12.17.08

Lefler Book tapped to win Prize

Posted in Jacob Canon, The Oscar Show, UVa College of Arts & Sciences, University of Virginia, history at 12:04 pm by Jacob Canon

In today’s show, based on a recent article by Matt Kelly, News Writer with the Office of Public Affairs, we look at former dean of UVa’s College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, Melvyn P. Leffler, who recently was named to receive the American Historical Association’s 2008 George Louis Beer Prize for his book “For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War.”

Melvyn P. Leffler, Professor of History at the University of Virginia, will receive the American Historical Association’s 2008 George Louis Beer Prize for his book “For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War.”

Leffler, named the Randolph Jennings Fellow at the United States Institution for Peace in 2004 and Henry A. Kissinger Fellow in Foreign Policy and International Relations at the Library of Congress in 2004 said he was surprised and deeply gratified by the award, which he will receive in January at the association’s annual meeting in New York City.

 
icon for podpress  Standard Podcast [5:00m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Leffler said he has a passion for the history of foreign relations because international diplomacy involves “some of the most important things — war and peace, life and death…”and he went on to say, “This is the best prize the American Historical Association gives to a writer of history of international relations. It is exhilarating to be able to step down from the deanship and revive one’s scholarly career.”

Published in 2007, Leffler’s book examines four crucial episodes during the Cold War when American and Soviet leaders considered modulating, avoiding or ending hostilities, and asks why they failed. He then illuminates how U.S. and Soviet leaders were able to reconfigure Soviet-American relations after decades of confrontation.”

Interested in why it lasted as long as it did and why it ended when it did, Leffler concluded that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, without losing his faith in communism, transformed many of his ideological views on what was necessary to improve the political and economic systems in Russia. Leffler also credited U.S. President Ronald Reagan with building up the U.S. military and then negotiating from that position of strength.

Leffler said, “The importance of Reagan was that he did want to negotiate with the men who ran the ‘Evil Empire.’”

Duane Osheim, chairman of U.Va.’s history department, said, “Mel is internationally recognized as a scholar of the Cold War and he richly deserves this prize. His book is an important work on United States foreign policy during the Cold War. It is instructive because of the thoughtfulness he gives to the values and the ideology of both sides…”

The Economist, a respected news magazine, praised the book as “a highly relevant and much-needed historical study, one of the best books on the period to have been written.”

Leffler is currently co-editing, with Norwegian scholar Odd Arne Westad, the three-volume Cambridge History of the Cold War, a project that has engaged the pair for the past eight years.

Ann Goldberg, associate professor of history at the University of California-Riverside, who chaired the award committee that selected Leffler’s book, said “The Soul of Mankind” is a “masterful treatment” that will become required reading. Using newly accessible archival sources, Leffler constructs a richly nuanced, empirically rigorous history of the Cold War that avoids the ideological blinkers of past Cold War scholarship”

You’ve been listening to the Oscar Show, I’m Jacob Canon. The College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Virginia, WTJU and myself would like to thank you for joining us this past year as we have examined many different people and points of interest concerning UVa and its impact on the world.

Please tune in during the next semester to enjoy our new weekly show brought to you by UVA Today.

Did you miss a show? Then go to www.wtju.net and click on “blogs & pods” or just Google, “The Oscar Show.” Questions about this program; please call WTJU at 434-924-0885 or email at wtju@virginia.edu.

12.10.08

Childhood Obesity: Discussion with Amy Boitnott

Posted in Anthropology, Cognitive Science, Consumer Culture, Education, Jacob Canon, Kluge, Obesity, The Oscar Show, University of Virginia, biology, physical health at 12:04 pm by Jacob Canon

In today’s show, based on a recent article by Jane Ford, Senior News officer for the Office of Public Affairs, we introduce and speak with UVa Graduate, and the Commonwealth’s first ever Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree recipient, Amy Drake Boitnott.

On November 14, 2008, the UVa Nursing School granted the Commonwealth’s first ever Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree to Amy Drake Boitnott.   John Kirchgessner, assistant professor of nursing and chairman of Boitnott’s review committee said, the DNP differs from a Ph.D. mainly in the focus of the research.  A Ph.D.’s primary interest is in pure research.  A DNP is a clinical scholar who uses evidence-based research to develop interventions that may improve clinical practice.

Boitnott, an instructor at the School of Nursing since 2004, and a practicing nurse since 1991, recently sat down to discuss her main clinical focus, childhood obesity.

 
icon for podpress  Nursing School Grants First Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree in VA [6:15m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Asked about the focus of her work, Boitnott said, “As part of taking care of children, our patient is not just the child, our patient is the family.  And I began to recognize and the see the interactions between parent and child, and responses that the children have to their disease process, based on their parents responses.  So, it’s all intertwined, and that was very interesting to me, that my patient was not just this one person and one body, it was this entire dynamic of a family.”

