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|   About Père Lachaise    |   Production Notes    |   Documentary Style Notes    |   Critical Acclaim    |   Festival Screenings    |  
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Essential Event Info

W H A T :

  • Director: Heddy Honigmann
  • Genre: Documentary, TRT 95 minutes. In French and English with English subtitles.
  • Released History: The Netherlands, Oct 2006; France Jan 2007; USA Sep 2007.
  • Digital, widescreen anamorphic digibeta format
  • Discussion after the film.
  • This film is NR (not rated) but suitable for all audiences.

  • W H E N :

  • Tuesday, December 18
  • Wednesday, December 19
  • Thursday, December 20
  • Screening at 7:00 pm,
    doors open at 6:30 pm

    W H E R E :

  • Cincinnati Art Museum,
    953 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park/Mt. Adams.
  • Easy Access, Free Parking
    click for Directions & Map

  • T I C K E T S :

  • Cincinnati Art Museum,
  • Tickets are $9 for adults and $7 for Art Museum members and students with valid ID.

    $7 tickets are ONLY available online, by phone, at the Museum, and at the door subject to availability.


  • tollfree 1-877-548-3237
  • at the Art Museum

  • ...and at these locations
    ($9 tix only, cash only),
    click each location below for a map:

  • Clifton-Ludlow Ave. -
    Sitwell's Coffee House
    513 281 7487

  • Mt. Lookout Square -
    Lookout Joe Coffee Roasters

    513 871 8626

  • Northside-Hamilton Ave -
    Shake It Music & Video
    513 591 0123

  • Downtown Cincinnati -
    Coffee Emporium
    513 651 5483

  • Tickets will also be available at the door, subject to availability.

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    About the Director
    Heddy Honigmann

    The daughter of WWII Holocaust survivors, Heddy Honigmann was born in Peru in 1951 and attended French elementary and secondary schools while growing up in Lima. She graduated from the University of Lima, where she studied literature and biology.

    After college, she traveled in Spain, France, Israel and Mexico, before moving to Rome to study filmmaking at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. She then moved to Amsterdam and has been a Dutch citizen since 1978, while continues to travel the world making films.

    Director Heddy Honigmann Coming from an expatriate family helps explain why the plight of exiles and immigrants often surface in her work. Other recurrent themes include music, love and memory.

    Subjects in her films have included Cuban exiles in New Jersey, senior citizens in Brazil, immigrant musicians on the Paris Metro and cab drivers in Peru.

    In addition to the elegantly composed imagery of her films, Honigmann's most often recognized talent as a documentary filmmaker is her ability to make an emotional connection with the people she films, an empathetic ability to listen and to elicit surprisingly intimate responses from them. As Honigmann has described her approach, "I don't do interviews. I make conversation."

    This quality has also been noted by Jytte Jensen, Associate Curator in the Department of Film and Media at the Museum of Modern Art, which held a retrospective of her work. "An endlessly curious off-screen presence, Honigmann teases out the complex, astonishingly resilient, and often funny aspects of people's amazing lives. Her questions are compassionate and direct but persistent - like those of an old, dear friend."

    Honigmann's body of work has been honored with retrospectives at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Cinema Arsenal in Berlin, the Madrid Film Museum, the Pacific Film Archive in San Francisco, and the Paris Film Festival, among many other venues.

    Her films have won major awards at film festivals around the world, including the Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco Film Festival, the Golden Pigeon at the Leipiz Film Festival, the Grand Prix at the Cinema du Réel in Paris, the Jury Prize at the Montreal World Film Festival, two Dutch Film Critics Awards, and the J. Van Praag Award from The Humanist Association, which recognized her entire body of work, in which "important universal themes such as survival are developed in unique filmic form."

    Heddy Honigmann's highly original cinematic body of work continues to receive awards. With the release of FOREVER, The Hot Docs International Film festival announced in April 2007 the presentation of the prestigious "Hot Docs Outstanding Achievement Award," awarded annually in recognition of a filmmaker's enduring contribution to the documentary form. And in the same month, the San Francisco Film Society announced the presentation to Honigmann its "San Francisco Film Society's Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award," which honors "the lifetime achievement of a filmmaker whose work is crafting documentaries, short films, animation or work for television."


