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RETURN TO BABYLON

July 17, 2014, 7:00 P.M.

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007


Outside the Box [Office] and Montebello Films invite you and a guest to
A Special Screening of

Return to Babylon

Directed by Alex Monty Canawati
Written by Alex Monty Canawati, Bruce Pitzer, and Stanley Sheff
Produced by Maria Conchita Alonso and Stanley Sheff
 
Followed by a Q&A with Alex Monty Canawati, Stanley Sheff,
Maria Conchita Alonso, and Morganne Picard
 
7:00 P.M. on Thursday, July 17th, 2014
The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007
 
FREE ADMISSION. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
 

About Return to Babylon

Return to Babylon is a new black and white silent film that reveals the scandals and decadent lives of the 1920's greatest movie stars.

Director Alex Monty Canawati's fast-paced, sexy, bitingly funny yet poignant look at Hollywood's silent movie era in the 1920s boasts an impressive cast featuring Jennifer Tilly, Maria Conchita Alonso, Tippi Hedren, Debi Mazar and Ione Skye.

Photographed with a hand-cranked camera and scored with music of the Roaring Twenties, this saucy silent film strings together the lives of scandalous Clara Bow (Jennifer Tilly), fiery Mexican film star Lupe Velez (Maria Conchita Alonso) and husband Johnny 'Tarzan' Weissmuller, ill-fated Virginia Rappe (Ione Skye) and Fatty Arbuckle, Douglas Fairbanks (Maxwell DeMille), Gloria Swanson (Debi Mazar), Ramon Navarro (Phillip Bloch), Josephine Baker (Rolonda Watts), Rudolph Valentino (Alex Monty Canawati) and a host of others.

Return to Babylon is the silent film screaming to be heard!

Provided courtesy of Montebello Films. Not rated. Running time: 75 minutes.

Visit the Official Website: http://returntobabylon.com/

 

About the Guests

ALEX MONTY CANAWATI (Director, Writer)

Alex Monty Canawati graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts in 1991 and soon secured funding for his directorial debut INEVITABLE GRACE (1994) starring Maxwell Caulfield, Tippi Hedren, comedian Taylor Negron and Samantha Eggar. The film, set against a backdrop of murder and sexual blackmail, details the obsession of the Hitchcock legend Grace Kelly.

One day while taking a walk on Hollywood Blvd., Canawati found a bag of factory-sealed black and white film. That weekend he gathered a group of friends and began shooting THE BIRTH OF BABYLON, a silent film based on the unsolved murder of film director William Desmond Taylor. Only 18 minutes long, the short won an award at the 1999 Arpa Film Festival. It was there he met actress Maria Conchita Alonso. Impressed with the short, she urged Canawati to do a full length feature and RETURN TO BABYLON was born. The ensemble cast features Jennifer Tilly, María Conchita Alonso, Ione Skye, Debi Mazar, Laura Harring and Tippi Hedren. Shot in black-and-white with a hand-cranked camera and scored with music of the Roaring Twenties, this silent film reveals the lives of the Hollywood's famous and infamous stars of the 1920s, including Rudolph Valentino, Gloria Swanson, Clara Bow, Lupe Vélez, Fatty Arbuckle and William Desmond Taylor. Shot in Hollywood, California, locations include the original home of Rudolph Valentino - Falcon Lair, the Norma Talmadge estate and the Canfield-Moreno Estate and the Magic Castle in the Hollywood Hills.

Currently, Canawati is in post-production on CITIZENS, a tribute to the independent filmmaking style of Andy Warhol. The film delves into the ideology of Hollywood celebrity-stardom and the definition of a true artist. The cast includes Joe Dallesandro, Holly Woodlawn, Mary Woronov, Udo Kier, Juliet Landau, and Alexis Arquette.

STANLEY SHEFF (Editor, Producer, Writer)

Stanley Sheff (also known as Maxwell DeMille) is a Hollywood born director and writer. He has worked in television, stage and screen. His collaboration with Orson Welles eventually led Sheff to direct the cult science fiction feature Lobster Man From Mars starring Tony Curtis, based on a title suggested by Welles. Feature films and television are not the only types of projects directed by Stanley Sheff. In the early 1980s he produced, directed and performed a popular comedy radio show for KROQ-FM radio in Los Angeles called "The Young Marquis And Stanley", a zany comedy show that was aired on Sunday evenings.

Sheff's work in television as director and editor includes the NBC-TV special, "TV - The Fabulous Fifties" with featured hosts Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Dinah Shore, Mary Martin, Michael Landon and David Janssen, the first televised outtakes show "Hollywood Outtakes" hosted by George Burns, "Amos 'n' Andy: Anatomy of a Controversy" a thoughtful examination of the history of the infamous radio and television show banned in the 1960s, "Motown Returns to the Apollo" (Emmy winner for editing), a Chevy Chase "On Location" comedy special for HBO and "Sinister Image", a one-hour interview with Vincent Price that aired on the A&E Channel as part of the "Biography" series. In addition, Sheff collaborated with Orson Welles as editor and director on The Orson Welles Show, an unsold, untelevised talk show pilot.

