Screenwriter and author Dan Bessie and his wife: therapist
and author Jeanne Bessie reading from their respective books.
Dan Bessie and Jeanne Johnson.
REELING THROUGH HOLLYWOOD
How I Spent 40 Fabulous Years in Film and Never Made a Nickel
by Dan Bessie
"Dan Bessie's book should be obligatory for anyone considering a
creative life. . . It is a cautionary tale to the vain and an
inspiration to those who honestly desire to craft a self-directed life
in the arts. The story is rich in detail, funny, and honest. Bessie. .
. reviews a rich and sometimes desperate life as a creative person who
sustained himself by wit and wile. I hope that I'll be able to say as
much about my own."
Peter Coyote - Emmy nominated actor, ROAD TO AVONLEA. ET, CROSS CREEK,
ERIN BROCOVICH, etc.
(Rear jacket also features quotes from 4 other OSCAR and / or EMMY
winners or nominees)
Reeling Through Hollywood offers a look at movie making from an
insider's perspective. Cautions that survival as a creative person
takes both luck and determination. Demonstrates that even though you
might not become rich and famous, you have to do what you love. And
suggests that by learning to appreciate the process, you'll be
nourishing your artistic soul.
From Tom & Jerry to Spiderman, Reeling Through Hollywood traces Dan
Bessie's career from a .75-cent-an hour signpainter's apprentice (the
job lasted three days) through MGM's cartoon department, on to
animating Linus the Lionhearted, directing the award-winning Hey
Culligan Man soft water commercials, line producing Executive Action
(Burt Lancaster, 1973) then writing and directing more than 100 of his
own films, including educationals, features, and TV specials for CBS,
HBO, and the Disney Channel. Reeling Through Hollywood is his second
title since his critically acclaimed Rare Birds, An American Family
(University Press of Kentucky, 2000).
from BLUE LUPIN PRESS, a new publisher specializing in works of
personal integrity and social conscience.
COMMENT on DAN BESSIE'S "RARE BIRDS, AN AMERICAN FAMILY" (University
Press of Kentucky, 2000):
"Bessie portrays his relatives-both famous and not-as striking
examples of American individuality, ingenuity and creativity. . . .
heartfelt, warmly intelligent kaleidoscope of intimate portraits never
glosses over the rough edges." -- Publishers Weekly
"What is remarkable is not only his voice-it is all in the practiced
cadences of a born raconteur - but the number of interesting people he
is related to. . . . Would make a great choice for discussion groups
exploring family chronicles." -- Booklist
"His breathless enthusiasm, sometimes maddening na•vetŽ and flair for
irony inform the entire memoir, as do the splendid family snapshots he
has painstakingly assembled." -- New York Times Book Review
"One hundred and fifty years of American life are illuminated in the
delightful family history of film writer, director, producer, and
animator Bessie."-Library Journal
"A fetching family history that showcases a multigenerational cast of
passionate oddballs."-San Francisco Chronicle
"Bessie's fascination with his extraordinary relatives has given
life to these vivid family portraits."-Louisville Courier-Journal
"Spreading untidily across the country, producing capitalist moguls
and card-carrying Communists, marrying, divorcing, coming out of the
closet, keeping in touch and supporting each other when they chips are
down, they remind me of the craziness of my own family and they will
remind you of yours."-Prime Time (Santa Fe, NM)
"Certainly one of the more colorful collections of folks you'll
Marietta (OH) Times
"Examines good times and hard times with an understanding eye and an
indulgent heart." Movie Magazine International
"Bessie tells a great story in his memoir." Family Tree Magazine
CRITICAL COMMENT ON DAN BESSIE FILMS
EXECUTIVE ACTION (1973)
- Staring Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan, Will
"I found the film totally absorbing... this is a remarkable piece of
filmmaking... by all means, be sure to go..." Ralph Gleason, Rolling
"Executive Action may well become the most controversial picture of
the year..." San Francisco Chronicle
PETER AND THE WOLF (1981) - Starring Ray Bolger
"A delightful live action presentation... fresh, inventive, and
School Library Journal
Best 16mm Film of Festival, Birmingham International Film Festival
Gold Award, Houston International Film Festival
Golden Eagle, CINE, Washington, D.C.
