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Archive for the ‘screenings’ Category

Düsseldorf

31 May 2010: My first trip to Düsseldorf aside from spending the night at the airport once last year. Walking into the Metropol Kino felt a bit like entering an old Wim Wenders film – some kind of cozy remnant of an old world left virtually untouched by 21st century frenzy. I immediately felt at home, and got a real kick out of the kind folks from the theater as well as the hilarious photographer Wolfgang Vaneick, who was always dreaming up some new way of getting me to pose here and there.

Nothing remarkable to report about the Q & A. Just doing my thing and happy so many people asked questions and stuck around to the end. Hopefully word-of-mouth will spread and the film will play here for a while. It was definitely nice to see a bigger crowd than in Saarbrücken. Special thanks to Olga from W-Film and to Eric Horst, Frank Wickinghoff, and all the nice folks at the Metropol for being such kind hosts.


One of the many nice benefits of touring around the country is getting to see old friends again. Here in Düsseldorf I stayed with Lukas and Mina, whom I met through a mutual friend in Berlin way back in the early-1990s, and visited again a couple of times when we were all living in LA for a while. We had fallen out of touch until our paths crossed on Facebook last year. It was a lot of fun having them come see FORGETTING DAD with their daughter Shay, and hanging out with them afterwards.

Off to Aachen and Cologne tomorrow.

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Saarbrücken

After a 6 1/2 train ride through some lovely and very green countryside with occasional showers along the way (I love riding trains through the rain!), I kicked off the German Kinotour last night in Saarbrücken to an intimate crowd of eleven at the Filmhaus. Fortunately, the screening was in the small theater, so it didn’t feel quite so empty. I’d never been to this part of the country until the German premiere of FORGETTING DAD at the Max-Ophüls-Festival here last year, which was a mixed experience. As a film student, I’d heard so many wonderful things about the festival, but the whole time there I felt really old. It was the moment when I realized that I definitely no longer belong to the “Filmnachwuchs,” the group of emerging filmmakers German funders love to support. The saving moment of the whole festival was a special screening of LOLA MONTES by Saarbücken’s favorite son Max Ophüls – a real treat!

Last night’s discussion went on for about an hour. The audience was appreciative, and theater manager Michael Jurich did a good job of keeping the discussion moving. The questions were mostly the same ones I’ve been receiving all around the world, but when someone asked how my kids feel about the film, I had to thing about the long-term impact FORGETTING DAD might have on my family. My kids are still too young to give much thought to the film. Only my eleven-year-old son Jonathan can remember my father (he’s the little kid in the garden scene with my father and Tracy). My eight-year-old son Leander also met him briefly three years ago, when I last saw my father in Oregon. But that was a strange encounter where he hid behind my legs the whole time, seemingly frightened by the gray-haired, gray-bearded stranger who gave me about fifteen minutes of his time before “terminating” our relationship – a threat I didn’t take seriously at the time, but which he made good on.

This morning I met with a producer acquaintance in Saarbrücken. She worked as a family therapist before becoming a prominent politician in Saarland. After ten years of that, she tried something totally different and became a film producer. When I mentioned having spent much of last year traveling around the world with FORGETTING DAD and consequently not getting much of anything else done when it comes to getting new projects off the ground, she said there was nothing wrong with that. It’s all part of the healing process and my way of dealing with my family’s trauma. Even though my kids are still too young to really understand what I’ve been up to these past years, they’ll someday see the film and all my work on it as a positive example of how to cope with family trauma. The long-term benefits will far outweigh the short-term trials and tribulations involved in making and showing the film.

With that in mind, I’m going to plunge into all the craziness of touring around the country this week, and enjoy every minute of it!

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25 May 2010: Tonight was a preview screening of FORGETTING DAD at the Filmmuseum in Potsdam, one week before the theatrical release throughout Germany on June 3rd.

The whole evening was a bit of a walk down memory lane. Some of my earliest short films from way back in the mid-1990s played at the Filmmuseum, and I’ve always been rather fond of the place. This time around, Christine Handke invited me to show FORGETTING DAD in their monthly series of new films from Berlin and Brandenburg. I’ve known Christine since the good old days at the HFF. One of our old classmates, Jeannette Eggert, moderated the whole evening (very well, I might add).

I spent much of last year traveling the world with FORGETTING DAD, and haven’t put in a public appearance with the film since last December in China. The last few months I’ve been trying to transition from being focused on the past to concentrating on new projects, but FORGETTING DAD keeps coming back at me, especially now with the theatrical release less than a week away, and my return to China (for the Shanghai TV Festival) a week later.

I suppose it takes everyone who has ever made a personal documentary a long time to get back out of the film and move on with life. I’m certainly no exception. But tonight’s event gave me a rare opportunity to see the film in a larger context – that of my entire twenty years here in Germany. To a crowd sprinkled with familiar faces from my days in film school here, and prodded by Jeannette’s poignant questioning, I found myself walking through the past two decades, and reconstructing my life and my father’s life during this time. Indeed, as one journalist pointed out in an interview earlier today, my father and I both embarked upon very different lives at exactly the same time: his as “New Richard” and mine as, well what should I call it, “European Rick”?

Tonight I was once again asked whether or not the film has been some kind of therapy for me. That always sounds so horrible, but in some ways it has. While I always really wanted to tell a story which would interest and move people beyond my family, I’ve also been hoping that during the process some big light would go on, and I’d suddenly gain some tremendous insight into my father’s amnesia and its greater meaning. Now, a year and a half after the world premiere, I’ve stopped waiting for the big light, and am trying to enjoy all the little lights which keep going on, largely through my discussions with viewers, family members and some astute film journalists.