    Forever (2006),
    Framed Marriage (2005),
    Dame La Mano (2003),
    Good Husband, Dear Son (2001),
    Crazy (1999),
    2 Minutes Silence, Please (1998),
    The Underground Orchestra (1997),
    O Amor Natural (1996),
    Au Revoir (1995),
    Metal and Melancholy (1993),
    Mind Shadows (1987)

    Recent Awards:

    Dutch Film Award, Best Feature Documentary, Utrecht 2006
    Critic's Film Award, Utrecht 2006
    The Ecumenical Jury Award Leipzig 2006
    Crystal Film Award NDL 2006
    Lorenzo DeMedici Prize, Festival Dei Popoli 2006
    First Prize, International Documentary Film Festival of Navarra 2007
    Full Frame Inspiration Award USA 2007
    Audience Award for Best Feature Film, 4th IndieLisboa Festival 2007

    Biographical info from First Run/Icarus Films and the Netherlands Film Festival.

    More about Heddy Honigmann, an insightful article about the filmmaker and her films, written prior to FOREVER.

    Père-Lachaise Interactive, a fascinating site showing who is buried where.

    Père-Lachaise History

    Père-Lachaise at Paris Online

    Père-Lachaise at WorldTravel.com

    Cincinnati's Spring Grove Cemetery

    More information follows in the sections below: Post-film discussion leader bios, dinner options, production notes, festival screenings and critical acclaim. Read more by scrolling the page or use the menu in the red box at the top of this web page.


    The CWC presentation of FOREVER is dedicated in remembrance of Jean Rothenberg, a bright and witty pillar of the Tuesday Movie Group, supporter of classical music, cinema and the Arts; who in so many ways left our community far better than she found it.


    Listen to the Forever review by Larry Thomas on WVXU FM-89.7

    About the Film

    Well known in Europe and more recently discovered by American audiences, Heddy Honigmann is an experienced documentary director whose films are recognized for their elegantly composed imagery and for her ability to make an emotional connection with the people she films.

    Forever seamlessly wraps several themes into a 94 minute essay:  the importance of love and remembrance;  the power and vitality of art;  a place where love and death go hand-in-hand and beauty lives on;  the intimate stories of those who visit the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris;  and a sampling of the legacy - art, music and literature - created by some of the world's greatest artists.

    A travelogue through Père-Lachaise, with its unique sculpture and art works, would be interesting in its own right, as millions visit each year. But this film brings us so much more: the stories of the visitors; the gentle cut-aways to Yoshino Kimura performing Chopin, a visit to Ingres at the Louvre, a performance by Maria Callas, a haunting song by Danielle Messia.

    Other segments include an embalmer, inspired by the faces painted by Modigiliani, talking about his work, "Le Temps des Cerises" sung by Yves Montand softly fading into a group of 100 singing at the grave of song writer J.B. Clèment, and the jazz piano of Michel Petrucciani. A remarkable scene unfolds when two blind men visit the grave of Simone Signoret and then "watch" a classic film by Clouzot starring their idol.

    The result is a moving experience that offers an additional dividend -- one that is highly personal: Forever will impact each of us differently, depending on our stage in life and cognizance of our own mortality; and it can have a particularly poignant meaning for those of us who have lost loved ones, family members and friends.

    By skillfully eliciting the insights of her subjects, Honigmann travels into emotional landscapes that most of us keep hidden from others, and sometimes from ourselves. Through the insights of others we are prompted to examine our own thoughts and feelings, and in return are rewarded with a sense of peace, and appreciation for those now gone who have played a role in our lives. And above all, we are given reason to appreciate the creativity and art that exists in our lives thanks to those who are departed.

    Here are some key elements in the film
    (and more good reasons to see it):

    1) FOREVER TELLS A UNIQUE AND MEMORABLE STORY - there is really no other quite like it - that will stay with you long after the movie is over. This is an intimate look at the importance - for the living - of the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris, a portrait that celebrates life, love, art and remembrance.

