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Apr 16, 2004

SPROCKET HOLES

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It's that time of year again. Film festival time. The time of year when the bed in the guest room is covered with t-shirts and baseball caps, and the office is filled with 35mm film cans (I can't wait until the world goes truly digital... it's a lot easier to move digits around the world than 35mm film prints!). Our projectionist arrives today from Denmark. Yes, Denmark. I'm sure we could have found someone who lives a little closer but the job doesn't pay. So we figured someone from the land of the midnight sun might enjoy a week of tropical sun instead, not to mention the privilege of spending five nights sweating in a small, hot projection booth, with a big, old projector. Our version of a sauna. But since Stig, our man from Copenhagen, is actually related to Josh Harrison, the festival co-director, by marriage, it seemed like a good idea to ask him to join our motley crew. And he took to it like a duck to water, and after two years he's back for a third. He arrives with a bag of goodies, including lenses, and other odds and ends of his trade. Last year, he unfortunately had a scooter accident and spent the last two days of the festival wrapped up like a mummy. He probably should have been in the hospital but he wasn't about to abandon ship. Of course the first night after the accident when he must have been feeling quite woozy, we had a very funny Cuban movie called PLAFF! (so named for the sound of an egg hitting a wall... you have to see the movie to understand....). But the funny thing is that the movie is like a movie in a movie where you don't know the beginning of the story because the projectionists in the movie can't find the first reel and start the film at the beginning of reel two. And their movie keeps jumping from its sprocket holes, leaving a white screen - or in our case - a white screen with French sub-titles, as the movie was in Spanish. Our poor Dane. Every time the movie in the movie had a problem he jumped up to see if his movie had in fact started spewing itself onto the floor instead of running smoothly through its own sprockets (those little metal gizmos that line up with the holes along the edge of the film to nudge it through the projector). By the time that film was over, we were all quite exhausted. But every year the festival has its own set of little problems. This year, we were bound and determined to show THE AGRONOMIST, a documentary about Haiti directed by Jonathan Demme (the director of many great films including THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. He has slid into one of the plastic lawn chairs at our tennis court cum cinema on more than one occasion). To make a long story short the print arrives today as well, in the hands of our Paris-based assistant Sophie. We will screen it on Saturday night and on Sunday morning Sophie will head off to Martinique to deliver the film to our friend Suzy Landau who has screenings planned on Monday. This is quite a feat as I think the print weighs as much as Sophie does. But like Stig, Sophie doesn't seem to mind doing all these ridiculous things. After all, the show must go on.

More to come,

 

Ellen Lampert-Greaux


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