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June 18, 1998 2:00 AM
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Next Stop, Candlelight: The Nantucket Film Festival Launches With A Blackout

Next Stop, Candlelight: The Nantucket Film Festival
Launches With A Blackout

by Mark Rabinowitz




The third Nantucket Film Festival kicked off with a less-than-electric
night, courtesy of an island-wide blackout that scuttled the screening
of Brad Anderson's "Next Stop Wonderland," a late August release by
Miramax. The film was rescheduled for Wednesday evening. The festival
staff and Anderson all seemed pretty non-plussed by the event, seemingly
realizing that "acts of god" are out of their control, and that there
was no one's ass to kick for the snafu. Asked if he was dissapointed by
the blackout, Anderson simply shrugged his shoulders and said, "Why get
angry at something you can't control?" On to the party!


With a rather subdued atmosphere, possibly due to the lack of a film to
discuss, the festival kicked off with a party that seemed to be catered
by a someone with no sense of smell. On one side of the room were garlic
pita chips and hummous, along with sandwiches made with tuna or
whitefish salad. Now these foods are all wonderful in their own right,
but do you really want to reek of garlic or fish at a kick-off party at
a film fest? Other offerings included cold cuts and crudite.
Hmmm.....the tequila was top shelf, though. Chilling at the event were
directors Amy Talkington ("Second Skin"), Justin Dorazio ("'Tis the
Season
") and actor Callie Thorne (TV's "Homicide"-in town to participate
in staged readings), among many others.


The opening night electricity problems and party fare aside, the
programming side of the event looks to be shaping up quite well, with a
mix of festival veterans (Elizabeth Schub's award-winning short "Cuba
15
," Susan Skoog's "Whatever"), recent arrivals to the circuit (Amos
Poe's "Frogs For Snakes," Joan Micklin Silver's "A Fish in the Bathtub")
and a tribute to veteran screenwriter and member of the Hollywood Ten,
Ring Lardner Jr. ("M*A*S*H," "Woman of the Year") the festival seems to
be carving out a niche for itself in the absurdly crowded festival
field. A writer's fest, the event holds staged reading of screenplays,
as well as seminars, panel discussions and morining "Coffee With..."
sessions with filmmakers, in addition to the screenings. The first
staged reading is of Susan DeMasi's "Dysfunction Junction," which won
this year's Tony Cox Award for Screenwriting. In its effort to focus on
the writer, the festival even places the screenwriter's credit first in
the program, above the director.


Events coming up later in the fest include the NBC-sponsored tribute to
Lardner Jr., featuring NBC News' Brian Williams as MC, with guests
to include Al Franken, Matt Lauer, NBC President Bob Wright, Brooke
Shields, Ben Stiller ("The Ben Stiller SHow," dir. "The Cable Guy") and
his parents Jerry Stiller ("Seinfeld," "A Fish in the Bathtub"), Anne
Meara ("The Daytrippers," "A Fish in the Bathtub") and John Shea whose
"Southie" is screening at the fest.

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