Back to School

by Matthew Curtis
March 2, 2006 12:36 AM
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Last night was not the usual T-minus four-weeks-and-counting-to-festival-activities kind of evening. It's interesting that at a time I'd usually be totally immersed in Florida Film Festival details and prep work, I found myself in a college classroom discussing filmmaker Alan Berliner and rushing off to see a rare 35mm screening (at least in Orlando) of Godard's BREATHLESS at Enzian.

For the second time in the past few months, FFF selection committee member Peg O'Keef invited me to be on a panel after a screening of THE SWEETEST SOUND in her "Introduction to Liberal Arts" class at Rollins College. Alan Berliner's brilliant 2001 exploration of identity, individuality, and legacy--fueled by his obsession with the meaning of names and culminating with his inviting all of the other Alan Berliners in the world over for dinner--is perfect fodder for a spirited discussion of not only the issues raised in the film, but the creative mind of this distinctive documentarian. Not to mention how Tobias Wolfe, David Sedaris, and Tennessee Willaims managed to make their way into the conversation as well. Fellow panelist, author, and freelance film journalist Leslie Halpern, ironically a cousin by marriage of the filmmaker, also provided valuable insights into his work and family life. Hopefully the students had as much fun as we did.

There was no way I could pass up our Sundance Channel Film Series screening of a 35mm print of Godard's BREATHLESS (1959) later in the evening. Having shown the film at New College in the mid-70's, and distributed the film at Corinth Films in the 1980's, I realized I actually hadn't seen it for over two decades. One of the most influential existential crime thriller/romances of all time, the film still feels revolutionary. I had forgotten the virtually non-stop jazz score, the overall playfulness of the film, the gorgeous shots of Paris life at the end of the 1950's, and the jaw-dropping, iconic beauty of both Seberg and Belmondo's faces. Now if only I could purge my memory of the 1983 Richard Gere remake...

--Matthew

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