James Schamus has written a lovely and extended appreciation of Raoul Ruiz for Filmmaker magazine. And it definitely deserves a read.
Schamus was a PhD candidate when first wrote Ruiz in 1987 with the charming but bizarre idea that Ruiz might direct a script by Carl Theodor Dreyer about the life of Mary, Queen of Scots. That didn’t happen, but the next year, “The Golden Boat” did. And that movie proved to be a key moment in the formation of many independent filmmakers.
When Raul landed a fellowship at Harvard, we agreed that if I and some friends could throw a small 16mm crew together for a couple of long weekends, and a few thousand dollars to fund the production, he would come down to New York and make a movie. The screenplay, by Federico Muchnik, who now teaches film in Boston, was a hilariously deadpan, blood-soaked, surreal romp through the New York art world.
Jordi Torrent, who has since produced some beautiful independent work here and in Spain, produced alongside me. The late great New York avant-garde theater legend Michael Kirby starred, along with many members of The Wooster Group, for which I’d been doing some work at the time. Our production team included Robin O’Hara and Scott Macaulay, who’ve since gone on to produce something like 30 of the most interesting independent films out there – Scott, who was then the programmer at the avant-garde performance space The Kitchen, lent us office space, which also served as the changing room for porn-star-turned-performance artist Annie Sprinkle (who ended up with a cameo in the film, in which Raul insisted she be fully clothed, of course).
Our assistant director was none other than Christine Vachon, and Maryse Alberti (whose recent work includes “The Wrestler”) shot the film. Jim Denault, who has since become a major cinematographer himself (“Maria Full of Grace’), was the key grip. Our main location was an empty loft on Bond Street that had just been vacated by the gallerist Mary Boone. Jim Jarmusch and Barbet Schroeder, among others, came by for walk-ons, as did theater artist Stephan Balint and the late novelist Kathy Acker. John Zorn composed the score. And lots of the current New York film scene had a variety of roles to play on the film: Scott Hamrah, for example, who now oversees with great critical perception the film writing at N+1, worked as our assistant editor; Filmmmaker’s senior editor Peter Bowen can be found as a blood-soaked extra in a particularly mordant scene.