Crowds and Sounds and the Unexpected

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September 3, 2013 by Elizabeth Hemmerdinger

Elizabeth Hemmerdinger, a member of the board of Women’s Voices, has taken on many roles—as playwright, screenwriter, executive director of the Real Rosie the Riveter Project, and as a producer.

She is drawn to tell the true stories of extraordinary women. Her producing credits include ELAINE STRITCH: SHOOT ME,  an independent film celebrating the life of the formidable Elaine Stritch; the documentary Beyond These Walls; producer/writer ofThe Girl With the Rivet Guna new-media project giving voice to those admirable World War II Rosies, and a short narrative filmGOOD SISTER.   Now she’s taken on another project about extraordinary people.—Ed. 

I really love a story about anybody who willfully does what’s not expected or sanctioned.  Working to record the stories of Real Rosie the Riveters, helping an organization that teaches girls with severe challenges to dance, producing a film about Elaine Stritch, still performing and living large in her late eighties, has added meaning to my own life.


And now I’ve become Executive Producer of LOST AND SOUND, a documentary about people who have lost their hearing and therefore their ability to coexist with their passion—music—in ways the rest of us find familiar. The brilliant British filmmaker Lindsey Dryden, deaf in one ear since childhood and threatened with losing her hearing altogether, helps us “hear” the loss, feel the fright, and share the grace of a dancer, a young pianist, and a music critic who are doing the seemingly impossible.

As I face the end of summer and mark another year rolling past while celebrating my birthday with my wonderful family, I confess I fight feelings of melancholy. So every year I exhort myself to dig in again, dig deeper for the next draft of a new film script, hit Restart on a project that might have been languishing just a bit in the dog days while I’ve been gratefully distracted by a headstrong puppy. I really must take things to a new level and—oh, you know, all that blather.

But, really—my synapses fired when I received a favorite newsletter that I actually had time to read, and found myself directed to a new project that is trying to raise finishing funds via Indiegogo. This is one of the powerhouse crowdfunding websites that have, over the last four years or so, been the platforms for raising millions and millions of dollars for worthy work—films, art projects, community-based organizations and schools, personal needs. You make a video explaining your needs and post it, explaining your financial goal and choosing a deadline.  Generous and ambitious folks donate money to the project and receive a perk—perhaps a copy of the film, a postcard of the photojournalist circumnavigating the world, a tee shirt, a you-name-it.  If you’re interested in the phenomenon of crowdfunding, if you’re interested in wonderful filmmaking, if you’re interested in thumbing your nose at nay-sayers in general, click here:  The times I have been moved to participate, I can feel the deadline closing in. It’s an unexpected thrill to help other seekers.

I have no doubt that Lindsey Dryden and her film partner, Kat Mansoor, will finish their film, get for it a wide distribution, and take their rightful places in the small and powerful ranks of extraordinary women filmmakers.


Wolves, Blue to play Chicago

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August 22, 2013. Jeremy Kay

Palme d’Or winner Blue Is The Warmest Color and Big Bad Wolves are among the first wave of 12 films at the Chicago International Film Festival, set to run from Oct 10-24.

The roster includes, Like Father, Like Son [pictured]. Heli, Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me and The Missing Picture.

“These first titles are just an appetiser to what is turning out to be a feast of fantastic films,” said Chicago International Film Festival founder and artistic director Michael Kutza.

“For 49 years we have discovered new ways of looking at the world through film and this year is no different. From spine-tingling thrillers to contemporary drama, as well as documentaries and award-winning debuts, this first sampling of our programme already shows what a robust showcase of new films we will offer this October.”

For the full line-up visit the official website.

Director, Elaine Stritch bond during filming of doc about the octogenarian actress

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Elaine Stritch tells it like it is. So does director Chiemi Karasawa, who chronicles the Broadway legend in "Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me."


A screening of the documentary Friday night at the Traverse City Film Festival drew Stritch, the 89-year-old actress who recently moved back to her metro Detroit hometown, and Karasawa to the Michigan event.

The movie takes a frank, fond look at the octogenarian actress with the big personality who has conquered everything from Sondheim musicals to NBC's "30 Rock" sitcom. It follows her as she embarks on a club tour that made a stop at Detroit's Music Hall.

Earlier this week, Karasawa spoke by phone and described how she met Stritch about three years ago because they happened to go to the same hairdresser in New York.

"I had worked with her for a day on a movie called 'Romance & Cigarettes' and I just remember she was this hurricane of a lady," recalled the documentary filmmaker, who previously was a script supervisor. When Karasawa spotted Stritch at the salon, her hairdresser said, "You should be making a documentary about her."

