Life after Cinequest… On the movie front, I’ve gotten some requests to apply to film festivals elsewhere, but my policy for the time being is to pull back on that unless it’s somewhere I really want to go. Seems like further festival activity (unless it’s something big) is not likely to help distribution, and that’s really the priority right now. So we shall see… Circus Road is just beginning now to approach distributors. That might be a long road as well, so, once again, I’m trying to cultivate patience.
Meanwhile, I just watched the 1939 version of “The Women,” which had been recommended by one of the friends to whom I’d sent the questions about women in film. I’d seen it eons ago, and it was great to revisit the terrific performances, particularly by Rosalind Russell as a mischief-making gossip, and Joan Crawford as a social-climbing home-wrecker. The movie was unique at the time because the cast was 100 percent female. The sensibility is archaic for us – society women with time on their hands being bitchy to each other and competitive (or is this the territory of things like “Desperate Housewives”? I haven’t seen it) – and the ultimate message is “swallow your pride and stand by your man.” But there are cross-currents of support among some of the women, and it is an absolute delight to see these amazingly talented actors doing their thing.
Before I left for Cinequest I watched Fellini’s “La Strada” (1954), another movie I hadn’t seen in eons. It’s just as brilliant and heartbreaking as I remembered it, with an incandescent performance by Giulietta Masina as the naïve, fey Gelsomina who has been purchased (a small wad of money to her mother) by abusive Zampanò (Anthony Quinn) to assist him as an itinerant entertainer. In a way, it’s Zampanò’s story – he doesn’t/can’t/won’t look at his own brutishness until finally the realization of it bursts at him from within and completely overwhelms him in a scene of wrenching anguish – but it is Gelsomina that everyone remembers when I mention the film. Here is a character who only needs a bit of tenderness to thrive in a brutal world, but she is constantly betrayed or abandoned, and finally she loses her spirit. In her odd way, she has hoped for love – when she has a chance to leave Zampanò and stay at a convent with a group of nuns, she goes with her man, horrible as he is. Women’s fate? There are two other minor but striking women characters as well – a woman that Zampanò picks up in a café – what happens to her? It won’t be good – and a widow who just wants a roll in the hay. She seems like a survivor, despite a hard life alone with a disabled child. The prospects are bleak, but it’s all gorgeously filmed in beautifully framed and lit black and white.