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Programming Confessions

Programming Confessions

We’re only a week away; The Nantucket Film Festival opens next Wednesday with the North American premiere of Jim Jarmusch’s Cannes Grand Prix winning Broken Flowers. I am really excited that we are able to show this film, and we owe a big Thank You to James Schamus, Ashley Stearns, Kyle Thorpe and everyone at Focus Features for their amazing generosity in sharing this film with our audience. It is the NFF’s 10th anniversary, so we were looking for something very special to open the fest, and I think next Wednesday’s screening of Broken Flowers will be a great event. So exciting!

Bill Murray in Jim Jarmusch’s Broken Flowers

Of course, when you program a film festival, there are lots of challenges, but the most difficult is always the constant inquiry by patrons and the press as to “which films in the festival are the good ones?” I always answer the same way; If we program it, we think it is good. In fact there are very good films that we had to turn down because we only have three screens and 4 days…”

Of course, in reality, the programmer’s job is more of an Animal Farm situation; All movies are equal, but some are more equal than others. There are some movies you like, and some you really love. So, while the festival program is full of exciting films, both with familiar artists and new surprises, there are always the films that are the sleepers, the true independents, without big name actors, show on a low budget, that are excellent. That is the best of what a film festival should be; an event bringing together diverse movies, domestic and foreign, fiction and non-fiction. So while I am excited to have a big movie like Broken Flowers opening this year at Nantucket, the film I am really looking forward to showing is Duplass Brother’s low budget road comedy, The Puffy Chair.

In their spare time, Mark (L) and Jay Duplass enjoy sitting on floors and sharing smiles.

The Duplass Brothers have been to Nantucket before. We brought them to the festival in 2003 (my first year programming) with their hilarious short film This Is John which details one man’s desperate attempt to leave an acceptable greeting on his answering machine. Last year the brothers couldn’t attend, but we showed their short film Scrabble, an account of a game of Scrabble and its impact on a couple’s fragile relationship. So when I saw that The Puffy Chair was in the Sundance line-up, we e-mailed them immediately and secured the film for the festival. This year, Mark is coming (Jay will be on his honeymoon: Congratulations!) to the festival, and I am looking forward to showing the movie. I also found out that Mark has a band called Volcano, I’m Still Excited!! and on their website is a GREAT video for their song In Green. The video gives you taste of the Duplass sensibility (or ‘nonsensibility’ as it were); It is hilarious. So, while the press and community are fired up over the stars, the parties, and the big premiere of Broken Flowers, I’ll be reveling in our screenings of films like The Puffy Chair.

One week to go, lots to do. Sorry for the infrequency in my posting, but the festival beckons. I am looking forward to a long, hot summer of blogging. ha.

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