Tag: secret

Secret Cinema’s $1.3M UK Government Grant Provokes Backlash

UK event cinema organization Secret Cinema has received criticism after it was revealed that the company has received a £977,000 ($1.3M) grant from the UK government as part of its Culture Recovery Fund.

The fund, administered by Arts Council England, was created to support businesses adversely affected by the pandemic disruption and is offering grants of between £50,000 and £3M. It is part of the UK government’s wider £1.57BN Culture Recovery package.

According to reports today, around a third of applicants were rejected, with 1,422 of 2000 applying organizations receiving backing. The money is designed to help these orgs survive through to March 2021 amidst ongoing pandemic challenges.

The parameters of the fund were to provide “financial support for cultural organisations that were financially stable before COVID-19, but were at imminent risk of failure”.

Commentators on social media (including filmmaker Charlie Shackleton, see below) criticized the company for taking the money due to the high cost of its events, which differentiate it from struggling indie film venues and community organizations, and also highlighted its loss-making status.

Secret Cinema’s parent company Secret Group’s accounts show a loss of £2.9M for the year 2019, and a loss of £1.4M for the previous year, that’s despite recording turnovers of £15.8M in 2019 and £10.8M the previous year. The company has private equity backing from Active Partners’ $131M fund and has tie-ups with the likes of Netflix and Disney for future events.

Contacted by Deadline, Secret Cinema declined to specify how the government money would be utilized, or to provide comment.

The org was able to wrap its Stranger Things experience prior to the lockdown. It had planned to put on a Dirty Dancing event in the UK this year but had to pause that due to the pandemic, rescheduling to summer 2021.

Back in August, the company made its inaugural move into the U.S., partnering with Netflix to deliver Stranger Things: The Drive-Into Experience in Los Angeles.

UK indie arts venues have struggled greatly during the pandemic. Unlike Secret Cinema, however, they are eligible to apply to the separate BFI-administered £30M Culture Recovery Fund for Independent Cinemas in England, which is open to applications now.

That pot will award non-repayable grants to struggling cinemas. To date it has given more than 40 indie venues some £650,000. It closes applications on October 30. As a non-physical venue, Secret Cinema was not eligible to apply to the BFI fund.

Other cinema venues did also benefit from the Arts Council grants due to their status as mixed arts venues, including Bristol’s Watershed which received £731,993.

The full list of orgs that received backing from the Arts Council fund is available to view here.


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LA’s watchdog rules that ‘secret society’ of cops dubbed the Banditos ARE gang-like

Members of the Banditos are recognized by skull and sombrero tattoos

Members of the Banditos are recognized by skull and sombrero tattoos 

L.A. County’s Inspector General’s Office has produced a damning report into a ‘gang-like’ secret society of cops, known as the Banditos, who it claims are protected by a code of silence among officers including L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. 

The Inspector General’s Office launched an investigation into the allegedly violent group amid claims they and other fractions of L.A. cops had operated like gang-sects for years, wielding their influence over co-workers and the public. 

It also came after the sheriff’s department was told to pay $55million in settlements to people who had been victimized by the groups. 

Among claims in the various lawsuits was that the Banditos are ‘a group of approximately 90 deputies who are inked with matching tattoos of a skeleton with a thick mustache, sombrero, pistol, and bandolier’.

In a report released on Tuesday, the Inspector General’s Office claims that the Banditos’ influence in the county sheriff’s department resulted in ‘favoritism, sexism, violence and racism’.  

It is also claimed that Sheriff Villanueva turned a blind eye to the their antics. The report makes mention of an incident at an ‘off training’ party in September 2018 where multiple people were injured by members of the Banditos. 

Among the perpetrators are sergeants who go by the nicknames Bam Bam and G-Rod, the report claims. 

When investigators tried to probe allegations of violence, the report claims they were met with silence. 

‘Substantial evidence exists to support the conclusion that the Banditos are gang-like and their influence has resulted in favoritism, sexism, racism, and violence. 

‘Despite all this, the majority of the witnesses interviewed in the ICIB investigation were not asked any questions about the Banditos. 

Sheriff Alex Villanueva has been accused of promoting a 'code of silence' to protect the gang

Sheriff Alex Villanueva has been accused of promoting a ‘code of silence’ to protect the gang

‘Even when the witnesses brought up the Banditos there was little or no follow up by ICIB investigators. It appears from the interviews that ICIB did not want to delve into the Banditos involvement in the fight or their control over the East LA Station,’ the 32-page report claims. 

The incident in September involved one of the alleged gang members approaching another cop and telling him he was ‘not good’ at the station. 

Complainers can face retaliation. Some who have resisted the Banditos have seen the word 'rat' written on their windshield or received a dead rat

Complainers can face retaliation. Some who have resisted the Banditos have seen the word ‘rat’ written on their windshield or received a dead rat

Another alleged gang member then called him a ‘p***y’ and a ‘rat’, and that he had ‘no problem slapping him or anyone because nobody is going to say anything.’  

He then allegedly told the cop if he couldn’t get to him, he could ‘get to his family’.   

