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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

I love cold-calling: The Marina Zenovich story


A strong interview with director Marina Zenovich on the day Roman Polanski asks LA prosecutors to consider the charges of judicial misconduct in Roman Polansk: Wanted and Desired. A few bits: “I read an article in the Los Angeles Times that kind of piqued my interest in 2003. So, I had some people from that article who I cold called. The article was about whether or not [Polanski] would be able to come to America if he got nominated for The Pianist. When he got nominated there started to be more press, and then the girl and her lawyer went on the Larry King show and her lawyer said, “The day Roman Polanski fled was a sad day for the American judicial system.” That was really the comment that got me going, but I didn’t know anyone who knew her lawyer. I cold called him. I love cold calling [laughs]. I cold called the judge’s girlfriend. It was amazing; I found the judge’s obituary online and she was mentioned as being with him at his death. This was 2003, and he died in, I think, 1994. It was 11 o’clock when I found her number, and the next day by noon I was in her living room. And I said to her, “You shouldn’t let strangers into your house.” Anyway, that’s part of the fun, trying to find people, and then people hook you up with other people.
“I was never trying to humanize him. I think you can’t help but humanize people by telling their story, because he is a human… I think of him as a man who’s had a long and varied life filled with more ups and downs than most people. I wasn’t trying to be sympathetic, I was just trying to understand what got him to that night. I wanted to go backward in time to tell some of his history. I would have [told] more, but we had to keep to the story. I would have wanted to show maybe a little bit more of his childhood, but people know about his childhood, at least the people that I’m telling the story for. To me, he is very human. We’re all flawed human beings. If you tell a story about someone, you can’t help but make them human. I have archive[d footage] of him where he’s being very human. He’s very real. He’s not like—I can’t think of the male equivalent of Britney Spears. If I was to make a film about her, I would try to humanize her. I’ve never seen her do anything that seems particularly humanizing except for maybe when she was really, really in trouble. I remember reading something about her, like she got on an airplane, sat in coach, sat in the last row and was shaking all the way to L.A. That was the most human thing I’d ever read about her. She’s presented as a celebrity and you don’t even think of her as a human. To me, Roman Polanski is a full-blown figure and human being.” [Much more at the link.]

[Photo © 2008 Ray Pride.]

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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