Notes on Process
While waiting to hear from the American Film Institute festival whether they will or won’t be interested in screening Coming to Terms (and The Narcissus Flowers of Katsura-shima), I gave the nod to the St. Louis festival to show the film. It will screen there on Nov. 24, at 3:45 in the afternoon. Sharing the same program will be a screening of my first film, Portrait, 13 minutes long, shot in Cassina Amata, Paderno Dugnano, Monza (Milano), Italy, way back in Jan-Feb 1963. I haven’t seen it for 3 decades I think. If the AFI fest passes, this will be the grand and glorious (and totally meaningless) American premiere of the film. Whoop dee doo.
[Update: the AFI fest did indeed decline the film, so St Louis will be the American Premiere. Awaiting word now from Rotterdam, and another exhibition - a broader arts one - in Paris. Apropo of the matter of festivals, etc., see this. ]
And while there, the festival will anoint me with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for my fifty years of fiscal folly and filmic fun. Also being so awarded will be Oliver Stone, who seems to have fared far better on the fiscal side of things, not to mention his 3 Oscars. I hope to hand him a DVD of Frameup for his amusement.
As anyone who really knows me knows, I take such “honors” with a large boulder of salt. In America (and many other places) the only thing the culture really honors and respects is money, and lots of it. It doesn’t “honor” the kind of work I do with even a modest “living” wage. In tangible terms, measured in the only “value” which really animates our society, I am, along with my work, deemed “worthless” – not worth paying a modest income. I pay to do my work; in general I pay to get it seen, and in general, especially in the last 2 decades, it is virtually unseen. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.
And, on the same program, at 1:45 will be Blake Eckard’s Ghosts of Empire Prairie, which I shot for him, and played a major role, back in May 2012.
Taking a little break from film at the moment, having shot new I think strange, perhaps good, feature in Port Angeles, WA. Currently wallowing in (unpaid, of course) photography things…
Hot on the heels of Telluride, that insider’s inside festival tucked into the flanks of the Colorado Rockies, came Venice, which just closed last night, and now all the film-buzz, of which there seems an endless (if in my mind vapid) supply, focuses on the ever-more-important and massive Toronto festival. Yesterday and today a few friends had screenings there – Nathaniel Dorsky ad Peter Hutton. Slipped duly into morning slots, their silent 16mm endeavors not exactly fitting into the heated atmosphere of stars and big budgets and all the hype which seems to accompany the glitzy world of cinema.
In the case of these festivals I happen to know the directors of Telluride and Venice. With Telluride, I sent a DVD of Coming to Terms to them, and while Tom Luddy wrote back that he “liked” my film and would pass it along to his co-director, at the end they said they “liked other films better.” Usually Tom replies that “the narrative is weak” or something along that line. And so I was not invited to hob-nob with the art-house commercial elite of the country. I was there long ago, with All the Vermeers in New York, a film which at the time seemed mostly to puzzle the supposedly cinematically sophisticated audience there. Actually I understand well that Telluride is actually a rather hard-nosed art-house business confab, and a little $2000 film like mine is not going to muscle out the money. I accept that.
I wanted to send Coming to Terms to Venice, but was told rules are rules, and only glorious global premieres show there. Alas, I’d let little lowly Jeonju do so. No trip to Venice, though even if they’d invited it would have meant paying to get there, which, at this juncture, and given the reality that in regard to making a buck, with films like mine, in Gertrude’s famous statement – there’s no there there – I would have passed on going.
So on to the next festival of note, Toronto, where once very long ago – mid 70′s to late 80′s – I was rather a regular for a while. They now have a hefty submission fee, so I wrote to ask for a waiver. Attempt one begot a robo-response, which I resent, with a little reminder that I’d once been a Toronto hotty, and asking for a human reply. I got one, and the fee was waived. I sent the DVD, and waited. They never got back to me, though it was easy to figure out the story when they printed their program and my film wasn’t there. I am such a genius. I also sent, with waiver waving, the film to New York, and again with no reply it is clear they passed as well. Though I think my two friends, Peter and Nathaniel, are going there as well.
