Boise Film Fest - notes/recap

After my screening ended Saturday AM (which you can read about on the previous post here if you are so inclined) I had the whole day stretched before me with nothing to do but see other films, which if you know me at all is the closest I get to unbridled happiness. Walked up to the Boise Creative Center and saw a short called AND COUNTING and a feature called DEAD RIVER. Dead River was real unique, very deliberate in pace and confident in using long swaths of dialogue to propel the story forward and still managaing to be tense and poignant in parts. I really dug it.

Next film was across town. I followed my sputtering GPS which gave me the general idea and found myself at a place called Cathedral of the Rockies, which I presumed was the cool reverent name for a movie theater but was in fact, a house of worship. Walked in and sat down in the pews, an unfamilar exercise for me, and watched a short film called TO LIVE DELIBERATELY and a feature documentary titled QUEENS OF THE ROLEO about the dead sport of log rolling and how it relates to the women of Lewiston, ID. Learnt during the Q&A that the filmmaker Dave James is of Bend, Oregon extraction.

next up was back to the hotel for nap and sandwiches. met some other filmmakers at mixer and talked shop. Always my favorite part of festivals, aside from watching movies, is meeting other filmmakers and hearing how much their stories cohere or diverge from my own. Afterwards I got in uber and went back to Boise Creative Center to see the shot-in-Portland DEET N BAX SAVE THE WORLD, by the director Diablo Dean, which was memorable for a lot of graphic content and unmotivated nudity and weed. (Also for seeing some Portland talent and locations!) Not exactly the sort of film I seek out or am drawn too but I chose to recall that I was out of the house and unencumbered with kids and that helped me relax and enjoy myself a tiny bit more. (Ready access to beer/s probably would have helped too.) Sometimes I find my own film snobbishness gets in the way. This movie can likely find a robust life in the midnight/cult end of the pool.

Afterward we all headed to a bar called Reef in downtown Boise and I sat with Dave, the log-rolling documentarian, as he won prize for best documentary. Best narrative film went to the Portland-based HOMESKILLET by Phiamma Ellis, which I was eager to see but didn't b/c it screened at the same time as THE BLACK SEA. Between me and Dave Jones and Phiamma and Diablo Dean, Oregon was well represented at the fest.

All conversations effectively ended when a band got onstage so I headed back to the room.
The next morning I was about to eat at the Mariott Breakfast Bar when a fire alarm evacuated the whole hotel. After the all-clear, I headed back up to Ming Studios for a short film series. first up GREENLAND, which was awesome. perfectly pitched.

Then a short doc called CODE OAKLAND which had me weeping inside a few minutes and caused a swell of optimism in me. In it someone says "We live in the world we create" which resonated deeply with me and and has stayed near me since.

Afterward was a feature called RESURRECTING MCGINN(S) also at Ming Studios. I wasn't able to see the whole thing due to a technical snag that caused the film to not play properly. But I did get to see the first 20 min or so and found it compelling and unique.

Since there was a screening nearby at the Idaho Ballet, I walked two blocks over and got there just in time for GHOST OF A CHANCE which has as its claim to fame being an all-IDAHO enterprise, including a couple of staffers I met at the festival who were acting in movie. While clearly hampered by budget limitations there were some really effectively eerie parts and I found it enjoyable. I had to catch a ride to the airport before the screening ended though, so I had to duck out and didn't get to see the film in its entirety, not to mention a couple others that I had to miss.

All told, a pretty great spate and range of films, short and feature and narrative and documentary at this first iteration of the Boise Film Festival. Very much looking forward to future years and seeing how they grow and expand.


report from Boise Film Festival - the black sea screening

Got in late Friday to Boise due to long-delayed plane in Seattle so I missed the opening night screening as well as the meet-greet-alcohol function afterwards. This was a bummer but nothing I could do about it. Ate microwave pad thai from the downstairs snack bar - a grand lapse of judgement but one fueled of limited options and energy - and went to bed.

Woke up. cleaned up, hit the Marriott Breakfast Bar (c) and departed. I had roughly 90 minutes until THE BLACK SEA screened at Ming Studios which was walkable, according to the map. Leaving the hotel parking lot and walking to the main road I discerned yelling and clapping on nearby Capitol Blvd, the main artery in town, a half-marathon/10K/5K in progress. I crossed the Boise River and headed into town and found Ming Studios. Still had time to burn so walked closer in to town and watched the runners.

