Venice ! Toronto !
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.