THE REFUGEE PROJECT --As professional photojournalist Tom Stoddart said, “Every picture tells a story.” There are thousands of refugee stories told at the Annenberg Space of Photography exhibit. Their stories are told through the eyes of accomplished and distinguished photojournalists who have been on the front lines of wars, refugee camps and war torn communities communicating this vast global crisis calling for humanitarian efforts. (Graphic above: Lesbos, Greece, 2015. A father celebrates his family’s safe passage after a stormy crossing over the Aegean Sea from Turkey – Tom Stoddart 

The Annenberg Foundation exhibit, “Refugee”, is made up of three parts. The photo and video exhibit in the main gallery, Photography Space, features a documentary of the work of five well-known photojournalists as well as photos from all over the world; “New Americans” is installed at the lower gallery, Skylight Studios telling stories of new immigrants to the US; and a Thursday evening lecture series, Iris Night, takes place until August 26 also at the Skylight Studios. 



As you walk around the main gallery, you will be blown away at the magnitude of global crisis conveyed through video and photos effecting 60 million people with half children under the age of 18 (UN Refugee Agency). They come from different countries from all five continents, the Middle East (Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Yeman, Lebanon), Asia (specifically Myanmar and Afghanistan), Africa (South Sudan, Somalia), South America (Colombia), Europe (fleeing Croatia and Slovenia, travelling though Greece, and arriving to their final destination of Germany). 

To convey this message, there is a 23-minute documentary tracking five photojournalists, Lynsey Addario, Omar Victor Diop, Graciela Iturbide, Martin Schoeller, and Tom Stoddart, telling stories of displaced people alog with their backstories narrated by Cate Blanchett. The Annenberg commissioned the phographers along with support from UN Refugee Relief, UNHCR, and Tiger Nest Films. Watch an excerpt. 

There are plenty of pictures of devastation of young and old, bombed out communities, churches, mosques and schools, highrise apartment buildings reduced to rubble, row after row of refugee camp tents, and endless faces of desperation and despair. On the other hand, the photos also show the refugees’ courage, the love for each other and their homeland, their strength and ability to continue with life. Some of my favorite photographs are Omar Victor Diop’s close-up portraits intimately showing facial expression of refugees in Somalia. You can see the look of determination and perseverance in their eyes. Another featured photojournalist, Giles Duley, shows refugees performing simple routines like sweeping the floor, looking for food, families congregating together, and trying to feel normal in their new life. 

Most importantly, the photos have become tools to educate and put pressure on politicians to take humanitarian actions. I could not think of anything more heartbreaking than the photo of three-year old Alan Kurdi, a Syrian refugee that washed up on the shores of Turkey shortly after starting the journey to Greece on a dingy last September. The picture made its rounds on social media going viral instantly on Twitter by Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch being re-tweeted thousands of times within minutes. As a result, the public was outraged, funding came in to relief agencies to help the victims of the Syrian war, and countries started to open up their borders to welcome refugees to a new life. 

The photos at the Annenberg exhibit stir up the same emotion. I ask myself, How did this mass refugee crisis happen? What can I do? What political action can I take? That is exactly the point of the exhibit to first educate, then get people to take action. 


On a happier note, across the courtyard, the Skylight Studio is holding an addendum exhibit, The New Americans. It features families that have resettled in the United States through the US Refugee Admission Program. They are inspirational recordings from new settlers in California and a Congolese family in making a new life for themselves in Rochester, New York.  


Along with the photo exhibit, there is a weekly lecture series, every Thursday night, starting from April 23 through August 11, from 6:30 – 8:00 pm.  It is given by internationally acclaimed photojournalists that will leave you riveted to your chair hanging on their every word. Their passion for their profession is evident as they describe their backgrounds, interest in photographing refugee people, captivating stories they share, and their many near death experiences on location. Truly, they treat photography as a mission field communicating through their camera lenses. 


Giles Duley’s description of his motivation to photograph after losing both his legs and an arm after stepping on an IED while an assignment in Afghanistan, and his continued photography success after recovery. 

Elena Dorfman, hired by the UN to take pictures of the water source in a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, started taking pictures of the condition of the camp. Being inspired by the teenage refugees, she documented the lives young people for the next several years, a man blinded by an explosion who eventually made his way into Canada, a woman living in a concrete shell spending her days looking for food for her family, and a Kurdish young man at the Domiz Refugee Camp in Iraq relying on his cellphone for communication with the world just like the teenagers from everywhere. 

Graciela Ituride developing a relationship with the young children to help her take pictures in Colombia. 

Kadir Van Lohuizen highlighting the risks people from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador take to come to the US, paying a “coyote” over $10,000 with hope of being granted political asylum, eventually make it to safety through very dangerous routes, and fail to get a green card. 

