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Monthly Archives: February 2016

Jeanne Marie Spicuzza’s The Scarapist

trailer analysis and debunking of Berlinale award claims
by drs. Efthimia Dilpizoglou
(cc) 2016 creative commons (attribution only, spread far and wide!)

Part 1: How to spot an American indie film poseur claiming false laurels or awards on the internet

Berlinale responds to false award claims by Jeanne Marie Spicuzza of The Scarapist

Berlinale responds over e-mail to false award claims by Jeanne Marie Spicuzza, confirms her film The Scarapist was never awarded at their film festival

The American Indie Film Industry’s Punks – how indie film wannabes in America try to deceive the general film viewing public as well as potential future investors and sponsors by falsely claiming non-existing awards for their films, thus inflating the artistic and commercial merits of their films.

Alright boys and girls in film school, today I am going to show you what an American film industry poseur and wannabe looks like and how they operate to deceive the public and investors. I am sharing this information to help you determine whether someone in the film industry is trustworthy. I have seen many people get ripped off in the American indie film industry, and want to prevent that from happening to any of you. Here’s what to watch out for.

One of the way that desperate wannabes and poseurs try to sell their ass in the cut-throat American film industry is by claiming fake laurels. Basically, by claiming fake awards they have never received from organizations that don’t even exist. Laurels are those little laurel-branches that you oftentimes see printed on the packaging of DVDs, Blurays or film posters. These laurels either represent the festivals the film was screened at, or the awards the film has received. You’d be shocked to discover how many industry poseurs are claiming fake laurels for their films and are able to get away with it because of a lack of fact-checking. Using the popular and actually awarded American movie of The Revenant I will first show you what real, genuine laurels look like on Facebook:

As you can see, real laurels are indistinguishable from fake laurels. Anyone could Photoshop themselves a pair of fake laurels, put them in their trailer or on their online film-banner on Facebook or Twitter and claim themselves to be an award winner. Laurels on the internet are no indication of a real award. This is why you must fact-check any award  claims you see online! We know that The Revenant’s laurels are real because we saw actor Leonardo diCaprio receiving an Oscar on mainstream TV and other reputable media. We can also fact-check this using the Oscars’ official website where they post a list of the winners: http://oscar.go.com/news/winners/oscar-winners-2016-see-the-complete-list

Now that you’ve learned how to fact-check real and genuine laurels, I will show you what it looks like when an indie film industry poseur and wannabe claims fake laurels to inflate interest for their film in an effort to deceive the film viewing public and potentional future investors and sponsors about their artistic and commercial merit.

An American indie thriller film called _The Scarapist_ by the female American filmmaker Jeanne Marie Spicuzza recently posted messages in the social media claiming to have been awarded at the Berlinale Film Festival, the biggest film festival in Europe after Cannes. Many of the documentary films that ended up being screened at the festival I was volunteering at as a post-grad were first screened at Berlinale. Berlinale is basically the tastemaker for all the other film festivals around Europe.

“The Scarapist”, released in the US in 2015 (or 2013, or even in 2012, depending on which source you believe), claims to have won a “Best Feature” award by the so-called “Verein Deutscher Kritiker Und Filmemacher” at the recent Berlinale.
Here is the tweet in question:

The Scarapist won best feature at @berlinale EFM from the Verein Deutscher Kritiker Und Filmemacher! Source: Twitter link

And here is the Facebook post on the makers’s wall making the same claim:

The Scarapist won best feature at Berlinale European Film Market from the Verein Deutscher Kritiker Und Filmemacher, also known as the Association of German Critics and Filmmakers! Source: Facebook link

Knowing a thing or two about European film festivals – having myself volunteered at a big documentary film festival for years in Amsterdam and also seen a lot of the films that end up being shown at festivals – I instantly smelled a huge rat, so I researched these claims. You’ll be surprised, boys and girls, that most people in the American indie film industry do not do this, they do not bother to fact-check award claims made by filmmakers eventhough it’s now easier than ever to do so thanks to the internet. Indie poseurs rely on this lack of fact-checking to get away with their claiming fake laurels. If you seriously want to work on indie films, pay attention to your intuition when your gut tells you that something isn’t right about a filmmaker claiming awards for their films and be suspicious when people tell you not to question things.

Here is what came out of my research:

I couldn’t find any information online about an alleged “Verein Deutscher Kritiker Und Filmemacher” being active in Germany or at the Berlinale specifically. This alleged organization does not appear to exist at all.

The only organization I was able to find through Google is a “Verband” of German film critics called “Verband der Deutschen Filmkritik”. Obviously a “Verband” is not the same thing as a “Verein” in German. I contacted them and they themselves told me that their “Verband” has nothing to do with this alleged “Verein”. This is the official website Verband der Deutschen Filmkritik: http://www.vdfk.de/ There isn’t a single announcement on their website of them awarding films at the Berlinale or of them awarding The Scarapist.

