Friday  September 26, 2003


Sun Country knows it's better to look good than feel good

After a day of decompression following the whirlwind tour of France (see previous entry), I boarded a Sun Country Airlines plane to Minneapolis for the Central Standard Film Festival. Have you ever heard of Sun Country? I thought they were the orange juice people. Anyway, the flight attendants all looked like former Eastern employees -- efficient, courteous and well over 30.

I was expecting the twin city to be cool and fall-like, but it was hot and sticky. Alex Albanese and I checked in to our hotel and walked over to the theater, which was just across the river. Since the theater wasn't open yet, we had a cocktail at the adjoining bar, which featured the "Joe Pearson Mojito." Mr. Pearson was a turn of the (20th) century bartender. A fine drink, perfect for the tropical climate.

Joe Pearson & unknown helper 

Screening time eventually rolled around and the theater began to fill up. You never know what you're going to get in this mad festival world and I have seen more than my share of 250 seat theaters with 30 people in them. Happily, Todd Hansen and his crew did their job; EvenHand played to a capacity crowd -- and an overflow screening of about 40 people who watched the film on video. The audience was among the best we've had. They laughed in all the right places and responded wonderfully to the dramatic climax. I was honestly reluctant to participate in the Central Standard Film Festival, but I couldn't have been happier with the outcome. While it's probably not a festival that will ever attract distributors or a significant representation of industry attendees, it is well positioned to become a solid American regional festival.

Doughty rocks the house 

Mike Doughty put on his usual great show at the after-party, which was sponsored by the Sundance Channel. Alex and Bill Dawes, who was also in attendance, went off to a bar for the balance of the night, but I stayed at the party and chatted with Karen Cantrel, the Sundance rep, and a number of Doughty fans. I learned how important it is to have Doughty on board. Several people told me that they came to the screening because they were fans of Mike, but loved the film. We will definitely feature an on-camera interview with Mike Doughty on the DVD, as well as a couple of his songs from the film.

Alex and a couple of Doughty's fans 

5:45 AM on Thursday and Alex and Mike & I were off to the airport. I was transporting the film print, which I really hate doing. The two cans together weigh 50 pounds and I forgot the damn trolley. Make an indie film and increase your upper body strength.

Unload dirty laundry, reload clean and it's off to Woodstock in the minivan. A vintage Volvo would have been more appropriate, but hey, I'm a family man. Kim and Lovisa joined me for this, the final EvenHand Fat Cop Cypress Chick-apalooza festival love-fest. While she had a legitimate excuse, Lisa still gets demerits for not being there. In a move reminiscent of the old Logsville Lodge days, we shared a little apartment down the road in Bearsville. The kick-off party was that night, which was great, but our first screening was at 11 AM the next morning which was not great.  11 AM is the equivalent of the crack of dawn in Woodstock and even I didn't want to be there. The audience was mostly middle aged couples with only a handful of youngsters. Pretty thin crowd, but good questions in the Q&A, which is always nice.

Woodstock is one of the greatest people-watching places. There are more characters per capita than in most major cities in the Western hemisphere. And yes, there are a lot of hippies in Woodstock, too. In the hard-to-define category, the kick-off party featured a guy wearing a furry cap and what looked like a leather dog muzzle, no shirt and something vaguely promotional scrawled on his back in Sharpie. He was handing out the flyer below. 

The text on the back read:

Though quite different in their propagandistic goals, neither organic nor Biotech avenues of expression can appreciate hardcore Sado-Masochistic metaphors applied to their preferred process.

Both are willing to concede the essential dominance over nature that farming/pharming and heirloom/transgenic livestock represent.

But, neither will cop to the inherent fetishism and overt control issues that are expressed by these ways of being.

Well, they get points for generally good grammar.

I took Friday night off from partying, needing some recovery time before the Sat. AM panel and our final screening. As Denzel Washington saved the world in a submarine, I drifted off to sleep.

The panel, FILM CRITICS AND FILMMAKERS was interesting. Honestly, I felt that the film critics kind of hogged the discussion and frequently veered from a specific discussion of indie filmmaker issues to a broader examination of the role of critics in the entertainment business. Interesting stuff, but not a topic on which I could make much of a contribution. When the conversation meandered back to the indie world I did manage to make what I hope were salient points.

Next stop, the Upstate theater in Rhinebeck for the 4:30 PM EvenHand screening. Io showed up for the screening with a friend. It was nice surprise to have her there for this, the final domestic film festival screening.

I was thrilled at the crowd milling about in front of the theater until I realized that Bus 174 was screening in the theater next door. Bus 174 is a Brazilian doc about a street kid that hijacks a bus in Rio (the official website did not respond when I went there). It was the only other film I saw at Woodstock and I quite liked it. It was obviously a hot ticket and attracted a pretty good audience. The EvenHand crowd was decent, but would probably have been better with less aggressive counter-programming. Another fact of festival life: you're inevitably going to have some lousy time-slots and some great films playing opposite yours. The fact is, EvenHand has had a great festival run and I would not expect a programmer to give it a premium slot in the schedule after showing at so many other festivals. There are plenty of new films that deserve a showcase.

- Joseph Pierson

I noticed the other day that the EvenHand listing on the Internet Movie Database has started getting votes. If you have seen the film, please take a minute and register your vote there. Here's a link:



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