    2) THE SETTING FOR THE FILM is one of the world's most beautiful and famous cemeteries, the Père-Lachaise, in Paris. People come from around the world to visit the graves of legendary artists of all genres, ranging from Frédéric Chopin to Marcel Proust, Amadeo Modigliani, Edith Piaf, Maria Callas, Oscar Wilde, Georges Méliès, Simone Signoret and Jim Morrison.

    Forever reveals the mysterious beauty, serenity and comforting effects of the extraordinary Père-Lachaise, as seen through the eyes of ordinary people of flesh and blood. Many of them stroll the paths and park-line grounds to visit their own departed family members and friends. Others leave behind a letter for beloved artists, place flowers or even tend the graves of the famous. Some admirers talk about the significance of art and beauty in their lives.

    As the film evolves, it becomes tangibly apparent that this graveyard is not only a final resting place for the dead, but indeed a place where the living can find peace and even inspiration.

    3) FOREVER IS A TRIBUTE TO THE ETERNAL POWER OF ART. In the nooks, and crannies of the cemetery, men and women, young and old, French and foreign, come in communion, love, and tribute. Some sit with Guillaume Apollinaire, Jean-Auguste Ingres or Yves Montand; others remember their spouses, parents, siblings and lovers and speak to them of the beauty they have encountered in their lives.

    Starting with interviews with visitors to Père-Lachaise, director Honigmann guides us in understanding how long-departed artists continue to make their presence felt across the great divide of the living and the dead. Then, via cut-aways, FOREVER features highlights of the work of many renowned artists, demonstrating how their art has inspired their devotees:  Maria Callas singing "Tosca" and excerpts from the films of Méliès and Simone Signoret, the music of Chopin, the writings of Wilde and Proust, and the paintings of Ingres and Modigliani.

    4) THROUGH THE STORIES OF ITS VISITORS, Père-Lachaise comes alive, as does the importance of art and remembrance. A cemetery is usually thought of as a melancholy repository, but through Honigmann's humanistic, insightful and inquisitive approach, we get to know the visitors who fill the Père-Lachaise with such incongruous life and vivacity. These include foreign tourists, a pianist, an illustrator, a historian, a cemetery tour guide, a taxi driver and an embalmer, who all share fascinating anecdotes about the deceased, and relate personal stories about the significance of the artists' work in their lives.

    5) THE GLOBAL ROOTS of those residing in and visiting Père-Lachaise remind us that the people on this planet have more in common than some would have us think.

    Among the artists interred are the Italian painter Amadeo Modigliani, the Greek Amercian opera singer Maria Callas; the Polish composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin, the Iranian author Sadegh Hedayat, British luminary Oscar Wilde and American vocalist Jim Morrison, along with numerous French notables including Proust, Ingres, Méliès, Signoret, Montand, et. al.

    Honigman introduces us to visitors, including expats and exiles, from Japan, Armenia, Spain, Iran and Korea, plus Brits, Americans and numerous French citizens, proving that respect for the dead and their artistic contributions are not constrained by national borders.

    6) HOW THIS FILM IS CONSTRUCTED plays a major role in its appeal and impact. See the Production Notes below to learn more about Honingmann's technique and the key differences between U.S. and European documentaries.

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    In the end, you will find FOREVER to be a moving study on the eternal power of art and remembrance and the beauty of Père-Lachaise.

    But beyond that, the film speaks profoundly to our personal relationship with time, the departed and our own mortality. And just as profoundly it can make one feel grateful to be alive.

    The inescapable message is that while Père-Lachaise is where people are buried and where some people go to meditate on death; it is also a place where people go to live and to celebrate life.

    Forever Trailer

    Click to play: YouTube - direct link
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      Please wait a few moments while the trailer loads...

    About the Père Lachaise Cemetery

    Situated in the 20th arrondissment Père Lachaise is the largest cemetery in Paris, covering 105 acres and opened in 1804, in the same week as Napoleon's coronation. The site once belonged to Louis XIV's confessor, Father La Chaise (Père François de La Chaise). It is a lovely place for a walk, with nice gardens, views and wonderful statues and sculptures; and it is also a place of pilgrimage as prominent people from Arts & Letters, science, industry and the military are buried here. Several million people visit this cemetery every year.

