Friday, April 13, 2018

Hemp for the Homeless - Denver, 2018

Dropping off the 50 Hemp for the Homeless Kits at Denver Homeless Out Loud with Cici and Adam from HoodLamb Colorado and the Hemp for the Homeless team. 
It's my birthday today, April 13th, so I thought I'd share some very exciting news and a few photos. 

Last weekend, I attended the NoCo Hemp Expo in Loveland, Colorado. I went down on behalf of Tweed, Canada's - and the world's - largest cannabis company, which recently hired me on as a business development consultant as a followup to my artist's residency there. 


Mario, Marc, Ez, Gregg - The Hemp for the Homeless team about to pack up 50  'Hemp Help Kits' at NoCo. (Photo by Lauren Brown -- Click pic for Bigger Version)
While I was at NoCo (the biggest hemp industry event in the USA), I organized another round of my HEMP FOR THE HOMELESS project (started in 2007) which collects functional and nutritious hemp products from hemp companies and creates 'Hemp Help Kits' for folks in need. 


Nancy Metcalf and Lauren Stansbury of Dr. Bronner's 
With the help of 20 generous corporate sponsors this year, me and my hemp/filmmaker buddies Gregg SilverMarc Ostrick, and Mario Hamelin, gathered enough awesome hemp products at NoCo to fill 50 hemp tote bags for Denver Homeless Out Loud which does incredible advocacy for Denver's 7,000+ homeless residents. 


Contents of a Hemp Help Kit (click pic for bigger view)
DHOL was thrilled to receive our kits and we were so happy to share. The feedback from the folks they support has been incredible. 
A recipient of one of the kits, outside Denver Homeless Out Loud
Gregg Silver (right) giving out a Hemp Help Kit 

I am so grateful to everyone, especially Gregg Silver who inspired me to kick this project back into gear last year at NoCo 2017 and go full steam into it this year. 
Me, up on stage at NoCo, talking about the project


Stay tuned for a short film about Hemp for the Homeless coming this Spring and for more related initiatives in the future. 
Jourdan Samel (L) and Ari Sherman (R) of Evo Hemp, a Hemp for the Homeless sponsor 
If you have a hemp company and want to help support the project, please contact me via EzraSoiferman.com

HUGE THANKS to all our Hemp for the Homeless Sponsors for the following amazing, donated hemp goods:
Dr. Bronner's - Soap, skin balm, hand sanitizer, lip balm
Tweed - Travel & accommodations
HoodLamb Colorado (aka HoodLab) - Hoodies and T-shirts
EnviroTextiles - Long-sleeve shirts, socks, rope
Hemptopia - Tote bags, T-shirts, socks
Chiefton Supply Co. - Hoodies
Satori Movement - Socks
Palmetto Harmony - Skin care products
Evo Hemp - Nutritious snack bars
Hemptique - Hemp rope
Hemp Way Foods - Hulled hemp seeds
Nutracis - Hulled hemp seeds
DoxMix - Toasted hemp seeds
Me and Summer Star Haeske of EnviroTextilesa Hemp for the Homeless sponsor
SPECIAL THANKS to our education, outreach and bonus material contributors: 
NoCo Hemp Expo
Denver Relief Consulting
Vote Hemp
Hemp History Week
Norie Criswell of Hemp The Earth Clothing
Straight Hemp
Abaka Hemp Clothing
Lauren Brown Consulting

CiCi Dunn of Hoodlamb Colorado with clothing distributed as part of the project.
Thanks for reading this and for believing in the tremendous versatility of hemp to better our world and to inspire change. 

Love to all from Montreal.
-Ez

Monday, December 18, 2017

How my Leonard Cohen photo went a little viral...

"Leonard Snowin'" by Ezra Soiferman 
Though my films and photos are regularly shown online and on TV, it's rare for a project of mine to take off as quickly and widely as has happened with my shot "Leonard Snowin'" over the past few days. 

So, I thought I'd share a behind-the-scenes peek at this little adventure with you...

I'd known throughout the Fall, that it would be fun to photograph the evocative and much-talked-about Leonard Cohen mural overlooking Crescent St. during a snowfall. 