I sent the film to several other places and await the probable silent “no.” Previously, as I think I noted earlier, I’d sent it to Sundance, and tried to do so to Berlin, but the latter could not be bothered to reply to a waiver request – again, rather some time ago, I’d been a festival favorite, going there numerous times from 1977-1993. Now my stock has fallen so low they can’t be bothered to send a word of any kind. I don’t know whether to rack this up to the reality that with digital filmmaking now running rampant, they are so flooded with films they are in organizational disarray, or whether it is rudeness derived of arrogance. Or whether indeed my cinema world cache, little that it ever was, has been totally cashed out.
Stats: Coming to Terms, was sent, in this order, to Sundance, Berlin (attempted), Cannes, Jeonju, Edinburgh, Telluride, Toronto, New York. I didn’t bother sending to Venice owing to the world premiere requirement. Both Jeonju and Edinburgh invited it, though I declined the latter as with no premiere status they wouldn’t pay airfare. (Though as it turns out many bigger festivals – Berlin, Venice, and Cannes also do not pay to have you there – they put you up in hotel if you can swing the fee of getting there.) The rest said (or didn’t bother to say) “no.” It is now out to Roma, AFI, Rotterdam.
As it happens, I think (and some filmmaker acquaintances whose views I deeply respect seem to agree) this film is one of my best. And it seems I can hardly get a festival to screen it. Go figger. Well, actually I know it is pretty much totally out of tune with many aspects of the cultural zeitgeist, so I am not really so surprised.
Meantime as a little techie matter I finally sat down the other day and remixed some of the track which was dubious, and along the way since I had the time-line up did a very extremely discreet visual things that I think anyone who has seen it won’t know they noticed, but something I think will deepen the viewer’s attention. Not saying here just what, but it’s there….
Once I hear back from those festivals it is out to, I’ll report in again.
Back in the US now one full week, and finally almost back into local hours after two weeks in Korea flipped my ever more inelastic internal clock. Jet-lag seems to worsen as I get older. In Seoul managed to see a handful of friends a few nights after arrival, staying up deep into the morning – 5 am – in the Kondae area. Not exactly the cure I needed for the jet-lag, rather its opposite – kept me firmly planted in West Coast time.
And then it was on to Jeonju, where thanks to the festival scheduling I wasn’t present at the first official formal public screening of Coming to Terms, its damn “World Premiere,” which I stupidly let happen, since it was also the premiere of The Narcissus Flowers of Katsura-shima, and Jeonju got them both. Had I withheld one I could have wangled another airline ticket to Edinburgh or Locarno or Venice. Though perhaps given the jet-lag mangling it is a modest silver lining that I messed up and spared myself another transcontinental time warp. So the day after arrival I attended the Narcissus screening – a reasonably full house, and a good Q&A, though hardly enough to warrant the trip. And the following day a screening of Coming to Terms with a genuinely full house, and long and good Q&A. Narcissus showed again, ditto to decent house and Q&A.
As a requirement for screening these films were put into 24fps DCPs, which, as I’d forewarned the festival would happen, and asked that it not be done, made the films pretty bad to see. Shifting from 29.97 fps to 24 of course makes for horrible movement artifacts, and the shift in color forms also damaged the color and made all fades in and out have digital banding. It was literally painful to watch, especially when it was totally needless as they could have easily shown the h.264 files of the film. The few other films I saw also suffered from this conversion as most people, aside from Hollywood, don’t work at 24 fps, but either PAL 25 or NTSC 29.97 (or 23). I wrote the festival afterward to underline that they should junk this requirement.
