December 31, 2020

Nomadland still

Interview with Frances McDormand on her new film – Nomadland – UK Exclusive

Oscar winning Frances McDormand is the most fascinating and enigmatic actor on the A-list right now.  Having her pick of the most heavily funded movies, its revealing she chose Nomadland (see the brilliant trailer here)  – which she produced as well as starring in – a relatively low budget feature about the Snowbirds – mainly older Americans -who travel the country in RVs and other vehicles, looking for work and sun.

The film opens February 2021, and has already received once-in-a-decade reviews at film festivals.  Chloe Zhao‘s ‘‘Nomadland” is that rare creation that not only lives up to the hype but also makes you forget about it, ” said one reviewer.  “This is a gentle, humane and dizzyingly poetic ode to the people on the fringes of American society, the ones who choose to wander and drift across the great Western landscape,” says another. “Frances McDormand gives a performance that is so alive and unguarded that it feels like non-fiction.”

It’s relevant that 63-year-old McDormand is one of the few in Hollywood who manages to preserve a normal life outside the film world, appearing in public only rarely – usually  to promote a film – but only if she believes in it.  Nomadland is a passion project for McDormand, and for Director Chloe Zhao.  “As I get older, the most important thing for me became the environment where my cellular structure feeds. And in that sense, it has nothing to do with bricks and concrete. I love the land.”

McDormand spoke about her similarities to the person she plays in the movie, Fern – a 60-something woman searching for work and identity and opening up to the possibilities of life on the road.

“It’s interesting, because the biggest difference between me and Fern is that I left my house, left behind my working class life when I was 17, and never came back. But in the film, Fern makes a very important decision to align herself with a man who fell in love with her,But she doesn’t create her own destiny until she was 61. I mean, she starts at 61, which I had started at 17. That’s why I don’t think her life is so much like mine.”

“Well, I’ve been practicing the idea of pretending to be someone else for 38 years now. I think there’s always a part of every character which has some resemblance the actor’s life. And in this case, it’s much closer. But I don’t know if I can say she’s just like me.”

As a child McDormand lived a nomadic lifestyle – travelling with her parents.  Is this relevant to the nomadic lifestyle portrayed in the movie?

She was adopted with her sister, by the McDormand family, and together lived in Georgia, Kentucky, Tennesee and Pennsylvania.  Frances won a place at the prestigious Yale Drama School. It was there …

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In Israel, a failed town finds new hope – off-grid

A disused factory that once symbolized the dismal economic failure of Dimona in southern Israel’s Negev desert, has metamorphosed into a 21st century manufacturing hub for the country’s first off-the-grid neighborhood.

Since the spring, the Ayalim Association, known for the student villages it has established throughout the country over the past 18 years, has been producing parts for prefabricated homes that are then put together in a new temporary neighborhood that is already housing 18 families and 10 single people — the first residents of Ayalim’s new and ambitious green, urban initiative.

Benny Biton, mayor of this remote, largely working-class city — best known for the nuclear reactor on its outskirts — has enthusiastically embraced the idea of offering well-educated young people from within and outside of Dimona the chance to realize their sustainable dreams .

The first residents of the still barren-looking neighborhood due to be renamed Shahak Heights, after the late former army chief of staff and politician, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, are paying a subsidized, monthly rent of NIS 1,800 ($560) for small, boxy homes with one or two bedrooms and balconies that look out over spectacular views of the rolling desert hills.

“In America, people pay millions of dollars for views like these,” Biton chuckled.m

Eco-villages: Pioneering, 21st century style

Shahak Heights — to be formally opened by President Reuven Rivlin in mid-January — is the first of a series of planned temporary neighborhoods that are not connected to the urban infrastructure that provides water, sewage and electricity, instead relying on eco-friendly solutions where possible. Not only is this increasingly feasible thanks to advances in green technology. It is also far cheaper.

The whole community of Shahak Heights, into which residents began to move a couple of months ago, cost only NIS 3 million ($930,000) to build, slightly more than the average cost of a single apartment in Tel Aviv.

“It’s sustainable, limits the damage to nature and is affordable for young families,” said Matan Dahan, who co-founded Ayalim in 2002 with the goal of reviving the Zionist spirit of community building while bolstering underserved areas of the country.

All the prefab structures’ roofs are covered in solar panels, which supply electricity during the day. Computers designed by US electric car and clean energy company Tesla measure the amount of excess energy produced and channel it to batteries, which supply electricity at night — but only according to each house’s need.

A diesel-run generator has been installed to charge the batteries if they fall below 20% and the expectation is that the generator will run for an average of 15 to 40 minutes per day during the winter, using around three liters of diesel.

Solar energy system supplies 250kw

To help cut down on electricity usage, cooking ovens, stoves, and heating/air-conditioning systems are being run on gas supplied in canisters.

Water is currently being transported into storage containers …

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