it feels very authentic to the experience of being a teenager growing up there, I believe the film transcends regionalism.
The novel from which it is adapted is set in the Midwest. Why was it important for you to shoot The Spectacular Now in Georgia?
According to reports, the Falcons are willing to cough up an extra $100 million to pay for the estimated $1 billion project. Gov. Nathan Deal has made clear that state lawmakers won't vote on raising the borrowing limit of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority. The state authority would have issued bonds to help fund the stadium but might now only provide land.
That means the city - or more likely, one of its associated entities - will likely issue bonds to provide the public financing.
Which leaves open the question: What will that look like?
Atlanta Police Department spokesman Carlos Campos said officers responded around 1:50 p.m. today to reports of a person being shot outside the school. Officers discovered the student upon arrival. He was then transported "alert, conscious and breathing" to Grady Memorial Hospital.
Family members told law enforcement authorities he could be released as early as tonight, Campos said.
A suspect, who police believe is a fellow student, was immediately apprehended by an off-duty APD officer working as a school resource officer, Campos said. A small-caliber handgun was discovered at the scene.
"Charges against the shooter are pending," he said.
Police are investigating the circumstances leading up to the shooting, although "it appears the incident was the result of a previous disagreement between the juveniles involved."
A school employee suffered minor injuries after the shooting, the spokesman said, but she was not wounded by gunfire.
Mayor Kasim Reed said in a statement:
"Gun violence in and around our schools is simply unconscionable and must end. Too many young people are being harmed, and too many families are suffering from unimaginable and unnecessary grief. I pray that the student who was shot today at Price Middle School in southwest Atlanta recovers quickly and can return home to family and friends. A suspect has been taken into custody. I would also like the students, faculty and families of the Price Middle School community to know that they have the full support of the City of Atlanta as they heal from today's terrible incident. The city's Employee Assistance Program counselors are already at the school providing guidance for students, faculty and family members."
Earlier media reports said the shooting occurred at nearby Carver High School.
Note: This post has been altered to include updated information.
Local arts blog Burnaway will host a panel to discuss Cinque Hick's recent two-part essay, "Living Walls and the Perils of Public Space," next weekend at Poem 88. Chris Appleton, executive director of WonderRoot; Alice Lovelace, poet and community-based author; David Stedman, educational outreach coordinator for Living Walls; and Lisa Tuttle, artist and administrator with the Fulton County Public Art Program, will be on hand. Hicks will moderate the discussion. The panel will start at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9.
In the essay, Hicks takes on the much-discussed recent Living Walls controversies and works to highlight the art-historical context and cultural resonances of the dustup. We think it's pretty good. In fact, we reprinted the second half of the essay in today's paper. Take a look.
As part of House Bill 91, violators could be charged with a misdemeanor if government statues, plaques, or other "commemorative symbols" are removed, concealed, or altered in any way. If moved to another location, the law would ensure that such items are displayed at a "site of similar prominence."
The law, which was filed by Rep. Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson, defines a "monument" as:
'Monument' means a monument, plaque, statue, marker, flag, banner, structure name, display, or memorial that is dedicated to a historical entity, event or series of events, nation, or government and which honors or recounts the military service or other service of any past or present military personnel or citizen of this state, the United States of America or the several states thereof, or the Confederate States of America or the several states thereof.
Benton told Atlanta Daily World that he sponsored the measure after speaking with the Sons of the American Revolution and the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
"We're not saying they can't move them," says Benton. "We're just saying they can't just put them in a field somewhere."
If the Jeffersonian representative's name rings a bell, it's because he spoke out last September in favor of hanging the Ten Commandments in the Gold Dome. When asked by the AJC about displaying a framed copy of a religious document on the wall of taxpayer-funded facility, he replied: "I'm not concerned if anyone will take offense ... If they don't want to look at it, they don't have to look at it."
We've reached out to the Sons of Confederate Veterans regarding the timing of this particular bill. If we hear back, we'll post an update.
The resolution creating the Downtown Development Technical Advisory Group, which was unanimously passed by the full City Council last Tuesday, calls for allocating $500,000 to a study to create a master plan for revamping the downtown area.
But Willis, who initiated the proposal with his colleague Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms, says he doesn't want anyone to think that the group is "starting from scratch." The group aims to "maximize" results by taking a look at past projects and plans and deciding which parts have merit.
The group will also try to identify the resources to "figure out how to do these things that will catalyze downtown development." Willis says that he hopes citizens will recognize that this is one of the "most massive efforts" to revitalize the downtown area.
"We've never really sat back and looked at how we could bring all the financial resources to bear collectively," says Willis. His goal is to create a "cleaner, more prosperous downtown" and to establish it as "the heart of the city again."
Councilmembers amended the legislation during the meeting to increase the group's membership from 15 to 25. Willis says that this resolution was "specifically legislated" for community leaders to serve. Georgia State University President Mark Becker, MARTA CEO Keith Parker, and Central Atlanta Progress President A.J. Robinson have all signed on to participate in the project.
Wilma Southern, CAP's vice president of marketing, says the downtown booster organization and force behind 2007's Green Line Plan for the area, is "excited to be a part of" the group and "looks forward to participating."
1. For the past four months, hackers based in China have repeatedly tapped into the New York Times computer system to learn passwords of reporters and other employees. According to the Times' own report, no sensitive data was stolen, but the intruders were able to access 53 employee computers. The hackers have gotten the boot, and additional digital securities measures have been put into place.
2. Not only is Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport the nation's busiest, it's also been voted the best for catching connecting flights and for dining and anemities, according to a new national survey of travel professions.
4. Should public buildings and schools be required to have carbon monoxide detectors installed? The Public Safety Committee of the Atlanta City Council says yes, but the measure still has to be passed by the full council to take effect.
1. Graveyard, the Shrine, and Brother Hawk at the Masquerade
2. Monday Night Brewing beer pairings at Atkins Park
3. Thomas Mullen at Ivy Hall
4. Lloyd Cole at Eddie's Attic
5. Town Hall Meeting at the New American Shakespeare Tavern
Do you think you capture the essence of Atlanta in 5 minutes or less?
Local filmmakers are encouraged to enter our annual Short Cuts Film Contest. There are cash prizes and the chance to screen at the Atlanta Film Festival for the top winners. The top 16 entries will screen on Monday, March 4, at the Plaza Theatre but the deadline for entries is Friday, February 15, at 5 p.m. That's soon!
Check out all of our rules and regulations and get out there and make a movie.
Ralston, flanked by other GOP lawmakers at a press conference under the Gold Dome, affirmed that these reforms would help bolster previous ethics laws that many consider weak and filled with loopholes.
But despite the speaker's beliefs that his ethics proposals would help regain the public's trust and instill "confidence in those they elect to govern," not everyone remains convinced about the bills' intents. That includes The Georgia Alliance for Ethics Reform, which has denounced both pieces of legislation.
The alliance - which includes Common Cause Georgia, Georgia Conservatives in Action, Georgia Tea Party Patriots, Georgia Watch, and The League of Women Voters of Georgia - pointed out in an email this morning that:
Considering that Georgia has great difficulty teaching school children to read, write, and add, how…
I went to the quarterly briefing last night and several points that are mentioned in…
Sarcasm check on Aisle 13.
Nomadologist: When I went to the southwest planning meeting last year, they said that the…
If this thing gets all tied up in the courts (and the curtain pulled back:…
"Watch out for that odd bedfellow"
You could wake up with fleas!