Like I said, these lectures are riveting. Here is the schedule of the lecture series.  


April 28          TOM STODDART: In the field

May 5             GILES DULEY: From fashion photographer to documenting the legacy of war

May 12           KADIR VAN LOHUIZEN: Refugee or Migrant?

May 19           ELENA DORFMAN: Syria’s lost generation

May 26           GRACIELA ITURIDE: My experience photographing refugees & displaced people

June 2            IVOR PRICKETT Stories of displacement from the Balkans to the Middle East

June 4           OUT OF IRAQ, A Documentary, Soldiers falling in love

June 9           ALIXANDRA FAZZINA: Visualizing migration from Somalia

June 11         AROUND THE WORLD WITH LITTLE MARKET; Lauren Conrad & Hannah Skvarla

June 11         EVENT: Handmade LA POP-UP, an afternoon of local food and art

June 16         DON BARLETTI: The roads most traveled, causes and consequences of illegal immigration

June 23         DANIEL JACK LYONS: Witnessing the vision and hearing the voice in marginalized communities

June 30          REZA DEGHATI: Exile Voices, Visual stories of refugees by refugee children

July 28           LESLIE KNOTT AND CLEMENTINE MALPAS: Putting the Camera Down

August 4        BRIAN SOKOL: People, not numbers: Using photography to humanize the global refugee crisis

August 18      MERIDITH KOHUT: Refugees and migration issues in Latin America 

Please check the website for updates in the lecture schedule. Please rsvp, seating is limited. 

If you are unable to attend a lecture in person, you can live stream it. If you are unable to watch live, all lectures are available online. I would highly recommend watching them.


The Annenberg Foundation, established in 1989 with 1.2 billion, is committed to support the arts and public education. The foundation is committed to creating public community space. The Annenberg Space for Photography is one example. The Century City facilities are just five years old and are neither museums (they do not own the art) nor are they galleries (no sale of art takes place) but are spaces to share photography that will have an impact on the community. 

The generous Annenberg Foundation commissioned and funded the entire project, photojournalist from the galleries and the photojournalists presenting through the IRIS NIGHTS LECTURE SERIES along with support from the UNHCR. 




REFUGEE - explores the lives of refugees from a host of diverse populations dispersed and displaced throughout the world.

DATES: Apr 23, 2016 - Aug 21, 2016





LOCATION: 2000 Avenue of the Stars, Century City


Mon-Tues: Closed 

Wed-Sun: 11 am – 6 pm



LOCATION: 10050 Constellation Blvd., Century City

HOURS/ADMISSION:          Wed-Sun: 11 am – 6 pm

Mon-Tues: Closed





LOCATION: 10050 Constellation Blvd., Century City

THURSDAY NIGHTS 6:30 – 8:00 pm




Entrance is on Constellation, east of Avenue of the Stars, on the south side. Parking on Saturday and Sunday is just $1 all day with validation. On weekdays, if you enter the structure after 4:30 pm, parking is validated and will cost $1.00. Otherwise, it is pricey.


(Sue Helmy has plenty of tricks up her sleeve. She is currently providing superb administrative services at a financial management firm in Century City. She is active in countless church and civic organizations and spends every minute she can spare dancing to the Zumba beat.)

DEALS & DISCOUNTS--I’m shouting from the rooftops (aka Deals n’ Discounts at City Watch LA) about New Filmmakers LA! This organization is steadily gaining notoriety and it is absolutely a fantastic deal for actors, directors, writers – anyone who plays a role in the making or enjoying of creative content. 


You don’t HAVE to be a filmmaker to enjoy a membership either. I’ve met plenty of film fans at the networking events in various venues. Please, performers have to have an audience, for crying out loud! 

Here’s the skinny on what a $75 membership gets you for a full year: 

  • Admission to monthly film fests, featuring short programs and groovy features from around the world and around the block. In all, you’ll get tickets to over 24 screenings per year. Most screenings are also accompanied by Q&A.
  • Tons of chances to meet up with all manner of creatives and possibly team up to create your next project or just chew the fat about the amazing work you just saw them do.
  • Complimentary drinks during all NFMLA Los Angeles events
  • Discounts on tickets to special events like the upcoming Produced By conference on June 4-5 and the Cine Gear Expo on June 2-5
  • Member discounts on NFMLA annual Best of Awards. Last year, Kate Flannery had us LOL. This year, John Malkovich will be hosting.
  • Free casting space for filmmakers at Hollywood Casting and Film (located in Hollywood)
  • Free 3-month membership for actors at Hollywood Casting and Film with coupon code NFMLA (located in Hollywood)
  • Complimentary membership to MovieMaker Magazine
  • Member discounts and first dibs on more cool programs and events like Short Shorts; On Location 2016; Doc Day Fest and the Panamanian International Film Festival.