I also sent an e-mail to the Berlinale European Film Market asking them whether The Scarapist had received any awards at their festival. I would strongly recommend contacting the festival itself if you are wondering whether a filmmaker is being truthful about their film receiving awards. Festivals have a very good grasp on such things and keep close track of which films are awarded at each edition. Here is the e-mail message to the Berlinale EFM.

I am writing to you with the following question regarding a claim I came across today in the social media.

An American independent horror film by the name of “The Scarapist”, released in the US in 2015, claims to have won a “Best Feature” award by the so-called “Verein Deutscher Kritiker Und Filmemacher” at the recent Berlinale.

Here is the tweet in question:

https://twitter.com/TheScarapist/status/701828233524879360

And here is the Facebook post on the makers’ wall making the same claim:

https://www.facebook.com/TheScarapist/photos/a.858992764120696.1073741833.450496221637021/1160314683988501/?type=3

I cannot find any information online about an alleged “Verein Deutscher Kritiker Und Filmemacher” being active in Germany. Does this alleged organization exist? Were they invited to the EFM at the Berlinale?

The only organization I was able to find through Google is “Verband der Deutschen Filmkritik”.

I cannot find any mention of such an award or of this film being awarded at the Berlinale on the website for the
“Verband der Deutschen Filmkritik”:

http://www.vdfk.de/

Furthermore, there appears to be no such
award from any German critics association mentioned anywhere on the Berlinale website:

https://www.berlinale.de/en/das_festival/preise_und_juries/preise_unabh_ngigen_jurys/index.html

Could you please explain whether the above tweet and Facebook post are true?

Does this alleged organization “Verein Deutscher Kritiker Und Filmemacher” even exist?

Is this alleged organization associated with the Berlinale and the EFM?

Did they really award the film “The Scarapist” for Best Feature at the Berlinale?

Please let me know because there are a lot of frauds claiming fake awards in the industry lately.

Sincerely,

drs. Efthimia Dilpizoglou

 

The Berlinale EFM, predictably, responded in the negative: they wrote to me that The Scarapist has never received any awards at their festival, and that they have never heard of this alleged “Verein” before.

Part 2: The proliferation of false awards claims on the internet by indie film industry poseurs for the sake of promoting their films – the use of aggregator websites and Search Engine Optimization services to spread false claims far and wide on the internet with no oversight.

Aggregator websites are used by companies that offer so-called Search Engine Optimization or SEO services. If you are unfamiliar with the wacky world of Search Engine Optimization and how they are used to manipulate search engine hits, please read this Wikipedia article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_optimization

What these companies basically do is they run a whole bunch of fake websites appearing to the casual viewer like regular press release websites, and proceed to post the same PR message on all these sites that they themselves run simultaneously. Because the message ends up on so many websites at the same time, Google’s web-crawling spider-bots pick up the same PR message over and over again on different websites and thus the PR message ends up at the top of the list of hits when you do a Google Search for a specific term. Because there is no oversight whatsoever, Search Engine Optimization services are a great way for liars to propagate lies far and wide on the internet with virtually no impediment. Google already knows about SEO websites manipulating its web-crawlers in this manner,  but Google doesn’t care to block them from doing so. In fact, as you will see in the list of aggregator sites I have assembled below, Google happily participates in the perpetration of deceitful PR messages through SEO by hosting these deceitful PR messages on their own website.
You can generally recognize an aggregator website because they will include a disclaimer at the top of their site with the following text or something to this effect: “Information contained on this page is provided by companies via press release distributed through PR Newswire, an independent third-party content provider. PR Newswire, WorldNow and this Station make no warranties or representations in connection therewith.”. This disclaimer is just a legal trick for aggregator websites to absolve themselves of defamation lawsuits for being used by liars to spread all kinds of bullshit on the internet. However, some aggregator websites are so deceptive and reckless that they do not even bother to include any disclaimer at all at the top of their pages, and only upon close scrutiny does it become apparent that one is dealing with a press-release aggregator and not a regular website with real content. Such disclaimer-free aggregator websites are amongst the most rogue and feral websites on the internet.

I have assembled what I believe to be the full list of aggregator websites used by Jeanne Marie Spicuzza to spread the false claim that her film The Scarapist received an award “at Berlinale International Film Festival and European Film Market”. The language used in the original press release, which was then copied onto all the other aggregator websites, is clearly meant to be misleading and to suggest that The Scarapist received a Berlinale award. Also, notice how many of these aggregator websites listed below have the word “fox” in their domain name. The use of the word “fox” in the domain name is meant to falsely suggest that these are Fox News websites or somehow Fox News affiliated websites when they are not.

1) This is the original PR message that started the ball rolling and was copied ad verbatim by all the other aggregator websites in this list:

“The Scarapist”™ wins best picture at Berlinale
“The Scarapist”™ has been awarded best picture by the Verein Deutscher Kritiker Und Filmemacher at Berlinale International Film Festival and European Film Market.

Indie thriller “The Scarapist”™ from Seasons & a Muse Productions won the award for best picture from Verein Deutscher Kritiker Und Filmemacher (VDKUF) at the 2016 Berlinale International Film Festival and European Film Market (EFM). Based on a true story of therapist abuse, “The Scarapist”™ stars Jeanne Marie Spicuzza, Katy Colloton and R. Michael Gull, and is directed by screenwriter Spicuzza and Synthian Sharp.