So, this past Wednesday, during Montreal's first storm of the season, I zipped through the Musée des beaux arts (located a block and a half away from the mural), hustling from floor to floor and window to window, snapping various vantages of the new mural painted by artists EL_MAC and Gene Pendon and produced by MU, the city's foremost mural collective. The 18-storey-tall work is based on a touching photo taken by Leonard's daughter Lorca. 

When I was done shooting, I turned around to leave and my place at the atrium window was quickly taken by a couple of wide-eyed twenty-somethings who stared out at the mural and revelled in it. 

I told them what I was doing and asked if I could take a photo of them in silhouette with the mural and snowstorm as a backdrop. They kindly obliged and in a quick moment, I had captured the shot above. I knew right away it was a bit of a keeper. When I showed it to them on the screen of my camera, they agreed. 

The rest of this tale is a bit of a blur, but I'll try to recount it here...

I excitedly trotted down the infamous deep-depth steps of the museum, noticing how the nearby guard was far better at his trot than I was at mine. He had his down to a science, making him appear to descend in a way somewhere halfway between a pro hockey player and ballerina. I estimated that those kooky staircase were either his favourite part of the job or a complete nightmare that he had opted to master rather than succumb to. 

Either way, he hopped off the staircase at the café floor and I continued bumbling down the steps carefully clutching my camera thinking to myself, "please don't let me wipe out and accidentally hurl my camera down the atrium onto the installation that looks like a giant hand grenade. I'll never get that Leonard shot again."  

On my way out of the building intact, I showed the photo to the woman taking tickets at the front door and simultaneously tested my idea for the "Leonard Snowin'" title on her. Her eyes lit up and she gave me an enthusiastic "Wow!" I took that as a good sign. Always trust the gatekeeper's intuition, they say, so I did, further confident in the shot, and left the museum, braving my way back out into the sideways-blowing snow.   

I found my car, hopped inside, cranked the heat and emailed the photo to the twenty-somethings featured in it. I then hit the gas, skidded out of the snowbank and crossed town past stranded accordion-buses wrapped around telephone poles, back to my neck of the wintry woods. 

Early the next morning, with the snow still falling, I uploaded the shot to my Facebook page and Instagram page and watched as interest in it mounted unusually quickly. Within an hour, I was contacted by the Musée and asked by them for permission to feature the shot on their Instagram page. Total honour and another good sign.

I then watched as the photo got even more attention, now from complete strangers and not just my own loyal Facebook friends who were still generously piling on the likes. Later in the afternoon, a popular Leonard Cohen fan page had reposted the image and its members were excitedly chattering about it and how much they missed the grand bard. I further shared with them the story of when I happened to meet Mr. Cohen under strange circumstances

By now, my iPhone was gingerly buzzing with Facebook and Instagram alerts and comments. This was kinda cool to see, though a bit unnerving due to the volume of dings and buzzes. 

The next morning was when the nutsola-ness really kicked into overdrive. 

I awoke to learn that Sony Music Canada had just reposted my original Facebook post, referring to the photo as 'stunning.' They had placed it right smack dab on their official Leonard Cohen Facebook page. This is when my iPhone lit up like a proverbial Christmas tree and began buzzing and flashing non-stop. For hours and hours. And hours. 2 full days of craziness. 

As I write this a few days later, the snowstorm and Facebook-storm have fairly subsided and the tally is in: The photo now has more than 10,000 likes and 1500 shares on Facebook. I'm also pleased to say that it has also become the Musée des beaux arts' Instagram post with the most likes in the 5-year history of their Instagram page. 

I'm INCREDIBLY grateful for all the interest in "Leonard Snowin'" and I'd like to thank everyone who liked, commented on and shared the image. Facebookers around the world are still sharing it as I write this. Thank you! The feedback and support means so much, and the way this all happened was a total thrill. 

Big thanks to the folks who appear in the shot too. You guys rock. I'd especially like to thank the Musée des beaux arts, Sony Music Canada, MU, the supremely talented mural artists, and especially Leonard who's looking down from on high with that awesome smile. You are the true star of this whole escapade. We miss you. 

As a 'mural-themed' bonus, here's "The Walls of Montreal", a short video I made for my Tweed residency, about the murals of my hometown:

Click image to play "The Walls of Montreal

Best to all from Montreal!

