So much to say about Sarasota (too much, actually), so I think I'm just going to post pictures and stream some consciousness along the way...
First, and most importantly, let me say that I'm truly worried about Indiewire's well-being and health. What was going on down there? Brian Brooks was embarrassingly sober EVERY SINGLE NIGHT! And he even attended the nightly parties with gigantic open bars! Eugene, time to get a new second-in-command. Talk about someone taking his jury duties seriously. What happened to you, Brian???
And now, onto the photos...
Todd and I didn’t realize until after we'd gotten off the flight that we’d been sharing a plane with the one and only David Crosby. Man, I totally would’ve gotten his autograph!
In Charlotte, Todd and I killed our layover by munching on some Nascar-inspired grub. I also soothed my soul with a Matcha Green Tea Blast from Jamba Juice. Seriously, that shit is better than sneezing while in the midst of a sexual climax. I mean it.
We were picked up at the airport in a brand new Mercedes SUV! Even better than that was the fact that the drivers were incredibly friendly (one even went out of his way to take us home after Friday night’s party, although he had been off the clock for several hours).
Here’s where all the screenings went down. A truly historic setup. People had to walk past LARRY THE CABLE GUY and PHAT GIRLZ in order to get to the theatre that was screening COCAINE ANGEL. Ha!
Jessica Wolfson (producer, THE SONNETS) laughs as James Clauer (THE ALUMINUM FOWL) flaunts his ability to use a truck lift.
Festivals are the perfect place to meet incredibly cool people, such as Sam Wainwright Douglas, co-director of THE HOLY MODAL ROUNDERS: BORN TO LOSE. Here, Sam admires a shrimp boat that would have made Three 6 Mafia swoon.
Clauer munching on crab cakes like he was born and raised in Maryland, yo!
The filmmaker lounge was open from 10-7 and it provided free food and drinks all day long! Here, James talks to Peter Stampfel, one of the main voices behind folk legends The Holy Modal Rounders. Next to him is the incredibly cool Paul Lovelace, who’s sitting next to Jessica (they’re going steady). Peter is an amazing man. We hung out at Saturday night’s after-after party until the wee hours of the morning, and I talked to him about songwriting for quite a while. A sort of angelic presence, with no negative energy whatsoever. As for Paul, I knew I’d met someone special when we met at Thursday night’s party, and in the span of five minutes we had discussed Philippe Garrel’s REGULAR LOVERS and Ghostface’s “Fishscale” with equal fervor. People like that are hard to come by.
Towards the close of Friday night’s party, Todd goaded me into getting my picture taken with some drunk gals. They didn’t appear interested in us. Todd tried to impress them by saying that I had directed a film that was in the festival, to which one of the girls responded, “I don’t give a SHIT!” Seriously, I’d say 10% of the people at the parties were even aware that there was a film festival going on, but that was fine by us. As long as we didn't get kicked out for being shamefully underdressed.
This picture was taken after Friday night’s screening (this guy had Damian and I sign his program--my first autograph!). But it was Saturday night’s screening that was our best one yet (and I'm talking Rotterdam, Austin, wherever). A married couple approached me afterward and the wife told me that their son had died of a heroin overdose and that she thought our film was the most honest depiction of the pointlessness of drugs that she had ever seen. She begged us to show it in schools, or rehab centers, or anywhere that could possibly help. I was nearly brought to tears. Of course, our intentions in making the film were noble and honest, but this was something that I never could have imagined. It is an absolute privilege and honor and thrill to have made something that affected someone so deeply and personally, and I now appreciate that even more fully after our Sarasota screenings (that's what I meant when I told Tom Hall that his festival had given me the inspiration to keep making films).
I didn’t get to watch Alex Karpovsky’s THE HOLE STORY until I got back to Maryland (he was kind enough to give me a screener), but I had a hunch I was going to love it after hanging out with him for a few nights. Have you guys seen this thing? It’s kind of amazing: hilarious, smart, and surprisingly profound. I look forward to hanging out with him up in Boston this weekend. This picture was taken in the bathroom/trailer they set up outside the main party tent. It was so cocaine that you didn’t even need cocaine. (I don’t know who the other guy is, unfortunately.)
I managed to catch three award-winners hanging out together and got my paparazzi on. Left to right: Peter Richardson (director of Best Documentary CLEAR CUT: THE STORY OF PHILOMATH, OREGON); Erica Dunton (writer/director of “Independent Visions” winner FIND LOVE; and Kelly Reichardt (writer/director of co-Narrative Grand Jury winner OLD JOY). I didn't see CLEAR CUT, but I spoke to Peter briefly and he's a great guy (how is it that all of the filmmakers I'm meeting are down-to-Earth and incredibly nice people? aren't we supposed to be self-centered assholes? or is that only in Hollywood?). I’ll write a post dedicated to FIND LOVE in a bit, but I would like to reiterate that it’s my favorite new movie of the year. As for Kelly and OLD JOY, I’d like to propose that everyone stops giving her awards and starts giving her film some goddamn distribution!
Here is Todd at a coffee shop trying to connect to the internet. The Gods weren’t smiling down upon him that day, though this picture was taken just minutes after he got to shake hands with Werner Herzog, so there's some yin for your yang. As for THE GUATEMALAN HANDSHAKE, it was an absolute thrill to see the film on the big screen. The film is an audacious, bold achievement in every way. There’s a sequence set to a lullaby (sung by Will Oldham and Sheila Scullin) that will almost certainly make my “Top 10 Favorite Sequences of 2006.” Now give him some goddamn distribution too! What is wrong with you people???
I guess this is what we looked like if you were sitting in the crowd. I really need to take some lessons on being more composed in front of audiences. Though I already feel like I’m getting a tiny bit more comfortable. At least I haven’t shat my pants or thrown up on anyone. Damian rocks the house every time. That said, I will confess that doing Q&A's is really, really fun.
Producer/actress/etc. Wren Arthur (I hadn't realized that she plays Downey’s skank girlfriend in THE GINGERBREAD MAN!), who flew into town with Molly, Bob (aka, ROBERT FUCKING ALTMAN), and Katherine for the tribute dinner and closing night screening. I can call him Bob because we were both mentioned in the same sentence in last week's New York Times. Yeah, we go way back. Anyway, his speech was one of the most punk rock things I've ever witnessed. I hope there's a transcript somewhere. If I can't track one down, I'll try to relay it to you later. After the tribute dinner and "Night of 1000 Stars" party, a bunch of us reconvened at the Holiday Inn for the after-after party in Erica's room. This was taken in the lobby of the third floor. Wren was kind enough to indulge a creative whim I had. What that creative whim was, I’m not entirely sure, but I think this image is rather haunting.
I would like to conclude with a piece that I call, quite simply, “Florida.”