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New York University Tisch Asia
Editor's Note

I make a policy of not featuring in the magazine films I’ve produced. But, hey, it’s the newsletter, not the magazine, and when some of those films gain retrospective status I suppose it’s justified to let my conflict-of-interest guard down and mention then. Harmony Korine’s Gummo, which Robin O’Hara and I co-produced is screening at the IFC Center April 25 and 26th at midnight, while julien donkey-boy, which Robin, Cary Woods and I produced, is screening at the Silent Movie Theater in Los Angeles on the 26th. The midnight and special screenings are apt because that’s how Harmony’s first two films built their audiences. I still remember the weeks before Gummo’s release. We had gotten great quotes for people as diverse as Bernardo Bertolucci and Marilyn Manson, a fantastic first review from Matt Zoller Seitz in the New York Press... and then came The New York Times review by Janet Maslin, which read like the film had just tracked dirt all over her new living room carpet. The distributor, New Line, punted, the release was short, but then the programmers at the Angelika held it over, and the film played midnights for months where it built up and solidified its cult following.

Over the years I’ve met a lot of young filmmakers who think Gummo is some kind of production model to follow, but everything about the film and the way it got made was unique. The script was unconventional – and, yes, the film was very much scripted – but it was a time when everyone on the money side was willing to take a chance on something they might not understand in the hopes of making something different. And while the film is full of non-actors, seemingly improvised scenes, and collage-like Super 8mm and VHS insertions, it was also a film made pretty much “by the book,” with location and artwork clearances, releases from everyone involved, and a SAG contract in order to have the film’s two professional actors in the movie. This led to some unusual situations. For example, because of the film’s storyline, which involved kids killing cats, we were required to deliver a movie with the American Humane Association logo on it. That meant an AHA rep was on the set the whole time ensuring that the cats in the movie were prosthetics or... um, road kill. It also meant that when we shot in a house that had the biggest cockroach infestation I’d ever seen, we couldn’t fumigate. The location was booked for two days and on the second we had to offer some members of the crew haz-mat suits in order to go back inside and finish the scenes. But as much as some critics attacked the film for outlandishness, I can assure you that that film did represent a particular community without much exaggeration. There’s a great piece of film advice that, in the story I heard, was told to a young Bertolucci by Renoir: “Always leave the door to the studio open.” Harmony has always been great at this, and much of Gummo just reflected the environment, both physical and psychological, we were surrounded by when we made it. (In fact, I’d further say that what was off-screen was more extreme than what made it on screen.)

julien donkey-boy was a very different experience. After the full-on crew of Gummo, Harmony wanted to try something very different, and julien was shot on miniDV with a tiny crew that included the great cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle. There were tons of cameras – regular miniDV cameras along with hidden cameras and spy cameras. People were filmed without their knowledge and releases (yes, we had to have them) were gotten later. There was the loosest of outlines – I remember one scene reading in its entirety, “The sound of wind” – and the film was mostly improvised. Shooting days were short. Once Harmony, the actors and crew hit a groove, scenes would just sort of come together like magic. There’s easily another film (or two) on the cutting room floor.

Anyway, all of this is just a preamble to notice of Harmony’s latest, Mister Lonely, which premieres this month in theaters from IFC Films. For his return to moviemaking, Harmony went to Europe (Paris and Scotland) and Panama for one story (yep – don’t believe those who don’t understand what skydiving nuns have to do with celebrity impersonators) about faith and identity in the modern world. We’ve got it on the cover of the new Spring issue of Filmmaker, with inside a Harmony interview by director Michael Tully along with a chat with star Diego Luna by Jason Guerrasio. I caught up with the film at SXSW and really like it a lot. It’s creative, emotional, and oddly but appropriately sweet. Please go see it and if you haven’t seen the previous films, check them out too in these repertory screenings or get them from Netflix.

Best,

Scott Macaulay
Editor

 

THE FIRST SATURDAY IN MAY
The Race for the Roses has never been captured with such drama as in Brad and John Hennegan's documentary, The First Saturday in May. Following six horses, we see the stress and exhilaration the owners and trainers go through on the road to The Kentucky Derby. And along with capturing the eccentric personality (and money) you need to have to make it in this sport, the doc is filled with more than its share of suspenseful moments. But the doc changes gears when one of the Derby's favorites to win, Barbaro, gets injured out of the starting gate of the race, and the Hennegan brothers find themselves behind-the-scenes at what became a nationwide story.

 

GEN ART FILM FESTIVAL
By Alicia Van Couvering

To enter Gen Art, your name must be on a clipboard manned by a shining, feverish lady in black. If it is you feel lucky, chosen, special, because then you are permitted to taste what life should be like EVERY DAY: lo, there is free beer, free wine, free cookies and free popcorn. You eat, you drink, you look around. Are you in a singles bar? No – over there is a character actor whom you admire... there is another.... it's a film festival! Now another feverish black-clad lady is ushering you inside, and you obey her, because she must be obeyed.

Gen Art’s Film Festival (April 2-8) is just one part of the larger Gen Art mission to produce events celebrating every artistic enterprise, including art, fashion and music. The goal is to celebrate emerging talent, but sometimes it can feel like the focus is more on the event itself than the art within it. And by “event” I mean “party.” read more

 


This week on the blog, Scott Macaulay highlights a great found short depicting a man trapped in an elevator (pictured left), has Five Questions for director Alison Murray and reports on an executive shuffle between SXSW and Cinetic Media.

To read more posts from our blog, click here.

 

INDEPENDENT FILM WEEK - CALL FOR ENTRIES


Be a part of IFP’s 30 year legacy September 14 – 19, 2008 in New York City. Submit your project today to the “Project Forum” of Independent Film Week, formerly known as the IFP Market. The Project Forum is comprised of three sections for new works in development: Emerging Narrative (writers, directors seeking producers), No Borders (producers with partial financing) & Spotlight on Documentaries (filmmakers in production or post). Approximately 150 projects are invited to take more than 2000 pitch meetings and network with over 1000 industry professionals annually.
* Deadlines Beginning May 2.
* If Selected, Participation is FREE.
* IFP membership required prior to submission.
Lear more at independentfilmweek.com.


 

SCOTT HICKS, GLASS: A PORTRAIT OF PHILLIP IN TWELVE PARTS
By Nick Dawson

Best known for his fiction films, Scott Hicks has returned to another form in which he has also distinguished himself: documentary. Like Shine, Hick's latest film Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts is a compelling portrait of an enigmatic musical genius. Commissioned to mark iconic composer Philip Glass's 70th birthday, it captures 18 months in his life as he puts his seemingly boundless energy into a symphony, an opera, several film scores, and performances both as a solo pianist and with his ensemble. In addition, Hicks is there to document Glass' family vacations, visits to eminent friends (such as artist Chuck Close) and his multi-faceted exploration of his spirituality. read more

 
Festival Deadlines

APRIL
Montclair International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: April 18 (Early), May 16 (Final)
Festival Dates: June 11-15

Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
Submission Deadline: April 25 (Early), May 23 (Final)
Festival Dates: Oct. 17-26

Maine International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: April 30
Festival Dates: July 11-20

Hawaii International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: April 30
Festival Dates: Oct. 23-Nov. 1

Find more festival deadlines here.







 


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