Unfairly and viciously trounced by critics upon its Sundance 2006 premiere, "The Hawk is Dying" comes to New York theaters this Friday, deserving of a second chance. Re-cut and re-contextualized, the film may stand as one of the more originals visions to come from the Park City fest in recent years. And if isn't a total success, so what? Some of its scenes still haunt me more than a year since I first saw it, which is more than I can say for most Sundance premieres.
Ted Hope, one of the film's producers, recently sent an email plea around to supporters of truly indie film:
"We premiered THE HAWK IS DYING (THID) at Sundance in 2006. It was the only Sundance film to go to Cannes where a revised cut (the one you will see in the theaters) screened to great response in Directors Fortnight. The film captures a tour de force performance by Paul Giamatti, raw and incredibly human. Julian's expressionistic style is so well suited to Harry Crews' tale (his first novel to make it to the screen), both are reinvented in the process. Ten years ago, this would be a film celebrated by the entire industry, but now that INDIE means something synonymous with the "cinema of quality" that the French New Wave rebelled against so long ago, it gets marginalized precisely because of the wonderful risks it takes -- the same very risks that made me and the great team that worked on it want to collaborate with Julian in the first place.
"The film truly deserves to be seen on the big screen. We are woefully close to a time when such films will only be available for download, but this, like many others, truly deserves to be seen with light passing through glorious celluloid. I know you know how crucial the early days of a film release are, so PLEASE if you don't have plans for the end of the month, do all you can to get to Cinema Village (or wherever it is playing near you).
"I do love the phrase (perhaps slightly ironically) "vote with your dollars", but I do think a ticket here is a vote against a steady diet of NORBITs and HOG WILDs. I truly struggle every day on how we can make sure there is a business that can work that embraces challenging films, films that dare to aim towards art, that involve risk as part of their design. And of course, the key part is all of us buying tickets.
"AND HERE'S MY FAITH in the film and such a dream of such a cinema: If you go and aren't truly glad you went, I will personally refund your money. Just send me your ticket stub at This is That in New York. I promise."