From Aris with Love, Music, and Film

Losing a loved one is unthinkable. Knowing it could have been prevented makes it even more horrific. The people responsible not taking responsibly is unacceptable. There are no words to comfort someone who has suffered such a loss, there are no actions that can bring a loved one back but there are ways we can help to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. If you don’t already know him, I want to introduce you to my friend, Aris Ziagos, and I would like to share his story and the story of his mother, Virginia.

I met Aris after the loss of his mother and from what he has told me of her, I’m sorry I never got to meet her. She was an interesting, kind, loving soul and someone I would have LOVED to interview! I know she was amazing because she raised one amazing son. I’m so proud of him for taking on this latest project and I want to help him to make the film a reality.

In his words:

“On October 29th 2012 Bellevue Hospital was crippled and left without power in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy. My mother was a patient in the ICU, and died in the aftermath of the storm. In the midst of the worst tragedy that has struck my family, the biggest storm ever to hit NYC changed our lives forever and revealed cracks in our emergency management and health care systems. This documentary is so important, for learning from the lessons of these events, for grieving and healing.”

You all know I have always felt entertainment and social media are best when we are telling stories that help others and this is definitely the case here. Please enjoy our interview and visit the fundraising page if you can help. Even one dollar can assist and hopefully prevent this tragedy from happening to others.

Q: Your project, From Virginia With Love: A Documentary, is a labor of love and the story of your mother. Can you tell us a little about your mom?

Aris Ziagos: Yes, thank you! My mother was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and travelled around the country a lot in her youth as the daughter of an army family. In her 20′s and 30′s she toured as a belly dancer across America, finding a home in New York City. It amazes me that an Irish American girl from Ohio taught herself Greek, how to dance and sew, and made a career out of it. As she approached 40, she went on to real estate work and had me. I grew up around all these amazing photos of her from her belly dancing career, and it definitely influenced and inspired me to find my own way to the stage. When I made this choice and at every step along the way afterwards, my mother was my biggest fan, attending every show and offering any help she could.

Q: You suffered such tragedy during hurricane Sandy, and it seems like it could have been avoided if the hospital was better equipped to deal with natural disaster. Is part of the motivation behind the film to try and correct this for others going forward?

Aris Ziagos: Yes, that’s exactly what sparked my desire to make this film. The hospital (Bellevue Hospital) where my mother was an ICU patient did not make the necessary modifications to their emergency power systems or infrastructure for a tropical storm or hurricane in preparation for Hurricane Sandy. Worse yet, because the hospital is run by a corporation and the city, they worked in lock step to keep their failing infrastructure out of the news, until the entire hospital was unable to function with doctors unable to wash their hands, medication not reaching patients, toilets not being able to be flushed, no food for anyone. It was an absolute nightmare. We can’t change the past but we can learn from our mistakes by addressing exactly what happened and what could and should be done differently going forward. Anyone who lives in a coastal area should be thinking about ensuring the safety of the vulnerable in emergencies like this.

Q: We hear so often that “it gets better” but that surely doesn’t happen all on it’s own. Where did you find the strength to go on after all of this? What advice would you give to people who are grieving right now?

Aris Ziagos: My biggest motivation has been living in a way that would make my mother proud, and also finding a way to transcend the tragedy and find a way to honor my mother’s legacy of love. Her passing was so tragic, and I got stuck in that for a while in deep depression as could be expected. A big motivator for my life moving forward from that was to make sure my mother was remembered by her amazing spirit, not just by her passing. That’s been the inspiration for a lot of my music, and definitely for bringing this film to the world. The arch of tragedy to grieving to healing to finding purpose is one everyone can take something away from, and it’s one that plays out during the documentary.

Q: Since you have gone public with the story, what responses have you been getting from fans and friends?

Aris Ziagos: Everyone has been very supportive, encouraging and sympathetic. A lot of people were surprised to hear about the events surrounding my mother’s passing, because very little of the information made it to mainstream news. It was a week before the 2012 Presidential elections, local elections, and the entities that hold New York City together were very careful to present the story in a way that would not cause public outrage.

Q: Has anyone from the hospital contacted you since you started the campaign?

Aris Ziagos: No, not a peep. The hospital’s official story is they triumphed through the disaster with no loss of life. In spite of a great deal of independent reporting, and some good mainstream reporting exposing the hospital’s faults, there has been no accountability for the choices made. They have made some improvements to their infrastructure as defense against a future Hurricane Sandy, but we’ll have to see how thorough those defenses are in a future hurricane.

Q: How can people help you to get this story told?

Aris Ziagos: I’m raising funds for the documentary on IndieGogo:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/from-virginia-with-love-a-documentary/x/260537

I’m offering some really cool merch, like vintage photos of my mom’s belly dancing years, original music, tickets to advanced screenings and fun experiences, as well as pre-selling the documentary.

Q: What are some of the greatest lessons your mom taught you that you can share with us all?

