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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

The Dead Girl breathes: Karen Moncrieff

TDG_BM_-12.jpgI like this writer-director: “I understand making an unrelenting film may make some people feel like ‘Life’s difficult enough, I don’t want to see a movie that’s going to make me that uncomfortable for that amount of time… I feel like I’m making films for people who are like me, who like to go to movies and be shaken up,literally taken by the throat and shaken up for an hour and a half. And moved and forced to look at things that are ugly, forced to contemplate the darkest moments any of us can imagine.” Karen Moncrieff tells LA Times’ Mark Olsen about making her forceful, focused new $4 million-budgeted film, which is divided into five vignettes and stars Toni Collette, Giovanni Ribisi, Rose Byrne, Brittany Murphy, Mary Beth Hurt, James Franco, Marcia Gay Harden, Kerry Washington and Nick Searcy. [It’s often possible to assemble a cast this powerful when the roles are many, small, and forceful, making lesser demands on the actors’ time.] Olsen writes that The Dead Girl “has a relentless consistency from story to story, a somber, death-stained look at lives in stasis, in desperate need of new directions, though it is leavened by slight slivers of hope.” Alluding to troubles at Miramax when her first feature, The Blue Car, was ill-released in 2003—”the seemingly waning support of a then-floundering distributor” is how Olsen phrases it—the piece details how Moncrieff’s pregnancy and the interest of First Look’s Henry Winterstern, and Lakeshore Entertainment’s Tom Rosenberg and Gary Lucchesi affected the production. [Rosenberg enthuses.] “Somebody asked me if it would be better if the movie was uplifting,” Moncrieff recalled. “And I said, ‘Well, to me this is uplifting.’ To me what’s depressing is to see lies on-screen, to see lives sugar-coated, a fake version of life as I know it or I feel it. Anything less than that and I’d feel like I hadn’t done my job. There are other people who are much better at shining a light on what’s funny or what’s sweet. Maybe my calling is to feel deeply some aspects of human pain and grief. Maybe I’m working something out in my work, but it’s what I’m attracted to. People making choices, struggling to do better and change, to me is uplifting.”

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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