“The Scarapist”™ screened at EFM on February 12, following its limited release in Landmark Theatres. The VDKUF, an association comprised of German critics and filmmakers, held its awards ceremony on February 17.

In addition to the VDKUF Award presented to “The Scarapist,”™ River Road Entertainment’s production “Seline,” which also screened at EFM, was awarded best short film. Director Luciano Silighini Garagnani and actresses Flavia Monteleone, Sara Menassi and Sofia Bergamo were in attendance.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-scarapist-wins-best-picture-at-berlinale-300226570.html

2) Press release distributed by PRLog
http://www.thestreet.com/story/13473112/1/the-scarapist-wins-best-picture-at-berlinale.html?cm_ven=RSSFeed

3) Information contained on this page is provided by companies via press release distributed through PR Newswire, an independent third-party content provider. PR Newswire, WorldNow and this Station make no warranties or representations in connection therewith.
http://www.fox28.com/story/31320100/the-scarapist-wins-best-picture-at-berlinale

4) Information contained on this page is provided by companies via press release distributed through PR Newswire, an independent third-party content provider. PR Newswire, WorldNow and this Station make no warranties or representations in connection therewith.
http://www.myfoxtallahassee.com/story/31320100/the-scarapist-wins-best-picture-at-berlinale

5) idem
http://www.foxwilmington.com/category/48524/entertainment

6) idem
http://www.wboy.com/story/31320100/the-scarapist-wins-best-picture-at-berlinale

7) Information contained on this page is provided by an independent third-party content provider. WorldNow and this Station make no warranties or representations in connection therewith. If you have any questions or comments about this page please contact pressreleases@worldnow.com
http://www.wvnstv.com/story/31320100/the-scarapist-wins-best-picture-at-berlinale

8) http://pennychaser.com/news/the-scarapist-wins-best-picture-at-berlinale

9) Information contained on this page is provided by companies via press release distributed through PR Newswire, an independent third-party content provider. PR Newswire, WorldNow and this Station make no warranties or representations in connection therewith.
http://www.myfoxchattanooga.com/story/31320100/the-scarapist-wins-best-picture-at-berlinale

10) idem
http://www.abc40.com/story/31320100/the-scarapist-wins-best-picture-at-berlinale

11) idem
http://www.cw-gabama.com/story/31320100/the-scarapist-wins-best-picture-at-berlinale

12) http://s4story.com/story/10249963

13) http://www.lelezard.com/communique-9493852.html

14) http://rezul.com/news/10292729

15) http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=T&ct2=us&fd=S&url=http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/2850169&cid=52779052966769&ei=XXbTVtmMDtTqsgGriIXoDw&usg=AFQjCNGTjIV9wn0JzkiQBeNmzUiRvuyCPw <–  as you can see, even Google is all too happy to allow its search engine to be used to spead questionable if not outright false or misleading PR messages. That same deceitful PR message that the aggregator websites mirrored ended up being mirrored on Google.com itself.

Part 3: Online claims that The Scarapist was directed in 2009 by Julie Dash of _Daughters of the Dust_ fame  

According to several webpages I have found with Google (for example, here, here and here), _The Scarapist_ was directed in 2009 by African-American film director Julie Dash, the respected director of the 1991 film _Daughters of the Dust_ which I have seen myself. This claim however does not appear on the IMDB page for The Scarapist or Julie Dash’s own IMDB page. Did Julie Dash direct The Scarapist, or is this another falsehood about the film being spread on the internet using aggregator sites? If anyone knows please let me know. Why are there all these pages claiming that Julie Dash was the director? Where did these pages/claims come from?

Part 4: Close-reading analysis of the film-trailer for _The Scarapist_. Does this even look like a film deserving of an award for “Best Feature” at Berlinale?
This blog article is about ethics in film promotion. But what kind of film artist  makes false award claims to promote their film? Did Zack Snyder, Wes Anderson, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan or Stanley Kubrick make false awards claims when they were starting out to help their films along?

Of course not. Really talented people don’t need false awards claims to have a film career. Whoever is making false awards claims, chances are they are just an amateur or an industry-hack and the film viewing public might  actually be right for ignoring their film. If you want to be awarded for your films, why don’t you try making better films for starters? Instead of spending money on aggregator websites to spread lies about your film across the internet, why not use that money to get some professionals onboard and make a more professional looking film? Let’s have a close look now at the online trailer for _The Scarapist_  and assess this film trailer for professionalism, workmanship and characterization.

