Léna's Lit.Life

Léna (me): Lit, as in literature, Lit, as in light, Lit, as in a little kooky: Life.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Visiting the set of A Wrinkle in Time

There was something more meaningful than I could ever have imagined about visiting the set of A Wrinkle in Time this past Monday on the heels of this crushing election. It wasn’t just because I have been waiting almost 40 years for this to be adapted. It wasn’t just basking in the warmth of the LA sun. It wasn’t just that we need the story and themes put forth in Wrinkle just as much now as we did in the early 1960’s. It was as simple as recognizing I still have faith in humanity and I refuse to be a misanthrope. It was as simple as the relational warmth of Ava DuVernay and the common purpose and diversity of everyone on set, from the cast, crew, and three hundred “extras”.

Movies are still being made, books are being written, people are still saying “I love you” and the sun rises and sets. People are organizing solidarity marches, and recognizing the political battleground in themselves. People are waking up. People are working harder to find meaning in their lives, and that comes from creative and critical thinking, and being of service. Participating in something larger than oneself.

We all need meaning.

Especially when you feel crushed. Maybe the tower does need to be destroyed in order to be rebuilt. But be part of the rebuilding. Be a part of the retelling. Ava DuVernay and Jennifer Lee will be retelling Wrinkle in their own unique ways.

Don’t be afraid of your voice, don’t be afraid to use it.

"This is my charge to you. You are to be a light-bearer. You are to choose the light."
-- Madeleine L'Engle, A Ring of Endless Light

And this is bipartisan - nobody has the corner on being a lightbearer. Maybe this is where we can come together, where we can empathize with each other.

Many years ago, there was a time in my life when I felt so marginalized that I didn’t think my life was worth anything, that I was just a waste of space. I didn’t think I had any choices, let alone the power to choose the light.

But I did, and I continue to have to make the choice (especially when crushed) and you can too.

Thank you Ava -- and the cast and crew of Wrinkle -- for being lightbearers.


No more walls.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

On Seeing Ava DuVernay's 13TH

13TH opened the 54th NewYork Film Festival at Alice Tully Hall on Friday night and I had the good fortune escort my amazing, politically conscious and thoughtful 15 year old niece Magda.

It is the first documentary ever to open the film festival, and was chosen for its compelling narrative. It had been made very quietly under the radar, by film director, Ava DuVernay (who also happens to be directing the upcoming adaptation of my grandmother's book, A Wrinkle in Time) and "13TH" refers to the 13th amendment:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

This documentary comes at an important time in our political history, after eight years of our first black president, where some of us have hoped we would be able to live in a color-blind world.

Our myopia is shattered as wishful thinking: Ms. Duvernay explores through interviews and archived footage, how the 13th amendment re-enslaved African-Americans and criminalized a whole segment of the population of the United States. The documentary as nothing less than astonishing, infuriating, and galvanizing and at times I was moved to tears. Drawing a line from slavery to counter-reconstruction, to Jim Crow, to The Southern Strategy to The Crime Bill, "13TH" tells a compelling story that demands a response.

This New York Times Review sums up her argument: "The United States did not just criminalize a select group of black people. It criminalized black people as a whole, a process that, in addition to destroying untold lives, effectively transferred the guilt for slavery from the people who perpetuated it to the very people who suffered through it."

Magda, who can fairly represent the views of every teen I know (and as a teacher, I know a great many!) is as troubled by this as I am, so everyone needs to see this movie (available on Netflix October 7th) with their families before going to the polls on November 8th so that we can begin to have deeper conversations about this. And also make some necessary institutional changes.

Don't forget to vote on Tuesday, November 8th!