Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Virgins featured in Interview Magazine

Photo: David Black

A Rock Band That's Easy to Like and Hard to Google
by: Jonathan Durbin

The Virgins, a quartet of downtown New York City boys, are on the verge of releasing their major-label debut, a brash collection of rock 'n' roll songs. The album (self-titled; due out on Atlantic Records) pays tribute to a host of art bands, from the Velvet Underground and the Talking Heads to Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, without itself being overly arty. This is refreshing since the group's 26-year-old singer, Donald Cumming--a tall, swaggering presence--comes with the requisite below-14th-Street-art-kid pedigree.

Manhattan born and bred, Cumming grew up in TriBeCa, where his father owned a liquor store. As a 14-year-old, he used to ritually sneak into Don Hill's to attend 80's Night. After dropping out of high school, Cumming flitted around, sleeping on the couch of a close friend, the photographer Ryan McGinley, dabbling in film (he served as the director of photography for Jennifer Venditti's documentary BILLY THE KID), and generally immersing himself in nightlife. "Everybody just decided that going to parties was more important than going to school, and making art was more fun than working at jobs," explains Cumming. "Everybody just sort of figured it out and didn't compromise."

Cumming met the Virgin's guitarist, Wade Oates, when the two were modeling for a McGinley shoot in Mexico in 2004. They had barely founded the band (rounded out by bassist Nick Zarin-Ackerman and drummer Erik Ratensperger) when the group opened for Patti Smith during Paris Fashion Week. Since then they've sharpened their live act by touring the U.S. and have had music featured on the CW's decidedly uptown series Gossip Girl. "I do feel like you only get one chance to have a self-titled record," says Cumming. "You can do it later, but it's so lame to do that, don't you think?" He adds, "We embrace that aesthetic of being creative and having fun and not being uptight and so precious about everything."

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Pleasure of Being Robbed

Submarine Entertainment's Josh Braun with "The Pleasure of Being Robbed" actress Eleonore Hendricks, Director Joshua Safdie, and Producer and Cinematographer Brett Jutkiewicz. Photo by James Israel/indieWIRE.

CONGRATS to two of my favorite people ELEONORE & JOSH!
Here's to the future of the film..

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

BILLY THE KID wins Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature


Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Filmmaking
"Manda Bala (Send A Bullet)"
Director - Jason Kohn, Producers - Joey Frank, Jared Goldman & Jason Kohn

Outstanding Achievement in Direction
Alex Gibney
"Taxi to the Dark Side"

Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature
Director - Jennifer Venditti

Outstanding Achievement in Production
Seth Kanegis, Tomas Radoor & Mikael Rieks
"Ghosts of Cite Soleil"

Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography
Heloisa Passos
"Manda Bala (Send A Bullet)"

Outstanding Achievement in Editing
Doug  Abel, Jenny Golden & Andy Grieve
"Manda Bala (Send A Bullet)"

Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design and Animation
Animation by Curious Pictures
"Chicago 10"

Outstanding International Feature
"The Monastery - Mr. Vig & The Nun"
Director - Pernille Rose Gronkjaer, Producer - Sigrid Dyekjaer

Audience Choice Prize
"The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters"
Director - Seth Gordon

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Thanks so much to RachelJacobson, the whole film streams gang, and the community. Your support and understanding of the film filled me with joy & inspiration. Below is just one example of the many lovely letters I have received.

Ms Venditti,
Thank you again for bringing your movie to Omaha last night!
Your eyes and Billy are truly a venue thru which transformation can take place, allowing a person
to see inside the lives of those that they can not find themselves in. ( There is a little
Billy in all of us, Billy just lets the truth shine out where the rest of us have learned to hide it to please others
and not ourselves) You allow the viewer that connection with that "other", thru you the can now embrace Billy's diversity and not see it as
something to be feared . this is all possible by seeing through your eyes. A higher being bestows us with gifts for or time on this planet and you have yours, Billy has his family have theirs and what a beautiful way to combine all of those gifts. Thank you
for having the insight to make this movie about Billy and not just another movie about "IT",Asperger Syndrome.
A beautiful person by the name of Bill Stillman has brought our family the gift of these views and you've got it also !
You did not define Billy as an "IT" no person wants to be "IT" they only want to be loved , its basic human nature. Human kind
turns it around and gives a label and makes a person the" IT". That feared and dreaded thing, something defective,
something we would wish not to have or associate with. This is not what Billy or any child or person is ,and you captured that!
you have the views and ideas that a diagnosis is by definition the framework to explain a behavior or a atypical attribute, not a person You
did not make your film about a behavior you made it about Billy..kudos'!!! You ask the viewer to see Billy for himself
and not to judge him for his intellect or for his limitations, just his unique and wonderful gifts that he brings to all of those
around him.You show that there are no limitations and boxes that Billy is Infinite ,if WE will let him grow to his potential
and wow what an amazing potential!!! Thank you for helping to remove that line of US and THEM for Billy and the
viewers. You could not define Billy if you had all night, Only Billy can! and you allowed him a venue and a voice Kudos, Kudos, Kudos and thank you again
for allowing viewer to see beyond societies way of labeling and in turn look at a persons humanity.