Aris Ziagos: So many things! Love can move mountains. Never stop believing in yourself. You can achieve anything if you keep trying and learn from failure. Be of service to others and give back often in different ways.

Q: I know you have other projects you are working on as well. Can you tell us about some of those?

Aris Ziagos: I’m finishing up work on a few new songs and remixes which I’ll be releasing on the deluxe edition of my album “Pulse” in a few months. I’m also excited to finally release my collaboration with Paula Cole as a single in 2018.  It will be a year that will also see me focused on completing this film, and some new music to accompany it. I have a lot of other songs in the works for future releases, so there’s a lot on the horizon for the next 24 months.

Q: Where can we find you, your music, and your projects online?

Aris Ziagos: You can find me on my official site at http://aris.fm

and on social media at -

http://twitter.com/arisziagos

http://youtube.com/arisziagos

http://instagram.com/arisziagos

http://facebook.com/arismusic

Q: Do you think you will be doing more film work in the future? Would you stick to the social good theme or perhaps branch out into other genres?

Aris Ziagos: I can definitely see exploring film more in the future, a short film, more documentary work. I tend to put my heart into things that inspire me that I can get fully passionate about, who knows what the future will bring?

Q: I always ask people to give me one thing they absolutely cannot live without and one thing they wish we could all live without.

Aris Ziagos: CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IT: MUSIC!

WISH WE COULD LIVE WITHOUT IT: TRUMP!

Q: What’s up next for Aris the artist?

Aris Ziagos: Next up is the deluxe edition of my album “Pulse” and some new singles in 2018!

I want to thank Aris for taking time to talk to me and for being a part of my NYC family. Take my word for it, he’s one of the good ones. Here is the Indiegogo page if you can make a donation:

And, for your enjoyment, here is the video for his song ‘The Music’:

The Language of Laughter is one we all NEED to speak!

Imagine if you felt you could never laugh again? Laughter truly is medicine and I could never envision a life without it. Whenever I am down, I know laughter is the only way to bring me back and seeking those who make me laugh is important even when I’m in the best of moods. Being able to make others laugh is a gift and there is no feeling like it.

The Language of Laughter is a documentary about the power of laughter. This film follows a clown troupe from Red Noses International on their first mission to Jordan and highlights an unlikely friendship which is formed between two young women- Timea, a European clown on a mission to spread joy, and Hanadi, a Syrian refugee convinced that war has robbed her of laughter.

Here’s part of the director’s pitch from Reilly Dowd:

Two years ago, I was given the unique opportunity to follow a clown troupe from Red Noses International on their first mission to Jordan. I went with them into Zaatari Refugee Camp with only a vague idea that I wanted to tell a positive story about the transformative power of laughter. I had no idea where this quest would take me, but my central question was this: Can there be happiness—or hope—for those who much of the world has forgotten? And are clowns just a momentary distraction, or can they open doors to something more meaningful—maybe even lasting?

Please check it out and consider supporting, they have some pretty great rewards to offer!

Learn what BEing KINDred is all about from Mary Elizabeth Boylan

I recently had the opportunity to interview Mary Elizabeth Boylan about her latest project, a documentary called BEing KINDred for The Homo Culture. The film highlights the current struggle of the Transgender and transitioning community by telling their story in hopes that a better understanding can come of it.

Here is an excerpt of the interview, but you can read the entire article here: http://www.thehomoculture.com/2016/07/10/being-kindred/

Q: Tell us a little about BEing KINDred. What made you want to make this film?

Mary Elizabeth Boylan (MEB): One of my best friends transitioned from Male to Female. During that process, she was slowly and deliberately rejected by her family, including her 3 children. Not only was it heartbreaking to witness, but also the polar opposite of what should have been happening. She was trying to be true and honest with herself, in order to be her best self, largely for them. Sadly hers is not an uncommon story. I wanted to do something to educate and inspire families to support their loved ones in transition.

Q: Can you share some of the statistics that also appear on your page?

MEB: The suicide rates are the most astounding of all the statistics of the Transgender population. 41% attempt suicide in their lifetime, and over half of those people state their reasons for doing so were due to being rejected by their families.

Q: What are the main messages you hope to get across to all people through this film?

MEB: Tolerance. Love. Understanding. These are basic human values. The human race is one family. As our culture becomes progressively more globalized, I feel like we are trying on some level to move toward an understanding of this, which starts at home. We need to teach love, acceptance and kindness above all else.

Hopefully, you will be moved to help support Being KINDred and this project opens a greater communication as well as our hearts and minds.

It’s about time we all experienced Brother X

This is a very important post to me because it is about a family dealing with gender transition. We have seen and heard so much about this topic but I feel like we still haven’t really begun to understand it. It seems like empathy is one of the most difficult things we allow ourselves to feel and it appears to be even more so when it comes to issues of gender. I’m not sure why that is, perhaps none of us want to face our own inner turmoil. Although not all of us struggle with our gender, each of us sure do struggle with something in our own lives. Maybe we just don’t want to face all of our own emotions and for some, I am sure the unknown scares the hell out of them.