That led to Karasawa shooting more than 100 hours of footage over a year and a half for the 80-minute documentary. In the process, the director and the star developed a strong bond.

"She's as close to me as I am to a relative. She's a very dear friend," said Karasawa, who talks to Stritch often by phone and visited her in metro Detroit in July.

Documenting Stritch's day-to-day life as a woman in her 80s living alone and independently in New York City and maintaining a high-profile entertainment career was compelling to Karasawa.

"I find that the way she approaches aging is refreshing and inspiring, because she's still having epiphanies about herself."

For highlights of Stritch's appearance at a question-and-answer session moderated by festival founder Michael Moore, go to the TCFF website.

One of the quotable Stritch quotes you'll find there? When asked if she's on Twitter, she said, "I don't even know what that is. And it's a lousy title."

Contact Julie Hinds at 313-222-6427 or



Eliane Stritch Emmy Nomination!

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Congratulations to Elaine Stritch for her Emmy nomination: Outstanding Guest Actress in a comedy series "30 Rock"! ! !

Join us in the Hamptons on August 12th!

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Hamptons International Film Festival presents SummerDocs: ELAINE STRITCH: SHOOT ME hosted by Alec Baldwin

Monday, August 12 at 7pm

Q & A to follow with Alec Baldwin and Special Guests TBA

Broadway legend Elaine Stritch, 87, takes the spotlight once again in acclaimed documentary producer Chiemi Karasawa’s directorial debut ELAINE STRITCH: SHOOT ME. Bold and poignant, the film follows the uncompromising Tony and Emmy-award winner dominating the stage, tormenting Alec Baldwin on “30 Rock,” sharing her personal takes on her struggles, and reflecting on her life.  Featuring friends Nathan Lane, George C. Wolfe, Hal Prince, Cherry Jones, Tina Fey, James Gandolfini and John Turturro, ELAINE STRITCH: SHOOT ME reaches beyond the icon’s brassy exterior to reveal a multi-dimensional portrait of a complex woman and artist.

$22 Reserved Seating / $20 Members



"Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me" Will Be Centerpiece of Michael Moore's Traverse City Film Festival

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By Adam Hetrick
07 Jul 2013 

Elaine Stritch
Photo by Aubrey Reuben

"Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me," the new documentary about the Tony Award-winning stage veteran that premiered to acclaim this spring at the Tribeca Film Festival, will be screened as part of filmmaker Michael Moore's Traverse City Film Festival in August.


Moore, the Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker of "Bowling for Columbine," invited "Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me" to be the Centerpiece Gala Screening during the festival that takes place July 30-Aug. 4 in Michigan. The film will be screened Aug. 2 at 6 PM, according to the official Facebook page for "Shoot Me."

Documentary filmmaker Chiemi Karasawa ("Love, Etc"; Emmy-winning "The Betrayal") of Isotope Films directed the film that began capturing Stritch's public and personal life in February 2011. Tony and Academy Award nominee Alec Baldwin is executive producer of the film.

The documentary includes interviews with a host of theatre vets who have worked with Stritch, including At Liberty collaboratorGeorge C. WolfeCompany and Show Boat director Hal Prince and Tony-winning actors Cherry Jones and Nathan Lane. Also featured are "30 Rock" creator Tina Fey, late actorJames Gandolfini and John Turturro, among others.

Elaine Stritch at the Carlyle: Movin' Over and Out

Alec Baldwin, Harold Prince, Tina Fey, Patti LuPone and more offered Stritch a quotable sendoff. Read it here.

Last spring Stritch announced that she would retire from performing. The icon played her final New York engagement, , in early April and recently departed to her home state of Michigan.

Here's how the film is billed: "What does it mean to be a performing artist – first, last and always? Broadway legend Elaine Stritch can answer that. At 87, Stritch is still here, dominating the stage in her one woman cabaret act, torturing Alec Baldwin on "30 Rock," giving us her take on aging, her struggle with alcohol and diabetes, and the fear of leaving the follow spot behind. In stolen moments from her corner room at the Carlyle, and on breaks from her tour and work, candid reflections about her life are punctuated with rare archival footage, words from friends and photographs from her personal collection. By turns bold, hilarious and achingly poignant, the journey connects Stritch's present to her past, and an inspiring portrait of a one-of-a-kind survivor emerges."

Elaine Stritch received Tony and Emmy Awards for Elaine Stritch at Liberty, which traces a stellar career, which includes roles in composer-lyricist Sondheim's Company plus The Little Foxes,Bus StopA Delicate Balance, Sail Away and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

You can read Playbill's recent, two-part feature, Everybody Rise! The Essential Elaine Stritch Show Recordings, Part's One and Two here. 