People had questions of who, what, when, where and why last night that you made short and sweet.again kudos cause you got it! It is just as simple as that Billy his family wake up every morning and just move forward putting their pants on one leg at a time and seeing what the world
brings to your plate that day! In raising four children everyday that's my motto and three of those with their uniqueness
bring me insight and joy everyday that I would not see if I looked for their problems issues and cures on a daily basis
I enjoy each one for who THEY are.

Thank you very much! keep looking at the world through YOUR eyes and rebel against that rising tide of conformity! It may
not pay in dollars but I think the other rewards you reap can't touch what money brings. so..... keep on keepin on!


Monday, December 10, 2007

The New York Times features Billy The Kid

It's His World; She Was Just Filming It

Published: December 9, 2007

JENNIFER VENDITTI met the subject of her documentary “Billy the Kid” in a high school cafeteria in rural Maine. Seated apart from all the other students, who were clustered into the usual cliques, was a wiry 15-year-old in shorts and an AC/DC T-shirt.

“There was a table of bullies who pointed him out and told me he’d tried to sit with them once,” Ms. Venditti said. “They called him a freak.” She went over to talk to Billy, “and as soon as he opened his mouth, I was like, ‘Why isn’t everyone sitting at your table?’”

A casting director for films and fashion shoots who specializes in “street scouting” — the practice of plucking subjects from everyday environments — Ms. Venditti was trying to find teenage actors for a short that her friend Carter Smith was directing. She cast Billy as an extra in that film, “Bugcrush” (which went on to win the prize for best short at Sundance last year), but resolved to give her new young friend, who seemed both troubled and precocious, more screen time in a project of her own.

FOR FULL ARTICLE: The New York Times Online: "It's His World; She Was Just Filming It"

The guys at Spout have been so supportive! They interviewed me at SXSW and then again leading up to the NYC Opening. Check it out!

video FilmCouch #48

Thursday, December 6, 2007

NYC Opening and After Party

Last night was such a blast! The only things missing were Billy and Penny, but we know they were there in spirit.

Assistant to the Producer Jaclyn Paris

DP / Musician (Lead Singer of The Virgins) Donald Cumming, Director / Producer Jennifer Venditti, Actor / Director John Turturro, Producer Chiemi Karasawa

Actor Matthew Gray Gubler, Director / Producer Jennifer Venditti, Paper Magazine's Deputy Editorial Director Mickey Boardman

W Magazine's Creative Director Dennis Freedman, Director / Producer Jennifer Venditti

Elephant Eye's Bridget Stokes and Vicky Wight

Director Jennifer Venditti, DP / Musician (Lead Singer of The Virgins) Donald Cumming

Actor / Director Xan Cassavetes, Director / Producer Jennifer Venditti

Executive Producer Bob Alexander (Indiepix), Producer Chiemi Karasawa, Director / Producer Jennifer Venditti, Executive Producer Barnet Liberman

Producer Chiemi Karasawa, Director Jonathan Caouette, Director / Producer Jennifer Venditti

DP / Musician (Lead Singer of The Virgins) Donald Cumming, Producer Chiemi Karasawa, Actor John Cameron Mitchell, Director / Producer Jennifer Venditti, Composer Christian Zucconi

Photographer Pamela Hanson
(photo courtesy of

Actor John Cameron Mitchell (right) and friend
(photo courtesy of

DJs Tim Barber and Julia Burlingham
(photo courtesy of

Fashion Designer Alison Kelley
(photo courtesy of