As New York's cinematic summer nears its finale, a few notable film personalities, both young and old, drifted through town for a variety of showcases. Downtown, Patti Smith gave a concise, impromptu performance at Film Forum for one of her last appearances following a screening of the documentary, "Patti Smith: Dream of Life." On the other side of the water in Brooklyn, filmmaker Azazel Jacobs swung by the Brooklyn Academy of Music as the retrospective of his work came to a close with the premiere of his latest feature, "Momma's Man."
Jacobs Brings His Family Issues to Brooklyn
For a thirty-five year old filmmaker, Jacobs is doing pretty well for himself. His third feature, "Momma's Man," generated a lot of positive buzz at the Sundance Film Festival this year, landing it a strong distribution deal with THINKfilm (it was later passed along to Kino). With three films to his name already, the Brooklyn Academy of Music paid tribute to his unique, quasi-punk outlook with a retrospective, "The Films of Azazel Jacobs," which included his three features and a few personal favorites. On Friday, Jacobs came to BAM for the New York premiere of "Momma's Man," a touching personal story about a young man suffering from homesickness during a visit to his parents' house in Tribeca (Jacobs' real folks, noted avant-garde filmmaker Ken and painter Florence, play themselves).
"It was a real honor," Jacobs told indieWIRE in reference to the retrospective. "I can't thank everyone at BAM, especially [programmer] Jake Perlin, enough.There is nothing like looking at your past dozen years worth of work within a week to get a grip on where you are and where you want to go." The screening was packed, but Jacobs claimed not to have invited any of his friends. "I was super curious to see if people would show, and I'm holding friends back for the actual release," he said. "Before Sundance, I was told over and over that a film without stars and a 'real' budget hardly has a chance in today's market and not even to dream. So I didn't. Of course, I quickly adapted and have become greedy. Now that it's in theaters, I want people there."
Nobody should expect Patti Smith's presence to lack emotional resonance, but the famous songwriter did introduce a surprisingly candid element to her appearance following a screening of "Patti Smith: Dream of Life" at Film Forum on Tuesday night. Smith, who has been making several visits to the theater since the film premiered two weeks ago, promptly announced that her close friend, actress Diane Podlewski, passed on away on Sunday night. In lieu of a Q&A, Smith brought her acoustic guitar and played two somber tunes in tribute to her late colleague, while director Steven Sebring, who spent a decade shadowing Smith for the film, hovered in the shadows.
Since opening at Film Forum two weeks ago, "Patti Smith: Dream of Life" has made almost $40,000, with attendance boosted by Smith and Sebring's regular appearances. Emboldened by its success, Film Forum has held over the film, which will continue playing on the theater's third screen. That's great news for the movie, which nearly went unnoticed earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival. Sometimes, all it takes is a little push -- in the right forum, obviously.