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EVERY ACT OF LIFE

Terrence McNally Cherishes the Light in Art. Until It Goes Out.

 

Having a documentary made about you can prompt reflection, and “Every Act of Life” is having that effect on its subject, the four-time Tony-winning playwright and librettist Terrence McNally, who just turned 80.“It’s very emotional for me,” Mr. McNally said the other day, seated in his light-filled Greenwich Village apartment with his husband, Tom Kirdahy. “Every Act of Life” was released digitally this week, after making the festival rounds.
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Review: PBS documentary of playwright Terrence McNally celebrates a master of connection

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If you can know a person by the company he keeps, you can judge a playwright by the talent that sticks by him. By this measure, Terrence McNally is one of the most important dramatists of the last 50 years. In “American Masters — Terrence McNally: Every Act of Life,” the documentary premiering Friday on PBS in honor of LGBTQ Pride month, Broadway luminaries such as Nathan LaneRita Moreno and F. Murray Abraham pay tribute to a writer who has given our private struggles the touching comic dignity they deserve. Continue Here


'Every Act Of Life' Is A Touching Documentary On Tony-Winning Playwright Terrence Mcnally

 

Most people probably don't know who Terrence McNally is, but if they are theater fans there is a good chance they have seen his work. And if they have a tween daughter there's a good chance they've been pressured into seeing his most recent Broadway hit show, Anastasia, for which he wrote the book. McNally is a four-time Tony Award–winning playwright and librettist, which, while making him famous in theater circles, probably would not affect his status in the witness protection program. Hopefully, Every Act of Life, Jeff Kaufman's insightful and moving documentary on McNally's life, will do something to rectify that. Continue Here


'Every Act of Life': Film Review | Provincetown 2018

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Prolific Broadway playwright Terrence McNally receives a warm salute as a vital voice in the American theater and an LGBT activist who made the personal political. Even the notoriously prickly Larry Kramer gets cozy in Every Act of Life, an account of Terrence McNally's six decades in the theater that's less a documentary profile than a smoochfest. Though as far as subjects for hagiographic treatment go, the veteran playwright, musical librettist and pioneering voice of queer lives on the American stage is certainly not undeserving — his endurance alone is inspiring. Packed with fond observations from actors who have played McNally's characters over the years, among them Christine Baranski, Nathan Lane, Audra McDonald, Chita Rivera and Edie Falco, Jeff Kaufman's conventional but briskly entertaining film will be met with heartfelt applause from theater-lovers and LGBT audiences. Continue Here


10 Movies You Can't Miss at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival

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Poignant, incredibly inspiring, documentary by Jeff Kaufman about the career and life of Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally. Wildly diverse plays like The Ritz (1975), Love! Valour! Compassion! (1994), Master Class (1995), Frankie And Johnny In The Claire de Lune (1982), The Lisbon Traviata (1989), plus the books for musicals such as Kiss Of The Spiderman (1992) and Ragtime (1996) are only a fraction of his storied career. Never uptight about being openly gay in his personal life, this became a problem for some closeted boyfriends. His tempestuous early affair with playwright Edward Albee is sensitively examined along with his loving relationship with longtime partner Thomas Kirdahy, who McNally married in 2010 in Washington, D.C. One comes to admire McNally's attitude in the wake of painful flops and turbulent relationships. Not to mention coming to grips with his alcoholism (thanks to a concerned warning from Angela Lansbury). You just listen to the man and love him. For theater fans this movie is indispensable. Continue Here


Film Review: ‘Every Act of Life’

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Few if any living playwrights have been as successful for as long as Terrence McNally. “Every Act of Life” provides a predictably starry, rather standard, but satisfying overview of a prodigious career that is still going full-steam as the writer nears his ninth decade. It may require posterity to deliver a film that really weighs McNally’s influence, strengths, and weaknesses as a dramatist; Jeff Kaufman’s feature is more of a biographical valentine, aimed squarely at fans already somewhat knowledgeable about the subject’s life, works, and times. It should play well wherever such aficionados can be found — which is to say, anywhere Broadway and gay theater have a loyal base. Continue Here


VIDEO: Watch the Trailer for the Terrence McNally Documentary EVERY ACT OF LIFE

 