Meantime the festival seemed less buoyant than in the past – perhaps soured by a little palace revolution in which the past director, and most his staff, were ousted and replaced by new people. Certainly the over-all organization seemed less tight, stingier, and less friendly than in my past visits. At the conclusion of the festival the head of the jury, filmmaker Darezhan Omirbayev, from Kazakhstan, apparently castigated the festival for the lackluster selection of films in competition (first and second films), saying no one on the jury had been passionate about any of them, and that they were all, well, too safe and conventional. He did manage to come to my films, both of them, and clearly liked them, telling me that if he can do so, he’ll try to arrange for me to visit and show my work there. Just when I could do this in the dwindling time at hand is another question. As is the question of just what purpose do festivals have anymore for those like me?
For the work I do, there is in the present world no “market” – to say someone or place which might buy it, in hopes of in turn making some money out of it. No distributor, no television, takes this kind of work anymore – 15 or 20 years ago I might have reasonably hoped to sell, if not for much, at least for a little, somewhere. But this is no longer a reasonable expectation. Instead the best one might hope for is - well, a ticket to place X and 3-5 days in a hotel there. And only once (or perhaps 2 or 3 times) for each film. And, in my case, maybe some DVD sales over a long period of time. Not exactly what one could call “making a living.” This is in part owing to the for-the-moment victory of hyper-capitalism which has commercialized everything and done a pretty good job of convincing a sizable chunk of humanity that the only important thing in life is money and the things it can buy. In my tiny little place in the world this translates into the kinds of pressures I get all the time about “telling a (more accessible) story” or something like that, and thinking about “the audience/consumer,” and making something “they” would like (and pay for.) And so on. It falls on my very deaf ears, I suppose because actually I totally differ with the great Market Economy religion of the times and think it is dead wrong, and will in due time render us all dead owing to its perverse “values.” So trying to convince me to accommodate its demands is rather misguided. The other reason the “market” for my work which once existed is gone is that the electronics revolution has rather sharply altered not only the physical landscape – but also, particularly in younger people, the psychological one. Time is more fragmented, in nearly all senses. Attention spans are shorter. Distractions abound, carefully constructed to grab the eye, ear and mind. And we are basically trained to avoid anything serious or demanding – so much better to pop a pill when we’re unhappy, or answer the text message our friend just sent us, or tweet our view in a handful of words. Actually sitting in one place for 90 minutes, or longer, paying attention to something making a demand on your mind and spirit is…. is so not now.
Before I departed for the festival, a few people asked if I was “excited” and I had to answer, no, I’ve been making films for 50 years, and going to festivals almost as long, and it is more or less a necessary chore, the only form of “marketing” to pretend to be doing. So I go. And so I left Jeonju not unexpectedly disheartened as it merely confirmed what I’d known before I departed: that what I do is rather meaningless in the present world, not that it hadn’t been meaningless in the previous one. I make an ethereal art, something requiring a complex apparatus to send photons bouncing on a screen to disappear as soon as it is visible. The sound waves go a bit slower, but decay just as fast. Inside the spectator synapses crackle, and one feels happy or sad, exhilarated or disappointed, and afterwards whatever one takes away shifts, and in due time you forget, or in all events, you lay down and die. In this case the whole impetus and seeming reason for making these things just happens to have died in advance of myself. And then, given the content of Coming to Terms, perhaps it is all duly appropriate.
So while I imagine I’ll go to some more festivals, if only to indulge the illusion that it has something to do with practical things like eating, and I’ll continue to make films despite the reality that all it does is eat up much of my time and energy, along with some of my dwindling savings, I can’t say I will do these things blindly or unaware: nope, I know full well it is, in the world I live in, considered a useless, worthless endeavor, unworthy of any payment at all. And a pat on the back with nice words is about all I can expect, though naturally that means almost nothing to me.
Buddy, can you spare me a dime?