-Ez 

Ezra Soiferman
Filmmaker & photographer

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Rustique Salée - First customer

New Rustique Salée mini-pies
This Tuesday, I went for a few heavenly, creamy, desserty pies at Rustique on Notre-Dame West near de Courcelle. Been a very fave spot of mine since they opened a few years back and warmed Montreal’s heart and sweet tooth.


Cashier Jess told me a little secret that they were opening Rustique Salée right next door the next morning. Savoury take-out pies in the same flakey, buttery crusts. Be still my eating heart.


So, I showed up there the next morning, five minutes before the doors were unlocked and got my wish... I was the very first customer at Montreal’s newest outstanding eatery. Big honour.


Scarfed down three gorgeous mini-pies in the car as soon as I left. Incredible stuff.


Congrats to Ryan Bloom, Chef Ali, Sophie, Judith, Melissa, Jess and the entire team of sweet and savoury pie geniuses at Rustique. Home run outta the gate (or outta the oven, as it were).


Go pie! Go yum! Go Montreal food!

-Ez

Friday, November 10, 2017

My new short: "The One To Dream"

(Click image to watch the video)

New short film out today! Using Kat Goldman's stellar tune “The One To Dream”, I created a ‘music photeo’ that tells the tale of a wayward piece of hemp rope in search of... something more. Enjoy!

Kat, based in Toronto, is one of Canada’s very finest voices, and a dear friend. Plus, she survived being pinned under a car that crashed through a bagel shop window. True story. I’m honoured to have been given her blessing to create this short video and thrilled share it with you all today!

Pick up Kat’s brand new CD "The Workingman’s Blues" here or listen on Spotify and iTunes.

Support awesome Canadian music and dig hemp rope movie stars.

Hope you like the new short film and can help share it with friends, young or old, you think might love it.  Thanks!

There's hope in this rope. Do knot let 'em tell you otherwise.

-Ez

P.S. The hemp rope dude in the video... his name is Xoosher.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Goodbye, Gord


In 1992, as a freshman college student in NYC, I caught a glimpse of a Village Voice ad for a show by The Tragically Hip taking place in the East Village. 

Knowing how big the Hip were in Canada at the time, I figured the venue would be a fairly big one. When I arrived, I discovered that it was a tiny, second-floor walk-up club that could hold no more than 150 people or so. There were no more than 25 people there for that show. 

I stood there, in awe, snapping photos of the shvitzing, screaming Gord Downie performing exuberantly, tormentedly, and at times quite contentedly, as if to a packed stadium. Here are a few of those shots from the front row, dug up from my archives and shared here for the first time, in honour of Gord's passing. 



My condolences to his friends families and to my fellow longtime fans. Another legend gone. More music and memories to revisit. 

Enjoy the photos above. 

Rock on and on, Gord. 

Love to all,

Ez




Thursday, July 6, 2017

Goodbye, Michael Bond



I was saddened this week learning Paddington Bear author Michael Brown had died in England at the age of 91. Here's a new tribute self-portrait featuring me and my collection from over the years. Yes, I was, and will remain, a bit of a fan.

Raise a jar of marmalade, friends. Dark day in Darkest Peru.*

The night Mr. Bond had died - and before his passing was announced - before putting Lulu to bed, I was looking through old archival boxes and happened upon a small grey alpaca sweater I'd randomly purchased in Peru 10 years ago "on spec." I had the brainwave to put it on 'Stissy McGhee,' my 40-year-old, favourite Paddington (wearing it, hatless, in centre of pic). Also in the box was his original jacket and hat which I hadn't seen in many years.

And if that wasn't enough, the next morning, still before his death was announced, I noticed that the vintage boxed set of Paddington books in Lulu's room (she's a fan too) had somehow found itself on the floor, knocked off the bookshelf.

As you may know, my life is filled with with coincidences like these which I love sharing with you. Bittersweet to relay them and this pic. Thanks for 'bearing' with me. :)

My condolences to the family of Mr. Bond and to all my fellow PB fans of all ages.

-Ez

P.S. In better news, I just learned Paddington Bear 2 is coming soon. Here's the trailer.

Read more about Michael Bond's life and Paddington Bear in this story from The Guardian.

*My sister Maira came up with the 'darkest day' line when she texted me the news. She also saluted my 'bond with Bond.'