The official trailer has been released for the Terrence McNally documentary EVERY ACT OF LIFE. The film is a love letter to Terrence's storied career as a playwright and his work in the fight for LGBT rights. It will be released on digital platforms and VOD on November 6th. This star-studded documentary shares four-time Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally's six ground-breaking decades in the theatre, the fight for LGBTQ rights, triumph over addiction, the pursuit of love and inspiration at every age, and the power of the arts to transform society. "The STAKES are really high now, higher than ever. We need to bring barriers down, not build walls. We need to love one another more, and see how connected we really are. I think that's the message of art."- Terrence McNally Continue Here


Illustrated Screenplay for Terrence McNally Documentary Every Act of Life to Be Published

 

Every Act of Life, the new documentary about Tony Award–winning playwright Terrence McNally that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival April 23, will be published in printed form this fall. Productions In Print plans to publish the screenplay to the documentary in October. The illustrated screenplay will include additional stories and interviews that were not seen in the film, as well as rare photos and archival materials. Continue Here


Terrence McNally Documentary Sets Tribeca Film Festival Premiere Date and Post-Screening Talk

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Jeff Kaufman’s documentary Every Act of Life, about Tony Award–winning playwright Terrence McNally, will make its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival April 23. The first of four festival screenings will be followed by a conversation with director Kaufman and McNally, as well as actor and Tony-winning director Joe Mantello, two-time Tony winners Nathan Lane, Chita Rivera, and Christine Baranski, as well as Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham. New York Magazine’s Frank Rich will moderate the conversation. Continue Here


Playwright Terrence McNally is living NYC history

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Most people in the theater world run to the spotlight. Not Terrence McNally. Modest, shy and industrious, he’s let his work speak for itself. Fortunately, his plays — “Lips Together, Teeth Apart,” “Love! Valour! Compassion!” and “Master Class” among them — have plenty to say. But lately he’s been trailed by microphones, cameras and lights as the subject of the documentary “Terrence McNally: Every Act of Life,” for which director Jeff Kaufman interviewed many of McNally’s friends and colleagues, including Nathan Lane, Angela Lansbury, Audra McDonald, John Kander and Chita Rivera. Continue Here


THE STATE OF MARRIAGE

'The State of Marriage': Provincetown Review

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While last year's The Case Against 8 provided an emotional chronicle of the five-year battle to overthrow California's ban on same-sex marriage, Jeff Kaufman's The State of Marriage assembles a similarly comprehensive account of the two-decade struggle that came before in Vermont, opening the door for other states to follow. Impassioned and yet admirably even-handed in presenting both sides of the argument, this is a densely informative record of the groundbreaking legal, political and social campaign led by two small-town lawyers. With the Supreme Court about to issue its federal ruling on marriage equality, the film serves as an invaluable record of how the movement got started. Continue Here


Hollywood's road to marriage equality, from The Golden Girls to Modern Family

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Americans rejoiced last week when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage across the country. But while Hollywood elite took to Twitter and Instagram to express their excitement on the historic day, pop culture has actually been exploring marriage equality for decades. Continue Here


New Documentary Depicts Vermont Lawyers' Fight For Same-Sex Marriage

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The new documentary The State of Marriage tells the story of a prominent civil rights attorney and two small-town Vermont lawyers whose legal battle paved the way for same-sex marriage in Vermont and across the county.The documentary airs this week at the Providence International Film Festival, and will be coming to Burlington in the upcoming months. The story centers on Vermont lawyers Beth Robinson and Susan Murray, who – along with prominent civil rights attorney Mary Bonauto – filed a lawsuit in Vermont on behalf of three gay couples seeking to marry.  The documentary recounts the two decades of grassroots campaigning, heated town hall meetings and statewide debate. Continue Here


“The State of Marriage” details how lesbians won same-sex marriage for Vermont

 

If you had asked folks back in the early ‘90s if they thought little Vermont would be at the heart of the battle for same-sex partnership rights, they would’ve probably scoffed at the thought. And yet today, in 2015, we look back in gratitude of the Green Mountain State. There could be no better tribute to the remarkable work done in Vermont and the three women at the center of it than The State of Marriage, a new documentary directed by Jeff Kaufman. Continue Here


FATHER JOSEPH

What This Haitian Priest Can Teach The Rest Of Us About Faith

 

Father Joseph Philippe has the kind of vision and indomitable spirit that might earn someone a Nobel Peace Prize or an Academy Award. But his name probably isn’t one many have heard before.That may change, though, with the release of “Father Joseph,” a new documentary about the remarkable priest who has spent a lifetime fighting to improve the lives of the poor in Haiti. Continue Here


