1. Our Box Office and Marketing Associate, Megan Hanks says, “As we all know, binge-time is way up. Scotty and I have been blasting through an awesome series on Netflix called, Ozark (TV-MA). If you’re looking for some gripping, nail-biting TV, this is your show! It stars Jason Bateman as Marty Byrde, a financial planner who relocates his family from Chicago to a summer resort community in the Ozarks. With wife Wendy (Laura Linney) and their two teenage kids, Marty is on the move after a money-laundering scheme goes wrong, forcing him to pay off a substantial debt to a high-profile drug lord, in order to keep his family safe.
2. Jason Richards, our Executive Artistic Director says, “The Thursday special at our local Poco Loco is double decker tacos. It’s a soft flour tortilla that’s heated and drizzled with queso. Then they wrap it around a crunchy flour tortilla. What!? Then add whatever filling your heart desires. I get the seasoned white rice with black beans, then I add cheese, lettuce, red salsa, and a squeeze of sour cream. Chef’s kiss. Pair it with a Jarritos and you’ll be transported to old Mexico. Only available on Thursdays.”
3. Actor Jess Vanek (The Marvelous Wonderettes and Fools) says, “My fave right now is The Good Place on Netflix. It’s a hilarious show all about philosophy and frozen yogurt. I love Ted Danson specifically, but I find myself binging this show whenever I get the chance. (Jason is kind of like Ted Danson in the show, actually...)”
4. Emily Ahrens (Actor- The Fantasticks, Elephant’s Graveyard; Director- The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood) says, “I hope you all are well! I don’t know about you, but I have been reading like crazy during this quarantine. I am a particular fan of biographies and this one has quickly jumped to one of my top three favorite books of all time. (Joining my other two all-time favorites, The Diary of Anne Frank and Little Women) I have also been really trying to read books written by women, specifically women of color, and this one also fit that!
My Festival Fave is a book called Butterfly: From Refugee to Olympian - My Story of Rescue, Hope, and Triumph by the incomparable Yusra Mardini.
I originally found the book because Emma Watson posted an interview with Mardini on her Instagram!
As detailed on the cover (so no spoilers here!), while in a dinghy to cross the sea to Greece, the engine of Mardini’s boat gave out, prompting Mardini and her sister (also a professional swimmer) to jump out of the boat to swim the passengers to safety. At the time of her escape, Mardini was only 16 years old.
The reason I recommend this book is not only because is it so well written and compelling from page to page, but it gives a personal look at the plight of refugees in a way that isn’t presented to us in the media. Many of us (myself included!) hear ‘Syrian Refugee’ and we probably think of someone living in the desert with no technology or plumbing. This book immediately wipes away that stigma: These refugees are modern human beings - While escaping Syria, Mardini is texting her Mom and posting on Facebook while sleeping in the dirt!
The novel confronts these stigmas and shows you how easily refugees are dehumanized simply because they are displaced. It completely opened my eyes and softened my heart to a situation that I usually switched the channel on when it came on the news.
Absolutely would recommend it to any reader, appropriate for all types and all ages! If you love The Diary of Anne Frank, you will adore this book.
I would ESPECIALLY recommend for you to buy this book for all the YOUNG (9-21 years old) women in your life (which is what I’ll be doing for many friends this Christmas!): Yusra is an incredible, strong role model - And I think all the young women in our lives should be directed to more of those!!”
5. Director Traci Ledford (Crimes of the Heart) says, “Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a certain fascination with elephants. So, it should be no surprise that I follow elephant orphan and rehabilitation centers on social media. My favorite is The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust located in Kenya. They do such an excellent job of educating the public on their goals, and you get to see their work in action through their constant updates and live feeds. Not only do they raise and reintegrate orphaned baby elephants back into the wild, but they have anti-poaching units, aerial surveillance, community education and outreach, and a vet unit that will care for any species of injured or sick wildlife. To be honest, I often watch their videos to relax after a stressful day because baby elephants are the cutest. And if you feel so led, you can donate to the trust or adopt an orphan.
6. Director Ryan Stevens (Stuart Little) says, “During these hot summer months I've been curling up with a lot of good books, and specifically, a lot of good comic books. My latest fav is Tillie Walden's On A Sunbeam. A science fiction story about literally star-crossed girlfriends, the book came from author/illustrator Walden's boredom with sci-fi movies that are "always full of white hallways and white men." So, she channeled this disappointment in a whole genre into an epic story about growing up, falling in love, and seeing how cool outer space is. Tillie Walden is three years younger than me so while reading her work does make me extremely jealous, it doesn't get in the way of enjoying her stories and feeling the same sense of awe and wonder at the joy of words and pictures that I used to feel as a kid.
You can even read the whole thing online here, though I really enjoy the weight and feel of the physical book.”
7. Peter Weber, Festival’s Technical Director says, “My Festival Fav this month is Taskmaster. This British panel comedy invites and pits five comedians against each other in random tasks. Each task feels more random and hilarious than the last one. Hosted by Greg Davis and devised and administered by Alex Horne, the duo poke fun at the contestants and award them points for how funny/well they complete the tasks. The Series can be found on YouTube at the Taskmaster channel.”