I had a look at _The Scarapist_ film trailer and to me as a casual viewer of feature films (I’ll admit I am unimpressed by most feature films I watch, and would much rather be watching a documentary) this looks like sloppily colour-corrected Youtube B-movie. It doesn’t look like a film I would personally pay to see at an arthouse cinema. I would only watch it for free on Vimeo or Youtube. Also, whoever colour-corrected this film clearly doesn’t know how to white-balance because the scarapist character’s face looks pink/purple in some of the scenes. The crew behind this film also doesn’t seem to know how to properly light a scene/face for a facial close-up. I mean seriously, why all these eyelash shadows blocking and distracting from her eyes? If this character is a hypnotist her eyes should be the whole focus. There is a huge difference between not being able to properly light your film and claiming your film to be “noir” because of random shadows. Unnecessary eyelash shadows isn’t “noir”, it means your director doesn’t know how to light a face threeway to prevent eyelash shadows. All in all, The Scarapist doesn’t look like Berlinale award material by any stretch. It’s an insult to the Berlinale really for someone to perpetrate the false claim of having received an award at their festival for such a sloppy and badly made film showing all the seams of an amateur job. I obviously haven’t seen the whole film so as to comment on the story. The trailer suggests a stereotypical “damsel in distress” trope. I also dislike the statements that Jeanne Marie Spicuzza made in a podcast about the female scarapist seducing the female lead, saying that the film was meant to depict a scarapist who goes looking for a patient to exploit rather than a patient who is looking for a therapist. In Queer Film Theory this is known as a classic lesbophobic trope of mainstream straight film wherein the good innocent  straight girl is seduced by the evil lesbian seductress. The presentation of the seductress as an evil manipulator is meant to foreclose any possibility that the straight girl might have desired or enjoyed the seduction and might herself be interested in exploring some form of lesbianism, whether platonic or overtly sexual.

See also:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesbian_vampire
Update 29MAR2016: The Scarapist also seems to be informed by another American literary genre, that of the so-called Southern Gothic, a genre characterized by tropes such as, to quote Spicuzza’s beloved Wikipedia, “ambivalent gender roles, decayed or derelict settings, grotesque situations, and other sinister events relating to or stemming from poverty, alienation, crime, or violence.”. One of the bands for which Spicuzza’s husband was the drummer, the Violent Femmes, is according to the Wikipedia article associated with the Southern Gothic genre in music.

Not having seen the movie itself I do not know whether this seduction is merely a metaphor or whether we are dealing with an actual platonic lesbian-esque relationship between the two female characters. (At one point the therapist reaches out and touches a strand of hair as the female lead walks by.) The trailer certainly doesn’t arouse my interest to discover how the relationship between the therapist and the patient develops, because there isn’t anything here to be discovered: the therapist is already revealed in the trailer to be the personification of evil (at one point she bears an upside down cross on her forehead) and the female lead is presented as pure if gullible innocence. Bo-ring! I would guess that most adults prefer to see movies where there are shades of gray to the morality of a character. I am willing to accept the possibility that the story behind The Scarapist might be so captivating that the experienced b-movie viewer would forgive the film its mistakes and weak points in favour of the narrative. However I do know that a trailer is meant to present the most exciting/promising parts of a film, and this trailer rather reveals everything that is wrong with The Scarapist.

Part 5: I am a desperate indie film maker, should I pull a Jeanne Marie Spicuzza and spread falsehoods about my film receiving awards I have never received? What are the risks of doing so?

I understand that the indie film industry is a cut-throat industry. I understand that this film industry is all about who you know and who they know. I know things are hard for indie filmmakers. I know things are especially hard for female indie filmmakers. All these are no excuse for you to go around making false claims about receiving laurels from your film.

You have NO right to use the name and logo of the Berlinale EFM or any other film festival for that matter as a means to lend credence to your self-serving lies. In America you can get sued for doing so. Don’t ever try to make false claims about your film having received awards at for example Sundance or any other big American festival that awards filmmakers. In the case of the Berlinale you are abusing the name and logo of a highly respected European film festival to spread lies about yourself and your film, thus increasing profits for yourself at the expense of the reputation of the Berlin film festival. What you are doing could be interpreted as fraud under certain readings of European law, and the festival could report you to the German authorities for dragging their name and/or logo into a deceitful PR campaign. I believe that unlike litigious Americans who will sue anyone and everything at the drop of a hat, Europeans don’t take it to court because they just feel sorry for you that you have to resort to such desperate measures to garner unwarranted and undeserved attention for your film. It’s a cultural difference. My understanding is that Americans have a tendency to misinterpret this European laissez-faire attitude and lack of a litigious culture as an invitation to exploit and abuse the system to their heart’s content. Maybe we should stop being so lax about this in Europe and take a few Americans to court to teach them some respect for our cultural institutions. Americans would obviously never pull this shit with an American film festival, like Sundance or Telluride, because they know they’d sue and/or would get them blacklisted all over the States for being such an industry charlatan claiming false laurels. Americans are doing this to a European film festival because they think they can get away with it. I sincerely hope that whoever claims false laurels at the Berlinale or any other European film festival will suffer the professional consequences for hurting the entire indie film industry as a whole with your selfish lies, and I hope the Berlinale will get them blacklisted so that they are never allowed to ever screen their films again at their festival or any other European festival.