Boitnott said her work was unique, “We’re doing something very different… than is currently being done… in this study …and in my intervention.  We’re directly targeting the parent exclusively from their child.”

Concerning childhood obesity and some of the contributing factors, Boitnott said, “childhood obesity has increased by over 30 percent in the past 30 years.  So there is a huge issue now.  It’s considered a(n) epidemic now in our country and globally.”

“And there are so many factors which are thought to contribute to the increased incidence, anywhere from the comfort foods.  Foods are now more easily accessible, they’re pre-packaged… they’re fast foods… fast foods are cheaper.  So parents and families who are on the go, more than they are 30 years ago, can quickly go through those kinds of things.  So that is one thing…  Food availability.”

“Another thing is our children are having more sedentary time than they use to, and because of technology and all of these wonderful things that the internet and the TV provides our children.   It is sedentary activity none the less, so that is another issue.”

“Urban Sprawl has a factor in it.  Kids use to walk to friend’s houses and walk to school, and walk to the store.  It doesn’t happen as much as it used to because our communities are farther from those places.”

Boitnott said, “It’s very devastating to see the children and the families that we see in the clinic.  They’ve been afflicted with this horrible thing of Obesity.   And, I (just) think that what we can do in the clinic… that hopefully this intervention will go into the primary care arena.  I am a primary care nurse practitioner, I see people where they come for that sore throat, and for those kinds of things.  And if we can then add in education and knowledge about obesity patterns and trends and what we can do to avoid them, in every interaction we have with patients, I think that it is so very important to make this preventative.”

But added, “There’s not one simple answer, that’s the thing…  There’s so many answers and so many things, and it’s going to a problem in our country for some time.”

When asked about the major behaviors that people could adopt to help fight this trend in their own lives Boitnott said, “I think that one major thing is the sedentary lifestyles… Just moving, and moving our bodies, and finding ways to move them with our family members…”

“And the other major thing is making wise decisions at the grocery store in what you’re going to bring into your home.  Because a lot of my patients will say, “I got that bag of chips and he just wants a couple of them.”   Well it’s really hard for a child when they see something they really want… so the parent controlling the nutrition habits and what is brought into the home… controlling that environment, because children still need help with making those decisions.”

For those families who would like more information, Boitnott referenced America on the Move.org for information on nutrition and activities for the family.  For families to participate in the clinic, their child must be in the 85th percentile to be considered for the 6 month intervention.  If they are, she directs them to call the Children’s Fitness Clinic at the Kluge Rehabilitation Center for more information.  Their phone number is 434-982-1627.

You’ve been listening to the Oscar Show, I’m Jacob Canon.  Join us next week when we will look at former dean of UVa’s College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, Melvyn P. Leffler, who recently was named to receive the American Historical Association’s 2008 George Louis Beer Prize for his book “For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War.”

12.03.08

Napolitano Tapped by Obama for Homeland Security Secretary

Posted in Government, Homeland Security, Jacob Canon, Obama, Politics, The Oscar Show, UVa College of Arts & Sciences, University of Virginia, War on Terror, elections at 12:04 pm by Jacob Canon

In today’s show, adapted from an article written by Mary Wood, Director of Communications for the School of Law at the University of Virginia, we discuss UVa Graduate, Janet Napolitano, who was named as the next secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a Cabinet-level post, by President-elect Barack Obama.

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, a 1983 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, has been nominated as the next secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Dean Paul G. Mahoney said, “Governor Napolitano has dedicated her career to public service, fulfilling an ideal that the University of Virginia Law School holds dear.  The nation is fortunate that President-elect Obama has chosen to bring her wide-ranging talents to a vitally important position.”

 
icon for podpress  Napolitano Tapped by Obama for Homeland Security Secretary [5:26m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Chosen by Time magazine in 2005 as one of America’s top five governors, Napolitano recently concluded her term as the first woman and first Arizonan chosen to chair the National Governors Association.  Elected governor of Arizona in 2002 and re-elected in 2006, she is the first woman in the nation’s history to serve as U.S. attorney, state attorney general and governor in immediate succession.

In a 2007 interview with UVA Lawyer magazine, Napolitano stressed the importance of bipartisan governance and said neither party has a monopoly on good ideas.

Napolitano said, “It is necessary for us to reach across the aisle to build consensus. In the end, the voters don’t care whether you’re a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ — they want results… What did you do in education, in health care, on job development, to protect the environment?  They want to know what you produced besides a fight.  Excessive partisanship is troublesome because it’s an artificial limitation on thinking about what’s the best idea. And sometimes the best idea requires a compromise to get any of it done.”

After Napolitano took office, she erased a billion-dollar deficit without raising taxes or cutting funds for public schools. She made education one of the key issues in her administration, and started a voluntary full-day kindergarten program. She has also reformed the state’s Child Protective Services.