Visit the Playbill Vault to explore more about Stritch's decades-spanning career on Broadway.



The 5 Most Essential Documentaries of 2013 So Far

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It's the half-year mark, so which docs have made the biggest impact this year?

The year in film is nearly half over, so we figured it was time to take stock of the films that have already opened and see where we're at. We've had six months of every type of movie, blockbuster to indie curiosity, and looking at the landscape of 2013 so far, things are looking pretty solid. Today, we're looking at the best, most eye-opening documentaries of the year - and it's a good year to do this, because some of the best films of 2013 so far have been docs. Here's what you should be going out of your way to see if you haven't already.



Tribeca: Sundance Selects Acquires ‘Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me’

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NEW YORK, NY (April 29, 2013) – Sundance Selects announced today that the company is acquiring North American rights to Chiemi Karasawa’s directorial debut ELAINE STRITCH: SHOOT ME, a feature documentary about the stage and screen icon that made its world premiere last week at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. The film was produced by Karasawa and Elizabeth Hemmerdinger, and executive produced by Alec Baldwin and Cheryl Wiesenfeld.

At 87, Broadway legend Elaine Stritch remains indisputably in the spotlight. In the revealing and poignant ELAINE STRITCH: SHOOT ME, the uncompromising Tony and Emmy Award-winner is showcased both on and off stage via rare archival footage and intimate cinema vérité. By turns bold, hilarious and moving, the film’s journey connects Stritch’s present to her past, and an inspiring portrait of a one-of-a-kind survivor emerges. In stolen moments from her corner room at New York’s Carlyle Hotel and on breaks from her tour and work, candid reflections about her life are punctuated with photographs from her personal collection and words from friends (including Hal Prince, George C. Wolfe, Nathan Lane, Cherry Jones, Tina Fey, James Gandolfini and John Turturro). Whether dominating the stage, tormenting Alec Baldwin on the set of “30 Rock,” or sharing her personal takes on her struggles with aging, diabetes and alcoholism, ELAINE STRITCH: SHOOT ME reaches beyond the icon’s brassy exterior and reveals a multi-dimensional portrait of a complex woman and artist.

The deal for the film was negotiated by Jeff Deutchman, Director of Acquisitions & Productions for Sundance Selects and Josh Braun at Submarine on behalf of the filmmakers.


BWW TV: On the Red Carpet with Elaine Stritch & Friends for ELAINE STITCH: SHOOT ME Premiere! (TV Content)

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On Friday night, April 19, the Tribeca Film Festival presented Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, directed by Chiemi Karasawa. In the film, Broadway legend Elaine Stritch remains in the spotlight at eighty-seven years old. Join the uncompromising Tony and Emmy Award-winner both on and off stage in this revealing documentary. With interviews from Tina Fey, Nathan Lane, Hal Prince and others, Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me blends rare archival footage and intimate cinema verite to reach beyond Stritch's brassy exterior, revealing a multi-dimensional portrait of a complex woman and an inspiring artist. BroadwayWorld was there for the special screening and you can check out rep carpet interviews with Stritch and friends below!

Hello, World!


'Shoot Me' Documentary Takes A Look At The Life Of Elaine Stritch

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NEW YORK -- Elaine Stritch would rather get on with it.


The 88-year-old Broadway legend and New York icon – as much a fixture as the Statue of Liberty, but with a whole lot more to say – has made her way slowly into the Chelsea theater where the documentary "Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me" was premiering Friday at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Led to a green room before the show starts, she's displeased about the seating options, and, coming off a hip surgery, would prefer to go directly into the theater. She isn't shy about it. First, though, she grips a reporter by the forearm, fixes her gaze on him, and says in that unmistakable, feisty voice:

"There are ways around my life, if you know what I mean."

She has lived a full one, from defining performances of Stephen Sondheim tunes on Broadway to the Tony- and Emmy-winning one-woman show "Elaine Stritch: At Liberty" to her memorable guest appearances on "30 Rock." She's New York show business, personified.


"Shoot Me," directed by Chiemi Karasawa and produced by Elizabeth Hemmerdinger of Providence Productions, captures Stritch off the stage, but no less theatrical. Just walking down the street on her Upper East Side neighborhood, Stritch is entertaining. The film – one of the best at Tribeca – follows her around as she makes plans to move back home to Michigan, thinks about winding down her career, and generally reacts with anger, frustration and acceptance at her increasingly evident mortality.

As in everything else, Stritch makes no bones about her opinion of the unadorned portrait of her in "Shoot Me."