If you are a young film student who is considering making false awards claims, think about how this reflects on you. You must be such an insecure attention-seeker to need to resort to claiming false awards from a non-existent critics organization to feel like you have accomplished something. Indie film industry poseurs and charlatans are making things harder for everyone working in indie film. No one trusts indie film makers anymore because of liars claiming awards never received and using aggregator websites to spread self-serving lies far and wide. They are the reason all the really talented hard-working film artists can’t get their films pitched at festivals anymore. They are a parasite and a pest on the real indie film industry where people don’t have to claim fake awards to garner attention for their films, where films stand or fall on the basis of their own artistic merits. American film makers complain about the Telluride film festival being coopted by the mainstream film industry. Well, do you realize festivals are going corporate exactly because of people trying to hawk their films on the basis of false claims? Indie film makers were already treated with suspicion, and because of false award claims this suspicion will now only get worse. Do you understand that any false promotional campaign launched by an indie film maker will affect not only your own credibility but that of indie film makers as a group?

Worst of all is when you are making false awards claims as a female filmmaker, because women have it harder than anyone else in the sexist film industry. Both the indie film industry and the mainstream industry are notoriously sexist. But if women filmmakers are as good as men, why would they need to resort to making false award claims to promote their films? Your insecurity as a female filmmaker in a sexist cultural industry is no excuse to want to deceive the public to make yourself feel better. A female filmmaker making false award claims is making every female filmmaker seem like an impostor who resorts to telling lies to garner attention for her film. Women in film are already suffering from Impostor Syndrome without having to actually resort to lies about the merits of their films.

To close, boys and girls in filmschool, don’t be an indie film industry poseur. Don’t claim awards you’ve never received. Don’t drag film festivals into deceptive advertising campaigns. Don’t deceive anyone at all if you can avoid it.

Part 6: Broken windows theory applied to the indie film industry – how industry wannabes beget more wannabes who in turn beget more wannabes. The downward spiral of corruption in the indie film industry.

Let’s apply the broken windows theory to people making false awards claims in the indie film industry. Let’s look at every false award claim being made by an indie filmmaker as a broken window in Tinseltown. People try to rationalize the deception saying: “Everyone tells a white lie every now and then”, “We like to twist things a little bit”, “Have you never told a lie on your resume”, “all actresses lie about their age on IMDB”, etc etc. I firmly believe that when liars are awarded this gives them an incentive to tell ever more grotesque lies. I have seen this corruption repeatedly with my own eyes manifest in the indie film industry. Lies incentivize ever greater and more absurd lies. Liars also have a tendency to bring other liars into the industry. People who never considered lying before suddenly find themselves lying too because they see liars getting away with it and reason that “nice guys don’t get paid”. Soon, the industry will consist of nothing but liars constantly scamming and deceiving one another in a truly sick and perverted game of oneupmanship that ultimately benefits no one. No one will trust eachother anymore and the product of the industry, the films being made, will suffer because they are being made in such a toxic environment. Film is a collaborative artform and there has to be trust. There can only be trust when people are honest. If someone doesn’t like your film they are doing you a favour being honest about it because they are inadvertently helping you become a better film maker. Stop thinking of criticism as “people throwing up all over you” and other such grotesque emo metaphors. Grow a spine and learn to appreciate criticism. I believe people sincerely want to see better films being made. I want to see better films being made because I never liked most of the feature films I saw in my life, with a handful of notable exceptions. Honest criticism is the only way to get there.

During my research into The Scarapist claims, I discovered that there was yet another indie film on Facebook falsely claiming laurels from this “VDKUF” or “Verein Deutscher Kritiker Und Filmemacher”:

https://www.facebook.com/selinethemovie/photos/a.909084085846041.1073741829.902287746525675/952389611515488/?type=3 UPDATE: This post appears to have been removed from the Seline Facebook page. However, the Youtube videos perpetrating the myth that this Seline film was awarded at the Berlinale are both still online, as are all the false press releases on the aggregator websites.

What you are seeing here is “broken windows theory” in action in the indie film industry. And they too were using (Italian) aggregator websites to spread their false laurel claims far and wide. Even after I confronted them if my researched they refused to admit they were deceiving the public about receiving an award at Berlinale. They admitted that they had never received an award at Berlinale (while claiming otherwise on their aggregator websites) but then tried to gaslight by claiming that the “Verein”, which clearly doesn’t exist, is supposedly some private German company that handed them an award at Berlinale but wasn’t associated with Berlinale. As I wrote above, there is no evidence whatsoever of this “Verein” ever existing or being active at Berlinale. The Berlinale EFM themselves stated they had never heard of this alleged “Verein” before. They also stated that if a film had won an award at Berlinale, they would know about it. Am I supposed to believe that some “private” German company of film critics and filmmakers is supposedly quietly handing out awards left and right at Berlinale without the EFM themselves knowing about this company or authorizing such an activity on their festival premises? If you know how punctual and formal Germans are, and how obsessed they are with documenting everything under the sun, you’d know how preposterous this claim is. I wanted to ask the Seline crew to provide me with hard evidence of their receiving an award from this alleged “private company” quietly infiltrating Berlinale, but discovered that they had blocked me from asking further questions. Someone who is honest and true should not shy away from answering pointed questions and providing evidence. It always depresses me when upon being exposed someone still tries to gaslight.

