Burt of Burt's Bees, honey-bee pollen and beeswax skin care products sold in supermarkets and pharmacies all across American, really exists, and he even looks just like the illustration on the yellow packaging: a bearded Walt Whitman type with shades and hat. Amazing! As the documentary about him, Burt's Buzz, reveals about the originator of this brand, an unambitious hippie who resides in Maine, Burt has little use for money, gadgets, internet, the trappings of modernity or contemporary life. He does, however, like land, the more forested, the better. Somehow, beguiled by a woman with designs named Roxanne Quimby, he founded a multi-billion dollar business, and now gets a small fraction of the proceeds. Oh well. Burt Shavitz attended this week's Crosby Street Hotel premiere of Burt's Buzz, directed by Jody Shapiro, with Isabella Rossellini as executive producer. After the screening, his golden retriever appeared on Skype and Burt got him to bark hello. I guess he does like some technology. The delighted crowd was treated to giftbags of Burt's Bees summer sun products, not a moment too soon.
Petra Costa, a Brazilian filmmaker explores, in one of the most poetic films of the year, Elena, the life and death of her big sister. A dancer and actress who came to New York to pursue her art, Elena made tapes and kept diaries of her emotional state leading up to her suicide. These serve as voiceover for images of the girls' early life. Particularly moving is the story of their mother, Li An, a revolutionary who was saved from political action, and perhaps death, as a result of her pregnancy with Elena. At times, it is hard to discern one from the other, Petra, Elena, Li An. But in the graceful movement of this film, it hardly matters. Grief is resonant. Which is why IFC decided to divide profits from three days' ticket sales to three organizations devoted to healing, one of which is David Lynch's foundation for transcendental meditation, a co-host of the Tribeca Grand Hotel premiere with Cinema Tropical. Tovah Feldshuh, Danny Strong, Patti Lupone, Dan Hedaya, and Ralph Gibson were among the guests. Tim Robbins was to have introduced, but was waylaid in Los Angeles. Mary Jane Marcasiano introduced instead.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.
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