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“Tarnation”

"Tarnation"

tarnsleeping.jpgJonathan Caouette’s “Tarnation”, a personal doc made for just over $200 using iMovie software on a Mac, is one of the great movies playing here in Cannes. I ran into Jonathan on Friday night, the eve of his Cannes Directors Fortnight debut, and not surprisingly he was nervous. Caouette spent years documenting his own life as he grew up and then came out of the closet, all alongside the drama of his own mom’s struggles with schizophrenia. Its such a personal film that reactions to it much strikeso deeply. So what a joy he must have felt when moved to tears 24 hours later as the audience gave him a standing ovation that lasted nearly 10 minutes. Producer Stephen Winter recounts the moment in the “Tarnation” blog here on indieWIRE:

After Tarnation, they went nuts. The standing ovation went on and on and on. Brian Kates, JCM, I and many, many others wept tears of rapture watching Jonathan take his bow.

What a deserving reaction for such a terrific, passionate and distinctive film– it will be released later this year in the U.S. by Wellspring.

I found it unique that competing buyers who didn’t nab the film after its Sundance premiere would now admit regret. One acquisitions exec told me this weekend that “Tarnation” is a seminal American independent film and bemoned that fact that his company missed the boat.

Another debut this weekend was Asia Argento’s “The Heart is Deceitful…” A whole different look at the story of a boy and his mom. Based on his own stunning book, Leroy worked with Argento as a producer of the film. “The Heart is Deceitful” is not as clearly executed on screen, but Argento proves herself a phenomenal talent both on screen and behind the camera. For a moment I wished that JT Leroy could have told this movie using home movie footage and Apple’s iMovie, but then I realized that he already wrote the book on the subject.

Pictured: Jonathan Caouette with his Mom, in a scene from “Tarnation.”

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