To conclude, if you want awards for your films, make better films. PERIOD.

Sources used in the writing of this article:

Full list of 2016 Berlinale award recipients
https://www.berlinale.de/media/pdf_word/service_7/66_ifb/66_Berlinale_Awards.pdf <– as you can plainly see with your own eyes, Jeanne Marie’s The Scarapist is nowhere to be found in this list.
Jeanne Marie Spicuzza falsely claiming to have received a Berlinale award from this non-existing “Verein” on her personal LinkedIn page:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/scarapist-wins-big-berlinale-jeanne-marie-spicuzza?articleId=6108125708922421248#comments-6108125708922421248&trk=prof-post

Feminist Frequency has a great series of videos on Youtube about the “damsel in distress” trope as it occurs in both American films and video-games:


Article about The Scarapist with Jeanne Marie Spicuzza interview:
http://onmilwaukee.com/ent/articles/myitalia.html

Jeanne Marie Spicuzza’s latest film project Night Rain Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/nightrainmovie

Podcast interviews with Jeanne Marie Spicuzza about The Scarapist by Bennet Pomerantz:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bennetpomerantz2/2016/02/10/lets-talk-with-rachel-bennet-guest-jeanne-marie-spicuzza
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/worldofinknetwork/2014/12/21/any-which-way-but-loose-with-bennet-pomerantz

Steated At The Writers’ Table podcast interview with Jeanne Marie Spicuzza about The Scarapist:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/seated-at-writers-table-podcast/id980801767?mt=2 <– this is where she makes the claims about the relationship between the scarapist and the female lead being “seduction”.

Going Commando podcast interviews with Jeanne Marie Spicuzza:
https://archive.org/details/GoingCommandoWithMaeAswell1-17-11

Music 4 Life radio podcast interview with Jeanne Marie Spicuzza:
“Meet guest Jeanne Marie Spicuzza, a film producer in California, as she unveils the secret that seeded the special film project called The Scarapist, then discusses deeper topics that link the Sex Pistols with Hildegarde of Bingen.”

Jeanne Marie Spicuzza’s autobiographical poem about her therapist:
http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/jspicuzza/2011/02/honey-delicious/ <– What is interesting is that in this poem the scarapist is described as being an older lady. In the essay I link to below, Spicuzza describes The Scarapist as the mother-figure she wished she had, again indicating that this therapist was an older person. In the film the therapist character, whose name is Ilse, is actually played by a young woman, younger even than Jeanne Marie’s character Lana. Why did Spicuzza turn The Scarapist into a young woman for her supposedly autobiograpical film? That seems like a rather peculiar capitulation to the sexism and ageism of mainstream American film for someone who in one of the above podcasts claims to have a punk rock background, and was also describing herself as a “riot grrrl” (female punk rocker) on Wikipedia, as you will see below in the Wikipedia links.

Jeanne Marie Spicuzza has written a two-part essay about her alleged real life experiences that were the basis for The Scarapist screenplay:
http://rachelintheoc.com/tag/jeanne-marie-spicuzza/

The Scarapist by guest @JeanneSpicuzza Part Two

This essay suggests that the scarapist supposedly hypnotized Jeanne Marie Spicuzza into visting a specific hairstylist in Los Angeles to get a haircut. I can’t imagine a story so pedestrian making for an exciting viewing experience. Who wants to see a whole film about a woman who’s scared of haircuts getting a haircut supposedly under the spell of an overwhelming hypnotist of a therapist? (Frankly, that sounds more like a great idea for a comedy than a thriller!) I can’t imagine anyone thinking this to be an exciting premise. I know a lot of women associate their hair with their femininity and might identify with the female lead based on that, but as a woman who has had both long and short hair I don’t particularly identify with that hair fetish. I just don’t see what the big deal is about someone being talked by their therapist into getting a haircut. It seems to me that this is exactly what therapists do and I would guess that people routinely visit therapists to get over all kinds of irrational phobias. I don’t see the thrill in that. As for this statement from the essay: “It turned out, she had hacked out over 65 percent of my hair, causing root and shaft damage, even hair loss.”, isn’t a haircut technically a form of hair loss by default?  If there was really “root and shaft damage” (you know what we say on the internet, pictures or it didn’t happen!), how is the therapist to blame for the incompetence of the hairstylist? Nevermind logic and reason in assigning blame, so traumatized is Jeanne Marie Spicuzza from getting that haircut that she supposedly, quoting again from the above essay, “(…) called suicide hotline over twenty-three times in nine months following our last conversation. I felt folded into pieces, broken, seemingly beyond repair. I beat my own body. I didn’t want to live with the shame. My husband found me, naked in the dark.(…) Shattering and devastation, my pain, grinding on my mind and bones everyday. I was often dizzy, and had to catch myself from falling. I was diagnosed with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, and was told it would be years before I would recover.”… let’s just say I feel confirmed in my opinion that this strange story of obsessive haircut drama is better suited for comedy than a thriller. And I still don’t see how an incompetent hairstylist can be blamed on the therapist who merely recommended them, but then again in American courts judges routinely sentence completely innocent people to deathrow and call that “justice”. As for the claim that the therapist implanted sexual abuse memories, this is mentioned in passing in the essay and left dangling. What I did manage to discover during my research was this 2001 San Jose/Silicon Valley area article by a “Mary Spicuzza” about a medical malpractice lawsuit. I wonder whether this is related to The Scarapist, because this Mary Spicuzza writing about medical malpractice as far back as 2001 appears to be the sister Jeanne Marie Spicuzza. Isn’t it interesting that Jeanne Marie’s sister Mary Spicuzza was writing about medical malpractice half a decade before Jeanne Marie Spicuzza herself claimed to have suffered medical malpractice at the hands of a therapist?

