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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Brutal realities: distributing Mutual Appreciation

Promoing indieWIRE’s “Undiscovered Gems” series, indieWIRE’s Brian Brooks ekes a squeak or two out of Andrew Bujalski, director of the painfully sly, 16mm b&w pic Mutual Appreciation. [indieWIRE opens the Harvard-spawned filmmaker’s endeavor starting September 1 at NYC’s Cinema Village and LA’s Sunset 5 and Pasadena’s Playhouse 7 on September 8. What lead [sic] you to filmmaking? mutual_promo659.jpg“I was obsessed with movies as far back as I can remember (Rocky III, Star Trek II, etc), [and] never really considered doing anything else with my life. Wish I could be a musician but lack any apparent talent. Also wish I could be a novelist; same problem. Also painting. Or, I don’t know, even dancing. They all sound good to me.” Bujalski “studied film as an undergrad at Harvard, which has a tremendous program where you really get an opportunity to ‘handmake’ films, which doesn’t make you particularly employable but does give you delusions of autonomous grandeur, which I’ve managed to hang onto since… Distribution is a pain in the ass. Most of the people in that business are very friendly and affable and nice to talk to, but the business itself of course is brutal.” [For an alternative take on Bujalski’s film, sample Becky Ohlsen of Willamette Week: “I wanted to walk right into this movie, like Mia Farrow in The Purple Rose of Cairo—only with a machine gun. Or maybe a hatchet. Then I’d kill every single character while laughing with glee. The most painful example of gutless, nutless indie-rock awkwardness I’ve ever seen… drifts aimlessly through the lives of an aspiring musician from Boston, his best friend and his best friend’s girl. All three of them are loathesome, inarticulate, self-absorbed, unoriginal, bumbling, insubstantial wastes of skin who can’t even make crippling neurosis mildly interesting.” [Ms. Ohlsen was attacked with a pie earlier this year by a Portland exhibitor for a relatively innocuous mention of his theater.]

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“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

There are isolated pockets like black cinema, romcom, girl’s-night-out, seniors, teen gross-outs, but it’s primarily those four. Everything else is TV. Now I have to go back to episode five of ‘Looming Tower.'”
~ Paul Schrader

“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch