Where Is Inspiration Hiding Today?
MMMM Links & Ponders 11/20/23
“Why did I want to make movies in the early 80s? Because I thought they sucked, not because I loved them. I was so angry at the movies that were coming up at my time, I wanted to make something different. I see a lot of people who feel the same way [nowadays] and I think that is going to give rise to a great blooming of expression that will aesthetically, narratively and politically radicalize a whole group of audiences.” I was at IDFA for the international premiere of INVISIBLE NATION and had a public conversation a bit on my career, and a bit on why we make and watch what we do, and Variety kindly covered it. Sometimes it feels like four decades in the film business becomes a story unto itself… and it shouldn’t be that way. We should all know we have that long or longer, but it isn’t that way, is it?
Before we got to IDFA, Variety also interviewed Vanessa and me about the film. INVISIBLE NATION, like most documentaries, is a testament to perseverance and tenacity. Faith. Sacrifice. Resilience. It helps when the subject is also all that and a whole lot more. It shows how much we have to work together for something better. We all get married to our work and you have to make sure there is enough substance in what you do to keep you motivated through thick and thin. Is it that I see a metaphor for life in work, or a metaphor for work in life? Either way it keeps me going.
Filmmaker Magazine also ran this great interview with Vanessa (my wife & director) on our film INVISIBLE NATION. I particularly like her answer on her advice for Western filmmakers working internationally, but it pertains to all of us, no matter what we do: "I like the Black Lives Matter principles as principles for documentary filmmaking, particularly when working in other countries with sensitive political histories and geopolitical dangers like Taiwan: “Lead with love, low ego, high impact, move at the speed of trust.” I would add: always seek to collaborate with local filmmaking teams and surround yourself with excellent, honest advisors." Please check all these articles out, heart them, and share them widely. We need so much support to get this story and film out. It shouldn’t surprise me, but it does.
We’ve had so many folks who have been involved with the film, or who have seen the film tell us how much it means that this film was made (and done so well, if I do say so myself!) as it is a story that powerful forces did not want told and we had to wait for certain key things to unfold. It is a difficult situation, with uphill battles all the way. All movies are, but because the story is that way too, it is particularly challenging. It leaves me exhausted and wondering what can be done and why does it have to be this way.
The struggle also then inspires me… Is that how this is also supposed to work? Packed theaters at all the screenings. Folks mobbing Vanessa like a superstar, tears in their eyes. But it still isn’t easy. There is so much still do, and so much we have to raise funds for. We really haven’t gotten very far in forty years. Had we made a film like this then, perhaps it would of been easier as there were not as many distractions. You can have one of the most critical stories of our time, one that hasn’t been told on screen before, and still be in danger of being overlooked.
Each news item we get is precious, but we still don’t have what we need. And we are fortunate to get the press we have. We are fortunate to have good publicists like the team at Verdant. But boy oh boy is it tough just to get reviews. Why?!! Particularly when it is a subject in the news? What could be done to right this failure of our film ecosystem? We have ideas. Others do too. But will they work? Will they work well enough?