Haitian Priest Stands in the Path of the Storm

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On Oct. 7, the Boston Foundation, in conjunction with the Haiti Development Institute, screened “Father Joseph.” The documentary was directed by Jeff Kaufman, whose previous film, “The State of Marriage,” was in last year’s GlobeDocs Film Festival. “Father Joseph” is about a Haitian priest who organized the isolated, rural community of Fondwa to establish a micro-credit bank for the poor, a K-14 school, an orphanage, a clean-water project, a reforestation program, a health clinic, a radio station, a home-construction effort, and a university. Despite sometimes murderous opposition, all these projects thrived. Then the 2010 earthquake leveled it all.
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Rebuilding Haiti: Documentary 'Father Joseph' shows power of faith in restoring troubled nation

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Father Joseph Philippe does not consider himself to be a hero — nor a particularly interesting subject for a documentary. However, filmmaker Jeff Kaufman believed otherwise, and followed the Haitian Catholic priest for years as he worked tirelessly to increase education and financial opportunities for poor, rural Haitians — especially women. “I’m not somebody who really wants to talk about myself, to talk about what I’m doing,” Father Philippe told The Washington Times. “When I see something to be done, if I can do it, I just do it. I was very resistant [to the film]. But Jeff was so persistent.” Continue Here


THE SAVOY KING

The Savoy King: Film Review

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Thanks perhaps to a life that was painfully brief in comparison to peers like Duke Ellington, Swing Era bandleader Chick Webb is under appreciated by casual music lovers. Jeff Kaufman's enjoyable, convincing The Savoy King seeks to remedy that, and will likely draw some attention solely for the startling lineup of actors providing voice-over talent. Though unlikely to see many big-screen bookings outside the fest circuit, the doc is rewarding for any Swing fan and, given some colorful and heartstring-pulling elements, will likely inspire filmmakers in the audience to wonder about biopic rights. Continue Here


The Savoy King: Chick Webb and the Music That Changed America

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Vivid archival clips of Harlem in the ’30s illuminate “The Savoy King,” Jeff Kaufman’s lively portrait of bandleader/drummer Chick Webb, whose music intersected with and rivaled that of jazz’s most illustrious names. Although Webb suffered from spinal TB, which made him a hunchbacked midget, his immense popularity helped topple racial barriers as he became the King of Swing at Harlem’s only racially integrated nightclub. Crammed with remarkable found footage and encomiums from the likes of Andy Garcia, Danny Glover and Janet Jackson, this jubilant docu invites limited theatrical exposure before inevitable tube play. Continue Here


NYFF Daily Reviews: Room 237 and The Savoy King

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This morning, Nick Schager dishes about two worthwhile documentaries off the Main Slate: Room 237, that copyright-braving examination of the complexities of The Shining, and The Savoy King, the story of swing-great Chick Webb and his Harlem stompers. Continue Here


Chick Webb: He was ‘King’ when Swing was the thing 

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When documentarian Jeff Kaufman set out to produce a film on Swing era drummer Chick Webb six years ago, he had no idea the wealth of findings he would come across. "Up until the very end," Kaufman says, "Chick grew in stature for me with every discovery as I went along." Kaufman knew that Webb, a short man who walked with a hunched back, had brought Ella Fitzgerald to national fame with the hit "A Tisket A Tasket" in 1938. But another event inspired Kaufman to take this journey, during which more than 1,000 images were licensed for use in the documentary. Kaufman read about a famous 1937 battle of the bands between Benny Goodman and Webb at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem. It was said that Webb's orchestra "wiped the floor" with Goodman's band. Mind you, Goodman's band was then the most famous in the land. Kaufman says Gene Krupa, Goodman's drummer, even bowed to Webb's group to pay homage. Continue Here


Music Film Webb: Swinging with the Savoy King

 

In the 1930s, Baltimore-born drummer William Henry “Chick” Webb led the house band at Harlem’s storied Savoy Ballroom, from the stage of which his outfit out-swung Benny Goodman’s and Count Basie’s in headline-making battles of the bands. Webb had a national radio show, refined swing percussion into an art (Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich put him at the top of the pyramid), and, for good measure, discovered and launched a teenage singer named Ella Fitzgerald. He was, in his day, one of the giants of jazz. Continue Here