The On Location event is super special. You ‘ll meet the usual fabulous folks who make it all happen and enjoy great food and drinks. You also get to watch films from all over the world and vote on the ones you like the best! An extra added bonus last year was my SAG-AFTRA colleague Patrick Fabian from “Better Call Saul” as host! 

NFMLA has so many great events where you can connect and support up and coming filmmakers. You can also work on getting your own project on the screen. I’ve already got my ticket for the Best of 2015. You can get a ticket now by clicking NFMLA Best of 2015 right now.  

My money is on this being a thoroughly enjoyable and enriching networking experience. It will be at the same venue as last year – an outside soirée at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum. 


You can get on down to the next monthly film fest this coming weekend on May 28th. This month, they are featuring the work of Asian talent from around the world. As usual, they’ll have several programs of shorts and a feature, paired with pre-screening receptions. This month, they’ve got a doc feature going as well. 


The non member thing could be for a friend from out of state who will never come to LA again – because the deal is so great, why would’t you just become a member! The individual membership is $75. For a measley $25 more, you can get two tickets to each event instead of one! If you’re a student, Membership is only $35!! 

So there you have it: 

THE BEST DEAL IN HOLLYWOOD right at your feet. The benefits are remarkable, but the best deal with New Filmmakers is the incredible people who turn the wheels. From Directors Susie Kim and Larry Laboe to each and every one of the amazing volunteers, the entire team makes each event a truly extraordinary and inspiring industry experience.


New Filmmakers LA  

NFMLA Film Fest 5/28/16

The first Pre-Reception begins at 4:30

The last feature film begins at 9:15

Come to all or some! 



1139 S. Hill Street

Los Angeles, CA 90015     

Parking available FOR THE COMING 5/28 FILM FEST ONLY at:

150 W. 12th Street

Los Angeles, CA 90015



1133 S. Olive Street

Los Angeles, CA 90015


Best of 2015 Event

June 18, 2016

A+D Architecture & Design Museum - DTLA

6:30pm VIP Reception

8:00pm General Arrivals

8:30pm Awards Show

General Admission Tickets $50

VIP Admission $75


(Jennifer Caldwell is a an actress and an active member of SAG-AFTRA, serving on several committees. She is a published author of short stories and news articles and is a featured contributor to CityWatch. Her column at is dishing up good deals, recipes and food for thought. Jennifer can be reached at  Facebook: - Twitter: @checkingthegate) 






DEALS & DISCOUNTS--I don’t get out to the theater much; but, when I do, of course I hope it will be a treat. I’ll tell you what; you really couldn’t do better than to grab your last chance this weekend to take in the wistful-sweet “Sábado Mornings” at the Studio/Stage theater on Western Avenue in Hollywood. I heard about the play from a special invitation from director Melvin Ishmael Johnson and House Manager Earlean Anthony back in April when the show was in previews. 

Melvin is a tireless creative powerhouse. He hosts the Quamran Report, which aired for over two hundred segments at Skid Row Studios in downtown Los Angeles. Skid Row is a community radio station that features stories affecting our diverse communities and especially in downtown. It encourages community participation in producing news, politics and culture. Their motto is “Where Anyone Can Do Radio.” Tune in now to check out a discussion on the state of community theater on the last segment of the Quamran Report at Skid Row. It features one of the actors from “Sábado Mornings.” Meanwhile, I’ll keep everyone posted on what’s happening at Skid Row as well as where the Quamran Report is headed next. 

Melvin is also a playwright, a community activist and the founder of Veterans Community Theater Workshop. I’d been wanting to see Melvin’s work for a few years now. On Sunday, about an hour prior to curtain, I was working on my one woman show when I got a call from a writer/director friend reminding me about the performance. It was a lickity split decision. I said to myself, “Damn! The time is now!” Out the door I went. 

The theater is a small, intimate affair – perfect for the poignant story of Eddie and Rosa played beautifully by Jonaton Wyne and Judith E. Ex LAPD cop Eddie is dealing with his demons when he meets Mexican-American immigrant Rosa, the shy but strong waitress who has some secrets of her own. I really don’t want to say too much about the show because it unfolds so beautifully and anyway I’m not a theater critic. Let’s just say, SEE IT! 

There’s plenty of fun to be had both before and after the play with the friendly folks running the show. Prior to the taking our seats, we had a nice glass of red wine... 


… a nice touch, not to mention the delicious tamales on offer at the end of the show. 


Mama’s is a not for profit collective where you can sample tamales of various styles from several different countries. Until you know the difference between a Mexican tamale and a Salvadorean tamale, well, you really haven’t lived! 


