Things have finally slowed down a bit here at Cinequest, which is a great thing right now. My voice is shot and there’s still been little sleep. I did find someone to discuss Kelly Reichardt and Bunuel with last night, which was great. The fest experience has been a great one especially gauging audience reaction to Second-Story Man. I spend much of our screenings watching/listening to the audience rather than the screen itself.
Last night I sat next to a couple who talked non-stop. This usually bothers me to no end, but considering I’ve seen Second-Story Man at least 50 times I don’t think I really missed much plot. What was great was hearing their play-by-play as they reacted (too loudly) to things in real time. It really gave me an insight into what was working for these particular people and what wasn’t. Unadulterated feedback. Luckily, much seemed to work. They jumped at the perfect moments and asked questions that indicated they were caught up in the suspense and alongside the character.
The Q&A brought up a few interesting ideas including theme vs. plot (which takes, should take, can take, etc, precedence) and the fact that yes, Rochester is bleak.
So one thing I’m really learning here at Cinequest is what kind of film I’ve made. Rick, Scott and I spend a lot of time attempting to understand our audience and this process – the crowds, the reactions, the questions – have really helped in clarifying “who” Second-Story Man is for. We call it a psychological thriller, and in many ways it really fits squarely into that genre. So far I’ve had a few people describe it to me in different terms: film noir, intense, psycho-drama, piece of sh*t…well maybe (and luckily) not specifically the latter, but the point is that it seems to fit under the broad umbrella of thriller/drama, but has carved a few niches therein.
A quick note on Srdjan Sarenac’s documentary Village Without Women, which I was lucky enough to catch yesterday afternoon. Wow. This is an impressive doc. Sarenac takes to a a Serbian village and follows three unmarried brothers as one, Zoran, attempts to find a bride in Albania. This film accomplishes much and succeeds in such a difficult task: the fine balance of pathos and humor. We laugh at the brothers frequently, but the director (and editor) is always careful to contain that emotion and not make this a send-up, but instead a delicately emotional film with comedic elements. The ending shot is haunting, thematically poignant, and perfectly placed. I have high hopes for this film and the director should really be quite proud of it.