I’ve been traveling a bit too much, and am a bit remiss on updating matters about Coming to Terms. It was invited a month or so ago to the Jeonju festival, which I have been to 4 or 5 times now. I went to the first one, I think in 2001, and then three years later, and while there got my job at Yonsei University (not that I was looking for it, sort of fell in my lap). While in Korea 2007-2011, I went (I think) each year, with a film. From the outset it was a well-organized, well-attended festival, programming a rich assortment of work from around the world, and doing retrospectives of a kind not seen elsewhere. After the rejection of the Sundance and a few other festivals I’d sent it too, I was beginning to wonder not whether Coming to Terms was good, but whether the times had shifted so much that I was in effect living on another planet. Jeonju had a month earlier invited The Narcissus Flowers of Katsura-shima, and the delay had me wondering. As I had also submitted it to Cannes, I questioned if I should accept the Jeonju invitation, though my contact at Cannes, while liking the film himself, said my chances were slim. And I figured the non-competitive sections of Cannes may not absolutely require a g.d. glorious “world premiere.” So I said yes.
Jeonju is also a culinary high-point in Korea so I eagerly look forward to a steady diet of Korean food for 2 weeks. Love it!
So finally Coming to Terms will step out in public. I did, in the last week, get several lovely notes regarding it, one from Mark Rappaport, who I have been working on trying to get his materials back from Ray Carney of Boston University. See this for almost the latest on this matter. And the other was from Chris Fujiwara, the new – as of last year I think – director of the Edinburgh Festival.
A very quick note, to be followed by a much longer letter. I just saw Coming to Terms and I can’t tell you how impressed I am. It’s very beautiful, in a lot of different ways. I have to run out now and do some errands but I’ll write you much, much more later. You’re probably asleep (or should be) but I wanted to drop you this note just after seeing it.
OK, here goes—
First of all, I found it really affecting. Aren’t we supposed to be formalists and just, en principe, opposed to that sort of thing? I absolutely love that “alienating effect” of two people in the frame talking to each other but not facing each other. It puts the kibosh on that tired shot-reaction shot convention that is the gold standard in commercial filmmaking and that no one seems to be able to shake or even interested in shaking. I suspect that that choice will be the reason most people won’t get into the movie but I think it’s a brilliant device. If Ingmar Bergman had done it, there would be endless hosannas about how innovative it is. I tried something similar in Local Color in 1977, for comedic effect. The two women, especially Roxanne, were great. And we know how hard it is to find a decent actress “of a certain age” who hasn’t made it but is very good nonetheless. I really like how the impassive landscape bears witness without paying the slightest bit of attention to the human goings-on. It’s just there, impenetrable, impervious, neither watching nor not watching. You don’t engage in that pantheistic nonsense that has become Malick’s stock-in-trade. Oooh, isn’t it pretty?
I also like very much the nightmarish house-scapes, each of them looking like the pawns on a monopoly board, their frightening anonymity not giving a clue as to the sorrows (or pleasures) going on behind their dreary facades. At first, I was a little confused by the house-scapes and even the landscapes but once I relaxed into it, it worked very well for me. I also liked the musical accompaniment to the father’s death—the sound of flies. And the sound of rain as the background track when they all go back to Elaine’s house. I thought that the rhyming images of the curtains in Elaine’s house with the curtains of the father’s tent was very beautiful. I actually gasped.
I suspect this is a very personal film for you and has a lot of meaning in your own life. But I, for one, don’t buy the father summoning all the families he abandoned to help him kill himself. But maybe that’s just me. Somebody that cold and that selfish, who has shunned people all his life, could just as easily take 400 sleeping pills and wash it down with two bottles of bourbon. On the other hand, that he wants to implicate his two families in his actions and gives them all nightmares for the rest of their lives, makes him even more of a monster. As does that hideous poison pen letter he sends from beyond the grave. Well, I hated The Taste of Cherries in which this guy tries to inveigle strangers in his suicide. Why couldn’t he just jump off a tall building rather than try to find willing accomplices to help him do what can really only be done alone? What do I know? Palme d’Or winner at Cannes.
I think you will be surprised by the good reactions you’ll get to the film, when you actually get it out there. Unless I’m mistaken, I think this is a very new direction for you and very much worth pursuing. One little quibble—I don’t know if you can do anything about it now. The sound or rather the ambient sound drops out every now and then—and it’s a distraction. I don’t know that once you’ve made a DCP you can strip the sound and lay it in again. I think you should find a very good sound editor to enrich the background sounds. I know you feel that you’re done with the film but I think it’s too good a film to let these minor adjustments stop you from making it as good as you can.