Arrived back at Ming Studios around 10, w/ 30 minutes before screen time. Just me and 3 staffers inside. I tried to relax and stay present and let all those (by now familiar) pre-screening jitters exist without me paying too much attention to them. Acknowledge and step aside. This was a successful enterprise until I witnessed the tech check - they spot checked the short film playing before me, which looked and sounded fine, and then my film which was stuttering and staggering. Heart thumping I went to talk to them about it. They were aware of it already and a new blu-ray player was being shuttled across town to us. I said worst-case we can stream it from a private link. They concurred and I sat down w/ my interior voice unkindly reminding me to no matter what always bring back up blu-ray and/or hard drive to future film fests and screenings. 

After some time elapsed more people wandered in. We held the screening back a little to let the new blu-ray show up but the dude was delayed by the road race. We decided to trudge forth and the short film (an Austrailian thing about death called The Sheriff) played without consequence. We decided to show my film off dvd not blu-ray and it began to play fine for 5 min but then it stuttered and stopped. Panic. We elected to stream it but the wifi was sluggish and slow and after 20 min or so the browser still had 2/3rds of the movie to load so when we attempted to play it it stuttered and lagged. Dread rising, I considered just cancelling the whole affair then and there when the door creaked open and in walked the dude w/ the new unit. Hooked up and film played fine. I stood at the back of the room and watched the entire thing. Finally relaxed into it. 

As with all prior screenings, the movie felt different to me than previously, conforming to the context and environment of the moment. There was light bleed from the nearby windowed door, occasional screeching traffic from outside but if I was able to widen my perspective away from my immediate arguably selfish (or at least self-serving) vantage. It was all in a word perfect. I thought it all through the screening, all through the awesome Q & A afterward, I thought to myself I am the luckiest man alive. 


silence, gratitude

this past saturday 9/19/15, the per se anniversary of us pulling out of the driveway on SE 14th (see previous post), we are walking in Tryon Creek with our kids, the sunlight mottled on the ground, the faintest smoky whiff of autumn on the edge of everything. I feel momentary overwhelm-ment, a quick involuntary flutter of air-gasping akin to one drowning breaking the surface prior to sinking. Could I be any more fortunate? I thought. Holy shit that was a quick decade I thought.

Everything that resounds and thrums with the amazing vitality and presence of true living is the quiet and mundane and uncelebrated. Markers and rituals are important but nothing trumps a lazy unanticipated moment, hidden significance tucked inside the quiet.

A grove of trees, weather-worn and majestic, silently growing alongside one another.

trip to Boston, ten years gone

10 yrs ago at this writing Margaret and Maxwell (RIP) and myself were headed cross-country in a rented mini-van so we could live in a hotel for 2.5 months while I rec'd proton beam radiation on what remained in my head after two brain surgeries.

September 2005 from Brian Padian on Vimeo.

highlights/lowlights from our Polaroid/thoughts journal are here


Portland Film Fest - notes/recap

tues 9/1 5 pm
went to the filmmakers' lounge for the champagne toast and film fest kickoff. Scott and Jordan were there too. we all raised a glass and headed to Cinema 21 to see Birds of Neptune. There was a bit of a pile-up outside, lots of people arriving at once. I asked a pink-shirted PFF'er what time they'd let people in and the response was "not sure, we're waiting for our head guy to show up". across the street PFF camera crew was getting drone footage. At last we're let in and the theater downstairs is packed so we head up to the balcony. I go down to get a beer and talk w/ A. Mingo for the 15 or so min we waited in long line. Back upstairs just in time for show to start. First was a French short about an apiary, quick and well-made. Then Birds of Neptune. This is a deceptive film in that it begins in a certain register w/ certain familiar signifiers. As it proceeds though the grace of the filmmaking slowly shows itself. Delivery of tragic backstory could be disastrous in the hands of different filmmaker but here - buoyed no doubt by peerless cast and sound design and J. Campbell's images - the information slowly leaches out and becomes a kind of retroactive plasma containing the film in its entirety. That probably doesn't make sense unless you've seen the film. So, see it. It's awesome.