In some ways, the best part of having gone through the process of making FORGETTING DAD is sharing the film with other people, some of whom the film moves in ways I never quite imagined. It’s a film that gets under people’s skins. What more could a filmmaker hope for?

Without getting into any other details about tonight’s screening, I’d just like to say it was an enjoyable evening. Our composer Ari Benjamin Meyers was there with his parents, who were visiting from New York. It was a pleasure seeing them together and seeing how proud Ari’s parents are of their son and the terrific music he composed for the film.

Thanks to Christine and Jeannette for organizing the whole event.

Let’s see what awaits us all as FORGETTING DAD rolls into more than 20 theaters across Germany over the next few days. Here are all the latest cities and playdates.

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Beijing Film Academy

Matt and I were supposed to be the official guests of the iDocs conference taking place at the Beijing Film Academy immediately after GZDOC, but something went wrong along the way. Fortunately, Warren Chien from Channel Zero Media, who organized the event, found a way to sneak in a screening of “Forgetting Dad,” followed by a case study.

I was pleasantly surprised by the vastness of the Beijing Film Academy, and mighty impressed by how many dedicated viewers sat through not only the film but the 2 1/2 hour case study that followed despite the arctic temperatures in the room. Not even the spotlights on stage did much to heat up the place. But that aside, this was one of the seminal events in my filmmaking career so far – one of those moments that made me reflect long and hard on my craft and what motivates me to keep going despite the economic and other hardships involved in making creative documentaries. Despite all the Chinese faces in the crowd, I kept having to remind myself that I was indeed in China, and that “Forgetting Dad” touched these complete strangers halfway around the world in ways that I never could have dreamed of.

The discussion was moderated by Chinese-Canadian producer Melanie Ansley, who did an excellent job of keeping things going and asking insightful questions. Prof. Situ Zhaodun, a distinguished old professor from the film academy and documentary expert joined us on stage. He was in the jury at GZDOC, and I had the pleasure of meeting him after the award ceremony there. I took an instant liking to him, and was very touched by how much FORGETTING DAD moved him.

Although the audience asked many of the typical questions, they were also very curious about the ethical issues involved in making a film about one’s own families. Apparently invasion of privacy is a hot issue in contemporary, (TV-driven) Chinese documentaries, and the viewers were interested in how I knew where to draw the line when probing into my family’s pain. I don’t have a magical answer. I was simply following my gut feelings, and am very thankful Axel and Matt so beautifully captured the emotion of the moments in images. Many of the tough ethical issues, such as whether or not to include the scene where my step-brother Steve talks about my father’s violence, didn’t emerge until in the editing room, where it took me weeks to decide what to do with this scene. After all, I knew it would be something I’d have to deal with for the rest of my life. But it would have been a distortion of the truth to leave it out, and I was happy to have someone else in the film raise the issue so I wouldn’t have to and risk coming across as the embittered son trying to deface his father. In the end, I followed my intuition and left it in. Now it’s one of the scenes people talk about most.

I was caught quite off guard when someone in the audience asked me about the ideology of my film. I had to think long and hard about that one and remind myself that I was in what is officially still a socialist country. How could anyone see any ideology in FORGETTING DAD? Fortunately, Prof. Situ came to my rescue and discussed the lack of ideology in the film, and how it didn’t need to have any. I felt thankful for never having been put in the awkward position of having my work misused for ideological purposes or being made to tow someone else’s ideological line. I hope I’ll be fortunate to never been put in that situation.

It was cold and I was tired, but I couldn’t stop feeling some magic in the moment, a mesmerizing sensation that’s been accompanying me throughout my travels in China. Despite the sometimes unsurmountable language barrier, it felt like this was exactly where I was supposed to be at that moment.

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Springfield – The Moxie

Rick and Mom at the Moxie

After my visiting artist stint at Stephens College, I headed down to the Ozarks to visit family and catch up with old friends. Nicole and Dan at the Roxie – Springfield’s very cool arthouse cinema – were kind enough to show FORGETTING DAD at their new theater (they ran HOMEMADE HILLBILLY JAM at the old one a few years back). I was getting a bit burned out on doing Q & A’s but this one got very lively, mostly because of the large number of doctors in the room (Nicole had invited all the local neurologists and psychologists). Naturally everyone had some kind of opinion to voice. The neurologist ruled out any possibility of there being any organic damage to my father’s brain and marveled at how I give Dad the benefit of the doubt in the film. A psychology professor broke into a story about his own father’s demise into a childlike state (without amnesia or an accident attached), and told how liberating it was to break free of the bond his father held over him by declaring that he would no longer play along with his father’s games. Now they have a much better relationship. That certainly gave me something to think about.

Rick posing with (from l to r) Pat, Molly Matney, Sandy


Mom and my step-father Tom and his daughter (my step-sister) Nitabelle and a whole bunch of their friends were in the audience. When the lights went on, Mom looked teary-eyed. She says she sees something new in the film every time she watches it, and it still shakes her up. I was also very happy to have Molly Matney and her grandmothers Sandy and Pat there. Some of you might remember Molly and her brother Matthew as the little kids singing and dancing in my Branson film HEAVEN ON EARTH. They’re still little, but now teenagers.

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