Indie Spirit Awards, Ted Talks, DPLA Launch Video & Future Weather Panel
I had a hectic week of foundation activity, flying to LA for last Saturday’s Independent Spirit Awards, where we had three nominated science-themed films: Robot & Frank (Best First Screenplay); Valley of Saints (Best Cinematography) and Here (Best Cinematography). None of our films won–top prizes went to better-known films like Silver Linings Playbook, Beasts of the Southern Wild and The Sessions, with all the stars attending because they were in town for the Oscars the following day. However, getting nominated is a big deal and a great way to introduce incredibly talented new filmmakers to the industry, which happens at the pre-awards cocktail reception outside the giant tent on the beach, as well as during the awards show itself.
From left to right: Nick Bruckner, Valley of Saints Producer, DW, Chris Ford & Jake Schreier, Robot & Frank writer and director and Chris’s girlfriend at the cocktail reception before the Independent Spirit awards show, hosted by Adam Sandberg.[/caption]
I managed to touch base with several studio executives, producers and distributors–we are still helping Valley of Saints and Future Weather get into theaters and have several new features slated for shooting in 2013, including Basmati Blues with several well-known stars to be announced soon and Midnight Sun with Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Kruger and Emile Hirsch. And we still hope to secure full financing for Michael Almereyda’s Experimenter with Peter Saarasgard and to welcome the film festival premier of Rob Meyer’s Birder’s Guide to Everything with Ben Kingsley.
I also caught up with Paula Malcomson, the actress who befriended Damon and took him under her wing on the set of Deadwood, where he made his national television debut in 2005. As readers of Immortal Bird may recall, Paula flew out to New York to speak at Damon’s memorial service, an act of enormous kindness and generosity, and I now gave her a copy of Immortal Bird in the new paperback edition. She remembered the day I took the photo of Damon that is on the cover–he was standing before one of world-champion bull-rider Gary Leffew‘s wild horses. Paula was seen most recently in Sons of Anarchy and in The Hunger Games series–she plays Jennifer Lawrence’s mother–and is the female lead opposite Liev Schreiber in a new Showtime drama Ray Donovan that is now shooting and will air in June 2013.
After 36 hours in LA, I flew back to New York for three days of proposal work and other activities–including an interview for a video we will screen April 18-19 in Boston for the official launch of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA)–and then I flew back to LA for a TED dinner and all-day executive session featuring many noted speakers. I ran into at least half a dozen grantees and heard several interesting talks while discussing the Open Translation project with the TED people.
Within 36 hours, I was back on another plane to New York and drove straight from the airport to the Rerun Theater in DUMBO, Brooklyn, where there was a premiere screening of Future Weather. After the screening I participated on a panel about the process of grantmaking that developed this film, which included major support from Sloan along with the Nantucket Film Festival and IFP. The film’s director Jenny Deller and the producer Kristen Fairweather talked about the challenges of making an independent film. The New York Times had that day published a favorable review of the movie, “Science Anchors an Unsettled Life,” and it will run in New York for another week before rolling out in a limited release to select theaters across the country. It is not only an intelligent film that tackles climate change but it deals with three generations of women in one family–with several exceptional performances–it portrays the way Americans really live–in trailers and dysfunction but with love and decency–and it was written, directed and produced by women, a lamentably rare occurrence.