31 March 2008

Gotta Love the Haight

I’m sitting now in the lobby of the Red Vic Movie House, San Francisco’s gem of a cooperative cinema in the heart of Haight Ashbury. I don’t think there could be a better place for the theatrical premiere of DAUGHTERS. And don't get me started on the popcorn...it's proven after two days that I don't (can't) stop. It's particularly wonderful to be back here in San Francisco and to once again be sharing the film with dear old friends - Sharon, Steve, Eric - who were with me ten years ago, in July 1998 (gulp) when I came here for the World Premiere of my first film, the short doc MAH-JONGG: THE TILES THAT BIND, the little engine that could that a decade later is still going strong.After introducing the first screening yesterday afternoon, I took a walk down Haight Street and had one of those rarified moments when it all sinks in - after 15+ years of independent filmmaking (some of my own work, some for hire), the first feature documentary that I’ve directed is actually playing in theaters (this has actually been going on since January, but my brain is just beginning to catch up to it now).

Then the moment of WOW fades away and all I feel is pure, unadulterated exhaustion…from the push I’ve made over the last months (not to mention years) to get the film – and myself – out there into the world, and to get people into seats to see it. I have grabbed the proverbial brass ring that is theatrical distribution, and damned if I’m not holding on for dear life. So much so that last week my distributor, Udy Epstein of Seventh Art Releasing, gave me an honorary ‘Oscar® for persistence” (they’re not doing such a bad job themselves).

And they like the film, they really like the film. The San Francisco Weekly named us one of the "Three Best Things to Do in San Francisco" tonight, and raves from the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and The Onion spur me forward through the jetlag and into presentation mode. And a very special thanks to Brigitte Erickson, a fabulous new filmmaker friend I met at the Sedona Film Festival, who booked my interview on KCBS News Radio. So far, I’ve done six 45-minute Q&As (with two more to go tomorrow) to receptive audiences eager to talk about the lives of the nuns, my experiences with them, and of course the current situation in Tibet. Just before coming out to San Francisco, I met with Lama Norlha Rinpoche to find out about any news he’s had directly from Nangchen, and hauntingly, there hasn’t been any yet. We can only hope that the relative spiritual and other freedoms that the people of Nangchen have experienced since the mid 80s will continue.

More coming on some of my recent travels, including to the Sedona and Green Mountain Film Festivals, and the incredible screening at Rivertown Film in Nyack. And Full Frame here we come!