Update 14MAR2016: Spicuzza apparently sent an abusively frivolous and censorious DMCA takedown request to WordPress in which she preposterously claims that quoting 8 sentences from her 400+ sentence autographical essay supposedly constitutes a copyright infringement. Spicuzza, who in this podcast interview claimed she was almost thrown out of a court for “sounding like a lawyer”, has obviously never heard of something called protected fair use in the context of criticism. According to a quantitative analysis I performed using the website https://wordcounter.net/ Spicuzza’s essay consists of 3775 words and 411 sentences. It goes without saying that quoting a mere 8 sentences out of 411 sentences, or a mere 101 words out of 3775 words (which is about 3% of the total essay, since Spicuzza is such a fan of statistics), is proportional fair use with regards to the full lenght of the essay. Fortunately WordPress recognized her DMCA takedown request was frivolous and refused to removed my article. #FAIL It is my firm belief that Spicuzza needs to spend more time learning how to make decent movies instead of wasting her time sending out frivolous DMCA takedown requests to censor film criticism. But what to expect from someone who is so insecure that she needs false press releases on aggregator websites to inflate her film?

As for the alleged lawsuit, I now have a PACER (Public Access To Electronic Court Documents) account and can look up any civil or criminal lawsuit in the United States that isn’t sealed. I haven’t been able to find Spicuzza’s alleged lawsuit against her therapist, but this could be due to the fact that lawsuits involving doctors/therapists and/or medical/therapeutic procedures are often sealed or anonymized in the US to protect the privacy of the patient. Either the lawsuit has been sealed or anonymized for privacy, or this lawsuit just doesn’t exist the same way the Berlinale award claim is false and the “Verein” doesn’t exist. I am open to either posibility.

During my online research into Jeanne Marie Spicuzza’s career I discovered that her Wikipedia article had been voted into deletion by Wikipedia editors after they discovered that she was making unsourced claims about herself and had also used a sockpuppet account to vote in favour of herself. According to the records currently available on Wikipedia, Jeanne Marie Spicuzza not only enlisted the help of her sister Mary Spicuzza in tracking down an Wikipedia editor she was enrolled in a dispute with over the Ralph Nader Wikipedia article, but even went and hired a legal gun in Los Angeles, a personal injury attorney by the name of Richard Rosenthal Esq, and sent a legal threat to the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization behind Wikipedia, demanding that alleged “defamation” about her be deleted from their site. I will assume mr. Rosenthal would like to see with his own eyes my correspondence with Berlinale EFM confirming that his client never won an award at their festival and that the Berlinale has never heard of this alleged “Verein” that his client claims to have received an award from. I in turn would love to receive from mr. Rosenthal hard evidence of his client receiving a Berlinale award and hard evidence of the existence of this “Verein”.

According to this TechDirt comment Mary Spicuzza got herself involved in a Wikipedia editing war involving her sister Jeanne Marie Spicuzza’s vanity article on Wikipedia and a Wikipedia editor who insisted it should be removed and succeeded to have it voted into deletion.
https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080720/2035441742.shtml#c115

Legal threat by Jeanne Marie Spicuzza to Wikimedia Foundation (say hi to Personal Injury Attorney Richard Rosenthal, Spicuzza’s legal gun in Los Angeles):

In defense of Google’s Street View, and thoughts on Internet privacy

The discussion about the incident archived on Wikipedia itself suggests that Jeanne Marie Spicuzza was using Wikipedia to spread unsourced claims about herself through her Wikipedia vanity article. In other words, she was using Wikipedia in the same way she is now making false awards claims after having her film screened at the EFM. Are we to conclude that Jeanne Marie has a history of making false or unsourceable claims about herself and her achievements? Quoting from the archived discussion:


Mary Spicuzza doesn’t say that the “page” in question was in fact a Wikipedia article about Jeanne Marie Spicuzza. Another editor nominated this article for deletion on notability grounds; I was one of 16 editors (out of 19) who voted to remove the article from Wikipedia. An article about Spicuzza’s company, Seasons & a Muse, Inc., was also removed. Mary Spicuzza also doesn’t mention that her sister Jeanne was banned on two occasions from Wikipedia for sock-puppeteering at Ralph Nader articles, each time for six months.

