Thursday, March 29, 2007

Home Movies

A suggestion came in today that we show Su Friedrich’s film about her father, Sink or Swim and Alan Berliner’s film about his dad, Nobody’s Business. Friedrich also made a film I love about her relationship with her mother, The Ties That Bind.

Su has been to our festival several times, but, somehow, I’ve never brought Alan Berliner. Alan and I were film students together in Binghamton in the early ‘70s (Alan’s voice, I insist, carries the intonations of his influential film professor, Larry Gottheim). Alan has accumulated a tremendous body of work that could be described as “experimental home movies.” He's an incredibly talented editor of archival footage, including the home movies of many unknown families he stitched together in Family Album (1988). That film brought out cultural and formal patterns linking the amateur movies, and was illuminating and funny, like all of his work. Along with Nobody’s Business, Intimate Stranger, and his latest, Wide Awake, it deserves to be showcased in connection with our theme, and I’ve already asked Alan to hold the dates November 1-4.

When Alan gets here, he’s going to find that some of the editing stations at the local Light House media access center for high school students are named after his movies. Light House founder Shannon Worrell is a big fan, and she says her students are inspired by Alan’s editing skills.

Another filmmaker who works with home movies is Peter Forgacs, whom I’d love to invite. He compiles his films from historic home movies reaching back to the Nazi era and postwar Hungary. I’ve also gotten in touch with Patricia Zimmermann, author of Reel Families: A Social History of Amateur Film and the upcoming Mining the Home Movie, and she may be presenting films collected at the Smithsonian’s Human Studies Film Archive.

Any other ideas for me in the home movie area? Should we have an open screening of home videos?

And do people have more filmmakers to suggest who have made films about their parents or kids?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Your suggestions

Thanks for all the tips. There are more suggestions pouring in than I received last year, and I’m relieved that the theme is going over so well.

Here are some reactions to your thoughts……

Mrs. Bates is definitely a great movie mom to feature alongside MILDRED PIERCE and MOMMIE DEAREST.

I saw the French Quebecois film C.R.A.Z.Y at a film festival and was surprised it didn’t get released here, since it was so entertaining and inventive (although it reminded me a bit of Alain Berliner’s MA VIE EN ROSE). I’ll look at it again…..

I’d forgotten about LALEE’S KIN, which impressed me when I was on a documentary award panel in 2001. I was thinking of inviting Al Maysles with GREY GARDENS, and now this gives me another film of his to present.

Donald Sosin sent me a lot of tantalizing choices. I got stuck at the top of his list, with Herbert Brenon’s 1924 PETER PAN. I showed that film several times at Cornell Cinema when I worked there in the 80s, and I’d love to introduce it to kids and families here. Great cinematography by James Wong Howe, and a pleasure for grownups too.

LE SOUFFLE AU COEUR is a good idea, although its treatment of incest may be too tasteful. I think I prefer Francois Ozon’s SITCOM, which has greater shock value, as John Waters would say. The DVD comes with a precociously twisted early short by Ozon called FAMILY PHOTO, in which he murders the members of his (real) family before posing them for the camera.

Keep the suggestions coming, and I'll keep adding titles to my video queue...