Brother X is a very personal story of a brother struggling to come to terms with his new brother’s gender and his own inner turmoil at the same time. I’m hoping it helps all of us to understand this issue of transgendered and transitioning people and that it will help us find empathy for them. No one deserved to be ostracized for who they really are and no one should ever have to suppress their true selves to please family, society, or anyone.

Connor DeMita and Elliot Fletcher were so open in our interview. It was truly an honor to be able to talk to them about the film, about life, and about what they feel the transgendered and transitioning community need from us most. I hope everyone will consider supporting this film because I feel it is a story that must be told and one we need to hear. This isn’t just a news story or a passing phase. This is real life for so many and something that doesn’t need to be such a burden nor a struggle.

Elliot will also be on The Fosters on Freeform TV and I am sure his storyline there will help many as well. I am so in love with that show and the way they handle the issues families face today. Please be sure to check him out there too! I know I will be watching!

Q: Tell me a little about Brother X. What made you want to tell this story?

Conner: BROTHER X is a semi-autobiographical independent short film. It’s the story of a young man in suburban Los Angeles who must learn how to cope with his sibling’s gender transition. While he cannot bring himself to understand his new brother’s experience, he himself spends his nights clubbing in Hollywood dressed as a woman.

The root of the film is derived from personal experience with my own brother, Elliot. When Elliot was transitioning, I was not considerate or even very friendly. I failed as a brother. But my resistance to his transition was not because of any ideological disagreements I have with the concept of being transgender; it was due to a resentment I felt as a child who grew up making a point of never asking anyone else for help. In realizing that I held this resentment, I started to gain a greater understanding of the machinations of my own identity. I began to look at the beliefs I held and inspect them without passing judgment, but attempted to learn their origins and appreciate how they influenced my actions. Throughout that process, I began to understand the dissonances in myself, and that experience is what Brother X is about.

Q: What do you think transitioning and transgender individuals need the world to understand the most?

Conner: The world needs to understand that the trans experience is just as valid and important as all human experiences. All people undergo a process of discovery and development of identity, regardless or their denomination. It deserves the respect that all experiences of self-discovery should receive.

Elliot: The world needs to know that trans people are just people, and the fact that we’re being alienated and discriminated against is unjust. We are just human beings like everyone else. We’re just being our authentic selves, we’re not hurting anyone.

Q: Did you have any reservations or resistance from others about telling the story?

Conner: I personally had a fear of telling the story because of the very personal nature of it. It depicts a character that behaves in a way that reflects how I behaved to my brother, and that I’m not proud of. Elliot also had concerns when I approached him to make the film, because he knows better than anyone that this story is incredibly personal for both of us.

Q: Where can we find out more about the film and the crowdsourcing?

Conner: You can learn more about the film at http://brotherxfilm.com and you can donate at https://igg.me/at/brotherx/x/.

Even after the IndieGoGo ends, you can donate directly through our website. And because of our partnership with Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts organization, all donations are tax deductible!

Q: Where can we find each of you and anyone involved in the film online?

Conner: @connerdemita on twitter and instagram. https://vimeo.com/connerdemita

Elliot: Twitter: @elliotfgf , Tumblr: efgf.tumblr.com , Instagram: @elliotfgf ,

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elliotfgf/

Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Who was it from?

Conner: The best advice I’ve ever received was from one of my college professors. Darrell Wilson, who teaches experimental film at NYU, has always encouraged me to embrace the un-embraceable, both in myself and in the world.

Elliot: To be open. Don’t be afraid to do what you want to do, and be who you want to be. And to make friends. From my mom.

Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever given? Are you good at taking your own advice?

Conner: If you don’t like the food you don’t have to eat it. No.

Elliot: Take care of yourself. Make sure to always check in with yourself and make sure you’re okay. No.

 Q: What’s one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without? 

Conner: I could probably live without the Internet, but I would struggle greatly not having the ease of access to a nearly infinite pool of information. It’s too addictive. I wish we could all live without having to sleep. As much as I enjoy sleep, I wish it could be an act of leisure and not a necessity.

Elliot: My phone. Our phones.

 

brotherxfilm.com

https://igg.me/at/brotherx/x/

Independent Producer Tim Bindel’s Comedy Horror Film Razor Seeks Funding Support via Indiegogo to Raise $65,000.

Independent Producer Tim Bindel's Comedy Horror Film Razor Seeks Funding Support via Indiegogo to Raise $65,000. (via SBWire)

This film is 90% complete! Razor is a live action/comic book comedy film that highlights the tremendous amount of hypocrisy in today’s world, great laughs! Los Angeles, CA — (SBWIRE) — 06/28/2013 — This is a super funny comedy horror film with some…


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