Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Matt Porterfield Sums Up His First Berlinale

I received a prescient email from Ray Carney earlier this week. It said:

“Do the deed of darkness. Break a leg! Kill! Knock 'em dead. Survive the hype. Resist the bullshit. Ignore the glitter. Hate the glitterati. Hold onto your soul. Fasten your seatbelt......tight, tight, tight. But enjoy the parties!“

Immediately after our sold‐out press screening we received a number of festival invitations from all over world. We were on top of it. But the next morning we received our first review, a pan from Peter Brunette in The Hollywood Reporter. It stung, but we tried to shake it off, as it seemed almost personal his disdain for the film was so strong.

There is something that occurs in the face of public criticism, or praise, a kind of personal realignment that takes place when you’re showing your work to audiences and critics on this scale. I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but in order to manage I feel myself turning into something more monstrous every day. In the morning, a man I’ve never met calls me “inept” and “pretentious” in print, thousands read it,and that evening I have to share my film for the very first time with an audience and talk about it after. In order to get through this day, I find myself devouring everything around me, which leaves me isolated and afraid. Seeing the film with an audience for the first time conjures a mix of emotions. I fear my anxious energy will exit my body and enter the atmosphere of the room, somehow changing the experience for others; I sense the audience and know when they’re with my movie and when they’re not; I see lots of little things I want to change. I wonder if my movie’s really bad and THR was right.

Thankfully, our screenings only got better as the week went on. I didn’t attend the second, but the Q&A afterward was wonderful. I sat with Marc Vives, my editor, through our Saturday night screening at the Delphi, a beautiful old moviehouse in which Putty Hill felt right at home. The projection was perfect and Mark Perenson of Cinemascope moderated an excellent Q&A. The German and Austrian press loved PUTTY HILL and over the course of the week, we received lots of enthusiastic feedback in support of the project.

As for parties, we threw one for PUTTY HILL at Ausland, and it blew up. Jason Forrest, Christoph Linder, and Sick Girls played tons of Baltimore Club. I jumped up for a quick set. Lots of our friends attended, new and old, plus press and Forum staff, EFM folk, and programmers and distributers from around the world.

Throughout the week, there were interviews and meetings. There was also a city to explore. It was hard to catch films, but I saw a few. My favorites were Sharon Lockhart’s DOUBLE TIDE, LA BELLE VISITE by Jean‐François Caissy, and from the reparatory, Glauber Rocha’s ANTONIO DAS MUERTES. I walked out of THE KILLER INSIDE ME as Jessica Alba was getting beaten to a pulp.

On the whole, the Berlinale was a great success. It afforded my collaborators and me an opportunity to share our film on an international scale. Plus, the European Film Market provided a platform for us to access foreign agents and distribution companies and make some sales. Already, in just one week, it feels like more people have seen PUTTY HILL in Berlin than saw my first feature HAMILTON in its entire festival run. And this is just the beginning. Next, we look toward SXSW, which I’m confident will be a great North American premiere. I’m pleased to report we doubled our projected goal on Kickstarter, so we’ll be able to go into Austin strong
by paying off our debts, and begin saving money for a 35mm print.

Till then…

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