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Noah Baumbach Talks ‘Kicking And Screaming’ On The Eve Of BAMcinemaFest 17th Anniversary Screening

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by The Playlist
June 29, 2012 4:41 PM
3 Comments
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That internet movie legend is false: filmmaker Noah Baumbach’s debut feature, “Kicking And Screaming,” was never almost accepted to the Cannes Film Festival and then rejected because the director refused to cut fifteen minutes from the film as requested.

“Maybe we should print that [though] because it sounds good,” Baumbach joked. While the filmmaker says his recollection of making the movie is somewhat fuzzy, there’s other difficult elements of the disenfranchised post-college picture that’s burned into his memory. “If you asked me if certain scenes were in the movie, [I might not] remember. But if you ask me the machinations of its release in festivals, I can tell you exactly what happened. The anger and bitterness that fueled whatever part of the brain remembers those things,” he laughed.

Released in 1995, the witty indie comedy about a group of college friends paralyzed by postgraduate ennui, is celebrating its 17th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, (even if it is a peculiar amount of passed time to celebrate), BAMCinemafest is screening the film tomorrow night (Saturday, June 30th) at BAM in Brooklyn. As a bonus, a post-screening Q&A will accompany the film with participation by Baumbach himself, along with stars Josh Hamilton, Chris Eigeman, Carlos Jacott, and co-writer Oliver Berkman, with the discussion moderated by author Chuck Klosterman.

Also starring Parker Posey, Olivia d’Abo, and Elliott Gould, while the '90s film – essentially about disaffected youths and over-clever postgrads too afraid to grow-up – was easily labeled with the indolent “Gen-Xer” tag, Baumbach and his friends were anything but slackers, as evinced by the ambitious director making the movie at the ripe old age of 24. And while that Gen-X/slacker label may have helped the film from a marketing angle (sort of), Baumbach says it annoyed him while it was happening.

“It was kind of a drag for me at the time because I also had been trying to get the movie made since I got out of college [in 1991] and when I wrote it these labels weren't around,” he said. “I sort of thought, ‘Oh Jesus, I thought this was about me and my friends instead of a whole fucking generation who supposedly don't know what they want to do with their lives,’ but I was probably overtly sensitive to that kind of thing anyway.”

But even then, the marketing tag was a double-edged sword. Produced and distributed by Trimark Pictures, a mostly straight-to-video company trying to move into the indie domain ala Miramax, whose biggest hits to date were “Leprechaun” and “Warlock,” the studio wasn’t overly enthusiastic about the film’s success either. “Gen X was a term but it was also a genre -- if you could call it that -- that people already had this feeling wasn't commercial,” the director explained. “So the company that financed was both utilizing the terms but at the same time telling me that nobody wanted to see these movies.”

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3 Comments

  • rodie | July 2, 2012 11:12 AMReply

    This is not a movie. It's a series of half-baked, but occasionally funny, sketches and monologs Baumbach had rattling through his head in college just threw on screen.

  • greenberg | June 29, 2012 6:27 PMReply

    I'm surprised Baumbach isn't embarrassed by this movie. It's okay, but is a real slog to even get through and is nothing compared to his great recent output.

  • Brian | June 29, 2012 6:13 PMReply

    Wish I could make the screening. Thanks for the interview.

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