Saturday, May 20, 2017

"Canada's Nicest Person" Contest

Click here to watch the video Roots made for the "Canada's Nicest Person" contest.
Nice news... On May 17th, I was the very first nominee to be featured on Roots Canada's Instagram page in support of their "Canada's Nicest Person" contest.  Special thanks to my friend Jerry Golick for nominating me!

Click the photo above to read more and click here to watch the video for the contest.

Stay tuned for more info. If I make it into the final round (June 5th), I'll let you know!

Ez

Update (6/5/17): Well, I wasn't selected as one of the 10 finalists in Roots Canada's "Canada's Nicest Person" contest, but I want to say that anything promoting more niceness in this world is brilliant. Kudos to Roots for creating a contest like this. Big thanks once again to Jerry Golick for nominating me and to Roots for having featured me as the first of just three entrants (out of the final tally of 275 entrants) that it profiled on its Instagram page. That was a huge honour for which I am so grateful.

Friday, April 21, 2017

CBC Arts - Article on the residency



So honoured to have had my Tweed residency written up as a feature story on the CBC Arts page. You can read the article here.

Other recent articles include a piece in Civilized and a story in the Times of Israel.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Ez in Res' - New short and an auspicious day...

Click image to watch the short on YouTube

Dear Ez Sez Friends,

To celebrate my 45th birthday today, I’m releasing my new short, Ez in Res', about my year so far as the world’s first artist-in-residence at a cannabis company, namely Tweed, Canada's largest licensed cannabis producer.

By coincidence, today is also the day the Canadian Government has chosen to table legalization legislation in Parliament to officially start the process of ending 94 years of prohibition in Canada.

I am humbled by the auspicious timing. Best birthday present ever. :)

Thanks to Lake of Stew for the use of their classic tune, “Free Medicine,” (available on iTunes, Google Play and Spotify).

Special thanks to Tweed for supporting my career, my travels and my art. A huge honour.

So, hit play on the video, sit back and travel with me via Ez in Res', my new photo-based music short, or music photeo. Enjoy the vicarious voyages to places I visited this year that included: NYC, Nashville, L.A., Denver, Boston, Kentucky, Kingston (Jamaica) and of course, the sprawling old Hershey's chocolate factory in which Tweed grows much of its cannabis in Smiths Falls, Ontario.

Please pass the video along to a friend if you think they'll dig it too. Share it via YouTube or just send up a smoke signal. :)

Ez

Ezra Soiferman
Filmmaker, photographer & friend
Montreal
http://www.EzraSoiferman.com - Lots more photography and film info at my site.

Bonus: In case you missed it last August, click this link to watch my other Tweed Artist in Residence music photeo, "The Walls of Montreal" about all the incredible murals around my hometown.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Museum of Jewish Montreal Interview

(Click image to listen to the audio interview, 22 mins)

Here's a new interview with me done by Aviv Milgram, Community Manager at the Museum of Jewish Montreal, for the museum's Oral History Project.

Their description states: "Listen to documentary filmmaker and street photographer Ezra Soiferman talk about his Jewish upbringing in Montreal, his career path as a documentary filmmaker, and his projects as a street photographer, accompanied by a discussion of his artistic approach, outlook on life, and love for Montreal."

Honoured to have been featured as part of this project.

Visit the Museum of Jewish Montreal at their new digs on St-Laurent corner Duluth or online here: http://www.imjm.ca.

Thanks for listening to the interview.

Ez

Saturday, December 31, 2016

I got babkas for ya...



I took a trip down to Cheskie's, Montreal’s finest Kosher bakery yesterday afternoon. Pulled over to call them on my way, but no answer. Weird. Closed for the holidays?

I needed sweets for a New Years event.

Oh-oh, I suddenly realized. It's Shabbat and I've headed there too late on this early-sundown winter’s aft.

Decided to hope and pray and drove there anyway.

Up the mountain, past the cemetery, zipped by Beaver Lake and descended in low gear past the Lookout. No time to even look out over the city-

Babkas on my mind.

Not bobkes, as in ‘nothing at all’ in Yiddish, but babkas, the gooey 'Russian chocolate babkas' with which Mr. Cheskie invades many a daydream.