    In the Nineteenth Century, cemeteries were treated like parks, especially in crowded urban areas. Families would stroll or picnic on the grounds and the environment's serenity and green space provided relief from the congested bricks-and-mortar city.

    Père Lachaise can be compared to an outdoor sculpture garden of sorts, since a vast majority of the gravesites are adorned with exquisite, one-of-a-kind works of art. Tucked among the crypts, mausoleums and monuments are delicate stained-glass windows, unique sculptures, fine bas-relief and other art that rivals the works exhibited in some of the world's best museums. There are life-size portraits carved in marble; avenging, weeping and guardian angels; and faithful replicas of favorite pets. Hundreds of headstones bear insightful words of wisdom and/or tear-inducing tributes, some humorous, some poetic and some just a trifle mean-spirited.

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    Post-Film Discussion

    Discussion Leaders:
    Steven Rosen, Melissa Godoy,
    Tim Swallow

    Steven R. Rosen
    Tuesday, December 18

    A freelance writer previously based in Los Angeles and now living in Cincinnati, Steven Rosen interviews filmmakers and performing artists and writes about film, music and the arts for publications such as the Boston Globe, L.A. Times, Dallas Morning News, Denver Post, Harp Magazine, Paste, Cincinnati City Beat, Indie Wire and Screen Daily. He was the film critic for the Denver Post from 1997-2002 and before that won a National Music Journalism Award for music commentary.

    His film reviews (several hundred!) are collected at RottenTomatoes.com and these and other writings can also be found online at the following publications:  IndieWire,  Screen Daily,  Cincinnati City Beat, and the  Denver Post.

    Melissa Godoy
    Wednesday, December 19

    Ms. Godoy creates independent film and programming for public television. Her current production, Do Not Go Gently, (World Premiere, Cincinnati World Cinema, March 2007), is on national tour and also airs on PBS stations around the country. Previously, she was Line Producer of the Emmy-winning A Lion in the House by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, which premiered at Sundance and aired on primetime PBS through Independent Lens in June of 2006. Classical Quest, a film she directed featuring the the Starling Chamber Orchestra, that compares classical music to time travel, has been airing on public television from 2000 to the present.

    In 2004, Godoy completed production on the interactive virtual community for violinists with Kurt Sassmannshaus, Violin Master Class, currently used in over 25 countries. Godoy was the coordinating producer and a director for the award-winning NEA & NEH-funded High Definition installation in the Cincinnati Art Museum. In 2003, she served as script supervisor to Julie Dash on Brothers Of The Borderland; and in 2004, she directed What Is Freedom?, both large screen projections at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

    During the last presidential election, Godoy was a field producer/director of photography for the cinéma verité feature, Election Day, by Katy Chevigny, which had its world premiere at the South by Southwest Festival in March. Godoy has also produced HD spots for BET and Procter & Gamble. Her programs have earned numerous industry awards including two regional Emmys. Melissa also produces Viewfinder, a monthly talk show about independent filmmaking on Cincinnati's public television station, CET.

    Tim Swallow
    Thursday, December 20

    After the Thursday screening, we'll meet at Andy's Mediterranean Grill for informal discussion, socializing, food & beverage.

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    To make your evening complete, we've arranged film night dinner discounts with two restaurants that offer great food at reasonable prices.

    Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday, December 18-20,
    Andy's Mediterranean Grill.
    Conveniently located just a few blocks from the Art Museum at 906 Nassau Street near Gilbert Avenue.

    CWC patrons purchasing advance tickets for FOREVER on these nights will receive a 15% food-and-beverage discount (excluding alcohol) for meals before or afterthe film.

    Andy's features great Lebanese meat, chicken, fish and vegetarian specialities, including Kabobs, Shwarma, Lebanese Pizza, Baba Ghannouj, Labneh, Falafel, Hummus with Tahini, etc.

    To receive the discount, you will need to show your tickets if purchased at a local outlet, email confirmation if purchased online or by phone, or printed receipt if purchased in advance at the Art Museum. Reservations suggested, call 513.281.9791. Click here for directions, menu and general info and click here for a map.

