April 30 has been designated as International Jazz Day by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
International Jazz Day celebrates the historical, cultural, and educational contribution of this popular genre of music. The day aims to spread international awareness about this unique musical style; and to promote the cultural, and social values that Jazz stands for.
Jazz is a uniquely American musical style that emerged out of the slave experience, primarily in southern United States. It is deeply rooted in the rich musical, and cultural traditions of Africa, and is heavily influenced by European music. New Orleans is generally considered to be the birthplace of this popular musical form, which is now seen as a voice of freedom and empowerment, and a statement against injustice, and oppression all around the world.
Today, Jazz has spread all over the globe, and is constantly evolving, being influenced by, and influencing other musical forms and genres.
The initiative to create an International Day of Jazz came from American Jazz pianist, composer, and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogues, Herbie Hancock. The purpose of the initiative was to focus global attention to the role that Jazz has played in breaking down race and gender barriers around the world; and in promoting cooperation; mutual understanding, and communication; peace and freedom.
Several activities mark the celebration of International Jazz Day, including Jazz concerts and performances, film screenings, and conference and panel discussions.
Jonathan Demme, the Oscar-winning filmmaker who observed emphatically American characters with a discerning eye, a social conscience and a rock ’n’ roll heart, achieving especially wide acclaim with “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Philadelphia,” died on Wednesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 73.
His publicist, Leslee Dart, confirmed the death. Mr. Demme disclosed that he had cancer in 2015.
Mob wives, CB radio buffs and AIDS victims; Hannibal Lecter, Howard Hughes and Jimmy Carter: Mr. Demme (pronounced DEM-ee) plucked his subjects and stories largely from the stew of contemporary American subcultures and iconography. He created a body of work — including fiction films and documentaries, dramas and comedies, original scripts, adaptations and remakes — that resists easy characterization.
A personable man with the curiosity gene and the what-comes-next instinct of someone who likes to both hear and tell stories, Mr. Demme had a good one of his own, a Mr. Deeds kind of tale in which he wandered into good fortune and took advantage of it. A former movie publicist, he had an apprenticeship in low-budget B-movies with the producer Roger Corman before turning director.
Mr. Demme became known early in his career for quirky social satires that led critics to compare him to Preston Sturges. They included “Handle With Care” (1977), originally titled “Citizens Band,” about eccentric rural Americans linked by trucks and CB radios, and “Melvin and Howard” (1980), a tale inspired by true events, which starred Jason Robards as the billionaire recluse Howard Hughes and Paul Le Mat as an earnest gas station owner who picks him up in the desert after Hughes has had a crash on his motorcycle. Hughes ostensibly leaves a colossal fortune to the man, who never gets the money, of course, losing his claim to it in court.
“Mr. Demme and Bo Goldman, his screenwriter, take Melvin’s tale at face value and present the movie as Melvin’s wildest dream,” Vincent Canby wrote in a review in The New York Times. “The comic catch is that this wild dream is essentially so prosaic. It’s also touched with pathos since Melvin — in spite of himself — knows that it will never be realized. This is the story of his life.”
Later, as a known commodity, Mr. Demme directed prestige Hollywood projects like “Beloved” (1998), an adaptation of Toni Morrison’s novel about the lingering, post-Civil War psychological horror of slavery, with Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover in starring roles, and “The Manchurian Candidate” (2004), a remake of the 1962 Cold War drama of the same title about a brainwashed American prisoner of war. Mr. Demme’s updated version, starring Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep and Liev Schreiber, takes place during the Persian Gulf war.
A Batch of Oscars in the ’90s
Mr. Demme may be best remembered for two films from the 1990s that were, at the time, his career’s biggest anomalies. The first, “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991), was a vivid thriller based on the novel by Thomas Harris that earned five Oscars, including best picture and best director. Unlike his previous films, with their mischievous pleasure and tender melancholy, this was straightforward and serious storytelling with only a few moments of shivery humor.
The story is told largely from the perspective of an F.B.I. trainee who becomes a key figure in the pursuit of a serial killer known as Buffalo Bill when she is assigned to conduct a prison interview with Hannibal Lecter, a mad and murderous psychiatrist, hoping to extract from him clues to Bill’s identity.
Lurid and titillating, the film is full of perverse details of heinous crimes and marked by a seductively ambiguous bond that forms between the young agent-to-be, Clarice Starling, and the brilliant monster Lecter. Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins both won Oscars for their distinct portrayals. The movie is also notable for Mr. Demme’s characteristically restless camera and the prominent use of music. The score, with its eerie leitmotif, is by Howard Shore.
Mr. Demme’s next narrative venture, “Philadelphia” (1993), brought to the fore a strain of advocacy that was otherwise evident in his documentaries about Haiti; former President Jimmy Carter; New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; and his cousin Robert W. Castle, a white activist priest in Harlem.