Napolitano helped create the Arizona Counter-Terrorism Information Center, a multi-agency intelligence fusion center that tracks and shares critical data. She created a prescription-discount plan for Arizona seniors and her administration expanded the state’s group health insurance plan to include more individuals and small businesses.
Prior to taking elected office, she served for four years as a U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona. Born in New York City and raised in Albuquerque, N.M., Napolitano is a graduate of Santa Clara University. She has lived in Arizona since 1983, when she moved to Phoenix to clerk for a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge and then practice law.

Napolitano joins several other Law School graduates with high-ranking national security posts. Kip Hawley, a 1980 alumnus, is the director of the Transportation Security Administration. Robert Mueller, a 1973 graduate, is the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and 1989 graduate Patrick Rowan is the assistant attorney general for national security.

Speaking at the Law School’s 2007 commencement, Napolitano challenged graduating students to make sense of the transformative nature of technology, international law and the rule of law.

Napolitano said, “Your job will be to sort out where to alter the law and where to leave it alone.  To know the law is to know how to make this world better through its proper application and to practice law properly is to engage in public service of the highest order. Never forget that being an attorney is not just a job, it is a calling — it is a way of life.”

You’ve been listening to the Oscar Show, I’m Jacob Canon.  Join us next week when we will look at the Commonwealth’s first ever, Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree.  The UVa Nursing School granted the historic first ever achievement, on November 14, 2008.

11.26.08

UVa and the Obama Transition Team

Posted in The Oscar Show at 12:04 pm by Jacob Canon

In today’s show, adapted from an article written by Mary Wood, Director of Communications for the School of Law at the University of Virginia, we look at The University of Virginia’s connections to the transition team for President–Elect Barack Obama.

Over the past weeks, candidates for President –elect Obama’s cabinet and transition team have been vetted so that the president-elect can make them offers to be part of the new team that will lead our nation over the next 4 years, following the inauguration scheduled for January 20, 2009.

Since the Commonwealth of Virginia went “blue” for the first time since 1964, there names connected to the Commonwealth that have been considered for posts in the new administration.

 
icon for podpress  UVa and the Obama Transition Team [5:33m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

To help the incoming administration, University of Virginia law professors, Jonathan Z. Cannon and David A. Martin, have been selected as part of the Transition Team. Martin will serve on the Agency Review Team for the Department of Homeland Security, while Cannon will join a team on the Environmental Protection Agency.

Responsibilities formerly handled by the INS were transferred to the Department of Homeland Security when the DHS was created in 2003, and are now assigned to three separate bureaus. Martin will bring a special focus on immigration issues to the Homeland Security Team.

The Warner-Booker Distinguished Professor of International Law, Martin formerly was special assistant to the assistant secretary for human rights and humanitarian affairs at the U.S. Department of State, before joining the Virginia faculty. He co-authored a leading casebook on immigration and citizenship, and served as general counsel of the Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1995 to 1998 under President Clinton.

He has twice served as a consultant to the Administrative Conference of the United States, preparing studies and recommendations on federal migrant worker assistance programs. In 1993 he undertook a consultancy for the U.S. Department of Justice that led to major reforms of the U.S. political asylum adjudication system. In 2003-04 he was asked by the State Department to provide a comprehensive study of the U.S. overseas refugee admissions program, leading to recommendations for reform of that system.

Martin said, “I am honored and excited to be involved in this transition work. Immigration will be a significant issue for the new administration to consider, and I welcome the opportunity to contribute toward making the immigration pieces of Homeland Security work as effectively as possible.”

Jonathan Cannon, the Blaine T. Phillips Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law and director of the Law School’s Environmental and Land Use Law Program said, “It’s a privilege to serve and help the new administration get established and begin to operate effectively.”

General counsel for the Environmental Protection Agency from 1995 to 1998, Cannon also served as assistant administrator for administration and resources management from 1992 to 1995, and held senior management positions at the agency from 1986 to 2000.

Before joining the EPA, Cannon was in the private practice of environmental law and also served as an adjunct professor of environmental Law at Washington and Lee. He has authored numerous articles on environmental law and policy, including several on relationships between the EPA and the White House, Congress and the courts.

He also wrote on the Supreme Court’s decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, a 2006 ruling that affirmed the EPA’s right to regulate greenhouse gases, which is likely to figure importantly in early efforts to address climate change.

Other transition team members and people considered include:

Janet Napolitano ’83, who is serving on the advisory board for the transition
Tom Donilon ’85, a team lead for department of state review
Michele Jolin ’92, a team lead on the council of economic advisors.
Rachana Bhowmik ’97, national security
Kelley Shawn Coyner ’88, transportation
Neil MacBride ’92, justice and civil rights
Jonathan B. Sallet ’78, science, technology, space and arts

With appointments on the horizon, and many to be made once the administration is officially empowered, it will be interesting to see if any of the University of Virginia’s alumni may eventually be made part of the next President’s Staff.