And I highly recommend that you see Amour.
Anyway, congratulations once again. I think it’s a very, very strong piece of work and you should be very proud of it.
It’s a remarkable film, with images and transitions of great beauty and intensity. I value in it most the fact that it is a digital film, not a “film” that happened to be shot and edited digitally. You do great things with digital that could not be done on film. Above all, you show how digital makes possible a distinctive shaping of time, in a mode that is neither “virtual” nor “real,” but which has to do, I would say, with an immediate perception of time becoming an image.
One rather irritating thing is that Jeonju this year changed its regulations and required a DCP (Digital Cinema Package), a Hollywood pushed thing to make uniform standards in digital projection. A nice idea for corporations and all, but it requires a rather complicated thing of shifting to 24 fps, whatever you shot on, and prices for having it done professionally run $3-4,000 for a 90 minute piece. Any kind of reprocessing of one’s file can only hurt it, and DCP’s seem unduly complex to make (I checked on net about DIY, which is possible but seemed to complicated for me given the time I had.) I wrote the festival a serious letter saying this puts an undue burden on filmmakers, particularly those from poorer countries which Jeonju often shows. And technically in my view it sucks (Pedro Costa, with whom they did a retrospective a few years ago, is quoted in an interview I read saying DCP’s suck.) They said they will think about it and more or less agreed, but said it was too late to change this year. On searching around I did find one place which would do it for a palatable price, and I sent them my material: CreativeDCP, located in Nashville, Tenn. If you are in need of such, I suggest you drop them a line.
This week, along with thousands of others, I received a little email from the Sundance festival. I’d sent Coming to Terms (and 3 other works) solely because I’d been given a waiver and did not have to pay the pricey admission fee, and at 69 I thought it would be nice to get in one more skiing session before my body insists otherwise. I didn’t really think they’d take the film as it’s not exactly an audience pleaser, but the film world scuttlebutt was that the new director, John Cooper, was intending to shift the festival back to something more, uh, “independent,” and indeed in the last years they’d shown some installations (one by friend Leighton Pierce), so I thought… But not really. The other day’s announcement in the New York Times showed a program littered with stars, and was described by the writer as having films that “could be accessible.” [Translation: accessible = commercial.] So much for turns to “independence.” So no drive to Park City to sleep in the Subaru (festival doesn’t pay to get you there or accommodations, so…), and no skiing this year. C’est la festive vie.
RE: 12465-UNF – COMING TO TERMS
On behalf of the Sundance Programming staff, I would like to thank you for submitting your film to us for 2013 Sundance Film Festival consideration. Unfortunately, we were unable to include it in our Festival program this year. For the first time in our history, we received more than 12,000 submissions (12,146 to be exact), so deciding on a final program was more difficult than ever. We selected 170 films from around the world (1.4% of the total films submitted to us), and it goes without saying that we viewed far more worthy films than we had room for in our program. Please know that your film was carefully considered by our team, and we truly respect your hard work and dedication as an independent filmmaker. We wish you the best of luck with your project and hope you will give us the opportunity to view your work in the future.
Director, Sundance Film Festival
To see a PDF of the real thing, go here: reject from sundance
Now, being quite honest, I didn’t really think any of the things I sent would get in, but with the waiver it seemed worth the DVDs and postage costs to roll the dice. I’d been to Sundance 20 years ago, and it was already too much a frantic circus of short-term hysteria and people trampling over each other, and the aggressive “gonna make it” egos of filmmakers looking to punch their tickets on to Hollywood. The film I showed back then, in competition, Frameup, garnered almost no response, critically, or from the seemingly baffled audience of would-be “hip” viewers. My droller than droll dark humor did not amuse this crowd – they prefer their’s in Jarmusch mode I imagine. I did get to go skiing.
