PODCAST: MICHEL VARISCO ON GLEASON, A DOCUMENTARY ON FORMER NFL PLAYER STEVE GLEASON

Michele Varisco, Scott Gleason & Rivers Gleason
That is a  picture of the Gleason family consisting of Michel Varisco, her husband Steve Gleason and their son Rivers Gleason. In 2011 Gleason, a former NFL player for the New Orleans Saints was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). A couple of months later they discovered that Varisco was pregnant. Those two developments changed the course and quality of life for Varisco and Gleason. They both took an active approach to find solutions to deal with Gleason’s ALS.

We get a peek into how they dealt with in a new documentary called Gleason. The film makes you cry and laugh as you witness how ALS slowly and steadily incapacitates Gleason. He goes from being a fit and healthy young man to one, who loses his mobility and has to use a wheel chair to get around. He now requires round-the-clock help.  Gleason eventually lost his the ability to eat through his mouth or speak as Varisco puts it in our interview. He can only communicate through his eyes and uses a Microsoft Surface pro for that purpose.

LISTEN: MICHELE VARISCO ON GLEASON, A DOCUMENTARY ON FORMER NFL PLAYER STEVE GLEASON

We spoke with Varisco about the film and how she found the courage to deal with her husband’s ALS.  What was their goal in making Gleason since we get to saw very private side of their family. The film has some pretty raw and heart wrenching scenes on how the family deals with the everyday challenges of living with ALS. One of the goals of the film is to create awareness about ALS points out Varisco. The film does succeed in creating that awareness.

Gleason releases in the San Francisco Bay area on July 29, 2016.

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PODCAST: MATT ROSS ON CAPTAIN FANTASTIC, VIGGO MORTENSEN & GAVIN BELSON OF HOOLI

Matt Ross

Matt Ross is a filmmaker, writer and actor, who is well-known for his role as Gavin Belson, CEO of Hooli in HBO’s Silicon Valley.

We sat down with Ross to speak about Captain Fantastic that he wrote and directed. We wondered about the title of the film. How did he come up with Captain Fantastic? The film is about a father (Viggo Mortensen) who is bringing up his 6 children in a rather unusual fashion in Washington state. It is the back to the land movement explains Ross and adds that the film has autobiographical elements. Ross grew up in a similar environment and was brought up a single mother.

LISTEN: MATT ROSS ON CAPTAIN FANTASIC, VIGGO MORTENSEN & GAVIN BELSON OF HOOLI

Captain Fantastic stars Viggo Mortensen, George Mackay, Samantha Isler, Aalise Basso, Nicholas Hamilton, Shree Crooks, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn, Frank Langella, Ann Dowd and others. Mortensen as a father of 6 children, who is bringing them up in a rather unusual fashion in Washington state.

CF_00717_R (l to r) Actors Viggo Mortensen, Charlie Shotwell, Samantha Isler and Director Matt Ross discuss a scene on the set of their film CAPTAIN FANTASTIC, a Bleecker Street release. Credit: Erik Simkins / Bleecker Street

(l to r) Actors Viggo Mortensen, Charlie Shotwell, Samantha Isler and Director Matt Ross discuss a scene on the set of their film CAPTAIN FANTASTIC, a Bleecker Street release.
Credit: Erik Simkins / Bleecker Street

 (l to r) Actors Frank Langella and Nicholas Hamilton discuss a scene with Director Matt Ross on the set of their film CAPTAIN FANTASTIC, a Bleecker Street release. Credit: Cathy Kanavy / Bleecker Street


(l to r) Actors Frank Langella and Nicholas Hamilton discuss a scene with Director Matt Ross on the set of their film CAPTAIN FANTASTIC, a Bleecker Street release.
Credit: Cathy Kanavy / Bleecker Street

Captain Fantastic released in July 2016.

Film clip and photos courtesy of Bleecker Street

PODCAST: SCOTT FUJITA ON GLEASON’S DOCUMENTARY

Gleason

 

Former NFL player Scott Fujita is one of the producers of Gleason, a documentary on Steve Gleason, who has myotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Fujita and Gleason became good friends when they played for the New Orleans Saints. Fujita shares how one of his uncles lost his life to ALS and was aware of the challenges the disease posed to families.

