The Pressure's On
I’ve been hunting for prints of the classics. First, I checked the reliable distributors. Jessica at Kino had Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice. Sarah at Janus provided The Seventh Seal. So much for the easy finds. Where are good 35mm or even 16mm prints of Ordet, The Gospel According to St. Matthew, The Miracle, and DeMille’s The King of Kings? Throughout the week, I was in touch with the kind archivists I know (including Bob Harris, Ray Regis, Steffen Pierce, and Caroline Yeager). The first three films are still elusive. Anyone else have any clues?
The best part of the week was working on panel discussion topics. I drove to Washington DC last weekend to hang out and brainstorm with Pat Aufderheide. We caught the Sugimoto, Christenberry, and Kiefer shows on the Mall, and A Scanner Darkly in Bethesda, and only stopped talking while the movie was running. I first met Pat when she was writing film reviews for In These Times in 1980. We’ve crossed paths many times since then, and her Center for Social Media at American University has become an annual organizer of panels at our festival. This year, we think we want to gather a panel of media makers who reach beyond preaching to the converted, and now we’re calling around to gather the ideal panel members we imagined, including David Van Taylor and the Jesus Camp directors.
Pat also led me to some old friends--Bobbi Abrash, her Research Director, who also helps run, with visual anthropologist Faye Ginsburg, the Center for Religion and Media at NYU. Their NYU center is likely to host another panel at our festival, possibly addressing spiritual performances. While thinking about their panel, I experienced another one of those odd coincidences that are constantly occurring this year. I looked at a 1980 short film that DeeDee Halleck had sent me called Bronx Baptism, and the film blew me away. It was filmed by DeeDee with, believe it or not, artist Richard Serra and Babette Mangolte. I think it’s a forgotten gem, beautifully shot and filled with provocative cinematic, political and spiritual discoveries. I raved about it to Bobbi and Faye, and Bobbi wrote back: “You have unerring instincts!” It turns out Faye had presented it just after it was made as part of a program on the Bronx, a program that helped launch her career.