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November 25, 2009

Proof

I got back to Texas to find two e-mails awaiting me. The first was a note from Bill Ross - 'proof your film was in Denver over the weekend,' he wrote, in reference to this attached photo.

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The other was from another filmmaker friend, relaying exactly the sort of news one might hope to get around Thanksgiving time. Until December, intuit liberally.

We had a grand time in Thessaloniki. The culture of filmgoing at a festival like that is so different than what I'm used to. I detected no hints of buzz, no waves of hype (maybe it was because I didn't spek Greek, but I doubt it). In their place, there was curiosity, and courage, and a willingness to sit down - en masse! - and share in a new experience. The whole thing reminded me of that thing Jarmusch said once, about how blue collar workers in Italy discuss Dante on their lunch breaks.

A few other notes:

  1. Both of our screenings were amazing, for different reasons. The first had the austere majesty of the palatial Olympian Theater, which may not have been the biggest screen the movie's ever been shown on but certainly felt like it. The second was a warmer, more intimate affair, and it was here that an audience member asked me about the steadfast wardrobe in the film - a question which I'd never expected to be asked and hence delighted me beyond measure because it meant that people were paying attention.
  2. Of all the programs at the festival, the one that interested me most was the Phillipines Rising section. I saw three Brillante Mendoza movies, culminating with Kinatay. I wouldn't say I'm a fan so much as an interested party - and in regards to that particular work, the lengthy van ride is a tour de force, but the guignol display that follows seemed unsavory in all the wrong ways.
  3. I unfortunately didn't get to see any of Raya Martinez' films, as they all screened prior to my arrival. I also wonder if I missed out in a big way by not going to see Lav Diaz' nine-hour Melancholia.

  4. I didn't meet Herzog because I couldn't think of anything to say to him. He sat behind us at the closing night dinner, however, and Savanna went up to him and told him that she liked Aguirre. Actually, I think the only part she really liked were the monkeys at the end, but still - it was a beautiful little moment. He stood up like the gentleman he is and shook her hand and thanked her.
  5. There's apparently no such thing as lactose intolerance in Greece.

That does it for St. Nick festivals for the rest of the year. Next up, I suppose, is distribution...

Posted by David Lowery at 3:00 PM

November 22, 2009

Thessaloniki 4


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Posted by David Lowery at 9:24 PM

November 21, 2009

McCarthy Conversing

After a draining day of watching movies, this dialogue with Cormac McCarthy in the Wall Street Journal was exactly the enriching read I needed before drifting off to sleep.

"There was never a person born since Adam who's been luckier than me. Nothing has happened to me that hasn't been perfect. And I'm not being facetious. There's never been a time when I was penniless and down, when something wouldn't arrive. Over and over and over again. Enough to make you superstitious.."

Incidentally, I saw The Road last month and thought it quite a fine adaptation.

Posted by David Lowery at 7:27 PM

November 20, 2009

Thessaloniki 3


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Posted by David Lowery at 6:25 PM

St. Nick in a snowstorm

We're still in Greece for a few more days, but in about four hours, St. Nick will be unspooling at the Denver Film Festival, where we're also in competition. I've opened the floor for anyone with the inclination and chutzpah to impersonate me for a Q&A. Multiple avatars are encouraged!

(We've received quite a bit of good press out of Denver. Peter Nellhaus wrote a lovely review at Coffee, Coffee and More Coffee; and the Denver Post added another fine Badlands comparison to our stack of Malick comparisons).

Meanwhile, all of our screenings in Thessanoliki have concluded (more on those momentarily) and now I'm catching up on movies. So far I've seen Gigante (Adrian Biniez), Lola (Brillante Mendoza), Air Doll (Hirokazu Kor-Eda), Burrowing (Henrik Hellstrom & Frederik Wenzel), Hadewijch (Bruno Dumont), L'Enfer d'Henri-Georges Clouzot (Serge Bromberg) and a big, awesome print of Aguirre, The Wrath Of God. I somehow convinced Tucker and Savanna's mom to take them to see that one; I'm glad to be responsible for their introduction to Herzog (although if I can introduce them to him in person tomorrow, that'll be an even greater coup).

Posted by David Lowery at 5:33 PM

November 18, 2009

Thessaloniki 2


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Note: I stopped taking pictures right before the first St. Nick screening. To be continued...

Posted by David Lowery at 8:05 PM

Thessaloniki 1


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Note: the figure passed out on the bench above is Tucker Sears, who we ran into with his mother and sister in the Frankfurt airport. He's now old enough to drink in Europe!

