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By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Skin off Tartan's back: Araki reclaims

At Filmmaker, Anthony Kaufman digs into the tale of the abortive release of Mysterious Skin, Gregg Araki‘s haunting, abuse-driven feature: its producers took the movie back, filing “a lawsuit against distributors Tartan Films USA and TLA Entertainment Group in November 2005″, and placing the DVD rights with Strand Releasing. skin1788.jpg“This unusual scenario came as a result of a contentious dispute between the film’s producers and its original distributors, an ongoing litigious battle about money, power and delivery requirements,” writes Kaufman. “By the time of the release, they had paid us $50,000 of the $250,000,” says [producer Jeffrey] Levy-Hinte. “We were asking politely, and then forcibly, for the money. They coughed up two more payments, paying a total of $175,000 by July.” “Delivery requirements” led to further assertions by the distributor, described in the dispatch, including an October “complaint in U.S. District Court accusing Tartan/TLA of never acknowledging the contract’s termination and continuing to “engage in distribution activities, despite the fact that they no longer have a license to do so and in so doing, have engaged in copyright infringement.” Levy-Hinte tells Filmmaker, “The importance of this lawsuit is that we can’t allow distributors to get away with this… it happens all too often with these red herring delivery issues…. ‘I don’t want to pay you. What are you going to do, sue me?’ And fortunately we were in a position to do that, and we had a termination clause which was ironclad.” The Strand DVD include sdeleted scenes and audition tapes, and was supervised by Araki, despite TLA having already released a different version.

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“With every table in the dining room occupied and me, the only waiter, neglecting the needs of a good fifty patrons, I approached Roth. Holding out Balls as a numbness set into the muscles of my face, I spoke. “Sir, I’ve heard you say that you don’t read fiction anymore, but I’ve just had my first novel published and I’d like to give you a copy.”

“His eyes lifting from his iPhone, he took the book from my hands. He congratulated me. Then, staring at the cover, he said, “Great title. I’m surprised I didn’t think of it myself.”

“These words worked on me like a hit of morphine. Like two hits. It felt as if I was no longer the occupant of my own body. The legs had gone weak, the ears warmed, the eyes watered, the heart rate increased rapidly. Barely able to keep myself upright, I told him, “Thank you.”

“Then Roth, who, the world would learn sixteen days later, was retiring from writing, said, in an even tone, with seeming sincerity, “Yeah, this is great. But I would quit while you’re ahead. Really, it’s an awful field. Just torture. Awful. You write and write, and you have to throw almost all of it away because it’s not any good. I would say just stop now. You don’t want to do this to yourself. That’s my advice to you.”

“I managed, “It’s too late, sir. There’s no turning back. I’m in.”

“Nodding slowly, he said to me, “Well then, good luck.”

“After which I went back to work.”
~ Julian Tepper

“Any form of physical or sexual assault is a very serious matter, potentially a legal matter. But I’m also wondering, what about having some kind of “extreme asshole” clause? I know lots of people who have been abused verbally and psychologically. That’s traumatizing, too. What do we do with that?  It takes a lot of energy to be an asshole. The people I admire most just aren’t interested in things that take away from their ability to make stuff. The people I really respect, and that I’ve met who fit this definition, have a sense of grace about them, because they know that there is no evolving and there is no wisdom without humility. You can’t get better if you behave in a way that shuts people off. You can’t! You don’t have all the ideas necessary to solve something. You don’t! I’m sure if you spoke to Harvey in his heyday and said to him what I just said to you, he would believe that he accomplished all that he had because of the way he behaved.”
~ Steven Soderbergh