Theatrical productions feature the "The Plush Life", a comedy sitcom serial soap opera, "Queen Of Outer Space: The Musical", "Dancing Cavalcade - Swing of the 1920s and 1930s", "Vaudeville Comes Home", "The Black Pirate Musical Spectacular" and "Broadway Confidential", for the Los Angeles Conservancy that was performed for a sold out audience of over two thousand at the historic Orpheum Theater in downtown Los Angeles. Sheff also produced and directed stage shows for the Conservancy’s “Last Remaining Seats” film festival that has presented film screenings with live on stage guest appearances by noted film personalities Stanley Kramer, Eva Marie Saint, Jane Wyatt, Howard Keel, Betty Garrett, Tony Curtis, Gloria Stewart, Patricia Hitchcock, Russ Tamblyn, George Takei, Jeri Ryan, Anne Francis, Billy Barty, Alan Young and many others.

MARIA CONCHITA ALONSO

Be it as a riveting stage, screen or television actress or as an electrifying recording artist, Maria Conchita Alonso is without a doubt one of the most important Latina entertainers in the United States, as well as in Spanish-speaking countries. Along the way, the always effervescent three-time Grammy nominee opened doors for a new generation of Hispanic actors and singers who have realized stateside prosperity.

But despite her many career milestones, Maria Conchita is hardly resting on her laurels; 2012’s “Without Men” with Eva Longoria and Christian Slater; “Lords Of Salem”, directed by Rob Zombie (Halloween), 2013; and Queen Latifah’s “November Rules” fall 2014. In 2010 she finished a run at the “Geffen Theater” with the play/reading of “Gingy’s Story”. And in the city of Miami and New York,  “The Vagina Monologues”.

Maria Conchita is currently in the midst of pre-production and will co-star in “Courage”, a romantic/thriller/action movie about Venezuela’s political chaos, recently narrated the award winner documentary “Crossing Our Borders”, about Latin America dictators but mainly about Hugo Chavez; and, produced by Sunrise Pictures, her reality “Maria Conchita’s Crazy Life” will be coming out soon.

At the same time, she’s into the music scene with a number of concerts in Colombia, Mexico and the United States. Her new single is out, a re-mix of her successful number one hit “Noche de Copas”.

Born in Cuba and raised in Venezuela , Maria Conchita knew at an early age that she wanted to be a performer. Armed with a singular talent, earthy beauty and kinetic charisma, the vivacious performer’s career was launched in 1971 when she was crowned “Miss Teenager of Venezuela ”, followed by winning the “Miss Teenager of the World.” Four years later she won “Miss World Venezuela” before finishing as 6th runner-up in the Miss World Pageantin London.

On the heels of her beauty pageant feats, Maria Conchita became a top model. She then conquered the hearts of millions of TV viewers and movie fans in the Hispanic world,

starring in more than 11 Spanish-language telenovelas and films. Her next career move? Hollywood , of course! Less than two years after her arrival in the United States in 1982, Maria Conchita co-starred with Robin Williams in the hit picture “ Moscow on the Hudson .” From that auspicious debut, she garnered her starring roles with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sean Penn, Nicolas Cage and Jeremy Irons, among others. She has appeared in more than 50 films.

As Maria Conchita was establishing herself as an up-and-coming movie star, she also was showing off her vocal chops as a promising recording artist who was fast gaining renown both stateside and around the world. She notched multiple No. 1 songs, making her a platinum and gold recording winner singer/songwriter, as well as Grammy nominations in three categories: “Best Latin Artist” for her album “Maria Conchita”,“Best Latin Performance” for her single “Otra Mentira Mas” and “Best Latin Pop Album” for “Imaginame”,on which she is co- author of 7 songs. Maria Conchita also performed and co- wrote “Vamos a Bailar” for the movie “Scarface” starring Al Pacino. Famed Latina recording stars such as Gloria Estefan and Selena would follow her in Grammy footsteps.

Maria Conchita was the first Latina not born in the United States that starred on a Broadway show “Kiss of the Spider Woman”.

 Maria Conchita’s groundbreaking success in the 1980s as a Latina actress paved the way for the eventual mainstream acceptance of a growing number of star Hispanic actresses, including Salma Hayek, Jennifer Lopez, etc. Her trailblazing influence came full circle in 2006 when the much-awarded actress played Eva Longoria’s mother on Desperate Housewives.” Maria Conchita also guest-starred in "Amas De Casa Desesperadas", the Spanish counterpart of “Desperate Housewives.”

As testimony to her broad appeal, Maria Conchita has been honored with many awards in Venezuela and other Latin countries. In the States, she was given the “Hispanic Woman of the Year Award”,plus an ALMA Award for best actress for “My Husband’s Secret Life”, and many Golden Eagle Awards; in addition, Maria Conchita was nominated as best actress at the “Independent Spirit Awards” for her role in Robert Young’s movie “Caught”,which also featured Edward James Olmos.