Afterward, Scott & Jordan and I made our way to the opening night party at Cinewest rentals. I actually talked to people (free dead guy ale aided this enterprise) and got to talk about movies so it was a good time. This being Portland there was also a clown circling.  Funny how at film fest mixers you can intstantly spot the actors versus the directors versus the editors. We mostly line up into pre-ordained little pools.
Birds of Neptune - Official Trailer #1 from Reveriefilms on Vimeo.

thurs 9/3 5 pm
I stayed downtown after work (read: day job) ended. made my way to Powells to kill time and then finally up to Mission Theater to see Morphine: Journey of Dreams. Waiting outside the theater I ran into Nathan W, Inside sitting later and watching the film. Lots of sensations watching this as it was/is not only a document of artistic pursuit but of one that occurred 20 yrs back, meaning it was like stepping into a time machine. Flood of memories came back to me sitting there, right in the middle of college, in Arcata, the person I was then versus now and what the then would think of now and so forth, all in the split-second of the opening bassline of Buena. Point being, difficult to evaluate the movie objectively but that's not a bad thing. Actually it's really the best thing.

Afterward went to Jackknife for the night's afterparty. Scott & Jordan were present, getting ready to shoot Kevin F's movie the very next morning. They ducked out and I talked w/ M. Medaglia for awhile about directing and day jobs and life in Portland. Then I ducked out and waited forever for the 19 to take me home.

fri 9/4 12 pm
Most of this day was occupied emotionally by my own screening, documented in the previous post (here) but I managed to get 3 movies in. The first was Somewhere in the Middle which I selected primarily because the time lined up perfectly with my morning. I had seen the trailer and expected a straight-forward non-ambitious film (note: not that there's anything wrong w/ that) but what the movie actually is - a skillful, perfectly shot and cast narrative that explores relationships between the 4 leads structured in a way that illustrates their own subjectiveness - is fantastic. Really amazing.
SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE Trailer from NY Independent Film Collective on Vimeo.

Next up was Love Me Anyway. My attentions were scattered by previous film as well as the bad review my own film had just received as well as the fact that my film was going to be playing in that exact theater in a few hours. Point being I wasn't in the best place to watch this movie. Ended up liking it quite a bit though. Kind of an easy-breezy style and feel which worked mostly, though at times I could feel improv-ed bits (or at least what felt like improv). Also, PFF program listed it at 65 min but it was at least 15 min longer so I kept checking the time at the end b/c I had another movie to get to. Still, strong performances and images.

Love Me Anyway-Trailer from Robel Films on Vimeo.

Next up was Angel Azul. Very tricky documentary to pull off, at once an amazing portrait of a unique artist as well as the environmental scourge that his art is trying to address. Meaning the film straddles both genres: doc portrait and doc scold (in a nice way i mean). I found it very moving especially the process/installation of the titular statue. Also I was drinking a beer.

Angel Azul Trailer from Angel Azul on Vimeo.

sat 9/5 12 noon
went back and forth at home about this b/c M had been home w/ the kids managing everything while I was at all the previous movies all these previous days but there was an experimental block of shorts at the laurelhurst at noon. I really wanted to see Josh Peterson's Forest Born in part b/c I met him the previous day at the director's coffee chat and it sounded like we had similar narrative interest. There's lots of calculus involved though, including kids' naps, Brian Lindstrom's "Mothering Inside" playing at Laurelhurst at 2 pm", my own movie playing later in the afternoon at 5 pm at Living Room, the fact that my 4 yr old son was being a bit of pain that morning etc etc. Wasn't sure what to do. A tiny window opened up and M let me go. I hopped in the car and made it to Laurelhurst at noon just as lights were dimming. the program was scheduled for 2.5 hours and I wasn't sure where Josh's movie woudl fall in the mix. by happenstance it was first up. I watched it (very rad!) and then the next short (4 min) and took off back home and helped with naps. worked out great. the rest of the day was taken up by kids and my own movie.

"Forest Born" teaser trailer from Joshua Vik Peterson on Vimeo.

not enough time to see everything but extremely impressed by the PFF programming. not always easy-peasy choices for them too make. Things outside mainstream programming. again, very thrilled to have the black sea among them.


report from Portland Film Festival - the black sea screening

Had been waiting for 9/4 with equal parts of excitement and dread. On the one hand absolutely thrilled to finally premiere the black sea to a home audience and on the other that internal FRAUD voice was sure to be at its most pointed at home. I equate my pre-screening sensations to one of pre-flight nervousness. Will there be turbulence? Will the plane crash?  Once I'm airborne those feelings dissipate but leading up to that moment I'm not the best company. (note to self: get some therapy.)