You’ve been listening to the Oscar Show, I’m Jacob Canon. Join us next week when we will look at the Commonwealth’s first ever, Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree. The historic achievement which the UVa Nursing School granted, on November 14, 2008.

11.19.08

Habeas Corpus and Ensuring Constitutional Protections

Posted in Gitmo, Habeas Corpus, Jacob Canon, The Oscar Show, UVa College of Arts & Sciences, University of Virginia, Virginia Film Festival, history at 12:04 pm by Jacob Canon

In today’s show, adapted from an article written by freelance writer Karen Doss Bowman, we discuss the work of UVa Professor Paul Halliday, and his research of Habeas Corpus, the only specific right enshrined in the US Constitution.

Habeas corpus, the judicial means by which prisoners may demand that their jailer show a valid reason for their detention, is considered a bedrock of personal liberty in U.S. law—and is the only specific right enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

 
icon for podpress  Habeas Corpus and Ensuring Constitutional Protections [6:14m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

This summer, when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its historic affirmation of the right of Guantánamo Bay detainees to challenge their confinement, one University of Virginia history professor’s research was critical to how the justices arrived at their decision.  For nearly a decade, Associate Professor of History Paul Halliday has been quietly studying the use of habeas corpus in England and its empire back to the 16th century and earlier.

James Oldham, St. Thomas More Professor of Law and Legal History at Georgetown University Law Center consulted with Halliday about the writ’s history for several amicus briefs written on behalf of the Guantánamo detainees.   Oldham said, “Paul is probably the most knowledgeable person on the planet about the historical scope of the writ of habeas corpus and its use in the Anglo-American tradition, and Halliday’s book on the subject (expected in 2010) “will rewrite that history [of habeas corpus] in a fundamental way.”

Halliday never dreamed he would be doing research on habeas corpus. But while immersed in research of litigation in 16th- and 17th-century English politics at London’s National Archives, he realized that documents concerning more than 11,000 habeas cases from the court of the King’s Bench—the king’s greatest common law court—remained bundled in their original files, most unopened since they were stored away hundreds of years ago.  Halliday said, “The more work I did, I realized that what’s in the archive and what’s been written [about habeas corpus] had nothing to do with one another.”

Scribbled on tiny scraps of parchment (1 or 2 inches by 8 to 10 inches) and written in Latin, many writs are rumpled, worm-eaten and soiled with coal dust, dirt or water stains. Halliday has since photographed thousands and noted their contents, which he then analyzes in an intricate computer database that tracks each case.

Halliday said he was surprised to learn that “The writ of habeas corpus was not founded on ideas about liberty.”  Instead, it was designed to ensure that individuals imprisoning people in the king’s name upheld the law and did not abuse their authority.

The key in the Supreme Court Guantánamo case (Boumediene v. Bush) was whether non-citizens are entitled to habeas corpus, and if so, whether they must be on American soil to use it.

A recent Virginia Law Review article by Halliday, and UVa Law School’s American legal historian G. Edward White, was cited four times in the decision by attorneys on both sides.  They both identified what Founding Fathers understood about habeas corpus and included the “Suspension Clause” in the Constitution, which reads: “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended unless, when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety, may require it.”

Since 1789, the writ has been suspended only a few times, always controversially, including by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 allowing U.S. internment of people of Japanese descent.

The article also showed that the English court consistently allowed foreigners access to habeas corpus. In the 1640s, during the English Civil War, justices used habeas corpus to release those imprisoned by military officers. Halliday said, “Place was not the point in habeas litigation. People were.” And went on to say, “What we find in thousands of cases across thousands of miles are patterns revealing principles about habeas corpus.”

Having consulted Halliday about Gauntanamo cases, Jonathan Hafetz of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law said, “Paul’s work sheds light on the original meaning and purpose of the Constitution’s guarantee of habeas corpus.  It shows that efforts to deny habeas corpus to detainees today, and to create prisons outside the law, contradicts centuries of history and tradition.”

You’ve been listening to the Oscar Show, I’m Jacob Canon.  Join us next week when we will look at MacArthur Fellow, Bill T. Jones, and his discussion of the Struggles for Art in Society.

11.12.08

Gitmo and “The Response”

Posted in Film, Gitmo, Jacob Canon, Politics, The Oscar Show, UVa College of Arts & Sciences, University of Virginia, VFF, Virginia Film Festival, War on Terror at 12:04 pm by Jacob Canon

In our previous show we reflected on several of the movies showcased at this year’s Virginia Film Festival.  In today’s show, we will examine “The Response,” a short film about the Guantanamo Bay War Tribunals and the plight of Guantanamo detainees by Sig Libowitz, screened at this year’s Virginia Film Festival.

