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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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“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