Aside from quality projections, there is nothing that arouses me more during a festival than to get the feeling of communal caring for the 7th art. Day 2, 9:00 a.m’s screening of Jerry Schatzberg’s Scarecrow (see fest pic below) was packed with Karlovy Vary patrons (the demo are an enthusiastic mid 20’s to early 30’s type crowd) and this trickled onto my screenings of “films from the past” in Afterschool and Reprise. As part of Schatzberg’s homage, both Puzzle of Downfall Child (1970) and The Panic in Needle Park (1971) will be shown. Starring the oddball pairing of a fun to watch, improvisational not-yet-bark full of bite Al Pacino and layered Gene Hackman, this digitally projected copy of the film happened to be was my first ever viewing of the road movie that won big in 73′ edition of Cannes (The Conversation, also starring Hackman would win the same prize the year after). Reminiscent of the bleak, out hustle the others or you fade away formula in Midnight Cowboy, the West going East road-tripper about two spirits that collectively face the cruel world as one. The filmmaker recently mentioned there being a possible sequel — the ambiguous, 1971 ending could easily set the characters of Lion and Max on a multitude of courses as America’s landscape would be just as treacherous as it were back then for the train-hopping, dream big pair.
It made logical sense for Karloy Vary to begin the Borderline Films: The First Ten Years retrospective with the production company’s first. I hadn’t had the chance to revisit Afterschool (2007), Campos’ feature debut/Cannes (Un Certain Regard) selected since it appeared on the fest circuit and I was elated by the fact Campos presented the film to a packed house. We often mentioned in the past how their seed has spread – their long list of tech crew/producer collaborators in Andrew Renzi, Joe Anderson, Jody Lee Lipes, Saunder Jurriaans & Danny Bensi, Matt Palmieri, Zac Stuart-Pontier and Andrew Corkin have been integral part of their successful formula but a special mention was made to their Casting Director Susan Shopmaker, who in many ways is responsible for fitting the Borderline Films trio with a permanent family of actor/friends. David Call (Two Gates of Sleep), Ezra Miller (Afterschool), Brady Corbet (several items most notably Simon Killer), Christopher Abbott (Martha Marcy May Marlene) will have all made the trip to Karlovy Vary to celebrate in the week long honor.
Also part of the Borderline Films Retrospective, a “Carte Blanche” series was offered to the three filmmakers – where they each choose a favorite film. We got a sneak peek of Josh Mond’s currently untitled short film (starring Christopher Abbott) with (Antonio Campos and Sean Durkin in the foreground) was followed Mond’s “carte blanche” selected item: Joachim Trier’s Reprise (2006). As we recall, Trier debuted the film and was honored at Karlovy Vary back in 2006, then moved to TIFF, then into Rotterdam, Sundance and ND/NF the following year. Miramax Films grossed half a million with the film on a dozen or so screens. For Mond, this happened to be a case of where a filmmaker discovered the filmmaker, before the film. They met in Rotterdam and when Mond finally caught the pic at ND/NF he was in complete awe and admiration of the film and Trier’s skillset. This was the first time I revisited the film since I prepped for this Cannes interview with Trier — Zelig-esque, it’s a layered, effectively smart ensemble piece, that does pay homage to the Nouvelle Vague tradition, but is playful and zippy just as Run Lola Run and Trainspotting were before it. Set to shoot sometime this year, Trier is currently working on English language debut, Louder than Bombs.
This Ain’t Them Bodies Saints billboard beats anything Los Angeles can come up with. Among the many streams in the heart of the fest center.
The view from my hotel floor window… we have the Diana Tower in the distant background, and other tourist attraction Kostel Sv. Petra a Pavla in the foreground.
Festival diet: limit of three films per day.