During the course of the seven years since 9-11, the United States and its elected representatives have made calculated moves to deal with the declared “War on Terror.”  Because of the nature of this global war, which is based more in backrooms around the world than on battlefields, it has become increasingly difficult to have concrete ideas about whom and where we are, or should be fighting.

Because of the clandestine nature of the war, the measures to combat it have also taken a more covert form, including… Abu Ghraib… and more recently, Guantanamo Bay.  These Prisoner Detentions Camps were set up in an effort to isolate suspected enemy combatants from battle regions and interrogate them so that the war in the Gulf, and on Terror could be mitigated.

 
icon for podpress  Gitmo and The Response [6:07m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

In the movie, “The Response,” writer, Sig Libowitz, utilizes transcripts from Combatant Status Review Tribunals, or CSRT’s, to dramatically explore the events that lead up to and occur, during these trials.

The setting for the movie is a CSRT in Guantanamo, and examines the interactions between a detainee played by Aasif Mandvi, and his inquisitors as portayed by Kate Mulgrew, Peter Reigert and Libowitz, who plays a “King Solomon - like” character who ends up interpreting the limited protection of rights for the accused combatant, while shielding the world from a potential terrorist.

The movie is delivered in two acts.  First, we are introduced to the shortened trial process,  in which a detainee is brought before the tribunal and asked a series of questions about his knowledge, or lack thereof, concerning their connection to terrorists and terror activity.  Libowitz characterized the experience for the detainee as a “… few minutes in front of a war tribunal…this is him defending his life.”

The process presented is antithetical to what we as American citizens expect as our basic rights in a court of law.  Elements important and implicit in our court system that are not available to a detainee include: the right to counsel by a competent attorney - they are given a military advisor who is not an actual attorney; to know the identity of their accusers, which are only known by the tribunal officers, and what the charges are against them.

Finally, and potentially most important is the “writ of habeas corpus,” which states that the accused may demand a determination of the right to be held by their accuser.  This element is one of the most important parts of the US justice system, and yet was not available to these detainees, who could have been held indefinitely, until a Supreme Court ruling on June 12, 2008.

After the testimony period the movie shifts to the second act, the deliberations of the tribunal judges.  It is during this period that most of the moral arguments for and against the policies and ramifications of Guantanamo are explored.   Col Jefferson (Peter Reigert) makes the telling comment, “Why don’t we measure our behavior against who we say we are and tell ourselves we are as a country.”  To which Col. Simms (Kate Mulgrew) responds, “That’s a little simplistic after 9-11…” The detainees fate is then left in the hands of Capt. Miller (Libowitz).

(See clip of “The Response” here)

This even handed look at the Guantanamo Tribunals was lauded by two Special Forces soldiers who came to a recent Baltimore screening.  They were so impressed with how the material was presented, both gentlemen expressed their thanks in a unique way.  Libowitz read from one of the letters which said, “Thank you and the film for highlighting the real nexus confronting us today.  The discipline in presenting a balanced treatment is most patriotic. The enclosed stone is from the World Trade Center, Tower Number 2.  The razor wire is from Gitmo.  They are presented to you and the film on behalf of the soldiers that are in this nexus with you.”

It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds.  Just yesterday, president-Elect Obama stated that he planned on bringing charges against these detainees in US courts.  This plan is speculated to require creation of a new legal system because of the classified information in the most sensitive cases.

To learn more about the movie,“The Response” please visit www.theresponsemovie.com.

You’ve been listening to the Oscar Show, I’m Jacob Canon. Join us next week when we will discuss the work of UVa Professor Paul Halliday, and his research of Habeas Corpus, the only specific right enshrined in the US constitution.

11.05.08

Reflections from the 2008 Virginia Film Festival

Posted in Jacob Canon, Relationships, The Oscar Show, UVa College of Arts & Sciences, University of Virginia, VFF, Virginia Film Festival at 11:04 am by Jacob Canon

In our previous show we previewed this year’s Virginia Film Festival, hosted by the University of Virginia. In today’s show, we will relive and reflect on the events of this year’s Virginia film festival.

This year’s Virginia Film Festival, hosted by the University of Virginia, kicked off Thursday Evening, Oct. 30, and featured some80 films and 100 guests exploring images of immigrants, outsiders and extraterrestrials.