Frameup went on to the Berlin Forum, got some TV sales in Europe, and I still get people writing me, looking for a decent DVD of it.
I also sent the documentary shot last autumn in the Fukushima district in Japan, The Narcissus Flowers of Katsura-hima. It is a delicate work on survivors of the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. So far it’s been rejected by a handful of festivals – Toronto, Festivale dei Popoli in Florence, Italy, the Margaret Mead whatever in NYC, and a few others I forget. And now Sundance joins the list.
Trinity is 57 minutes of silence and discreetly gorgeous imagery, vaguely based on Christian myths, with which most of we westerners are all too familiar. Not your usual festival fare. Certainly not at Sundance.
And then Stand (After Courbet) is a short (28 mins) which though perhaps it appears to be a single shot, is not. It is meditative, like Trinity. It’s not going to be any festival’s hot ticket.
Of course these rejection notices come on the heels of numerous others this last year. Imagens de uma cidade perdida, a 97 minute long portrait of Lisboa, which screened in competition at the Yamagata festival last autumn, and was shown inRotterdam in February 2011, was rejected by everyone else I sent it to, a list a little too long to go into here – a mess of documentary festivals and others.
And then there was Dissonance, admittedly a challenging and strange film, which was also sent to a mess of festivals – including the avant garde American one at Ann Arbor, and it too was roundly rejected by all except the festival in Split, Croatia, which placed it in a side-bar for weird films.
I know that I was hardly alone in collecting all these rejection notices (when they bothered to send them – some I learned of by checking the list of films they were screening), though perhaps my cynicism is such that my response is primarily pragmatic: yes, I would have liked a free trip to Florence so as to see some friends in Italy, have some good food and wine, and, incidentally have a screening at the festival there. Ditto a few other places where participation = a ticket and a few nights in a hotel where ever. It’s the only pay I ever get for these things anymore.
Back in 2008 I addressed this in an early blog post, here. Once upon a time there was a little space for the not-so-conventional work, some festivals that encouraged such work. And I suppose there remain a few places here and there, though usually in some ghettoized section which announces a priori to the potential audience, “you don’t want to see this.” Underlying this is the vast corporate commercialization of virtually everything. Notice the list of corporate sponsors on any festival trailer or poster. Notice that one can’t get a review in a “main-stream” paper or magazine if the work doesn’t have “theatrical” play. That translates as “commercial” appeal since that is the only thing that will show in a cinema (however misguided the judgment may be on what is “commercial”.) [The current Cloud Atlas provides a case in point - a film packed with major stars (mostly giving rather bad performances), a twisted convoluted story which supposedly makes it "art." Instead it is an utterly cinematically conventional film, backed with $80 million in CGI pyrotechnics, foisted off on a dumbed down public as "art." It is a god-awful mess on all accounts, having nothing to do with art at all. Happily the investors will lose their shirts, though doubtless the filmmakers will see their failure rewarded with another shot.]
This, alas, is the world today, with most minds utterly colonized by our All-American Sacred Market Economy mantra, even though the Wizards behind it all have been shown to be as empty as that of Oz, and perhaps people are wising up. Maybe before I drop dead another quiver of some kind of creative pulse will show up – indeed it always does, though often in hidden ways.
Meantime I expect to keep collecting rejection slips….
Last night, using a large screen, good sound system, and with some minor revisions done, we looked at Coming to Terms, uninterrupted – we being myself, Steve Taylor, Travis Timm (age 21), and my friend from Vancouver, Elisa Ferrari (Italian, living in Canada, 30). For myself, aside from a handful of light-balance things, and very minor sound adjustments, it is done. And, in my view, certainly up with my best – Last Chants, Rembrandt Laughing, Vermeers, Bed You Sleep In, and others – though very different from all of them. I was a very happy camper. It – coupled with the Japanese film The Narcissus Flowers of Katsura-shima – definitely put to rest any lingering qualms about losing my creative moxie to time passing.