The investigation found that members of the Banditos got away with behavior that other cops would not have. 

‘Some of the information told to the ICIB investigators suggests that the Banditos act in ways that are comparable to a criminal street gang and some witnesses described the veterans as ‘OGs’, which is the term

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Secret Society of Second-Born Royals Director on Planning Sequels

secret-society-of-second-born-royals-cast-sliceFrom director Anna Mastro and based on an original story by Alex Litvak, Andrew Green and Austin Winsberg, the Disney+ original film Secret Society of Second-Born Royals follows Sam (Peyton Elizabeth Lee), a rebellious teenager whose royal lineage makes her second-born status something of an afterthought to her family. But when she learns that she has superpowers because of a genetic trait attributed only to those that are like her, it’s up to her to find her inner superhero and create her own legacy.

During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, filmmaker Anna Mastro talked about how she got attached to direct this project, blending the royal family genre with the superhero genre, the elements of the story that most spoke to her, the journey she’s taken as a director, how much the script changes over the course of making the movie, assembling this team of young actors, setting up a possible new franchise, and what she’d like to do next.


Image via Disney+

Collider: How did this project and script come your way? Was it a random opportunity or were you looking for something like this?

ANNA MASTRO: Well, I’m always looking for inventive coming of age stories and I am always looking for things that involve action and teenage girls, especially. I had been looking for something to do with Disney for awhile and an exec who works there had been my boss’ assistant at an agency, probably 19 years ago, and every job she goes to, she sends me a project. This project, I thought was great. I thought it had so much potential. I thought it was pretty interesting. I loved the idea of doing original IP, especially for Disney. And so, it seemed like this really cool opportunity.

It’s cool because it’s this original thing, but then it also blends the royal family genre with the superhero genre, in a way that seems really new.

MASTRO: Thank you. That was definitely the goal. I just wanted to elevate what’s been in this space before but doing it in a different way and with a really diverse cast. I think that was exciting.

Were there elements about the story itself or the specific characters that most appealed to you and that you thought were most interesting?

MASTRO: Yeah, I love that idea of a kid in that coming of age genre, who’s looking for their place and they feel like they don’t fit in, within their family, within their world, and within their friend group. They just feel different and it makes them feel like something’s wrong with them. I think a major theme about this movie is that when you figure out really what makes you different or unique, that’s what makes you special and you’ll figure out what you can do with that. That theme was the one that really stuck out to me.


Image via Disney+

You directed a movie early on in your career, but then did a

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Trump and Biden’s debate over ‘law and order’ highlighted a secret to Biden’s success

In the wake of this summer’s police brutality protests, President Donald Trump has in recent weeks tried to frame the election as a referendum on “law and order.” In many ways he has succeeded; “Race and Violence in Our Cities” was a heated and lengthy section of Tuesday’s first presidential debate. “The people of this country want and demand law and order … and you won’t even say the phrase,” Trump challenged former Vice President Joe Biden. “I’ll say it,” Biden countered, claiming that he believed in “systematic injustice” while also supporting most police officers and opposing violence.

The term “law and order” is itself a natural fit for Trump’s vocabulary: Widely associated with white reactionary politics, it has little to do with maintenance of the law.

The term “law and order” is itself a natural fit for Trump’s vocabulary: Widely associated with white reactionary politics, it has little to do with maintenance of the law and more to do with fomenting racial resentment. As early as 1968, some began to understand the term as “a shorthand message promising repression of the Black community.”

But recent polling in key states suggests that voters seem to narrowly prefer Democratic nominee Joe Biden on matters of law and order. Despite punditry to the contrary, it shouldn’t be surprising that Biden leads on this issue; he’s been running law-and-order campaigns since 1972. It is important to note, however, that Biden is also trusted in handling the protests and race relations. Together, this highlights one of Biden’s political secrets to success. For the last 48 years, Biden’s fortunes have rested on his ability to present himself as a champion of seemingly opposing issues. November’s election will be a test of this decades-running formula.

Today, Biden is just weeks away from completing his 13th, and possibly final, bid for elected office. When he announced his candidacy for the Senate in the early months of 1972, his only political experience was a brief stint on the New Castle County Council. In fact, Biden was so young that at age 29, he was constitutionally ineligible for the seat during the entirety of his campaign (he turned 30 two weeks after the election).

Biden’s first Senate campaign was an uphill battle. Still inexperienced, he was running against J. Caleb Boggs, a two-term incumbent senator and former governor. Covering Biden’s announcement, The Morning News of Wilmington vaguely summarized his positions: Biden says “he is for the poor,” “for the elderly,” “for law and order, but also for justice.” And then, most bizarrely, he was described as being both “for and against busing.” (It’s revealing that when juxtaposed, the opposite of law and order is not mayhem or lawlessness, but justice.)

The campaign would be fought in the shadow of a national debate over busing, which, while rooted in education, was also very much an issue related to racial unrest and “law and order” politics. Concerns over desegregation busing had been slowly building to a boil since 1959, but the

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