1st Prize, MIFID, Year of the Child
Learning Magazine Award, Outstanding Educational Films of the Year
CHRIS plaque, Columbus Film Festival
HARD TRAVELING (1986) - Starring Barry Corbin, Ellen Geer, J.E.
"A work of undeniable integrity and skill." Glenn Lovell, San Jose
"A beautifully crafted work... Writer/Director Dan Bessie...shows a
hand as sure and yet as gentle as the poignant tale requires."
"I won't soon forget this very relevant, powerful and deeply touching
film. For an intelligent bit of Americana and drama, it is the movie to
see." Jeffrey Lyons, Sneak Previews
"...writer/director Bessie trusts the wrenching nature of the drama
shapes his film into a slice of Americana that stays close to family
raises jarring questions about capital punishment, society's
an plain old human and judicial decency."
Gannet News Service
TURNABOUT (1992) - Starring Elsa Lancaster, Odetta, and The Yale
"A heartwarming tale..." San Francisco Chronicle
"A family film that is remarkably inclusive." Bay Area Reporter
STARLINGS IN THE PARK by Jeanne Johnson
"Starlings in the Park honors the hearts of humans embracing their
individual journeys. You will want to read it more than once. And you
will want to share it with others."
From the Foreword by Lucia Capacchione, PH.D., best selling author of
Recovery of Your Inner Child, and The Creative Journal.
These eighteen compelling stories give extraordinary insight into the
lives of lonely and neglected children, disillusioned spouses, and
fearful and frustrated individuals confined by the penal system,
disability or illness. Real people the author has encountered in her
varied role of wife, mother, teacher, prison chaplain, counselor and
friend. The stories include:
_ three-year-old Annie, who, after refusing to leave with the
kind-faced stranger who says he is her father, bravely endures years
violence and neglect with her prostitute mother before breaking free.
_ Lauren, a young woman living a lonely life in the Irish countryside,
whose decision to make a better future for herself and her young
daughter in England, breaks a solemn promise.
_ Peter in his prison cell, consumed by years of guilt and remorse over
murdering his wife, who sees a ray of hope when a letter arrives from
the daughter whose love he was sure he had lost forever.
_ Harry, an elderly man in an inner city daycare center, who reflects
with quiet dignity on the joys and hardships of his life as a
country-loving farm worker.
Rather than dwell on the often sensationalized subjects of sexual and
physical abuse, Starlings in the Park focuses on the frequently
overlooked traumas of loss, neglect, isolation and lack of emotional
fulfillment. Challenges which will resonate with many of its readers.
from BLUE LUPIN PRESS, a new publisher specializing in works of
personal integrity and social conscience.
about JEANNE JOHNSON
Jeanne's 25 years as an educator range from teaching kindergarten to
college based workshops for parents. She is also a qualified personal
and relationship counselor and has practiced in the private sector,
doctor's offices and a men's prison. She holds bachelor's degrees from
English Universities in both education and counseling.
Taking up writing in her mid fifties Jeanne has had short stories and
poetry published in the Porter Gulch Review, has contributed a series
of health and personal development articles to selfgrowth.com and is
also a feature writer for the West Point News, a widely circulated
Sierra foothills' newspaper.
Her first book, Starlings in the Park, was recently published by Blue
Lupin Press and she is currently working on her first novel.
Dan and Jeanne met on the internet from either side of the Atlantic.
They married in 2001 and continue to enjoy life together in the Sierra
foothills, where they spend their days writing, critiquing one
another's work and providing workshops and editorial services for
writers. They have also worked together at their local theatre and in
the making of a pilot tv video aimed at inspiring creativity in young
March 27th - Movie Night: "Daughter from Danang" - Memories of a woman
retracing her Vietnamese-American roots. One of the filmmakers, Gail
Dolgin, will be available for conversation following the film.