Parked in a snowbank and looked up… miracle of miracles, the place was not only open, but it was packed. Seems they had just been too busy to answer the phone.

Inside, there was a boisterous and fidgety lineup all the way to the door. Gorgeous smells wafted every which way as hipsters and Hassids alike checked wristwatches and iPhones in anticipation of Shabbat and god-knows-what else.


Now squeezed into the queue, I immediately locked my glance on the mighty babka tray.


Not the bags of dry babka loaf they keep on the exposed rack but the smaller and stickier ones they keep well out of reach on a counter behind the cash register (perhaps in a burglary the register would be the first thing the staff would surrender, distracting the thieves from that holy roly-poly).


As the line inched forward, the tray began dwindling as others placed orders before me. 20 pieces, 15, 12…

Oy vey, please, pretty please.

Alas, it was finally my turn… I loaded up on all sorts of sweet treats including.... the 10 very last half-pound morsels of Cheskie’s famous babka.

Mr. Cheskie and my babkalicious bounty

A transcendent Chanukah miracle. Up there with the whole 8 days of oil thing.

Ness gadol haya Yum.

I am blessed. (And soon to be fully fressed.)

Regards to all from Montreal.

To a sweet new year!

Ez

All gone! More to be baked in 2017...

Friday, November 11, 2016

On epiphanies and coincidences...


Hello, Ez Sez Friends,

On the occasion of his death this week, here is my Leonard Cohen story...

I hopped a flight to L.A. about 12 years ago with my first iPod. It was, on a whim, loaded up with three early Leonard Cohen albums I had never heard before.

Somehow, perhaps because I had been so focused on Dylan's music in previous years, I had never given Leonard's music a chance. Sure, I had heard a song or two on the radio or on a record store's sound system, but I'd never felt compelled to add an album of his to my collection. My loyalty to Bob was perhaps at the time too strong.

On the flight, I stared out the window and soaked in those old Cohen albums carefully, enjoying them immensely. No distractions, just plain old fashioned focus. And it all clicked. The music, the man, the message. I was finally "getting" what it was that excited - that hooked - people so much about him. It felt so good to join the LC club as I floated high above the clouds and stared at the Earth's horizon listening to this one true dude. An airborne epiphany.

After the flight, as I awaited my bags at the baggage carousel at LAX, I just barely, somehow - as if guided by God or god knows what - spotted none other than that selfsame one true dude hurrying down the hallway 25 feet away.

The coincidence of it all was startling and I knew had to tell somebody. Someone needed to be a witness to this. I abandoned my bags at the carousel and decided... "I'll just tell the man himself."

I zipped over alongside him and excused myself for the interruption.

He graciously replied he was in a bit of a rush. I gently countered with, "I won't take up more than a few seconds of your time. I had to share this coincidence, Mr. Cohen. I'm a nice young Jewish boy like yourself from Montreal and a few days ago I got my first iPod. I loaded it up with your music which I'd somehow never before heard in any detail. I just sat on a plane from Montreal giving it a very careful listen. And then you walked by. And here we are. So, I just had to tell you, Mr. Cohen, mazel tov. That is some beautiful music. Thank you for making it and thanks for being here for me to thank you."

He chuckled, smiled, and gave me a patented deep-octave, rumbly "Well, thank you. Thank you very much." And then he walked away.

One of the coolest coincidences of my life. Glad to have shared it with him and glad to have shared it with you.

P.S. The above photo of a crowd in awe was one I took at Cohen's Bell Centre show a couple of years back. I knew I'd have a use for it some day. Pleased to join it to this post as a tribute to him and to all you guys who have shared so many memories of Leonard yesterday and today on Facebook. Keep them coming.

Nor oyf simchas, as they say. On happier occasions.

Ez

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Introducing Earle E. Squirly

This. Guy. Likes. Punkin'. Seeds. Yip.
(Click image to watch)

An Earle E. Halloween from me and my new short movie star and friend, Earle E. Squirly.

Watch his new 1 minute short today. And/or tomorrow.