As in years past, the Festival included Stars and events that will be remembered for years to come. Thursday’s Opening of Lake City was no exception. The featured guests included the film’s writer/directors Perry Moore and Hunter Hill, producers Mark Johnson and Weiman Seid, Sissy Spacek, Lake City’s male lead Troy Garity and his mother, Jane Fonda.

 
icon for podpress  Reflections from the 2008 Virginia Film Festival [6:11m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

When asked about someone else portraying Troy’s mother, Fonda, with the UVa Pep band playing in the background, remarked, “I’ve seen it now a number of times so I’m use to it now, but I didn’t like it at the beginning… except that I love Sissy so it helped that I love and admire her so much.”Lake City is the touching story of a family’s struggle to cope with tragedy. Garity described the movie as “a wonderful southern story about a troubled family that has lost the ability to speak to each other (who) bridge that gap finally…”

After the Film, festival director, Richard Herskowitz, led the actors, writer/directors, and producers in a discussion about the film which included many funny, as well as introspective moments concerning the making of Lake City. The story is based on a family that writer/director Hunter Hill knew as a child. Hill said that in spite of the tragedy “the whole point of the movie is that there is hope and… healing.”

(Lake City Expanded Article)

On Friday evening, UVa grad, Julie Lynn, along actor David Morse and director Rodrigo García, introduced Passengers, an exploration of romance and intrigue under the shadow of death. When asked about how he came to be part of the film project Garcia said, “I was looking to do something with hopefully a little bit more of a popular entertainment appeal and something that I hadn’t written…I read the story and I thought it was a good story. I liked the character of Claire (Ann Hathaway).”

When asked about his involvement with Passengers, David Morse (St. Elsewhere, Disturbia, ) said, “the two things about this first of all was the script… and I watched Nine Lives which I thought was just brilliant. Just the quality of everything… about the daring… and the story telling… and the performances, I just thought it was great. So I thought this is just an experience that you want to be a part of… Rodrigo I thought, ‘I’m completely impressed with him.’”

The Garcia-Lynn team is already working on their next project and is set to include Passengers’ actor David Morse, who, when asked if he knew about this, joked, “I just found this out.”

(Passengers Article)

Saturday evening, producer and UVa alum, Glen Williamson and writer Megan Holley, introduced their film, Sunshine Cleaning. Based on the script that won Holley the Virginia Governor’s Screenwriting Award in 2003, Sunshine Cleaning was first premiered at Sundance and will be released by Overture Films this winter. This wonderful, quirky, heart-felt story leads us through the lives of two sisters, Rose (Amy Adams) and Norah (Emily Blunt) who start a biohazard removal/crime scene clean-up service. As the story unfolds we find out about the strained and yet loving dynamic that these sister’s share, balanced by their father Joe (Alan Arkin).

Asked where the idea for the film came from, Holley said, “the kernel of the story really came from an NPR story that I heard about two women who started a crime scene cleaning business, and I was really struck by the interview… just how important they thought their job was… they were helping somebody… The more I researched this business, the more I realized how important it is to honor what they are doing.”

(Sunshine Cleaning Article)

And for the fifth year, one of the most popular events at the Virginia Film Festival, the Adrenaline Film Project, came to its culmination Saturday night. The Culbreth Theater was filled to capacity as 13 imaginative teams vied for the accolades of the Judges and Audience. The winners entries included:

Hail Mary - Audience Award Honorable Mention
Girl Powered - Audience Award
Roommate from Hell - Jury Award Honorable Mention
They will come for You - Jury Award

(Adrenaline Film Project Expanded Story)

For links to expanded articles and movie trailers, for these and other Film Festival Events, please visit The Oscar show podcast-Blog site by visiting www.wtju.net and click on blogs & pods. And select The Oscar Show.

You’ve been listening to the Oscar Show, I’m Jacob Canon. Join us next week when we will discuss The Response. This special film examines the turmoil that is the plight of the Guantanamo Detainees.

10.29.08

The 2008 Virginia Film Festival

Posted in Art, Film, Jacob Canon, The Oscar Show, UVa College of Arts & Sciences, University of Virginia, VFF at 11:04 am by Jacob Canon

In today’s show, adapted from an article written by John Kelly, we will preview this year’s Virginia Film Festival, hosted by the University of Virginia.

This year’s Virginia Film Festival, hosted by the University of Virginia, will kick off tomorrow, Oct. 30, and will feature some 80 films and 100 guests exploring the fearful and alluring images of immigrants, outsiders and extraterrestrials alike.

One of the highlights will be a special 70th-anniversary rebroadcast of Orson Welles’ classic radio play, “The War of the Worlds, “ tomorrow at 7 p.m. in the McCormick Observatory. And at 10 p.m., the Culbreth Theatre will be screening George Pal’s film classic, “War of the Worlds.” Pal biographer and Charlottesville resident Justin Humphreys will introduce the film.

 
icon for podpress  2008 Virginia Film Festival [6:08m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Richard Herskowitz, the festival’s artistic director said, “Not only is this the perfect way to open our festival this year, it is also a great way to honor one of the more bizarre evenings in Charlottesville’s history. On the night of Oct. 30, 1938, Welles’ ultimate hoax had the whole nation on edge and our city was no exception. Citizens were so nervous, in fact, that the McCormick Observatory had to open its doors just to prove with its telescopes that the skies were not in fact filled with alien spaceships.

