29 September 2007

Debut of our new and improved (and shorter) trailer

...When It Drizzles...

They said it wouldn't last, and it didn't. Arrived in Vancouver yesterday in the glaring sun and 70 degree temperatures. Today, it was back to the rain (always back to the rain), and 55 degrees cool. Still, I've fallen hard for this city, and the cineastes who dwell here.

Kicked off my arrival yesterday with a ride in from the airport from a driver who is...drumroll...a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker, who of all things, is off to Sweden shortly to start shooting a cooking show. Little does he know that 20 years ago, yours truly herself fancied
making her own cooking show when she was sailing across the Mediterranean with a gaggle (flock?) of Swedes, trying to invent new ways to cook pasta in a galley kitchen. My Swedish trajectory continued (as it always does) at a fancy party thrown by Telefilm Canada. Thanks to a local filmmaker I met at a late-nite party in Halifax, I was introduced to some wonderful fellow documentarians, including two Swedes who were surprised at my status as the 8,000,0001st person who speaks Swedish. Well, one of them has a brother who is a Swedish Buddhist living in Stockholm (I already said 'yes', he just hasn't asked yet!)

But that's not why you called. The greatest news of the last 24 hours is that we had a sell-out show this morning at 10:30 am, which was a huge surprise to all. I had been gently warned not to expect much on the morning of the festival gear-up weekend following a rolicking late-night party. But the place was packed for the screening. And again, it was followed an insightful, politics-free discussion of the film and the incredible women who occupy it. Canada, where have you been all my life? You get it. Can't wait until Thursday so we can do it all again.

Oh, and I suppose you're wondering who that is swimming around in the photo. That's Jennifer, my roommate here at the Pacific Palisades Hotel. She hangs out next to my complimentary yoga 'kit'. She joined me this afternoon on my way back from the screening after I found the *perfect* laptop bag I've been seeking for the last 6 months...it's vegan 'leather'. Did I mention I love Vancouver?

22 September 2007

What in the World...Is A Haligonian?

"WHAT IN THE WORLD...." is a new "webi-doc" series of short documentaries I will be creating in every city I visit on the festival tour. Here's my entry from Halifax. Enjoy!

21 September 2007

Coincidences....or We're Not In Halifax Anymore

Had the delightful pleasure of sharing the ride to the airport with Albert Maysles on Tuesday morning (is that three days ago already?). We had actually met the day before at an intimate breakfast chat put together by the National Film Board of Canada which gave some of us filmmakers the chance to listen to his tales of an exemplary life of filmmaking over croissants and coffee. Turns out we have a whole series of strange coincidental connections to each other, not the least of which is that his son is currently over in Tibet making a film in the same region that DAUGHTERS was shot. I enjoy him, and I believe we're going to see each other soon in New York, which is a delightful thought. But now I'm back in New York. Hit the ground running at the IFP Market, which is it's own confection of desperation, hope and Heineken. It was good to see old friends and meet new ones.

Speaking of which,
here's a photo taken at 4am in and around the environs of SoLita (when did that happen?) where I had the pleasure of wandering around post-Market HBO party with a mixture of both. To wit: a novelist/script doctor/distributor (stay tuned for a big announcement next week); a fellow documentarian and all around brassy dame cut from the same cloth as yours truly (see her film at Film Forum in January! that's an order); a fabulous Danish actress new to NYC by way of Paris in high heels painful to even look at, and a certain DP/Techno-Guru who randomly turned up at Spring Street Natural where our gaggle supped, and absorbed into us as organically as Spring Street Natural itself, and who quite coincidentally (there's that word again) but no less profoundly happened to be the very same DP/Techno-Guru I had actually called from a satellite phone on top of a mountain in Tibet when our lens crapped out (a story to which said fellow documentarian could only rightfully quip 'oh, everybody does that'.)

All that to say...there's no place like home, and Vancouver, here we come!

17 September 2007

Thank You, Haligonians . . .

. . . and the staff of the Atlantic Film Festival, the volunteers, my driver/tour guide Chris, the Dartmouth ferry captains, Debra Ross and Tynette Deveaux, Ann Shaftel, Andrea the CD superhero, and all who spread the word and turned out for the film and were such a captive audience. And speaking of audience, here's a clip from EastLink TVs live coverage from the great screening tonight at the Empire 8. A full house except for a few seats in the front row (but who wants to sit there anyway).

It was such an enjoyable conversation with the audience afterwards. Thank you for the insightful questions. The nuns of Kala Rongo are exceptional women, and I was delighted to share my portrait of them with you. And for the guy who asked if yaks are friendly, this one's for you.

16 September 2007

We've been blogged!


A Perfect Day for Greenaway

Just returned from the Peter Greenaway luncheon at the Atlantic Film Festival, and as usual he has my head spinning. I met him when he spent an afternoon at AMMI in New York screening Pillow Book way back when, during which he advocated heavily against film adaptations of books. Grossly simplifying his views -- Books are books, and by design are a text-based form of storytelling. Films are films and should have their own distinct non-textual form of storytelling. And never the twain should meet. Today, he took it further to say that most people don't know how to read a film, which is why they remain so heavily based on recognizable narrative structures, which he thinks, and I agree, stifle the form. Which is why I love documentary and the expanse of possibilities of form it brings.

DAUGHTERS OF WISDOM lacks a traditional 'arc' structure of narrative and character where something 'happens'. Rather, it requires a viewer to settle in and be transported to this special place. From the feedback I've gotten, audiences seem to be very appreciative of the 'experiential' quality of the film - how the film unfolds organically the way it would if one were to be plunked down in the middle of Kala Rongo Monastery and left to explore. A Columbia University student whose class I previewed the film for even said 'Thank you for not making a film that shoves agenda down our throats. We crave subtlety', and her classmates nodded in agreement. Fantastic.

Yet apparently, the distributors I've spoken to so far who all think the film is beautiful and special and worthy of an audience, also say they don't know how to 'sell' it. Ugh. I am so fortunate that my collaborators helped me make the film I wanted to make. I don't want to make my next film about precocious penguins ballroom dancing on melting ice caps. So I'm left wondering -- will I ever, like Mr. Greenaway, be able to make the films that I want to make, in forms that don't fit 'commercial' structures, without having to eat ramen noodles for the rest of my life?

15 September 2007

Just arrived in Halifax

I have wanted to visit Halifax for a long time. Maybe it's the final 'x' that lured me, maybe it's that the locals are called Haligonians and that's just special. I don't know. My short film MAH-JONGG: THE TILES THAT BIND screened several years ago at the Atlantic Jewish Film Festival, but that wasn't the moment. DAUGHTERS OF WISDOM here at the Atlantic Film Festival is. And now I'm in my hotel room and it's raining and pouring and I am begging this city of my dreams to become a bit more welcoming so I can go out and enjoy it. See you when the sun shines!