After Jeanne Marie Spicuzza’s “page” was removed from Wikipedia, another Spicuzza family member — she describes herself as “21 year old female,” where Jeanne Marie is nearly 40 — began keeping a MySpace blog about me. In her latest entry, she describes herself as “Accomplished,” gives a link to her aunt’s (sister’s?) SF Weekly article, and pronounces it “Awesome!” (The Wikip spamblock feature does not allow My Space links, but trust me.)

(In fairness to Jeanne Marie Spicuzza, author Mary Spicuzza’s sister, it should be noted that Jeanne Marie claims to be unacquainted with Wikipedia. In the Comments section to her sister’s SF Weekly article she wrote, “I do not participate on Wikipedia, nor do I use it as a source” (see comment #10, dated Feb. 13, 2008). However, this statement contradicts author Mary Spicuzza’s claim to have heard about me first from her sister Jeanne; moreover, the quotes Mary Spicuzza used in her article show an understanding of my Wikipedia dealings with Jeanne Marie that Mary could not have acquired on her own.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Administrators’_noticeboard/IncidentArchive372#Attempted_Outing_of_Wikipedia_Editor_User:Griot_by_Tawdry_Tabloid_Journalist

The following comments by Wikipedia editors voting on why the Jeanne Marie Spicuzza vanity article should be deleted are instructional in the context of Jeanne Marie Spicuzza using aggregator websites to spread her false Berlinale award claims far and wide on the internet to inflate interest for her film. These comments plainly shows that she has a history of making either false, unsourced, unverfiable or inflated and self-congratulatory claims about herself:


“A whole lot of air inflating very little. Lots of name-dropping, very little reason for that.”


“This individual appears only in her own productions, according to IMDB. No independent evidence of notability. Article is almost certainly autobiography.”


“The subject could be marginally notable but the self-promotion and policy violations are overwhelming. I wouldn’t be against re-creation of a neutral, balanced and well-sourced article. History does not give us much hope that the subject herself will be able to do that.”


“Ironically, if the article had not been so frequently edited by individuals with clear associations with Ms. Spicuzza and thus clear conflicts of interest, I might have abstained or voted to keep. But the evidence for notability is marginal and all the sockpuppet/meatpuppet activity makes even that marginal amount so suspect that it falls back under the notability line.”

What is particularly disturbing is that Jeanne Marie Spicuzza, under her Wikipedia sockpuppet name of Telogen (an account she abandoned supposedly after discovering that Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales supports pornography), resorts to accusations of sexism and also has the nerve to bring up riot grrrl to attack Wikipedia editors for wanting to delete her vanity article, while insultingly referring to them as “40 year old virgins out for blood” saying she hopes to “see more fem votes” (I am a radical feminist myself and let it be known I will never endorse a poseur making false claims about themselves in the film industry just because she is female):


Article asserts notability and sources confirm it. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ranks 39 in top 100 largest U.S. newspapers, hardly “indie” or “non-trivial.” ‘Poetry Motel’ is a respected publication, and none listed are vanity presses. Sourced in international riotgrrrl publications. Ani DiFranco uses her own label, as does Kat Bjelland, etc., so doesn’t make a good argument. Btw, seems one user voted twice. Looks like a lot of 40 year-old virgins out for blood. Hope to see some more fem, impartial and/or non-SPP votes. Telogen 08:55, 19 May 2007 (UTC)

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Jeanne_Marie_Spicuzza&diff=132471771&oldid=132343671

A woman filmmaker using feminism as an excuse to cover up a thorougly documented career of online vanity at Wikipedia is one of the most annoying abuses of feminism a radical feminist like myself has to encounter online.

It’s telling how Jeanne Marie Spicuzza would never make any false claims about receiving awards at an American festival like La Femme. She knows exactly what would happen if she did claim a false award at an American film festival. Not only would she run the risk of being sued for dragging the name and reputation of that festival into a false advertising campaing while effectively claiming a false endorsement from the festival, such a move would probably get her blacklisted across the US.

She fact that Jeanne Marie Spicuzza is posting about her film in a Facebook group such as Seeking Our Story, a group about films by female filmmakers while using her film to perpetrate tired old stereotypes such as “damsel in distress” is a typical example of the way Jeanne Marie Spicuzza only invokes feminism and women to benefit herself while seemingly having no understanding or knowledge of feminist film critique. If she did, The Scarapist would have been a completely different movie.

UPDATE 14MAR2016: Update: Jeanne Marie Spicuzza tried to take down this blog entry with a maliciously false DMCA takedown request for linking to this Facebook entry on the Seeking Our Stories Facebook wall which features an embedded picture of actress Katie Colloton. WordPress automatically expands the post with the embedded picture, so I removed the expanded embedded post and replaced it with this link. A whole blog entry exposing Spicuzza’s

 

“The truth does not bind us, it sets us free. <3” – Jeanne Marie Spicuzza.

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