“Philadelphia,” from a script by Ron Nyswaner, starred Tom Hanks, as an ambitious lawyer who is fired from his prestigious firm when the partners learn he has H.I.V., and Denzel Washington, as the scrappy independent lawyer who represents him in a suit against the firm.
It was the first big-budget Hollywood film about AIDS, and with its forthright depiction of homosexuality, homophobia and the disease that was rampaging through gay communities, it was a turning point in the way mainstream movies treated gay men and lesbians, who had previously been handled with hush-hush delicacy or flamboyant caricature. Mr. Hanks won an Oscar, and so did Bruce Springsteen, for the song that introduces the film, “Streets of Philadelphia.”
Rock music — music in general, really, but rock and its Caribbean siblings most of all — is central to many of Mr. Demme’s films. Among them was one of his last, “Ricki and the Flash” (2015), which starred Meryl Streep as the aging singer of a bar band in California who is the ex-wife of a well-to-do Indianapolis businessman (Kevin Kline) and the estranged mother of their children.
“Music was my first love, movies came second,” Mr. Demme once told the New York newspaper The SoHo News. In a 1988 interview with Premiere magazine, he said: “I grew up with rock ’n’ roll — literally,” adding, “The first rock song I remember was ‘Sh-Boom,’ and since then I’ve never stopped obsessing on at least something.”
The synchronization with music and narrative is evident in “Something Wild” (1986), a “really screwball” comedy, as Pauline Kael of The New Yorker described it, that “breaks conventions and turns into a scary slapstick thriller.” The beginning, set in New York City, has a telling establishing shot, perfect for the time and place — the Reagan ’80s, with its ostentatious masters of the universe and a teeming, disdainful underclass — in which the head of a young man shouldering a boom box is held firmly in the frame before the camera moves.
“I can’t think of any other director who is so instinctively and democratically interested in everybody he shows you,” Kael wrote.
The movie tells the story of Charlie Driggs (Jeff Daniels), a straight-arrow tax consultant who is seduced away from his humdrum office life by a charmingly flaky young woman played by Melanie Griffith. Calling herself Lulu, she inveigles him into a road trip that takes them from rebellious delight into danger and violence (in the form of Lulu’s ex-husband, an ex-con played by Ray Liotta in his movie debut) before its rather pallid Hollywood denouement.
What elevates the ending from disappointing sentiment to a winking, it’s-only-a-movie joy is the credit sequence, in which the singer Sister Carol, who plays a minor role in the film, sways against a graffiti-splashed wall and performs a reggae variation on the 1960s standard “Wild Thing.” The song was one of 49 to be featured in the movie, which also included music by Jimmy Cliff, Oingo Boingo, Fine Young Cannibals and David Byrne of Talking Heads.
Mr. Byrne and Mr. Demme worked together frequently, notably on “Stop Making Sense,” a 1984 concert film about Talking Heads that many critics (and filmgoers) found mesmerizing, though it had few filmic bells and whistles. (Mr. Demme preferred to call it a “performance film” because, he said, it wasn’t about the concert experience — he didn’t show the audience until the end.)
Mr. Byrne also scored Mr. Demme’s “Married to the Mob,” a gaudy 1988 farce in which Michelle Pfeiffer plays the wife of a Long Island gangster (Alec Baldwin) who tries to exit the mob life after her husband is bumped off when he dallies with the girlfriend of the local boss (Dean Stockwell). Things get especially dicey when she moves with her young son into a shabby Manhattan apartment and strikes up a romance with an F.B.I. agent (Matthew Modine) who has her under surveillance.
In her review of the film, Janet Maslin of The Times noted the mélange of Mr. Demme’s filmmaking eccentricities — not just the music, “which drifts mischievously through the film,” but the details of costume, language and performance that are pitched to a particular note of fond, giggly amusement.
“Jonathan Demme is the American cinema’s king of amusing artifacts: blinding bric-a-brac, the junkiest of jewelry, costumes so frightening they take your breath away,” Ms. Maslin wrote. “Mr. Demme may joke, but he’s also capable of suggesting that the very fabric of American life may be woven of such things, and that it takes a merry and adventurous spirit to make the most of them.”
A Happenstance Start
Robert Jonathan Demme was born on Long Island, in Baldwin, on Feb. 22, 1944, and grew up mostly in nearby Rockville Centre, where he listened to music and went to the movies.
His father, Robert, was a publicist in the travel industry; his mother was the former Dorothy Rogers. (At 71, Dorothy Demme appeared in a music video for UB40 and Chrissie Hynde directed by her son. She later appeared in some of his films, including “Something Wild” and “Philadelphia.” She died in 1995.)