Posted by David Lowery at 7:53 PM

November 14, 2009

St. Louis


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The above picture was taken as a lovely cold front blew into downtown, an hour or so before St. Nick won the Emerging Filmmaker prize at the St. Louis Film Festival. It was an awesome surprise. A big thanks to Gerald Peary and the rest of the jurors for the recognition and the validation that goes hand in hand with it, and also to Bobbie Lautenschlager, Chris Clark and Cliff Froelich for inviting me to the festival and showing St. Nick in the first place. The comments we received after both the screening and the award were a nice reminder that when the film works for people, it really works.

The screening itself was great, and midway through it, my sister e-mailed me the doctored comic strip below under the subject heading 'This made me cry.'

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Meanwhile, James left me a message from Cucalorus, letting me know that the screening there was also great. I'll take his word for it. I wish I could bi-loctate. If I could, I'd be at every festival this month, answering simultaneous Q&As. I'd also be somewhere else in particular at this very moment, even though I'm also in Chicago, at the Swanberg manse, debating whether or not I should watch Antichrist or go to sleep. We're all on the same flight to Greece tomorrow evening. St. Nick screens in Thessaloniki for the first time on Wednesday evening. We have one more show after that, and then I plan to imbed myself in the Herzog retrospective (as well as the Safdie's new movie, Raya Martin's Indepencia and, for better or worse, Brilliante Mendoza's Kinatay).

More soon...

Posted by David Lowery at 10:35 AM

November 13, 2009

The Voyage Out

I left Austin this morning bright and early, somehow got through security with a straight razor on my person (leftover from my Halloween costume) and am now interred at the lovely Moonrise Hotel in St. Louis, waiting for my heart to arrive. St. Nick is screening tonight at 7:15 at the Tivoli Theater, as one of five films in the New Filmmakers Forum Competition. It's a screening that, it turns out, will be well attended by friends from all over the country who've somehow managed to wind up in this little Midwestern city for one night only.

I was talking to someone the other night and bemoaning the lack of diligence with which I've attended this page lately, but my self-pity was halfhearted. I've meant to write about A Serious Man, Where The Wild Things Are, That Evening Sun and even Gentleman Broncos, but the moments keep passing me by. It's always nice to disappear for a bit. I've cut two features in the past two months, and will be beginning a third before December begins (a Sci Fi Channel action movie?). One for the love, two for the money, but in all cases there's always that quiet (and, in the best instance, deafening) pleasure to be found in smashing little bits of footage together and making a fire. I can't wait to be doing it again on my own film.

But back to the matter at hand, which is tonight's screening, and the one on Sunday afternoon at Cucalorus, and the one the following weekend in Denver, and the two in Greece. I intend with all sincerity to document the next ten days on the festival circuit in full! I have to, in fact, because we were given a travel grant by the Austin Film Society and part of that involves creating some sort of recap of journeys to and fro for their website. I'm thinking a short film - but in the meantime, pictures, and lots of 'em, will suffice.

Posted by David Lowery at 7:01 AM

November 5, 2009

The Death of my Priorities

If I were to have a whim that, for Halloween, I wanted to dress in very specific late Victorian couture, I'd waste not a moment in hopping on a bicycle - even if, being on a cleansing fast, I hadn't eaten a thing in eight days - and pedaling fifteen miles around Austin in search of just the right bits of vintage garb. And I'd find it all, scattered in shops across town, and everything would fall into place just so.

Were I to be asked, on the other hand, by a prestigious cinematic organization to overnight ten copies of St. Nick to them, or by an impressive European festival to be sent a screener at their expense, it would simply not happen. In the event that I actually got the DVDs made, I'd nevertheless fail to make it to the post office until the day after the overnighting was supposed to take place. Perhaps I'd run into all sorts of trouble trying to print out press kits; I'd then run into even more trouble trying to burn them to CDs because my printer is out of ink; I'd then give up on the press kits altogether and focus on finding a sharpie marker to label the DVDs with (the nice thing about having handwritten titles in your film is that it makes DVDs labeled with the same handwriting a little more acceptable), and perhaps even cases to put them in, because that's the sort of thing you just always assume you'll have but have inevitably always run out of. After a day or two or three of stultifying misadventures, I'll finally get the package in the mail, write an apologetic e-mail to the recipient and weigh the importance of paying rent versus paying a personal assistant to take care of all these tasks my brain just isn't pragmatic enough to execute properly.

But back to the Halloween costume! It turned out so well that I'm taking it to Greece with me. I'll wear it at the Closing Night Party (although it won't be quite the same without the compliment of its better half).

Posted by David Lowery at 7:04 PM