    Wednesday, December 19, The Terrace Cafe at the Cincinnati Art Museum.   Non-members attending FOREVER on this night will receive the same 10% discount (excluding alcohol) extended to museum members. Manager Matt Peake reports that the restaurant fills up quickly on film nights, so reservations are recommended -- call 513.639.2986. See menu here.

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    Festival Screenings

    2007 Sydney Film Festival
    2007 San Francisco International Film Festival
    2007 Hot Docs International Documentary Festival
    Inspiration Award, 2007 Full Frame Documentary Festival
    Ecumenical Jury Award, 2006 Leipzig Film Festival
    Best Film 2006, Dutch Critics Award
    2006 Rencontres int du documentaire de Montreal
    2006 Buenos Aires International Film Festival (BAFICI)
    2006 San Sebastian Film Festival
    2006 Best Feature Documentary, International Film Festival Navarra
    2006 Best Feature Documentary, Film Festival Utrecht

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    Production Notes
    Heddy Honigmann's Approach to Filmmaking

    Many documentary filmmakers simply employ the camera as a tool for capturing life, using voice-over narration and sound-byte segments in which the subjects talk but the voice of the filmmaker is not heard.

    Linda Hattendorf, in her debut documentary film The Cats of Mirikitani, went a step further, including her voice in questions posed to, and in conversations with, the subject of her film. Most viewers would agree that this technique enhanced the film, making it more personal and natural.

    A seasoned documentarian, Heddy Honigmann has honed her ability to interact with her subjects on camera over several decades. Peter Scholtes writes that Honigmann pegs her willingness to interact spontaneously with her subjects to the approach of French cinéma vérité pioneer Jean Rouch, who always saw the camera as a tool for provoking life, not just capturing it.

    Scholtes also relates that in an interview from her sister's home in Amsterdam, Honigmann identified Rouch's 1965 ethnographic study of bow hunters in West Africa, Hunting the Lion With Bow and Arrow, as one of her favorite movies. The scene she singled out reveals something about her philosophy. "The tribe he's filming with meets another tribe," she said, "and the chief turns to the camera and says to the other chief, 'I want to present you Mr. Rouch: He's chasing the lion with us.' I'll never forget that moment! He was in. He was totally in."

    Honigmann includes her own questions in FOREVER and makes no attempt at invisibility. Her respect for and curiosity about her characters add another layer of depth to the way the viewer experiences each of them.

    In one particularly striking moment, Honigmann asks the embalmer what is the hardest part of his job. He struggles silently for about 10 seconds to come up with the right words. The pause is pregnant and loving. Very few filmmakers would allow a character so much time to answer, but would rather step in to prompt and prod.

    The hardest part, says the embalmer, is wanting to give the families of the deceased what they want, while knowing that he can never give them what they really want, which is to bring their loved one back to life. Spontaneous responses like this one are a direct result of Honigmann's intentional pacing, which gives the subject (and the viewer) time to ponder the questions she puts forth.

    Honigmann is equally generous with the camera, refusing to rush. Cinematographer Robert Alazraki's images are simply framed, moving slowly to capture the beauty and decay of the cemetery, the weather-worn statues and tombs, and the words that are slowly disappearing - demonstrating that even "etched in stone" doesn't mean forever. The deliberate pace allows important attention to detail: hands cleaning gravestones, wiping the names clean of moss, arranging and watering flowers.

    In FOREVER, Honigmann films her subjects in long, steady takes as they reflect on life, art, and the inescapable shadow of death. What occurs is a natural and sincere participation by her subjects - as much a celebration of the fragile beauty of life and the enduring glory of art as a meditation on death. The on-screen result conveys a poetic cinematic style, that while unmistakably sad and bittersweet, is seldom depressing and serves to build the character of the film.

    The film is about the cycles of time - creativity in life, repose in death and remembrance thereafter by the living. The respect for the realm of the spirit, of art, of a permanence beyond the circumstantial is key in this film---and is the Dutch filmmaker's trademark. FOREVER is a haunting and poetic piece of filmmaking, whose concepts and images remain in the viewers mind and heart.