There were one tamale and two tamale plates, with rice and beans. The one tamale plate was just six bucks and plenty for me – mighty tasty too, as was the stream of jokes from an actor named Isaac who was in attendance. 

If you’re lucky, Isaac will be there again, passing out jokes in abundance. But you won’t need any luck to catch the memorable performances of Judith and Jonaton in “Sábado Mornings” and to chat with the creative duo Melvin Johnson and Earlean Anthony. Enjoy! 


Studio/Stage Theater

520 N. Western Ave.

between Clinton St. and Maplewood Ave.

For more information: 213-908-5032 

Tickets are $24 General Admission; $15 for Seniors/Students/Military

Friday, May 13 – 8 pm

Saturday, May 14, 8 pm

Sunday , May 15, 5 pm


(Jennifer Caldwell is a an actress and an active member of SAG-AFTRA, serving on several committees. She is a published author of short stories and news articles and is a featured contributor to CityWatch. Her column at is dishing up good deals, recipes and food for thought. Jennifer can be reached at  Facebook: - Twitter: @checkingthegate) 


DEALS AND DISCOUNTS--Improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) in Hollywood is always a fun night. Deals and Discounts contributors, Jennifer and I (photo above) caught the ASSSS Cat show at the Franklin campus last Sunday evening proving to be very entertaining and it is free!!! We laughed our asses off, ASSSS Cat. Oh wow, how clever. 

The ASSSS Cat show, a staple of the UCB Improv stage for the past 15 years, plays every Sunday night at 7:00 pm. The show started with a UCB’s founding member and regular on Comedy Central, Matt Besser asking us Mad Lib questions. We discovered the audience were from all over: Melbourne, London, Vancouver, Little Rock, Nashville, Detroit and Calabasas. The topics thrown out ranged from robots, to mustaches, to ladies stretch pants. Pretty random. 

After the warm up, Matt introduced the cast. With help from the audience, the monologist (the person who give the monologue) got started. “Give me a subject,” she declared. The first reply was “Prince”, and she took off with a story about the Purple One. 

The monologist told of a time when she went with friends to a karaoke bar hoping to sing Prince songs. The Thai owner would not play the correct songs unless she was tipped otherwise they would be stuck with Shania Twain music. Incidentally, the bar was decorated in Thai tourism posters with a sexy underwear machine in a corner. Who knows if the story was actually true, but it was definitely entertaining nevertheless. 

Now it was Improv time. The UCB cast created a seamless skit incorporating all the zany details of that far-fetched story. It was so fluid; you might have thought that the actors had spoken backstage or that they could read each other’s minds. They acted, sang, and danced spontaneously feeding off of each other’s energy and creativity. 

The night consisted of two monologue/skit sets with the show totaling about an hour and a half of great entertainment.  

Los Angeles is lucky enough to have two UCB campuses just a few miles from each other in Hollywood, one on Sunset Blvd. and other on Franklin Avenue offering over 50 shows per week, or about seven different shows a night. Most shows cost $5, a few select ones are $10, and, as previously mentioned, the ASSSS Cat show is free. For the paid shows you can reserve general seating tickets. I would strongly suggest visiting their website to check out the schedule. The “Search History” show develops a story around an audience member’s cellphone google search history. I happened to see it with an all-female cast, and it was hilarious. “Shitty Jobs”, revolving around crazy bosses and even crazier co-workers, is even more hilarious. Even if you see the same show twice, it is always different because the cast is never the same and the topics are inspired by the audience. 

The founding group, Matt Besser, Matt Walsh, Ian Roberts and Amy Poehler, created Upright Citizens Brigade after working together at a comedy club in Chicago in 1998. They opened UCB in NYC in 2001, and Los Angeles in 2005. There are now four UCB locations, two in New York and two in Los Angeles. Over the years, the UCB has expanded with a first ever improvisational school, manuals, books and videos, and providing a forum for emerging amateur improv actors to develop their craft. 

UCB Los Angeles has produced some really famous comedians that have gone on to headline television shows, stand-up comedy, and movies such as Aziz Ansari, Ed Helms, and Zach Woods. 

Here is a tip: All UCB theatres have limited seating for less 100 people providing an intimate setting where the audience participates in the action. While that is a great thing, it is not good if you arrive late. We arrived at 6:45 pm for the 7 pm show. It was too late to get seating on the main floor, and we ended up on the balcony standing behind the last row. So get there early and enjoy a great show. 


Check out general information for Upright Citizens Brigade:  


UCB Franklin

5919 Franklin Avenue, Hollywood  

UCB Sunset (location open since October 2014)

5419 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood


(Sue Helmy has plenty of tricks up her sleeve. She is currently providing superb administrative services at a financial management firm in Century City. She is active in countless church and civic organizations and spends every minute she can spare dancing to the Zumba beat.)


More Articles ...