The festival will also kick-off with a screening of Lake City at 7:00PM at the Culbreth Theatre. Starring Sissy Spacek, Troy Garity, Rebecca Romijn, and Dave Matthews, Lake City is a film with deep Virginia roots. It captures a slice of small-town Virginia life with underlying layers of Southern gothic tragedy. Lake City is produced by Mark Johnson and co-directed by Perry Moore, who met at the Film Festival in the 90’s and have since partnered on a number of projects, including producing the Narnia series. Moore co-wrote and co-directed the film with his partner, Hunter Hill, and brought on board a third UVa alumnus, leading independent film and talent publicist Weiman Seid, as executive producer.

Glen Williamson, executive producer of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, also represents UVa as producer of Sunshine Cleaning. Based on a script that won the writer, Megan Holley, the Virginia Governor’s Screenwriting Award in 2003, Sunshine Cleaning premiered at Sundance and will be released by Overture Films this winter.

UVa grad, Julie Lynn, producer of 10 Items or Less, starring Morgan Freeman, is the producer of Passengers, an exploration of romance and intrigue under the shadow of death. Passengers is directed by Rodrigo García, the director of Nine Lives, which García presented at the 2007 Virginia Film Festival.

Charlottesville native and producer, Temple Fennell, will be the speaker at the Darden Producers Forum, held at the Darden School starting at 1:20 PM on October 30

Additionally, a free program of films by Charlottesville filmmakers Doug Bari, Elizabeth Howard and Light House students will screen at the Gravity Lounge at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 2, under the heading “Moviemaking in Charlottesville.”

To address images of human aliens who migrate across national borders, the festival and the UVa Media Studies Department welcomes their first Festival Fellow, Hamid Naficy, a film scholar and John Evans Professor of Communication at Northwestern University. His book, “An Accented Cinema,” explores the themes and styles of filmmakers who live and work away from their country of origin.

Keeping with this theme, the festival will also screen, Koryo Saram – The Unreliable People, a film executive-produced by the recently appointed UVa Dean of Arts & Sciences, Meredith Jung-En Woo. Honored as “Best Documentary” at the 2007 Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, the film tells the harrowing story of Stalin’s massive ethnic cleansing campaign in 1937 of forced deportation of Koreans living in the coastal provinces of Far East Russia to the unsettled steppe country of Central Asia.

Finally, there is one of the most popular events at the Virginia Film Festival, the Adrenaline Film Project. Mentored by filmmaker Jeff Wadlow and producer Beau Bauman, The Adrenaline Film Project welcomes 10 groups of film makers who will create a short film, concept to completion, from Wednesday evening to the showing scheduled for Saturday night, November 1st at 10 PM at the Culbreth Theater.

To learn more details about these films and all of the events at the Virginia Film Festival please visit www.vafilm.com.

You’ve been listening to the Oscar Show, I’m Jacob Canon. Join us next week when we will relive the events of this year’s Virginia film festival.

10.22.08

Road Trip: Professor’s book on bus travel reveals portrait of America

Posted in Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Jacob Canon, Relationships, The Oscar Show, UVa College of Arts & Sciences, University of Virginia, ethics, happiness, philosophy, sociology at 11:04 am by Jacob Canon

In today’s show, adapted from an article written by Anne Broomley, Senior Writer, Editor for UVa’s Office of Public Affairs, we look at the University of Virginia’s Kath Weston and the journey that led to her new book, Traveling Light: On the Road with America’s Poor.

Author Kath Weston, an Anthropology PhD from Stanford University, grew up in a working-class family and attended college with the help of financial aid, took her first bus trip alone when she was 16, and that unforgettable trip showed her that traveling on the bus was much more than just a way to get somewhere.

Before joining the University of Virginia faculty this fall, she spent more than five years crisscrossing the nation on buses, chronicling the lives of Americans who travel via the least expensive mass transportation option.  She refers to her new book, Traveling Light: On the Road with America’s Poor, as a journey full of unexpected richness.  Her new book describes her fellow passengers’ colorful humanity and tackles issues of class, race and dubious access to America’s opportunities.

 
icon for podpress  On the Road With America's Poor [5:20m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Weston said she wanted her social commentary to reveal “the artistry of living poor”—the ingenuity of getting by in a system that often fails to reckon with the widening material gap between rich and poor.

The book’s introduction says “By riding the buses, I hoped to get at aspects of living poor that have eluded community studies of poverty… The road trip has become its own American art form, yet few have bothered to chronicle what happens when people without money take to the road.”

Along the way, the riders she traveled with might have been struggling, hungry or penniless, but she found they were also helpful, creative and philosophical.