Ez

EzraSoiferman.com

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Ez Sez Artist in Res'

Dear Friends,

I'm thrilled to announce that I've been selected as the very first Artist in Residence at Tweed, Canada's largest licensed producer of medical cannabis. This is by all accounts the first artist in residence program at any cannabis company worldwide. As a longtime advocate for the sheer versatility of this plant, and as a proud artist, you can imagine what an honour this is. Especially at a time when we see cannabis legalization turn a corner from pipe dream to a multi-billion-dollar industry.

There is most certainly a place for a bit of art and fun in all this, and I'm ready to bring it.

Here is the company's official press release.


Though Tweed is headquartered in Smiths Falls, Ontario, and housed in Canada's sprawling former Hershey's Chocolate factory, the year-long photography-based residency will see me continue to reside at home in Montreal (perhaps you were wondering if I'd have to live in a giant marijuana factory - I don't), all the while affording me a budget and mandate to travel to various cities across Canada and worldwide to create exciting new photo series of my own creation. Some of these photo project will be marijuana and hemp related while others will be more general in theme, taking their inspiration from the colourful world around us.

Ez in Res': a lab coat selfie on a recent visit to Tweed's headquarters

The Tweed factory in Smiths Falls, ON
I first met the good folks at Tweed back in 2014 when I visited there to film a pivotal scene from my cannabis edibles film, Grass Fed. I had dropped by with comedian, sciatica patient and Tweed customer Mike Paterson. You can watch Mike and Tweed's parent company president Mark Zekulin in this unforgettable scene in Grass Fed which is now on iTunes.

I stayed in touch with the team at Tweed ever since and they loved my idea for the company to take on an artist in residence. I'm incredibly grateful to them for this unprecedented opportunity.

Extra special thanks also go out to my old pals Paul Flicker and Andy Nulman for their very kind letters of reference on my behalf. Andy gracefully began his letter to Tweed with:

"If you are actually, seriously considering making Ezra Soiferman your inaugural Artist-in-Residence at Tweed, I’d ask 'What are you smoking?'...but that would be obvious and disrespectful."

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Josh Ritter and me backstage
at his recent concert in Albany, NY
And now some more good news, I'm very pleased to share the inaugural project of my residency. "The Walls of Montreal" / "Les Murs de Montréal" is a brand new music photeo (huh?) featuring the captivating song "Homecoming" by Idaho-born, Brooklyn-based folk-rocker Josh Ritter, of whom I'm an old fan.

Click the above image or this link to watch the brand new video!
(Featured mural by Chris Dyer)
Between 2013 and 2016, I photographed over 1500 artistic painted murals throughout the streets and alleys of Montreal. The project was inspired by my daughter Talula's fascination with the colourful murals we were constantly discovering together on our everyday adventures in our neighbourhood (NDG) and throughout the city. We could not believe how many there were out there.

On the hunt for more murals
Talula admiring a downtown mural
The video will be shared by Tourisme Montréal and Notre-Dame-des-Arts and will make its film festival premiere at NDG Arts Week on Friday, August 26th at 8pm at the NDG Off The Wall Film Festival in Montreal's Girouard Park. Please join me for this fun annual outdoor community event.

Tweed recently entered into a business venture with hip-hop legend Snoop Dogg. As part of my residency, I was invited down to Toronto by the company to photograph Snoop at his concert and at a private Tweed-sponsored after-party at which he was DJ'ing. Quite the experience, to say the least. Here are a couple of shots from the night. I'll be releasing more shots from this night throughout the year.

 


'Soif Dogg' at the Snoop after-party in Toronto
Stay tuned for more photos, photo series and music photeos from me throughout the year. There's lots and lots in the works and I'll be sharing it all for you here and at my new site: EzraSoiferman.com.

Huh?! New website?! Why yes... I built a brand new site and it's already loaded up with many photo series for you to see!  Have a look around. EzSez.com will remain the go-to place for all my news and  EzraSoiferman.com will feature in-depth looks at my photo projects, info on my ongoing filmmaking work and much more.

As we like to say at EzraSoiferman.com, "Come for the flicks, stay for the pix!"

Finally, I'm also now on Twitter. Follow @EzraSoif today.

OK, please enjoy my new short video "The Walls of Montreal", an entirely new way to appreciate this city I love, thanks to the art of so many truly incredible mural artists.

Regards to all from Montreal,

Ezra

Ezra Soiferman
Documentary filmmaker and photographer