"I'm not going to comment," she says, before doing so. "It's not my cup of tea on a warm afternoon in May. I'd like to be do doing something else but complaining about my life, and that's a lot of what I was doing. But I think I had a right to."

Karasawa, a veteran documentary producer and former script supervisor, came to make the film (her directorial debut) through sharing a hairdresser with Stritch. It was the hairdresser who first suggested Karasawa make a documentary on the cabaret grande dame. An introduction was made. Others vouched for her.

"It took some prodding," says Karasawa. "She'd tell me to call and then I'd call and she wouldn't remember who I was."

Along with interviews with Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin (who has joined the film as a producer), and her longtime musical companion, Rob Bowman, "Shoot Me" is mostly just Stritch – irascible and vulnerable – going about her days with brassy humor and undaunted energy.

Stritch's "At Liberty" was memorably documented in an award-winning HBO film, and D.A. Pennebaker's "Company: Original Cast Album" (1970) showed her wildly wrestling to record "The Ladies Who Lunch." But Karasawa wanted to an inversion of that, an off-stage picture of Stritch.

"She is not ashamed to present herself at any stage in her life as she is and be honest about what she's going through," says Karasawa. "When you see someone that's that liberated, it inspires the same thing in you. I think that's why she has so many fans, because they wish that she was the person on their shoulder giving them courage and the strength to do and say what they feel."

There are some remarkably intimate moments. When Stritch, a diabetic, landed in the hospital, she called for Karasawa to come quickly with her camera. Sitting in a hospital bed, she says: "It's time for me, and I can feel it everywhere."

Then, with a flash of resilience, she says: "This is the time in my life where I'm going to behave like an elegant human being, or not. Because I can be a lot of things."

"Elaine is extremely critical of it," Karasawa says of the film. "If you're a performer and an entertainer and you're used to performing and entertaining, then you see yourself not performing and entertaining, it can be very difficult. It makes her a little bit nervous because she's not used to presenting that side of herself and I don't think she's aware of how entertaining she is when she's not performing."

Stritch doesn't plan to retire from show business, but take it slower: "Easy does it is what I'm looking for," she says.

Earlier in April, Stritch performed a farewell series of shows at the Cafe Carlyle, ahead of her planned move to her hometown of Birmingham, Mich. – the same town she left to come to New York some 70 years ago. She moves next week, she says.

What will she miss most about New York?

After careful thought, she answers: "I love holidays in New York. I love `em. I want to celebrate something all the time and New York has holidays for every day of the week, practically. I like holidays in New York City."

"And days off!" she adds, before making her way to the theater for yet another adoring audience.


That Alec Baldwin Is So Good To His TV Mother!

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While Elaine Stritchplayed a mom character who drove her executive son crazy on 30 Rock, that Alec Baldwincontinues to be a good son, even after the sitcom has gone by the wayside. Or maybe he still feels bad that his alter ego Jack Donaghy backed over her with a car. He has signed on to lend his support as an executive producer for Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, a documentary on her career that will premiere at the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival. Chiemi Karasawa directed the film about the Tony and Emmy-winning actress. Baldwin reached out to Karasawa directly after he got word of the IndieGogo campaign launched to raise additional funds to release the movie. “It’s a fitting real-life extension of their roles on 30 Rock except in this case there is no ambiguity in Alec’s genuine support and endorsement of Elaine,” Karasawa said. It’s a beautiful gesture.” The film will be shopped at Tribeca by Submarine’s Josh Braun, who’s handling world rights. Karasawa is producing with Elizabeth Hemmerdinger of Providence Productions.


Crowdfunding Elaine Stritch

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Chiemi Karasawa first encountered Elaine Stritch [editorial note: if you are not familiar with Elaine Stritch, please hit pause on reading this article and watch this this , and this ] when she was working as a script supervisor on the indie film Romance and Cigarettes. "The first time I came into contact with her was when I had to give her a line or blocking," Karasawa says. "I remember looking at John [Turturro, the film's director] and thinking, ‘who is this woman?'"

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Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me

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Raising money for someone else’s project is a challenging exercise.  What is easy and important for me is defending the safe space of a really wonderful artist.  Isotope Films, Chiemi Karasawa’s production company, has made many films.  Although she’s been hired and often-awarded for her producing in the past, Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me marks Chiemi’s directing debut.  Both Chiemi Karasawa and Elaine Stritch are vulnerable and victorious and I count my lucky stars to be, as they say in the biz, “attached”.

Elizabeth Hemmerdinger, Chiemi Karasawa & Elaine Stritch at the private screening of Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me