Gleason is not just about creating awareness on ALS points out Fujita in our interview. It also shows how Gleason’s family led by his wife Michele Varisco is involved in the 24/7 caretaking efforts of Gleason. The film also underscores the relationship between father and son adds Fujita.

In 2011 Gleason was diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Instead of shying away from the diagnosis Gleason and his wife Varisco adopted a pro-active approach. One of the first things that Gleason did was to start producing video diaries for his then unborn son. Those videos became the basis of this poignant, touching and brave documentary that shows how Gleason, his wife and their family worked to find solutions for their everyday existence. This doucmentary makes you both cry and laugh and gives you an inkling of what it is to live with ALS.

LISTEN: SCOTT FUJITA ON GLEASON’S DOCUMENTARY

We spoke with Fujita about the film, and his friendship with Gleason, whom he first saw doing yoga in New Orleans during their exercise session. While Fujita and his team mates were lifting weights, a long-haired Gleason was doing yoga. He knew right then that Gleason and he would become good friends shares Fujita. A couple of years ago Fujita along with Gleason and his family trekked to Machu Pichu in Peru. And Fujita famously signed a one day contract with New Orleans Saints and announced his retirement from Machu Pichu.

Fujita is part of  Team Gleason ,whose mission is to provide technological solutions for ALS patients and to create awareness around the disease.

Gleason is releasing on July 27, 2017 in San Francisco Bay area.

 

 

PODCAST: FILMMAKER JAMES SCHAMUS ON INDIGNATION, PHILIP ROTH & ANG LEE

Dr. James SchamusJames Schamus director of #Indignation @kamlashow.com is a filmmaker, award-winning writer and a teacher at Columbia University. After writing, producing and distributing films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain, Dallas Cowboys Club, Milk and Lost in Translation, Dr. Schamus makes his debut in feature films with Indignation. He wrote and directed the film that is based on a Philip Roth novel.

We caught up with Dr. Schamus at the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival, where Indignation was the closing night film.

LISTEN: FILMMAKER JAMES SCHAMUS ON INDIGNATION, PHILIP ROTH AND ANG LEE

In the interview we spoke to Dr. Schamus about why he chose a Philip Roth novel for his directorial debut and his fascination with Roth’s works. We also spoke to him how he selected the cast and crew for the film. What kind of director is he? We also spoke about his extensive collaboration with Ang Lee. And, we had to ask him about the influence of the Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer. Schamus has written a book on Dreyer.

Indignation stars Sarah Gadon, Logman Lerman and Tracy Letts. Editing is by Andrew Marcus and Cinematography by Christopher Blauvelt.

 

VIDEO: WOMEN IN SCIENCE & TECH SERIES – RASIKA KUMAR ON TECHNOLOGY & DANCE

Rasika Kumar is an engineer at Google and an Associate Director at Abhinaya Dance Company of Silicon Valley.

We were curious to find out her story and how she came to combine her twin passions – science and dance and pursue them with equal dedication.  Kumar grew up in a home surrounded by science, dance and music. Her  father is a hardware engineer and her mother is an educator and dancer, who founded Abhinaya Dance Company.

We had lots of questions for Kumar. How did her parents influence and mentor her? When did she develop an interest in math and science? Did she have challenges doing her math homework at high school? How did she decide to study computer science at MIT? What does she have to give up to keep her twin interests in science and dance?  Was she ever torn about giving up one for the other?  Tune in to find out the answers to these questions and more.

This interview is part of our TV series on Women in Science and Tech sponsored by Zoho Corp.

MY PICKS FOR THE SAN FRANCISCO JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL JULY 21-AUG 7, 2016

A wonderful mix of films will feature at the annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (SFJFF). This year marks the 36th  year of the festival that starts tomorrow – July 21 and will continue through August 7, 2016. Some of the guests expected to attend the festival include filmmakers and writers like Daniel Burman, Norman Lear, James Schamus, Adam Nimoy and others.