Over the years, the small screen also provided ample room for Maria Conchita to demonstrate her considerable talents in numerous series, mini- series, and films for networks such as NBC,HBO,ABC,SHOWTIME, CBS and many others. She hosted the VH1 reality show "Viva Hollywood ," helping to find the next Latin Soap Star.

Though her multi-faceted career has never slowed, Maria Conchita has found time to get involved with humanitarian projects, including "Global Medical Relief Fund (Globmed.org), and in Venezuela with" Venezuela without Bounders". She is also the Spokeperson of “Venezuela Awareness”, a non-profit org. that takes care mainly of the Venezuelan political prisoners and Human Rights all over the world. Concern for animals also has compelled her to become active with different animal organizations around the USA, she is the spokeperson for “The Dog Barker Foundation” based in Florida.

In yet another unprecedented accomplishment in a lifetime full of them, Maria Conchita became the first Latina to receive The Key to the City of Las Vegashonoring her contributions to the world and entertainment.

Throughout her inimitable and celebrated career, Maria Conchita has always reached for the next star – and grabbed the one beyond it. Such ambition propelled her to lofty artistic and commercial heights many years before it became routine for Latinas to score big recording and cinematic triumphs. Best of all, Maria Conchita continues to hone her craft, taking her many fans along a non-peril creative journey that has many years to travel.

MORGANNE PICARD 

From her dazzling performance at LA’s landmark Walt Disney Concert Hall’s inaugural gala to her renowned l.a. Eyeworks’ print campaign, from opening for Barbra Streisand at the Kodak Theater and performing with The Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, to performing at Mad Men’s 4th season premiere bash, the incomparable chanteuse and former top model is mesmerizing Los Angeles audiences.

French Laundry’s Thomas Keller asked Morganne to “open” his new Beverly Hills nighterie, Bouchon, and she was invited as the star performer. Last month, she shared the stage with Earth, Wind and Fire and Gladys Knight at Hollywood’s legendary Palladium. She has recently performed with two of the most acclaimed orchestras: the legendary Eddie Duchin and his Orchestra, and the Brian Setzer Orchestra. She shared her diva fabulousness with VIP Manhattanites last fall at the Glass House in the Chelsea Arts Tower.

Morganne Picard’s singing and modeling career skyrocketed in Paris in her early teens. She was signed by Warner Brother’s International, and her ravishing looks and vocal talent catapulted her to the limelight at the famous Parisian nightclub, Les Bains Douches. She graced runways around the World. In Manhattan, Morganne honed her Jazz career at world-renowned jazz venues as The Blue Note and Nell’s, before relocating to Los Angeles, and transporting her European flare. A devoted fan base continues to blossom.

Decked out in haute couture -- with magnificent chapeaux and costumes from her legendary collection -- Morganne’s electric and eclectic fusion of Jazz, Blues, Latin, Reggae, Trip Hop, Chill-Out and vintage R&R create a spine-tingling repertoire on display at the Mercedes-Benz’ Los Angeles Fashion Week, Stella McCartney’s “Absolut Stella” soiree and the W Hotel opening in Los Angeles.

Morganne’s most exciting personal accomplishment was achieved when she was invited to be an honorary artist for “Artists for the U.N.,” an NGO affiliated with the United Nations, with an honorary committee including His holiness the Dalai Lama. She was also recognized with an award of achievement for her extraordinary volunteering in arts, education and programming for the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, and this month was cited by the California State Assembly with a Certificate of Appreciation.

Morganne also composes original music, and wrote a song for designer Maggie Barry’s perfume “Dangerous Love.” She sang, produced and re-arranged 'My Funny Valentine' for Project Runway-star designer, Rami Kashou at the Mercedes- Benz' L. A. Fashion Week. Morganne has a complete repertoire and can create to accommodate and meet clients’ needs for any occasion. She customizes her shows couture style, music and entertainment according to each event's requirements. Recently Morganne added a Swing Big Band to her roster, so she is at home with just an accordionist, a trio, singing her signature Euro Lounge, with a DJ or a mini Orchestra.

Please visit www.morganne.com to review past, recent or present performances, and to keep up on future events.

About Outside the Box [Office]

Outside the Box [Office] is a weekly showcase for upcoming releases highlighting world cinema, documentary and independent film titles. Recognizing a need for greater diversity on campus, the series will draw from around the globe to present movies that may challenge, inspire or simply entertain.

To view the calendar of screenings, click here.

Check-In & Reservations

This screening is free of charge and open to the public. Please bring a valid USC ID or print out of your reservation confirmation, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors will open at 6:30 P.M.

All SCA screenings are OVERBOOKED to ensure seating capacity in the theater, therefore seating is not guaranteed based on RSVPs. The RSVP list will be checked in on a first-come, first-served basis until the theater is full. Once the theater has reached capacity, we will no longer be able to admit guests, regardless of RSVP status.

Parking

The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $10.00 at USC Entrance Gate #4, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & Royal Street. We recommend Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Please note that Parking Structure D cannot accommodate tall vehicles such as SUVs. Metered street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.

Contact Information

Name: Alessandro Ago
Email: aago@cinema.usc.edu