First up was the Directors' Coffee Chat at the Filmmakers' Lounge. I showed up at roughly 9:30 and waited outside along w/ a few others - a journalist and 2 directors - in the unseasonable cold. Once we all got inside things moved at a quick clip. Lots of directors had screenings that day so there were several panels. Each director fielded a few questions about their film's process or narrative and then it was done. My big takeaway: there were a ton of awesome-sounding films at the festival. Most  I would not be able to see due to my own schedule but it was thrilling to be included among them.

other panels were more diverse, for real (note: not my pic, I got it from twitter)
Afterward I headed over to Living Room Theaters. It was about 11:30 AM. My plan was to make that home base for the day and watch multiple films prior to my screening at 7:45 pm that night. By my calculations I could see 3 movies. Met some (very cool) PFF staffers who told me I'd be in Theater 1 for my screening that night as well as for the movie at noon I was about to see. It helped diminish my anxiety to be inside the same theater, to see the actual chairs/walls/screen etc. It didn't help diminish my anxiety when there was audio for a couple minutes and no video. I walked out to the lobby and informed staff. Luckily it was just the trailers for a couple other PFF films. They corrected the issue and I laughed to myself that it was probably just a function of 1st screening of the day and would certainly not happen during my screening. At last the film played without incident and was absolutely amazing despite me being one of four attendees. I had some time before the next film started so I headed off for a quick slice of pizza. As I was eating someone tweeted a new review of the film, which included the phrase "it's a chore to watch". This filled me with relief. I have long conducted my life from the default position of lowered expectations so for a second I was going to promote the poor review everywhere at full volume, recalling D. Lynch's similar tack with Siskel/Ebert and Lost Highway but then decided to just allow people to have their own opinion of the film w/o my interceding in any form (note to self: again dude, get some therapy.)

I returned to Living Room and watched 2 more films and was able mostly to keep my mind off the approaching screening. Eventually I found myself sitting at the counter drinking a beer, about to get cozy and read my book for an hour or so to kill time when who should arrive but Matt S (who plays Eli in the film) and his beloved. Perfect timing. Had dinner with them and shot the breeze and the minutes ticked by and people began arriving for the screening which was, happily, at capacity.

A short time later I'm inside Theater 1 introducing the film. The lights go down. A minute passes. Another minute passes. No sound, no image, just darkness. Something is wrong. I can feel that tight constriction in my heart and gut. A repeat of this AM. I walk to the lobby to inform staff that nothing has happened and we're all sitting in darkness. A minute or two later there is at last picture but no sound. I return to the lobby to tell them. At last the trailers for the PFF films play (though they were certainly not selected with any relation to the feature to screen, no narrative or thematic connection) and then finally, after interminable duration (which Margaret informs me was more like a few seconds) my film begins. This is the fourth time I've seen it finished with audience. The film is not always easy to watch and seems to polarize audiences into either the really liked it camp or the slightly befuddled what the hell was that camp (note: this is not verifiable just my gut reaction after several screenings. in point of fact there are many waystations between those polarities and reactions could really be falling at any one of them) and I could tell right from the get-go, from the energy in the room, and the lack of laughter at a couple early moments/lines that this screening would primarily be the latter camp. That said, I've had several people contact me a day or two after screenings, stating that the film stayed with them. Meaning, it's tricky to base the merit of a film (read: anything) on the immediate high/low of kneejerk reaction.

A short time later Matt and I are at the front of the room conducting the Q & A. I'm asked about time frame, about shooting on film, about the ending, about shoot days etc. All goes swimmingly. Afterward Margaret and I stay out in the lobby for a bit catching up with friends and talking about the movie before heading home.

The next morning I feel profound relief. No one threw tomatoes and the film looked/sounded amazing in the venue. And no matter anyone's reaction, the performances in the film are empirically amazing (well, I'm biased but they are).