Besides San Francisco, you can catch some of the films in Berkeley, Oakland, San Rafael and in Palo Alto. For tickets and information about the festival visit SFJFF’s website.

Here are my 5 picks in no particular order. I must confess that I have not seen all the films and may have missed out on some that might be worth watching.

 

 

 

 

 

PODCAST: SHAMPA BANERJEE, CHIEF PRODUCT OFFICER OF EROS DIGITAL

Shampa Banerjee of Eros Digital

 

Shampa Banerjee is Chief Product Officer at Silicon Valley-based Eros Digital, which is the digital arm of Eros International, the world’s largest integrated studio for Bollywood films. We were curious to find out how she developed an interest in math and science and came to work in Silicon Valley.

Growing up in India Banerjee developed a deep interest in science. Physics was her favorite subject. After doing her undergraduate degree in Physics from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kanpur, she came to the US for graduate studies. Banerjee was pursuing a post doctoral in physics when a chance conversation with a friend in Silicon Valley changed her career path. Banerjee knew how to write code, which was a much sought after skill in Silicon Valley in the 1990s. It was not her Phd and post-doc work in Physics that brought her to Silicon Valley, but her ability to code and write software programs.

SHAMPA BANERJEE, CHIEF PRODUCT OFFICER OF EROS DIGITAL

As part of her work in the world of academia Banerjee had learnt to code. Coding was a tool, a means to an end for her research work points out Banerjee. Tune in to find out how Banerjee came to work in Silicon Valley and if she thinks differently from an engineer when she architects and writes code. What is her role at Eros Digital that streams Bollywood films and other Indian programs.  Tune in to find out.

This interview was originally aired on TV in the US. This is part of our Women in Science and Tech series sponsored by Zoho.

A VISIT TO INTEL MUSEUM IN SILICON VALLEY

Intel The Kamla Show

 

A visit to Intel Museum is Santa Clara was in my bucket list for over a decade. I had driven past Intel so many times, and yet never made the right turn to Intel’s campus and to the Robert Noyce building where the museum is located. I finally did visit the museum and came away learning quite a bit about this iconic company that shaped Silicon Valley’s culture. At a personal level it also shaped the way I used computers and laptops.

Ever wondered what Intel stands for? Here is what it stands for.

Intel The Kamla Show

 

Intel was founded in 1968 in Mountain View by Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore of the “Moore’s Law” fame. It went IPO in 1971.

 

Intel in the beginning

Intel-Optimism

Intel-Moore

Intel-Bob-Noyce

 

The museum makes for an interesting visit and you get to see and find out about the basic blocks of building a microprocessor. The basic and most important ingredient is silicon that comes from sand.

 

Intel-Purified Silicon

Intel-Silicon

 

Here are some more images from Intel’s museum about wafer, chips and clean rooms.

A visit to Intel’s museum is free. It is located at Robert N. Noyce Building, 2200 Mission College Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95052. For more information about visiting the museum you can either call  408.765 5050 or email museum@intel.com

AUDIO: HANNAH KAIN, CEO OF ALOM ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND LEADERSHIP

Hannah Kain of ALOM

 

Hannah Kain studied International Relations in Denmark and was interested in politics. So, how did she end up in Silicon Valley? And how did she end up founding a company in the manufacturing space?  We spoke to Kain about her journey from Denmark to Silicon Valley and the challenges she faced in running her company. What is her leadership style? What did she learn from her parents? Tune into to find out the one page business plan she shares with her team and how that helps them navigate through the year and achieve their goals.

LISTEN: HANNAN KAIN CEO OF ALOM ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND LEADERSHIP

This interview is part of our Women in Science and Tech series and  was originally aired on TV in California and Massachusetts.

VIDEO: MATT ROSS AKA GAVIN BELSON, CEO OF HOOLI

Matt Ross essays the role of Gavin Belson, CEO of Hooli in HBO’s Silicon Valley. We wanted to find out more about Belson  and got an opportunity to do that. Ross has a new film out coming out later this month called Captain Fantastic that he wrote and directed. Stay tuned for a longer interview with him about Captain Fantastic.