Culture Corner By Howard L. Wieder Continued

Saturnalia was one of the most popular ancient Roman festivals, marked by the reversal of social roles, in which slaves and masters switched places. In the context of this film, it symbolizes the role reversal that takes place between the four leads when a homeless woman interferes in the life of a recently widowed retiree.

GUSTAVO MERCADO is the writer, director, director of photography, editor of “SATURNALIA.”  GUSTAVO MERCADO is an independent filmmaker, professor, and author whose work has been screened in national and international film festivals and cable. His short film SENSITIVE won the grand prize in Showtime’s Latino Filmmaker Showcase, and led to the production and broadcast of his film Vespertine for that network. His book for Focal Press THE FILMMAKER’S EYE: LEARNING (AND BREAKING) THE RULES OF CINEMATIC COMPOSITION has been translated into Portuguese, Turkish, Polish, Spanish, French, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese, and is the first of a series of four books planned on cinematography and editing. He currently teaches film production, cinematography, and editing at Hunter College in New York. Saturnalia is his second feature film.

TOM ASHTON is the Associate Producer of “SATURNALIA.” TOM ASHTON, the handsome, multi-talented actor, composer, musician, and songwriter, lives in Queens County, New York, with his wife and two children, both of whom are pursuing careers in the arts.  TOM ASHTON’s numerous credits as an actor/musician and songwriter/producer in film, TV and theatre. He records as Automatic80 and with additional projects The First Half MVPs and EverWake. TOM ASHTON’s previous band, Early Edison (Sony), opened for the Gin Blossoms, Missing Persons, Berlin, and Nine Days.

As an actor, TOM ASHTON’s previous films include FAULT LINES (dir. Kate Barker-Froyland – Cannes Short Film Corner, Women’s International Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival); SEMBLANCE (Beverly Hills Film Festival, Real to Reel Film Festival); GETTING BACK (ACE Film Festival); WISH YOU WERE MINE (co-executive produced & co-written, NYC Horror Film Festival); THE ACTION HERO (Litchfield Hills Film Festival); BLANKOUT (Chicago Short Film Festival, Big Apple Film Festival)

As a composer, TOM ASHTON’s music has been featured in A VIEW FROM THE TOP (Gwyneth Paltrow – Miramax); DICKIE ROBERTS: FORMER CHILD STAR (David Spade – Paramount); MY BOSS’ DAUGHTER (Ashton Kutcher – Dimension); TRU CALLING (Eliza Dushku – Fox); ROSWELL (WB); Portrait (Glass Half Full Productions); FAULT LINES; SATURNALIA (Cinekinofilms); LITTLE BUDDIES (Know Laughing Matter Prod.)


There’s no need to travel to Manhattan for great theatre or film.  The conveniently located CHAIN THEATRE is located near the courthouse in Long Island City and a half a block away from the Court Square Diner, right off the Court House Road station of the number 7 train.  I was fortunate to discover this terrific, affordable venue for the arts when I reviewed GUSTAVO MERCADO’s film “SATURNALIA.”

Nomad Theatrical in association with Variations Theatre Group will present POLANSKI POLANSKI, about the life of controversial film director Roman Polanski. Performances began September 5 at The Chain Theatre.  In this hyper-physical monodrama performed by Grant Neale, playwright Saviana Stanescu (’s Person of the Year, 2010) has imagined three threshold moments in the life of famed film director Roman Polanski (Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, The Pianist). Under the direction of Tamilla Woodard, this fast-moving tale of desire, escape and punishment blends elements of film and theater as it delves into the brilliant mind of the controversial figure.

POLANSKI POLANSKI was presented to critical acclaim in 2010 at HERE Arts Center. In 2011, it was presented as part of the soloNOVA Arts Festival for which Grant Neale received an Innovative Theatre Award nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance. That year, POLANSKI POLANSKI also received a three-city tour in Romania at The Sibiu International Theater Festival, Teatrul Odeon in Bucharest, and Transylvania International Film Festival in Cluj.

Howard L. Wieder is the writer of both “The Culture Corner” and the “Books At The Bar” columns, appearing regularly in The Queens County Bar Bulletin, and is Justice Martin E. Ritholtz’s Principal Law Clerk in  Supreme Court, Queens County, Jamaica, NY.

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