Plot Summary: In 1975, as the Vietnam War was ending, thousands of
orphans and Amerasian children were brought to the United States as part of
"Operation Babylift." Daughter from Danang tells the dramatic story of
one of these children, Heidi Bub (a.k.a. Mai Thi Hiep), and her
Vietnamese mother, Mai Thi Kim, separated at the war's end and reunited 22
years later. Unlike most reunion stories that climax with a clichŽ happy
ending, Daughter from Danang is a real-life drama. Journeying from the
Vietnam War to Pulaski, Tennessee and back to Vietnam, Daughter from
Danang tensely unfolds as cultural differences and the years of separation
take their toll in a riveting film about longing and the personal
legacy of war.
Gail Dolgin has been working in documentary film as an independent
producer/director for more than 15 years. Originally from New York, she
graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Art
History. Returning to New York, she studied photography and joined Newsreel,
a social issue-driven film collective that launched her interest and
ultimately her career in film. The year was 1969, the issues were hot,
and the place to be was San Francisco. (Her first visit to Berkeley was
seen through a veil of tear gas.) Her path towards documentary
filmmaking is a winding intersect of political activism, teaching, photography
and storytelling with the bottom line being the desire to produce films
of passion that stimulate viewer reaction. Her producer-director
credits include New Bridges, Face to Face, and Why Vote. She was associate
producer on the Academy Award nominated Forever Activists: Stories of
Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and has produced and directed a
number of educational/informational programs. DAUGHTER FROM DANANG,
which Dolgin created with film partner Vicente Franco, won the 2002
Sundance Grand Jury Prize for best documentary and received an Academy Award
nomination. After international festival exhibition and a theatrical
release, the film was braodcast on PBS's American Experience. CUBA VA:
THE CHALLENGE OF THE NEXT GENERATION, another feature-length documentary
Dolgin codirected with Franco, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival
in 1994. When not directing her own films, Dolgin works as an
independent consultant from her Berkeley office.
A native of Madrid Spain, Vicente Franco began his studies at the
University of Journalism in Madrid. To avoid the draft during the military
dictatorship in Spain, he relocated to the United States in 1975 where
he earned his Film Studies bachelor's degree at the University of
California in Santa Barbara, and his Masters Degree at San Francisco State
University. As a TV Producer/Director/Writer, for the Spanish Television
Network (Univision) from 1982 to 1989, Franco was involved in public
affairs, commercials, PSAs, news and special programming such as "Mexico
Earthquake Telethon"(Winner of a Peabody Award in 1985), , "Entre
Nosotros: Nuestra Familia Frente al Sida" "Exito Escolar", etc. He also
directed local live news programs.
As an Independent filmmaker he has produced, directed, shot or edited
numerous documentaries: "Nicaragua: For the First Time" (1985), "Entre
el Diablo y los Tigres" (Between the Devil and the Tigers,1991), about
"La Violencia" en Colombia. "Cada Cabeza es un Mundo, (Each Mind is a
World, 1994) a documentary for the prevention of Latino drop outs in
_ "Freedom on my Mind" (Academy Award Nomination 1994) about the
Mississippi Voter Registration drive. "Making Peace: Soul Survivors"(1996)
"The Fight in the Fields" (1996) About the United Farm Workers and
Cesar Chavez. * "In Search of Law and Order"(1997) About Juvenile
delinquency and the Justice system in the US.
_ "The Good War, and those who refused to fight it"(1999) About
Conciencious Objectors in the Second World War. "Nasci Mulher Negra"(I was
born a black woman) (1999) About Benedita da Silva, the first
afrobrazilian woman to ever make it to the Brazilian Senate.
Gail and Vicente's lives changed when they met Heidi Bub. Never sure
where Heidi's story would lead, the pair followed Heidi to Danang and
back-deeply into the events of her past, through a tumultuous
mother-daughter reunion, and toward an uncertain future.
The documentary they produced sensitively revisits one of the most
controversial chapters in American history-the Vietnam War-and reveals the
impact of war at a very personal level.