The family moved to Miami, where Jonathan went to high school and worked in a kennel and an animal hospital. Wanting to be a veterinarian, he attended the University of Florida with that in mind until he failed chemistry, at which point he went to the university newspaper, discovered it had no movie critic, and assumed the job himself, he said, so that he could get into movies free.
He also became a critic for a shopping guide in Coral Gables, for which he wrote a glowing notice for “Zulu” (1964), about a bloody 19th-century battle between British soldiers and African warriors, a film whose executive producer was Joseph E. Levine, the founder of Embassy Pictures, the film’s American distributor.
It happened that Mr. Levine was on vacation in Miami Beach, staying at the Fontainebleau Hotel, where he had become acquainted with the hotel’s publicist, Robert Demme. The elder Demme introduced Mr. Levine to his son, whose review of “Zulu” impressed him. Mr. Levine offered him a job.
Mr. Demme worked in the Embassy publicity department (the company became AVCO Embassy in 1967) in New York and also held other jobs in and around the film business, including writing reviews, before moving to London in 1969. There he earned his first film credit, as music coordinator for “Sudden Terror” (1970), a thriller about a boy who believes he is being hunted by a killer.
In 1971, he took a job as a unit publicist in Ireland for a Roger Corman film, “Von Richthofen and Brown,” about a German flying ace. Shortly after that, he began making films of his own for Corman’s production company. He wrote (with Joe Viola) and produced a biker film, “Angels Hard as They Come,” and wrote and directed a handful of others, including “Caged Heat” (1974), a heavy-breathing women’s prison movie, and “Crazy Mama” (1975), a campy road story with a ’50s rock score that starred Ann Sothern and Cloris Leachman as mother-and-daughter outlaws.
After other directors passed on “Citizens Band,” a script by Paul Brickman, Paramount hired Mr. Demme to direct it.
The movie had the wry humor of François Truffaut, one of Mr. Demme’s idols, and an interconnected group story that echoed Robert Altman’s “Nashville,” but it flopped at the box office (both immediately and later, when it was rereleased as “Handle With Care”). Still, movie insiders recognized the touch of a sly and promising director.
Thom Mount, who headed production at Universal, called Mr. Demme to direct “Melvin and Howard” after Mike Nichols had dropped out. The movie opened the New York Film Festival and drew rave reviews, a pair of Oscars (for Mr. Goldman’s script and for Mary Steenburgen’s supporting role as Melvin’s beleaguered wife) and a best picture citation by the National Society of Film Critics.
Mr. Demme’s first marriage, to Evelyn Purcell, ended in divorce. He later married Joanne Howard, an artist. She survives him along with three children, Brooklyn, Ramona and Jos. Complete information on survivors was not immediately available. Mr. Demme also had a home in Nyack, N.Y.
Mr. Demme’s other films include documentaries about the folk-rock singer and songwriter Neil Young; concert films featuring the country singer Kenny Chesney and the pop star Justin Timberlake; and “Swimming to Cambodia” (1987), Spalding Gray’s monologue ruminating about Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge and his experience appearing in the film “The Killing Fields.”
Mr. Demme was a member of the alternative arts scene of Lower Manhattan, which included Mr. Gray, who died in 2004, as well as Mr. Byrne and the composer and performer Laurie Anderson, who scored “Swimming to Cambodia.”
His other narrative features included “Swing Shift” (1984), about female factory workers during World War II that starred Goldie Hawn. Mr. Demme and Ms. Hawn clashed over the film’s editing, and the result was a movie generally seen as unsatisfying.
Better was “The Truth About Charlie” (2002), a well-paced remake of “Charade,” the 1963 thriller set in Paris about a woman (Thandie Newton in the Audrey Hepburn role) pursued by men who are out to reclaim a treasure filched by her husband, who has turned up dead.
And even better was “Rachel Getting Married” (2008). Set during a weekend in which Rachel (Rosemary DeWitt), a white woman, is to wed her black fiancé, Sidney (Tunde Adebimpe), the film presents a diverse gathering of two families and various friends within and around the sprawling Connecticut home of Rachel’s father (Bill Irwin) and his second wife (Anna Deavere Smith).
The main element of friction in the film is Rachel’s sister, Kym (Anne Hathaway), an intelligent and breathtakingly needy young woman who arrives on furlough from nine months in drug rehab.
Filmed in a documentarylike style with an array of musical genres on the soundtrack — though it is only music that the wedding guests hear — “Rachel Getting Married” recalls another Altman film about a similar occasion, “A Wedding,” in its piling up of characters and snatches of conversation. It gives viewers a sense of being wedding guests themselves — “an experience we’ve all had,” as the critic Roger Ebert wrote. He added, “We don’t meet everyone at a wedding, but we observe everyone.”
