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Kramer vs. Kramer; Father vs. Mother

By Erica Zaragoza You could be daddy’s little girl, a momma’s boy, your mother’s daughter, or your father’s son. Everyone has heard these characterizations. However until recently, in the eyes of the court, mothers were always favored in custody battles, unless of course, there is evidence of gross negligence. Kramer vs. Kramer, starring Meryl Strep as Joanna Kramer, Dustin Hoffman as Ted Kramer, and Justin Henry as their son Billy, is the story of a mother leaving her family behind to find herself. In the wake of her departure, a father and son, seemingly estranged, are left to build a rapport of trust, which subsequently turns into an intimate, loving relationship. Following Joanna’s parenting hiatus, she returns to claim custody of Billy. A bitter court battle ensues. Critically acclaimed, Kramer vs. Kramer challenged the generally held notion that a child is better cared for by its mother, regardless of who


A Prosecutor And A Journalist

By Ben Falk Both Preet Bhara and Samuel G. Freedman are looking for something. Mr. Bhara wants justice and Mr. Freedman wants the truth. Both have a professional duty to find what they’re looking for. And both, if they fail to conduct their search ethically, can hurt people. Bhara is the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and Samuel Freedman is a journalist. Each has earned a reputation for doing their jobs very well. Bhara has earned plaudits (and more than a few critics) for his crackdown on insider trading and financial crimes. Freedman is an author, columnist and professor. Currently, he writes the “On Religion” column for The New York Times and is a professor at the Columbia University School of Journalism. His work, Small Victories, was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1990; in 1991 his Jew vs. Jew won the National Jewish


Tim Robbins

By Erica Zarazoga Timothy Robbins, better known as “Tim” Robbins, is an American actor, screenwriter, director, producer, and musician. Robbins grew up with a show business background, and was exposed to the culture by his mother and father. His mother, Mary Robbins, was an actress, and Gil Robbins, his father, was a singer for “The Highwaymen.” Robbins was born in California, but was raised in New York City.  He graduated from Stuyvesant High School and after graduation, he moved back to California to study drama at UCLA School of Film, where he graduated with honors. With an itch for acting and the background to support it, he began The Actors’ Gang in 1981. The Actors’ Gang was a group of aspiring actors who combined their experiences and opinions (mostly radical political observations) to form an experimental theater group. Robbins is still revered today as a tried and true liberal activist.


"Absence of Malice": Is Democracy Served?

By Ben Falk Sydney Pollack’s wonderful film, “Absence of Malice,” makes a good, if not slightly depressing, point. At the beginning of the film, The Miami Standard’s lawyer explains to Megan Carter (Sally Field), a reporter at the newspaper, that the subject of her article, Paul Newman’s Michael Gallagher, is unable to do the paper “harm.” “We have no knowledge the story is false, therefore we’re absent malice. We’ve been both reasonable and prudent, therefore we’re not negligent. We can say what we like about him; he can’t do us harm. Democracy is served.” Implicit in this monologue is the question: is this right? The answer, while demonstrated by the events that follow, is stated specifically at the film’s end, when Assistant U.S. Attorney General James Wells (Wilford Brimley) explains, “You know and I know that we [the law] can’t tell you [the press] what to print or what not


Ed Pressman's Extensive Body of Work

By Chloe Sarnoff Ed Pressman is considered one of the most famous and accomplished producers of our time.  He began his career in England alongside director, Paul Williams.  His films have introduced the world to many new actors and actresses.  Mr. Pressman has also been a big supporter of the independent film movement and has helped promote the careers of talented actors and directors, including: Wolfgang Peterson, David Hare, Paolo and Vittorio Taviani and David Byrne.  His films Das Boot, Wall Street and Reversal of Fortune have received nominations and even Academy Awards.  Additionally, Mr. Pressman has been honored with several awards from London’s National Film Theatre, the Museum of Modern Art, the French Cinematheque and Pacific Film Archives.  American Film Magazine even named him the best producer of the 1980’s.  He produced incredibly well-known and critically acclaimed films like American Psycho and Thank You For Smoking.  He also worked


Inside vs. Outside: The Lesson in "Wall Street"

By Ben Falk “If you’re not inside, you’re outside,” Gordon Gekko slyly informs his protégé, Bud Fox, toward the beginning of Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street,” a film demonstrating the evils and perseverance of greed. It’s a telling line. And thematically, it captures the film nicely. “Wall Street” shows us how far people will go to be on the “inside.” In the film, the notion of “inside” versus “outside” leads Bud, a young, ambitious stock broker with blue-collar roots, to cheat, steal, and use what’s aptly called “inside information” to defraud the stock market and shareholders so that he can achieve what’s now imaginable wealth.  Bud wants to be on the inside, he wants the information that will lead him to riches. He does not want to end up like the bum standing next to the businessman when Gekko asks, “you gonna tell me the only thing separating this guy [the


Oliver Stone — 2011 Film Festival Guest!

Legendarily acclaimed film producer and director Oliver Stone will be making his Forum debut at the 2011 Film Festival in October. Stone has proved to be a controversial storyteller and a profoundly resonant movie maker, with films such as Platoon, Wall Street, JFK, World Trade Center, The People vs. Larry Flynt, The Joy Luck Club, Any Given Sunday, and Natural Born Killers, just to name a few. To his credit these movie titles elicit more emotions than most films can attain in full. He has made a career on resilience and personal experience that has created the man, the legend, Oliver Stone, Academy Award winning filmmaker. I remember being in a history course surveying the 1960s the first time I watched Platoon. Simultaneously, we studied the massacre of innocent civilians in the town of My Lai, the massive United States cover-up, and the reverberating consequences of the war in Vietnam


Eliot Spitzer interviews Dinesh D'Souza on New CNN Show

Check out Eliot Spitzer, co-host of CNN’s new show Parker Spitzer and the Forum’s fall Conversation guest, interviewing author Dinesh D’Souza about his thesis that President Obama’s politics are based on his relationship with his absentee father. See more of Eliot Spitzer at the Forum’s fall Conversation on November 18. Learn more.