All my dread/anxiety gets vented via this 1st screening so I'm in good shape for the next screening, at 5 pm later that day, Saturday 9/5. Not sure if it's per se sold out this time (b/c some enter w/ filmmaker passes) but every seat is filled. The energy in the room is 10 times better (or is it just me?) and there are laughs at all the right spots. It is awesome and validating. The Q & A goes great too. I get some of the same questions (why film? where'd you shoot? how long was production?) With each successive screening I've become more facile at discussing my brain tumor and how it intersects with the development of the film across the last decade. This is no small thing. (Also, at the back of my mind is the awareness that a decade ago Margaret and I were prepping our trip to Boston, where I'd live in a hotel for 2 months while I rec'd proton beam radiation at MGH and that there was still then a pulsing, fearful, black uncertainty about whether I'd be around for awhile or not, much less worrying about something as meaningless as a bad film review some time later.)

during Q & A after screening #2
I come away from the entire festival feeling enervated and re-energized, eager to support this film to the fullest as well as get my next thing/s going. Just a question of how to finance them. (as always!) In addition to my screenings I saw 5 other features and a couple shorts and met some awesome individuals and filmmakers. Sorry to see the fest reach its inevitable end but feel exceedingly grateful for and joyous about the black sea's inclusion.

On to Boise Film Fest!


Report from Manzanita - the black sea screening

Got invited to screen the black sea at the Hoffman Arts Center in Manzanita Beach, Ore on 8/28/15 (as part of the Manzanita Film Series.) Took the day off work on Friday. Still had to take N on the bus to day care to the very building I work in but just for a half day. Back home I did copious straightening and arranging (read: tossing swarms of toys back in the playroom) and packing (read: tossing tshirt into a backpack), went for a run, took the dog for a walk and then it was time to hit the road. M and F and I went to pick up N and we took the 26 out to the coast.

Multiple sensations just doing this drive, charged as it is with the inception/development of the film as well as my recovery after surgery 1 in 2005, as well as production, as well as family trips to Arch Cape etc etc. Funny to drive past house where we shot in AC and head on to Manzanita, also passing tunnel and running trail that appear in the film.

We checked into hotel. I met David. D at the center and we did a quick tech run through. Being in the room I felt a sudden low surge of panic swell up (as I do prior to each screening), my imminent exposure as talentless fraud about to be made public. This feeling dissipated soon after, spending time on the beach with my wife and kids, then roared back at dinner with them and my parents. An all-consuming, shrieking red-alert klaxon, volume rising each minute, FRAUD, FRAUD FRAUD. This makes me a poor conversationalist at dinner.

Later walked to center with my folks. Stood outside with David D for a few minutes prior to screen time. Then lo and behold I was on stage introducing the film, trying to recall M's urging that I shouldn't ever deviate from planned remarks b/c it ends poorly. I said what I planned to say and then deviated and it ended poorly.

At last the lights were down and the film played. The room skewed older than previous screenings which led me to presume it would be off-putting out of the gate but got many more laughs than last screening so my presumption was wrong (which led my dad to later chide me for being ageist.) A woman entered 15 min or so in with a small child in tow which I felt strongly was a bad call given the harsh language and adult scenes (note: not adult like porn adult but adult like some violence and existential dread) but she stayed put.

Q&A afterward was more uncomfortable for me than CGIFF where I had the luxury of a cavernous auditorium and a microphone to hide behind. Here I was on the dais in front of a mixed reception. I don't mind making a film that splits reception but that doesn't mean I want to stand in front of pointed what-the-hell-did-i-just-watch glares. I made some quip about how the ending of the film intrigues half of the viewers and annoys the other half. Instantly half of the room started laughing, the annoyed half one presumes.

The woman with the kid said she and her friend had a complex theory about the film which involved a lot of intuition and filling-in-the-blanks and happened to be not far from the mark, all the more amazing that she arrived at it w/ juggling her kid and missing the first 15 min of the movie. She replied she had a background in criminalogy.

The BT reared its head again (BT = brain tumor) which added to my discomfort. Granted I brought it up but to exclude it when discussing the origin/development of the film seems disengenuous. I can't be objective about film and strip that part of my narrative away for the sake of ease. This is an area to work on for upcoming screenings and Q & A's

Afterward, beers w/ David D and M at the San Dune Pub sitting out back while a surf rock band played inside. A lightning strike and a rumble of thunder signalled time to go and the impending storm due the next AM. It dogged us all the way home.