French Cinema 2014

French Cinema Now is a fall mini-festival presented by the San Francisco Film Society. This year’s event will screen a dozen narrative features from France and four other European countries.


It opens Thursday night 9 November 2014 with Paris Follies directed by Marc Fitoussi (2014) France and stars Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Pierre Darroussian.

The festival venue is the Vogue Theatre on Sacramento Street at Presidio Boulevard in San Francisco. For more information and tickets contact SFFS.

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Art Whirl

The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro published (2112) by Algonquin Books Of Chapel Hill is an engaging and quite believable fictional narrative told from the perspective of a contemporary artist living and working in Boston.


The protagonist manages to support herself copying famous artworks while struggling to overcome obstacles preventing her from being recognized as an outstanding, talented painter in her own right. She receives an incredible offer from the owner of a prominent gallery that will change her life.

Shapiro delves into many complicated issues involving money and art in present day society. The roles of museums and galleries as arbiters of taste. The quixotic nature of public opinion fueled by media reports and gossip. The illusive definition of creative achievement and its relation to financial success.

The novel begins with a newspaper article about the theft of artwork from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, a crime still unsolved after more than two decades, and goes on to speculate about a possible romantic liaison between its founder and French impressionist artist Edgar Degas a century ago.

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Culinary Roots

Ikaria: Lessons On Food, Life, And Longevity by Diane Kochilas published 2014 by Rodale spotlights the Aegean island heritage of the author. While there are a substantial number of health tips scattered throughout because of the locale’s Blue Zone status, the heart of this book and its most valuable asset lies in its recipes.


One surprise for me was the inclusion of tarot root among native ingredients and I look forward to trying the instructions for skordalia (page 9), a dish I’ve only had using potato or bread as the base for this garlic dip.

Other tantalizing dishes are: whipped feta kaponisti (page 7); old style Ikarian tourlou (page 135) casserole combining potatoes and zucchini; noodles with yogurt and herbs (page 190); smoked herring rice (page 201); and baby goat with avgolemono (page 243).

When searching for a recipe in the index, look first for a key ingredient and then zero in on the name of the dish!

I frequently cook savory pies from an earlier Kochilas book, The Glorious Foods Of Greece but my attempt to make my own phyllo dough was unsuccessful. However I’m going to give it another try with one of the recipes in the section on savory pies and breads.

Ikaria by Diane Kochilas, with photos by her husband Vassilis Stenos, is available in both a hardbound and e-book edition from Rodale Books.

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Arab USA

May In The Summer directed by Cherien Dabis (Jordan/USA/Qatar) 2013 is about an American woman who goes to Amman, Jordan for her wedding. Delays, complications, and family drama threaten to undermine what initially seemed a sensible decision.

It was the opening-night film of the 18th Annual Arab Film Festival in San Francisco and will screen again 22 November 2014 at the Museum Of Photographic Art in San Diego.


The Citizen directed by Sam Kadi (USA) 2013 focuses on the experiences of a Lebanese man who arrives in New York hopeful of beginning a new life there. Unfortunately he lands at JFK the day before 9/11 and is repeatedly challenged despite his good deeds.

Both films deal sensitively with cross-cultural issues. The first from an independent perspective, the second one more mainstream. I recommend these two films.

The Arab Film Festival continues this week in San Francisco venues and then moves to Berkeley, Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Diego. For program information and tickets contact the AFF web site.

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Working Class

Two Days, One Night directed by Jean-Pierre Dardonne (Belgium/France/Italy) 2014 takes a look at work from an unusual perspective. It focuses on a tense, harrowing weekend challenge for an employee of a small factory fighting for her job.


She must convince colleagues to vote in favor of her return to work rather than choosing a large bonus for themselves. It’s a hard sell for individuals economically stressed and reveals the numerous difficulties faced by workers.

The film screens Saturday night 11 October 2014 at the Sequoia 1 and Sunday afternoon 12 October 2014 at the Rafael 1 during Mill Valley Film Festival 37.

Contact California Film Institute for more information.

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved