Of course, I don’t mean the whole world; just all New Yorkers. The terrorists’ message would have gotten an auto-reply saying, “Sorry, you missed us. We’re all in Toronto, eh?” Alas, it was not to be.
This year, however, everyone DOES seem to be in Toronto. And they’re all making short films dealing with September 11th. Just look at the list of directors participating in 11’09″01, a collection of 11 shorts put together by a French director, Alain Brigand: Ken Loach, Claude Lelouch, Danis Tanovic, Sean Penn, Amos Gita�, Shohei Imamura, Samira Makhmalbaf, Youssef Chahine, Idrissa Ouedraogo, Mira Nair, and Alejandro Gonz�lez Iҷrritu.
Each film is 11 minutes, 9 seconds and 1 frame long, as if the date were a timecode. Check this description of Sean Penn’s short in a Guardian (UK) review from Venice:
Some avoid the politics completely. Sean Penn’s beautiful and moving short film shows the ordinary early morning of an elderly New York widower. He shaves, he dresses, he talks constantly to his dead wife, tells her the apartment is just too dark. When he wakes up from a mid-morning nap, the room is flooded with sunlight and the dead flowers on the windowsill are blooming: the towers that had blocked out their light have crumbled to nothing.
The loft where we shot the New York scenes of Souvenir November 2001 was actually such a place (minus Ernest Borgnine, of course). The friends who let us shoot there had to cover their 14′ high windows with butcher paper; with the World Trade Center gone, sunlight poured in from the suddenly empty southern view and threatened to damage their art. The films screen in Toronto on Sept. 11 and 12. Since originally writing this entry, an excellent article showed up in the NYTimes.
The guys at Cyan Pictures are back from their location in Kentucky and have some hi-larious and endearing accounts of the shoot. Check it out, and compare it to the folies we had in France during the shooting of Souvenir. Ahh, the memories. Cyan & Co. are editing for the 9/27 Sundance submission deadline. I’ll be taking Diet Coke to their editing suite in the middle of the night.
This article has an archetypical Canadian aura, basically about how the hype of (competitors for the admirable Toronto Film Fest) Sundance and Cannes aren’t good predictors of success. (not as good as Toronto’s audience awards, that is). But Sundance never sounded so bleak as when it’s described by Premiere film critic Glenn Kenny. Here he talks about seeing a typical (and unworthy of hype (?)) Sundance film, In the Bedroom:
“The film is long, it’s got really great performances, and it’s definitely something that is conscientious…You walk out of there and it’s dark and it’s cold, and you’re thinking about how profound the movie is and the fact that you’re staying at a [bad] resort, and you think about how lonely you are, and about the human condition, and how you don’t have anyone to be in the hot tub with.” [emphasis for exaggerated effect]
To be honest, I haven’t yet strategized how to play Souvenir with any critics; I’m still trying to finesse the festival selection committees. But now I do know to saunter over to the pale, lonely-looking guy (or the darker, dreadlocked one) in the hot tub and give him the feelgood experience of the festival.
Thanks to Rick McGinnis’ Movieblog was the source of the Toronto article. He’s quite prolific on the subject of film, cranking out reviews with such volume and quality you’d think he was getting paid for it…
Submitted to Slamdance. We’re traveling to UT and AZ for the weekend, location scouting for the Sundance/Slamdance season. Yeah, that’s it, location scouting.
Poking around Slamdance’s website to get my submission stuff ready. It’s HI-larious, obviously made by someone who pokes around dry film festival websites for a living. That led me to Bitter Films, where Don Hertzfeldt flogs and writes about his animated shorts and celebrates “107 awards, four Grand Prizes, and a rather spooky cult following.” There’s a production journal, which looks good, if a little random. (Pot, Kettle. Kettle, Pot. I know.) Gotta keep the random quotient high to please the cult followers.
I submitted applications Monday for three festivals, and almost submitted to a fourth, when I belatedly realized I’d already sent them a tape two+ weeks ago. Festivals submitted today: Tehran (Iran) International Short Film Festival, the Winterthur (Switzerland) International Short Film Festival, and the San Diego Film Festival. The one I almost resubmitted was Interfilm Berlin, probably because I had Berlin on the brain today. (Olafur, the artist I mentioned in the previous post, lives in Berlin, and I just booked a ticket to Germany and Switzerland, too.) Oh, and Monday was the first preview screening of Souvenir November 2001 in NYC. More on that later.
While surfing for Cannes reports, I found this great Indiewire interview with Abbas Kiarostami from the 2001 Double Take Documentary Film Festival, timed to the premiere of ABC Africa, his doc about AIDS in, well, Africa. Some highlights:
The film was made during “location scouting,” when he was still deciding whether to accept the UN’s invitation to make a documentary.
“But when I actually started using [the digital cameras] — and when I realized its possibilities and what I could do with them — I realized that I have wasted, in a way, 30 years of my career using the 35mm camera, because that camera, for the type of work that I do, is more of a hindrance than a communication tool.”
Went to an IFP24 Market orientation meeting tonight. This doesn’t mean Souvenir‘s been selected for the market yet; it was a Q&A session for filmmakers hoping to participate in the Market. Here are the bullet points, primarily as they relate to Souvenir:
In the section Souvenir‘s entered, they’ll select 15 shorts from probably 2-300 submitted.
The major prospects for a short film are pretty clear, and the Market is useful for at least the first two (in order of priority to me): first phase of a feature/series; calling card; and acquisition/distribution target.
To wit, focus more attention on film festival programmers and production companies than on distributors and buyers.
Be prepared to discuss the next project, whether it’s expanding the short into a feature or directing another script (both)
Also, focus efforts not only on the short term (hook me up!), but on the long-term as well. (It’s a relationship business, after all.)
Spend wisely (i.e., not that much) on glossy press kits, promo gear, etc. for industry people. They don’t really care; they’re looking for and at product, the talent; not the peripheral crap. (But what about all those muffin baskets I’ve been sending out?) Save the glossy promo material for the fundraising.
LOLOL. Jon Stewart just said, “We’re Oldie McOldington,” on The Daily Show. And now Rupert Everett’s tearing France a new one. Heh. He’s funny.
Of course, as soon as I started this entry, I turned on IFC and Ridicule was on, so I had to watch it. It’s by Patrice Leconte, and it is a rippingly funny, smart movie about the court of Louis XIV, where wit was the coin of the realm, so to speak. Here’s Roger Ebert’s review.
Sure enough. Here is the list of short films selected for Cannes. Two US films, including one by Bruce Terris, who was Pete Jones’ 1st Assistant Director on Stolen Summer/Project Greenlight. Watching Terris’ constant pushing/complaining about the importance of shot lists stuck in my head and proved to be very helpful advice for shooting Souvenir, btw.