Godzilla stomps into US theaters for the first time in six years with the first ever US screening of 2002’s Godzilla X Mechagodzilla

by Niklas Walker

With the cultural phenomenon’s 68th birthday fast approaching, Fathom Events is bringing the 2002 cult classic “Godzilla X Mechagodzilla” to US theaters for the first time.

November 3rd — dubbed Godzilla Day by Japanese production company Toho Studios — marks the original release date of Ishiro Honda’s 1954 classic “Gojira.”. To celebrate, the brand went all out in its promotion of the giant monster, including brand crossovers with video games, collectibles, and even limited-edition hot sauce.

Outside the PR flack, the one night only screening of “Godzilla X Mechagodzilla” — the 27th film in the lengthy franchise — serves as the day’s star event. While Godzilla enjoyed major box office success in the United States starting with Gareth Edwards’ 2014 reboot, “Godzilla”, and its subsequent sequels – “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” (2019) and “Godzilla vs Kong” – this release will mark the first time the 2002 film will ever screen in the States, only previously being released in English on home video via Sony Pictures and Columbia.

In 2016, Hideaki Annos’s “Shin Godzilla” –  a gritty political reboot of the property that won many honors at the 2016 Japanese Oscars – was released for a limited engagement, making it the last Japanese Godzilla film to screen in the United States. Before that, the 2004 film “Godzilla: Final Wars” had premiered at the TCL Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. This Godzilla Day release marks only the third Japanese Godzilla movie theatrically released in the United States since 2000.

Godzilla X Mechagodzilla – directed by Masaaki Tezuka – stars Yumiko Shaku as Lt. Akane Yashiro, pilot of the newly built Mechagodzilla (now called Kiryu), who must battle the infamous Godzilla, a monster that has reawakened 45 years after his initial destruction of Tokyo. Like many entries in the nearly 70 year old franchise, this film largely ignores the 26 films before it, and chooses to only recognize the 1954 original as canon.

While the film received middling reviews after its home video release in the US, it is largely considered by fans to be one of the best entries in the franchise thanks to its well-done tokusatsu action, enjoyable humor, and the addition of a strong female lead.

Godzilla X Mechagodzilla will screen for one night only via Fathom Events on November 3rd, at most major theaters.


Loud and proud: HONK! 2019

by Niklas Walker

The fourteenth annual HONK! Festival took place last weekend in Somerville,  Massachusetts, bringing activist brass bands to the forefront in a large-scale street festival taking over the entire town.

The festival, which began in 2006, gathers activist street bands into Somerville, all of which have distinct causes to spotlight. Some bands fight for issues like climate change, while others take more political routes, such as advocating for the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

The parade shut down most of Elm Street and Massachusetts Avenue, and lasted from 12 to 2 p.m. Crowds stood along nearly the entire length of the route, taking pictures, clapping, and shouting to encourage the paraders.

While family friendly, many of the bands are advocates for serious issues. One band  demanded the freedom of Palestine while carrying a massive Palestinian flag through the town. Another band, representing energy sustainability and environmental health, carried a hearse with a name tag reading "Earth" for the entire parade.

To many, the parade means a lot more than what is presented at face value. Reebee Garofalo, one of the festival’s founders, believes that HONK! has become larger than anyone imagined  in the first place.

“HONK! has become a real movement beyond any of our expectations,” he said. “There are  now 22 HONK festivals all over the world.”

Garofalo represents the 2nd Line Social Haven Pleasure Society Brass Band, an activist band that has been part of the festival from the start.

“We stand for truth, justice, income equality, and housing justice,” said Garofalo.

Bands aren’t the only thing represented in HONK!. Daniel Kontoff works as a volunteer  with Vets for Peace.

“It’s for veterans who realize war is bullshit,” he said. Kontoff passed out free food and water for marchers, following them throughout the entire route.

“It’s really beautiful,” said Kontoff. "The festival is truly beautiful.”

The parade ended in Winthrop Square, where bands took pictures together and packed up their instruments. Smiles were abundant throughout the park as people were brought  together by not only by their instruments, but their individual ideals as well.


A festival of strangers:the Seventh Annual Big Head Community Festival

by Niklas Walker

The Seventh Annual Big Head Community Festival was held in Roxbury, Massachusetts last Friday, showcasing and celebrating Afro American art and culture with vendors, food, and exhibits.

Held at the National Center for Afro American Artists, or the NCAAA, the festival took over the hill that the museum calls home. Between 100 and 200 visitors came to eat food, listen to live music, and shop around for traditional African garments.

“I’m so excited to be here and to see so many people in the same room who are celebrating the same thing,” said Mr. GBoss, a speaker at the Natural Hair Panel Discussion.

On the festival grounds, multiple vendors pitched up tents in order to spread their culture with festivalgoers. Some sold African headwraps, and others sold traditional jewelry. There were also informational vendors, educating attendees on the museum's objectives within the community as well as what the Big Head Community  Festival stands for.

Live music,  like traditional tribal chants, rang through the festival grounds, where kids and adults alike broke into impromptu dances.

“This space is your space as much as it’s our space. We invite this kind of discussion, this kind of collaboration, and this spirit of making a place yours by leaving an important piece of your life in it,” said Barry Gaither, the director of the NCAAA.

All the festivalgoers were treated like family. Many visitors were welcomed with hugs and handshakes, eventually being shown around the festival grounds by those more familiar.

Although a  smaller festival, there wasn’t a lack of energy. Between the music, dancing, and the atmosphere, the event felt larger than the physical area the small field that made up the festival space.

As the festival ended, some visitors left in tears. Guests of the festival hugged each other goodbye, and made their way out feeling validated and celebrated all the  same. Even though the event had ended, the takeaways that came from each musical performance and educational panel would live on in the minds of visitors - until next year. 

“Thank you for giving me a space to speak what I believe," said Rev. Andrea M. Payne,  another speaker on the Natural Hair Panel Discussion. "That’s good for me. I’m grateful to have had a space to reveal my true feelings.”

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