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November 22, 2016

Steve Bannon has swiftly made his way from being the executive chairman of Breitbart News to the chief executive officer of the Donald Trump campaign to the future chief strategist and senior counselor in Trump's White House. That most recent appointment has made some critics bristle — "[Bannon is] anti-Semitic; he's anti-black; and he's anti-women," Howard Dean recently railed, although he has hardly been the first to level such accusations.

But oddly enough, Bannon has a past that might make his most ardent supporters and critics a little confused:

Ten years ago, Bannon oversaw the distribution of independent films released by Wellspring Media, a company that supported a wide range of international cinema as well as gay-themed and other "transgressive" titles. Movies acquired and released under his tenure include the experimental LGBT documentary Tarnation and Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry, a pro-Kerry documentary that opened during the 2004 election. According to one insider who dealt with Bannon at this time, he directly approved and often supported several of these films with great enthusiasm. [Indiewire]

Wellspring wasn't Bannon's only foray into the film industry — Bannon also once aspired to take Shakespeare's Coriolanus and "make a rap film out of it set in South Central during the [1992] L.A. riots." And sure enough, by 2004 Bannon was directing films himself — although with titles like In the Face of Evil: Reagan’s War in Word and Deed, they aren't so surprising when looking at where his career ended up.

But for a short while, Bannon was an unlikely hero of independent cinema — read more about his time spent distributing films like The 400 Blows and Breathless at Indiewire. Jeva Lange

January 26, 2016

A new story by one of the world's most popular children's book writers has been discovered, and it features none other than the beloved character Peter Rabbit — although he's put on a little weight. Penguin Random House publisher Jo Hanks found the long-lost book by British children's author Beatrix Potter at London's Victoria & Albert Museum in 2013, but the announcement was delayed so its publication later this year would coincide with the 150th anniversary of Potter's birth.

The manuscript, Kitty-in-Boots, features a "well-behaved prime black kitty cat, who leads rather a double life," Hanks told the London Times, according to The Washington Post.

"The tale really is the best of Beatrix Potter. It has double identities, colorful villains and a number of favorite characters from other tales — most excitingly, Peter Rabbit makes an appearance, albeit older, slower and portlier," Hanks elaborated to The Bookseller.

Kitty-in-Boots was written in 1914, the year World War I began and Potter's father died; the book, while clearly intended to be published, was likely obstructed by the war and Potter's recent marriage and move to a sheep farm. Potter died in 1943.

Potter's best known work, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was published in 1902 to instant acclaim. The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots will be released in the United States in September, with illustrations by Quentin Blake. Jeva Lange