It’s always such an odd transition to go almost immediately from the Toronto Film Festival to the IFP Market in NYC. After watching two dozen films in less than a week’s time–many of them with distribution, most of them quite accomplished (at least technically), and all of them finished–it’s somewhat jarring yet also reaffirming in an indie mission kind of way to see so many docs in rough cut and work-in-progress form and be able to talk to the filmmakers.
One thing you won’t see however, is anything narrative, as they not only removed features from the lineup a couple of years ago but have also done away with narrative shorts as of this year. God knows we see plenty during the Florida Film Festival selection process, but it was still kind of nice when the IFP was choosing some cream-of-the-crop titles for us programmers to check out.
So the emphasis is clearly on the No Borders industry meetings, the panels, and docs, docs, and more docs. And quite a few have caught my eye early on based on either subject matter or talent involved with the project having played Florida in the past or at least submitted something of extremely high quality even if we were unable to program it. Roger Weisberg (the Oscar-nominated SOUND AND FURY) is back with CRITICAL CONDITION, an intimate look at the health care problem and the lives of some uninsured Americans. Richard Gere’s brother David, his partner Peter, and their two adopted children, are the subjects of Tom Keegan’s OUT IN INDIA: A FAMILY’S JOURNEY, as they leave LA for almost a year to fight AIDS (and gay prejudice) in India with art therapy. Jeffrey Schwartz’s SPINE TINGLER! THE WILLIAM CASTLE STORY is a most entertaining slice of cinema history as it traces the life and career of the king of the gimmicks and the man responsible for many of the great “B” horror films of the 1960’s. Awesome clips and interviews with the likes of John Waters (who idolized him), Roger Corman, Joe Dante, and Diane Baker help make this one a lock to be hitting the festival circuit next year. Bet those prints of STRAIGHT JACKET, HOUSE ON THE HAUNTED HILL, HOMICIDAL, and THE TINGLER will start getting a workout as well.
The producer of 39 POUNDS OF LOVE (Hilla Medalia), the 2005 Best Documentary winner in the Israeli “Oscars,” has AFTER THE STORM, a post-Katrina film (there’s a bunch as you might expect) about a group of NY artists helping some New Orleans kids stage a production of the Broadway musical, “Once on This Island.” Producer Gill Holland brings a couple of new and enticing projects to the Market: James Rasin’s BEAUTIFUL DARLING, about Warhol superstar Candy Darling, star of both WOMEN IN REVOLT and FLESH, two staples of the New College Film Series back in my mid-seventies college programming days. Buzz is also good on Drew Denicola’s NATURAL SOUL BROTHER, a film about the African Americans that broke the color barrier in the 1950’s and invented the late-night radio DJ.
Three FFF veterans also have brand new projects here, though in various stages of completion. Mitch McCabe, director of the short film SEPTEMBER 5:10 PM from a few years back, brings MY MOTHER’S BEAUTY CREAM, a look at the absurdity of aging hysteria, even as the filmmaker herself (daughter of a plastic surgeon) turns 40. MIchael Chandler, winner of last year’s Grand Jury Award for Best Doc Feature, KNEE DEEP (first seen at the 2006 IFP Market by the way), has a new film with the rather unwieldy (and tongue-in-cheek) title, GREEDY TRIAL LAWYERS: WILL WE MISS THEM WHEN THEY’RE GONE? And Dori Berinstein, director of SHOWBUSINESS: THE ROAD TO BROADWAY, winner of the 2006 FFF Grand Jury Award for Best Doc Feature, showed an amusing clip from GOTTA DANCE. The film follows a group of old folks (who still have a lot of spunk) as they try out for the New Jersey Nets new Senior Dance Squad. Adam Zucker (the acclaimed GREENSBORO: CLOSER TO THE TRUTH) is the editor on the project–nicely done and a definite crowd pleaser.