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One New Yorker vs. the Gothams

by Anthony Kaufman
December 2, 2004 4:33 AM
5 Comments
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The faces of Gotham's indie film elite went from delight to shock to embarrassment Wednesday night during the live broadcast of the IFP Gotham Awards. When Dan Talbot won an IFP honor for his longstanding career in fostering indie and foreign film in the U.S., the venerable distributor (New Yorker Films) and exhibitor (Lincoln Plaza Cinemas) launched into a 22-minute history lesson on some of the unknown and essential moments of alternative film exhibition. And this is live TV!

"Please wrap it up," the teleprompter repeatedly announced; IFP exec director Michelle Byrd's face looked stone-cold horrified; and whispers and giggles caught like wildfire through Pier 60. But Talbot persisted, bent over the podium reading off pages and pages of notes about the time literary giant James Joyce, before composing some of the great books of our time, actually opened a movie theater at the turn of the century in Dublin. Who in the audience of indie film notables had any idea about such a fascinating fact? And how many have even tried to read "Ulysses"? Certainly not "Sideways" star Thomas Hayden Church who took a potshot at Talbot after winning the Best Film Award.

Talbot's seemingly endless speech was probably the most defiant, risky, and independent action taken all night, notwithstanding Mark Whalberg's irreverent take on the proceedings. But Talbot, who will now certainly be the butt of many jokes, showed in that speech what independent film is really about: it's not about awards ceremonies, celebrities, or miniature portions of haute-cuisine -- it's about a crotchety, old, white die-hard liberal championing the works of African filmmaking luminary Ousmeme Sembene and stumping for a system in the U.S. akin to France's tax on film tickets that goes to fund indie filmmakers. Too bad so few people were listening.

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5 Comments

  • gary meyer | December 6, 2004 4:15 AMReply

    I wish I'd been there or had access to a tape. Dan Talbot should be allowed to tell his stories as long as he wants. There are a handful of heroes in the independent world and if wasn't for Dan Talbot being one of the builders of a foundation for everything the "indie" world has experienced in the past 20+ years, most of the people in that room would be in another business.

    Sure, sometimes "old-timers" ramble on with their stories. But it is for good reason. Too bad these awards events have become purely social affairs for people who haven't quite earned the right to their bloated egos.

  • sharon | December 3, 2004 5:57 AMReply

    sounds like an interesting speech...maybe indiewire can post a transcript.

  • Feinsod | December 3, 2004 5:18 AMReply

    It sounds like it was probably an interesting speed -- actually, I've heard of Joyce's cinema. It had the name "Vox" in it, and showed experimental films, didn't it?

  • Film Festival Bob | December 3, 2004 3:51 AMReply

    Also being there last night, and then watching it on tape today, I'll agree and say that half of what Dan Talbot spoke about last night was interesting...but the other half was hard to sit through, and i was home! No matter how interesting a subject is, and no matter how educational it is to those in the room...a 20 minute slowly paced LECTURE is something to be reserved for classrooms and symposiums...not an awards gathering. And its no matter that it was a live telecast...even if there were no cameras there, it still would be an incredibly rude gesture to not read the body language of most people in the room (the ones that were still sitting there)and continue to read as long as he did. If he had read the highlights of his text in ten minutes, I think that would have been fine. But 20 minutes?? No. It's a cliche, but it's a truism: Less is more.

  • ryan | December 2, 2004 11:55 AMReply

    well put anthony...

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