Extracting information out of viewers is kind of like pulling teeth, no matter how much you underline “tell what you really think/feel” etc. It becomes a kind of tea-leave reading art to get between the lines. In this case with Steve it was less difficult than usual. He’d entered the viewing with some clear reservations about the pacing and tempo, though in his previous looks he hadn’t actually sat down and let it play but had jumped around a bit. This time he sat back and let it roll, said nothing (no one talked during the screening) and when it was done it seemed pretty transparent he was impressed, and rather promptly said he’d been wrong about the tempo stuff, and it worked, languorous as it may be. He also commented on the ensemble work of the cast, though – joking a bit if not entirely – said the star of the film was….. the curtains. Travis was a bit hesitant to commit to much, though having clearly been watching careful he cited a few things which showed him to be a very attentive viewer. He said he needed time to think about it – which certainly is the case with a film like this. Today he said he “liked” it, whatever that means – especially for a film such as this which is not really meant to be “likable.” It’s meant to challenge and disturb a bit. Elisa seemed to like it, though she found the talk sequences a bit long. While she speaks English fine, it is not her native language and I suspect the talk parts required a bit more work. She very much liked the transition sequences, and their very abstract qualities. It’s half the film.
Reading from this quite eclectic little slice is not so easy, but my impression was that it went well – very well. It’s not an “easy” film, though it is not at all difficult to watch. I think despite its long takes and seemingly slow pacing, there is so much hidden tension within it that it seems shorter than its 89 minutes. As my friend Swain in Missoula said, it leaves a wide space for one to think (though that thinking is gently guided towards, oh, let’s use a fancy-ass word, and say “eschatology.”) Or dropping dead, and the reverberations it can provoke – which in fact are the reverberations which one’s actions in life have provoked.
Anyway, I am indeed a happy camper, and am a bit optimistic about the film’s chances in the festival horse-races – even though it is clearly not the kind of upper/action/seat-filling item that programmers like to have, for their self-interested, number-crunching reasons. And if it’s all a delusion? What’s life…
The other night, at my friend Swain’s in Missoula, I finally got to see Coming to Terms for the first time – no technical crap, no interruptions, no breaks for this or that. It was from a Vimeo compression file, and on a flat-panel video, which means it wasn’t as good looking as it could be, but…
My impression was, frankly, very positive: it’s the film I think I was out to make (hard to figure when you work in the manner I do – no script, nothing really “thought out” except a vague cloud of ideas which materialize in front of the camera.) While I don’t think it is “difficult” to watch, it is certainly not an “audience pleaser” – it confronts death, people who are not nice and are maybe made worse in the process of confronting death in their family. While having long passages that seem static, I think it is not at all boring, but instead rather sneaks up on the viewer, drawing you into the vortex of – OMG – your own thoughts. For people who either don’t have any or don’t like to be drawn into them, it certainly won’t work. But for the others…?
Aside fro some minor visual things, editing of literally a frame or two, and a little adjustment on the mix, I think it is finished.
I’ve sent it to Sundance, and it is being looked at by Cannes. Cynically I’d say it is not a Sundance kinda film, but perhaps they can surprise me. It’s still not their kind of film insofar as their audience is not really evidently into serious films. I think, though, it is a Cannes kinda film, at least in one of the serious sections. I’d love to have it in competition, but I know better. Why would I like it in competition? Because – and this is the reason for aiming at Cannes anyway – unlike about all other festivals, it might open the door for making a film with a little bit of money, with a producer who appreciated such things, and permit me at this very late date to “make a living.” So now to wait and see and then depending on the word back, juggle the festival politics. I suspect Cannes will not show if it is in Sundance, but something in me thinks perhaps it would be possible.
Counting our none-existent chickies before they hatch. Of course, the film could disappear down the Black Hole which has eaten up, oh, DISSONANCE, Swimming in Nebraska, Imagens de uma cidade perdida, Trinity, La Lunga Ombra, Over Here, and Parable – all of which have shown to no one or just one or two festival audiences. Big fkn deal.