19 May 2008

Sedona On My Mind

I didn't write from Sedona back in February, partially because the Sedona International Film Festival came during the throes of a lot of traveling for yours truly, and partially because sometimes the mind just has to stop and enjoy when it's in such a beautiful place. I met many great co-conspirators in filmmaking there, and had a lovely, restful time. It's one of those film festivals that is so incredibly supported by the area locals that you just want to make another film to be able to go back there with it. Hats off to festival director Patrick Schweiss and his incredible staff and volunteers....and here's a little something for your viewing pleasure (the latest in the series of 'What in the World..." entries.

Shout-outs though, to two great films that I saw in Sedona that will be making their way to the Brooklyn Film Festival this June: the fiction feature The Blue Hour (playing June 2 & 3) written and directed by Eric Nazarian (who I know from past lives for sure) and the short film Joburg (playing June 6 & 7) by my Sedona B&B cohabitator Thabo Wolfaardt. Please go out and support them!

17 May 2008

Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest (look it up)

I’m back in the Pacfic Northwest. A place I’ve been lucky enough to visit a few times during this tour. First was Vancouver last fall, a place I fell truly, madly, deeply in love with. And that’s not just because the nuns were such a hit. (see previous blog entries for details) After three sold out shows at the Vancouver Film Festival we played for a week theatrically in February. I was doing a lot of traveling and couldn’t retrace my steps back up to that fair city. But between those two events, I had the chance to spend a few days opening the film theatrically in Portland, which felt like a close second geographically.

Portland is a great city, and my experience was enhanced by the excellent hosting of Richard Beer, who runs the Hollywood Theatre, and Tara Johnson who co-sponsored the event as part of the POW Fest (which if memory serves, is actually running this weekend). The Hollywood is a grand dame of a theater, an old art deco fa├žade with cavernous space inside, which of co
urse has been divided into three screens at this point, but still. We got some comprehensively stellar reviews in the Portland press, and the turnout was diverse and enthusiastic. I was particularly moved to have several members of the Tibetan community at the first screening who subsequently sent others to follow. They uniformly thanked me for steering clear of the politics and getting to the heart of the people and life in their homeland and I couldn’t have asked for more.

But really, the highlight of the whole trip
was Richard’s young son Harry (Hi Harry!). Harry and I bonded on the ice. In full disclosure, I brokered that deal. I had discovered an ice skating rink in the shopping mall near my hotel, but also discovered to my dismay that there were no adults skating without a wee one by their side. So I lovingly ‘borrowed’ Harry and his sister Maddy for my own selfish ends. In my own defense, Maddy is quite a skater, with her own fancy skates and fabulous skating skirt so it’s not like it was child labor or anything. And Harry and I had a blast playing tag. Here’s my wobbly feet in ugly rental skates.

But now I am in Washington State. Just closed out the run in the Pickford Cinema in Bellingham. I met Michael Falter last year at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival where we sneak previewed last February. He approached me afterwards and said “whenever you want to book a week in Bellingham, you’ve got it.” And so now, nearly a year and a half later, this was the week. It was great hanging out with him and his partner Susan in that beautiful waterside city. The crowd was again very receptive and a group of ‘fans’ even took me to dinner Thursday night. Thanks ladies! Michael and Susan are busy at work renovating a new space to house an expanded cinema/art space in town, and I can’t wait to return to their new home.But now for the past two days I’ve been in sunny Seattle. (who’d a thunk it?) Sunny, hot as blazes, Seattle. I even got sunburned today. Another week run at another jewel of a volunteer-fueled arthouse cinema, the Grand Illusion. Buddha bless you all! It’s been a tough opening, with competition from both the sun which until now hasn’t made an appearance in months. And a pretty great street festival going on right outside. The walls are thin, the street bands loud, so darned if there aren’t going to be people leaving the theater remarking their surprise that live reggae has made it to Tibet. I did manage to purchase a long-sought toe ring. A very kind and overly-enthusiastic chick even windexed my stinky foot and custom fit me (don’t ask). Ticket sales have steadily grown over the last 6 screenings, and hopefully our rave reviews across the board will keep the momentum going. I’m hoarse from a string of 30-minute Q&As (thank you, Seattle) and red-eyeing out of here tonight to catch His Holiness the Karmapa in NYC. The beat goes on!