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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

In Bulgaria, it's Alan Parker Central Time

Disappeared UK director Alan Parker gets some attention at the 10th Sofia Film Fest; Lucy Cooper listens. “Sometimes, if I’m watching TV late at night, or you’re going through jetlag or insomnia and you put the TV on in the middle of the night and there’s a film on, you go: ‘This looks good,’ then you suddenly think: ‘Oh, actually I made this film!’ You forget sometimes. But I think most directors would prefer not to see their work after all these years, which is peculiar.” What would he change? “I don’t think you should really…If you see Picasso in his blue period, he’s not going to look at it 30 years later and say: ‘I’m going to go back and paint everything yellow.’ You make your statement at that period in time and really you should stick by it. It always amazes me when you see these things saying ‘the director’s cut’- you think, well the original should have been the director’s cut. Parker picked a peck.jpgThe films that I put out are the films I wanted to put out and if they don’t work it’s my fault, not some studio’s fault. So, no, I don’t have any regrets – sometimes I regret that I put so much anxiety into the making of it. Some directors I really admire are able to just sail through a film without getting a heart attack or an ulcer. I think I’m the opposite – every moment is so painful to do, day by day, because you’re so concerned and so worried – but that can be good work…”

Of Stephen Frears, Parker says, “he has no care in the world – it’s kind of a much better attitude I think! … What’s really interesting is that a film like Birdy or Midnight Express – because Midnight Express had nobody known in it, it didn’t cost much money, it was filmed in Europe, that kind of film now, today, would be made as an independent film, but in those days they were studio films. Studios don’t do that kind of film anymore… I think it’s good really, it’s good in that the studios acknowledge that there’s another kind of cinema other than their big blockbusters. On the other hand, they bring to that kind of cinema the same kind of disciplines, the same kind of aggression about what it is they want. They’re not great patrons of art; they’re there to make money. But on the other hand, the most debilitating thing, the most depressing thing that film makers go through is not the making of the film, it is trying to find the money to make the film…That process can sap all your energy- it’s not such a terrifically good thing, but once you’ve got your money, you make the film you want and no one’s going to interfere with you, that’s the good side.” In terms of new technology, Peter Greenaway’s name comes up. “It doesn’t matter what the technology is – no one will watch a Peter Greenaway film anyway!… New technologies mean that anyone can tell a story really, and that’s good because you’re going to get lots of different stories told by lots of different people. But, I have yet to be convinced that to watch a film on an ipod, or even on a computer screen, is as good as watching the experience with an audience in a cinema…How you record it, how you cut it, how you edit it, all those things are helpful, but if it means I’m going to watch it on my phone, that’s not an advance.”

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“Roger Ebert claimed that the re-editing of The Brown Bunny after Cannes allowed him a difference of opinion so vast that he first called it the worst film in history and eventually gave it a thumbs up. This is both far fetched and an outright lie. The truth is, unlike the many claims that the unfinished film that showed at Cannes was 24 minutes shorter than the finished film, it was only 8 minutes shorter. The running time I filled out on the Cannes submission form was arbitrary. The running time I chose was just a number I liked. I had no idea where in the process I would actually be when I needed to stop cutting to meet the screening deadline. So whatever running time was printed in the program, I promise you, was not the actual running time. And the cuts I made to finish the film after Cannes were not many. I shortened the opening race scene once I was able to do so digitally. After rewatching the last 4 minutes of the film over and over again, somewhere within those 4 minutes, I froze the picture and just ended the film there, cutting out everything after that point, which was about 3 minutes. Originally in the salt flats scene, the motorcycle returned from the white. I removed the return portion of that shot, which seemed too literal. And I cut a scene of me putting on a sweater. That’s pretty much it. Plus the usual frame here, frame there, final tweaks. If you didn’t like the unfinished film at Cannes, you didn’t like the finished film, and vice versa. Roger Ebert made up his story and his premise because after calling my film literally the worst film ever made, he eventually realized it was not in his best interest to be stuck with that mantra. Stuck with a brutal, dismissive review of a film that other, more serious critics eventually felt differently about. He also took attention away from what he actually did at the press screening. It is outrageous that a single critic disrupted a press screening for a film chosen in main competition at such a high profile festival and even more outrageous that Ebert was ever allowed into another screening at Cannes. His ranting, moaning and eventual loud singing happened within the first 20 minutes, completely disrupting and manipulating the press screening of my film. Afterwards, at the first public screening, booing, laughing and hissing started during the open credits, even before the first scene of the film. The public, who had heard and read rumors about the Ebert incident and about me personally, heckled from frame one and never stopped. To make things weirder, I got a record-setting standing ovation from the supporters of the film who were trying to show up the distractors who had been disrupting the film. It was not the cut nor the film itself that drew blood. It was something suspicious about me. Something offensive to certain ideologues.”
~ Vincent Gallo

“I think [technology has[ its made my life faster, it’s made the ability to succeed easier. But has that made my life better? Is it better now than it was in the eighties or seventies? I don’t think we are happier. Maybe because I’m 55, I really am asking these questions… I really want to do meaningful things! This is also the time that I really want to focus on directing. I think that I will act less and less. I’ve been doing it for 52 years. It’s a long time to do one thing and I feel like there are a lot of stories that I got out of my system that I don’t need to tell anymore. I don’t need to ever do The Accused again! That is never going to happen again! You hit these milestones as an actor, and then you say, ‘Now what? Now what do I have to say?'”
~ Jodie Foster