In many ways, “Rachel Getting Married” synthesizes the main characteristics and concerns of Mr. Demme’s body of work. Among the wedding guests are character actors who make appearances in other Demme films, so there’s a family within a family on the screen. And in its obvious but casual multiethnicity, the movie recognizes, with the progressive hopefulness often present in his films, an American whole after providing many close-ups of individual slices.
“It might seem that this tableau is a kind of utopian wish fulfillment, the naïve projection of a longed-for harmony that does not yet exist,” A. O. Scott wrote in his Times review. “To some extent this may be true, but the texture of ‘Rachel Getting Married’ is so loose and lived in, its faces (many of them belonging to nonprofessional actors) so interesting and real, that it looks more plausibly like a mirror of the way things are.
“It is not that racial division is willed away or made to disappear,” Mr. Scott continued, “but rather that, on this particular weekend, other matters are more important. A wedding, after all, represents a symbolic as well as an actual union, an intimation of possible perfection in a decidedly imperfect world.”
Three celestially minded participants in April 22nd’s March for Science share their experience. Hear from representatives of the Planetary Society, the American Astronomical Society, and the International Dark-Sky Association.
The United Nations (UN) officially observes the Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare on April 29 each year.
What Do People Do
The Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare gives people the chance to pay tribute to the victims of chemical warfare. It also allows governments and organizations to commit or reaffirm their commitment to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an organization that aims to end the threat of chemical weapons and promote the peace and security worldwide.
The Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare is a UN observance and not a public holiday on April 29.
In November 2005 the UN decided to observe a memorial “Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare” on April 29 each year. The date April 29 was chosen for this observance because it was when the Chemical Weapons Convention came into force.
Organizations such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations (UN) actively promote the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on April 28 every year.
What Do People Do?
The UN, ILO and other organizations, communities, individuals, and government bodies with an interest in workplace health and safety unite on or around April 28 to promote an international campaign known as World Day for Safety and Health at Work. The UN posts this event in its events calendar each year.
Community leaders and organizational representatives often promote the day by speaking out on issues such as workplace health and safety standards. Various media have promoted the day through news articles and broadcast programs. Different types of events and activities that center on workplace health and safety are held in many countries on or around April 28 each year.
The World Day for Safety and Health at Work is an observance and is not a public holiday.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) started observing the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on April 28, 2003. The ILO is devoted to advancing opportunities for people to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. It aims to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, boost social protection, and strengthen dialogue in work-related issues.
2017 Theme: “Optimize the collection and use of OSH data”
Thanks in part to crossover stars such as Kamasi Washington and Robert Glasper, a new generation is embracing jazz. Meet five artists of color who are making music to fight the power, tell our stories and heal our hearts in these tough times.
World Intellectual Property Day is observed on April 26 each year with a variety of events and activities worldwide. It aims to increase people’s awareness and understanding of intellectual property (IP). World Intellectual Property Day is sometimes referred as World IP Day.
What Do People Do?
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) works together with various government agencies, non-government organizations, community groups and individuals to hold different events and activities to promote World Intellectual Property Day each year. Activities and events may include (but are not exclusive to):
Stage concerts or other public performances centered around the around the World IP Day theme, with the performers delivering messages which encourage respect for creators and creativity.
Essay competitions for young people on themes relating to intellectual property, innovation, piracy, counterfeiting, and other similar issues.
Seminars or free lectures in universities to build awareness of intellectual property and its benefits among students, faculty and researchers.
Exhibits in museums, art galleries, schools and other educational institutions, with presentations explaining the link between exhibitions, innovation and intellectual property.
Some local intellectual and copyright offices may have an open day on or around April 26 to promote World IP Day. Some educational institutions may choose World IP Day as a time to celebrate the works of a notable inventor, artist, designer, or entrepreneur, and link discussions with the important role of intellectual property.
World Intellectual Property Day, also known as World IP Day, is an observance held in many places around the world. It is not designated as a special public holiday.
WIPO is a specialized agency of the United Nations. It is dedicated to developing a balanced and accessible international intellectual property (IP) system, which rewards creativity, stimulates innovation and contributes to economic development while safeguarding the public interest.
WIPO decided in 2000 to designate an annual World Intellectual Property Day to address the perceived gap between IP as a business/legal concept and its relevance to people’s lives. April 26 was chosen as the date upon which the convention establishing WIPO first entered into force in 1970.
WIPO plays a key role in organizing World IP Day. The activities, events and campaigns that focus on World IP Day seek to increase public understanding of what IP really means, and to demonstrate how the IP system fosters not only music, arts and entertainments, but also all products and technological innovations that help to shape the world.
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