For example, take T. J… Traveling in Flagstaff, Arizona , he was almost arrested because a white woman, who was probably insane, thought he was a witch and started screaming at him in a bus terminal snack bar, bringing the police. They were about to haul off T.J., who was black, but a white trucker from the bus talked them out of it.

The trucker loved the road, he said, but he had to give up his rig to have surgery—that’s why he was riding the bus.

When everyone got back on the bus, a Hispanic man walked back to T.J., handing him a foil-wrapped package of burritos his wife had made. It turned out T.J. had no money to buy food as he rode to Oklahoma, en route to a new job in a meat-processing plant.

Then there is a story of a divorced middle-aged man, who had custody of his daughter during the summer.  So he took her on the bus for the only kind of vacation he could afford, to show her another side of America.

Or, the story of a teenage girl, traveling from one city to another, looking for her younger brother, whose mother had taken off with him and then left him someplace.  The sister didn’t know much more than that.

Then, there is the soon-to-be all too familiar story of a once-middle-class woman, who fell onto harder times when her now-deceased husband was laid off.  She told Weston, she hated taking the bus, and even though it was obvious why, the woman stood up for a non-English-speaking passenger when the bus driver started yelling at him. She also changed seats so a young woman and her toddler could sit next to each other.

With America’s appetite for travel and adventure alive and well, and the shrinking economy looming as a back drop, Weston’s story of kindness and humanity, in spite of hardship may become a more familiar one for millions in this country.  And, a tale of humility and grace that may salvage the American ideal, in the face of the difficult times ahead.

You’ve been listening to the Oscar Show, I’m Jacob Canon. Join us next week when we will preview the upcoming Virginia Film Festival.

10.15.08

Eyeing the Biological Clock

Posted in Biology at the University of Virginia, Body Clock, Jacob Canon, Nocturnin, Sleep, The Oscar Show, UVa College of Arts & Sciences, University of Virginia, biology, circadian rhythms, metabolism, nervous system, neurophysiology, physical health, physiology, sensory inputs, stress, visual processing at 11:04 am by Jacob Canon

In today’s show, adapted from an article written by Fariss Samarrai,  Senior News Officer for the Office of Public Affairs, we will look at a team of UVa researchers who have discovered a switching mechanism in the eye that plays a key role in regulating the sleep/wake cycles in mammals.

Biologists at the University of Virginia have discovered a switching mechanism in the eye that plays a key role in regulating the sleep/wake cycles in mammals.  The new finding demonstrates that light receptor cells in the eye are central to setting the rhythms of the brain’s primary timekeeper, the suprachiasmatic nuclei, which regulates activity and rest cycles. The finding appears in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Susan Doyle, a research scientist at U.Va. and the study’s lead investigator said, “The finding is significant because it changes our understanding of how light input from the eye can affect activity and sleep patterns.”

 
icon for podpress  Eyeing the Biological Clock [4:46m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, Doyle conducted her research with colleagues Tomoko Yoshikawa, a visiting scholar from Japan, and UVa undergraduate student Holly Hillson, in the laboratory of Michael Menaker, a leading researcher in the study of circadian rhythms.

Biological clocks are the body’s complex network of internal oscillators that regulate daily activity/rest cycles and other important aspects of physiology, including body temperature, heart rate and food intake.

The investigators did this by both reducing the intensity of light given to normal mice and also creating a mutated line of mice with reduced light sensitivity in their eyes, which rendered them fully active in the day but inactive at night, a complete reversal of the normal activity/rest cycles of mice.

The researchers discovered that they could reverse the “temporal niche” of mice—meaning that the animals’ activity phase could be switched from their normal nocturnality, or night activity, to being diurnal, or day active.

Doyle said, “This suggests that we have discovered an additional mechanism for regulating nocturnity and diurnity that is located in the light input pathways of the eye.  The significance of this research for humans is that it could ultimately lead to new treatments for sleep disorders, perhaps even eye drops that would target neural pathways to the brain’s central timekeeper.”

An estimated one in six people in the United States suffer from sleep disorders, including insomnia and excessive sleepiness. And as the U.S. population ages, a growing number of people are developing visual impairments that can result in sleep disorders.

Besides sleep disorders, research in this field may eventually help treat the negative effects of shift work, aging and jet lag. Doyle said, “Currently, one in 28 Americans age 40 and over suffer from blindness or low vision, and this number is estimated to double in the next 15 years.  Our discovery of the switching mechanism in the eye has direct relevance with respect to the eventual development of therapies to treat circadian and sleep disorders in the visually impaired.”

You’ve been listening to the Oscar Show, I’m Jacob Canon. Join us next week when we look at the University of Virginia’s Kath Weston and the journey that led to her new book, Traveling Light: On the Road with America’s Poor.

« Previous entries