    Documentary Styles: U.S. versus European

    FOREVER is an excellent example of typical European documentary style.

    Maggie Bowman, a producer with MediaRights.Org, says it best: "The majority of American docs pay relatively little attention to form, beauty, lyricism, and cinematic structure. [Instead,] most focus on the information, the content, the message, the story, the characters, the narrative, etc. All of these things are important. And I have seen amazing and wonderful docs that master all of the above and leave me thinking "what an amazing film."

    "But when I see a film such as Heddy Honigmann's Forever ... I am pulled back into a world in which documentaries can be every bit as mysterious and emotionally nuanced as a fiction film, a great piece of music, or a painting."

    The above charactization is a generalization - there are exceptions on both sides. But American documentaries do tend to have more of a "news reporting" format. Of recent docs shown by CWC, The Death of Kevin Carter, The Golden Age of Norman Corwin, Rehearsing a Dream, Who the Bleep is Jackson Pollock and Midnight Ramble (all of which are excellent films) are good examples of the straightforward, cut-to-the-chase genre. One notable exception would be Iraq in Fragments, characterized by poetic cinematography and the subtle nuances underscoring the cultural styles and differences between the Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites.

    Critical Acclaim

    Rotten Tomatoes ~ 91% Fresh

    "One of the purest, most moving motion pictures of the year... a poetic meditation on death, yeah, but it's also a joyful experience." ~ Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com

    "A delicate, measured work of unexpected wisdom and hope that preserves the mysteries of love, art, and memory." ~ Nicolas Rapold, New York Sun

    "Exquisite... How can a film about a graveyard contain so much life?... FOREVER is ultimately a meditation on the human condition and how, in the midst of grief and loss, we manage to create fragile, piercing joys." ~ Tom Beer, Time Out New York

    "This is no somber doc about death. In exploring the life-changing, death-defying power of beauty, FOREVER turns out to be a fascinating, beautiful meditation on art." ~ Kelly Jane Torrance, The Washington Times

    "Enchanting, lively and insightful... breathtaking cinematography." ~ Avi Offer, NYCMovieGuru.com

    "FOREVER achieves something more resonant than a Solemn Affirmation of the Immortal Spirit of Art by virtue of Honigmann's instinct and sensitivity as an interviewer; circulating through the cemetery, she patiently extracts often staggeringly tragic-poetic backstory from its living denizens." ~ Nick Pinkerton, The Village Voice

    "Mesmerizing... one of Honigmann's most accomplished and expressive works." ~ Deborah Young, Variety

    "It is surprising that a film about a cemetery should end up being a celebration of life, but that's what the magic of intelligent cinema is all about, believing that culture and art are the motors of existence." ~ Ramiro Cristobal, FIPRESCI

    "What a joyful visit to a cemetery!... [The film] also takes place in your own mind, you make your own associations. Existential questions are dealt with without any banality and always with a respectful curiosity for the people who reveal their heart on camera." ~ Steen Muller, Dox Magazine

    "* * * * * [five stars] EXQUISITE! Like the best art, FOREVER is ultimately a meditation on the human condition and how, in the midst of grief and loss, we manage to create fragile, piercing joys." ~ Time Out NY

    "A sublime rumination on how infrequently we discuss the entire subject of beauty." ~ Maria Garcia, Film Journal International

    "Exhilarating in its praise of the joys of life and art." ~ The New York Post

    "An ideal project for Honigmann's considerable skills. Swaddled in an array of sumptuous images, the personal stories she elicits, without a hint of mawkishness or condescension, combine with impromptu musical or poetic performances... to create a rich fabric of historical reference and cross-cultural identification..." ~ Paul Arthur, Film Comment

    "It's been a long summer, my movie friends. Diversions, reports, polemics, come-ons and a plentiful supply of time-wasters have filled the theaters. Now, at last, comes a film that was made for love. I'd almost forgotten what I was missing until Honigmann reminded me - but that, of course, is what FOREVER is all about." ~ Stuart Klawans, The Nation

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