SFIFF50 DAY THREE – Saturday

The Press Room and Jindabyne

My day started at 3:30 at the Kubuki Press Room. The Press Room is in House 8, small for a theater, large for a room. From the entrance, the floor steps down to the screen and one can imagine a carpeted space with seats on the stepped rows, but there is no carpet and there are no seats just now. The floor is painted concrete.

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A row of tables front the screen with five computer stations for Hilary, the three publicists and one intern. Shannon, the VIP Coordinator often uses the intern computer. Those folks face the screen, backs to the “audience.” Another row of tables, along the first riser is arrayed with press lists, instructions as to how to become accredited press, the necessary forms to do so, as well as interview request forms and magazines featuring Festival articles. At one end is a station for check-out of DVD Press Screeners, at the other end a table with various binders and room for me to do paste-ups when I”m there. Richard, the Publicity Coordinator holds forth in the center of this array.

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The interns are the first line of defense, so to speak. We are to greet the press and access their needs before they interrupt Hilary or the publicists. Normally, their needs are for screeners or pick up their press badges. However, Hilary and the publicists, know most of the press, or at least the important ones, and being gregarious by nature and job description, often usurp our defense to smile and effusively great the people from whom we are protecting them.

The activity comes and goes, and my intern compadre is Anthony, a film school student who loves to dole out screeners and the rest, leaving me plenty of time for my paste-up.

The balance of the room is arrayed with lounge chairs, coffee tables and tables with stools, hospitality stuff. On one wall, DVD screeners can be watched on four big Apple monitors. On the other are four Klidascape stations, basically big monitors with most of the festival films loaded on the hard drive.

It’s a nice room, nicely furnished for the needs of Publicity, and nicely done. Being in a theater space and far from the nearest window, add a piano and bar and it would make an excellent cocktail lounge.

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On this day, I left my station a half-hour early to catch the nine o”clock showing of Jindabyne. I was really looking forward to it as I loved Raymond Carver’s short story and Robert Altman’s take on it in Short Cuts. My interest was even more charged when I read a long story about Jindabyne by Charles McGrath in the New York Times where it opened two weeks ago. It was more of a backstory on the director, screenwriter and the making of the film than a review:

[The director] Ray Lawrence said, [Confronting the characters head-on] “…enabled me to hang on to the film a lot of other things that interest me.”

The idea of making the dead girl an Aborigine, said the screenwriter Beatrix Christian, was “one of those things where you get 20 ideas and 19 are terrible.” She continued, “This was the one that stuck, and it was a way to implicate more people in the story.”

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Jindabyne, Australia 2006
Directed by Ray Lawerence
Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics

Based on Raymond Carver’s short story So Much Water So Close to Home (also adapted for Robert Altman’s Short Cuts)

It seems to me they took a perfectly good Pizza Margherita — Raymond Carver’s story — and piled on too many toppings.
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  • They made the floating dead body a 19-year-old Aboriginal woman
  • They showed the woman’s abduction and later the abductor dumping her in the river
  • The abductor kept popping up around town to no resolution
  • The fishing trip was pretty much on the story, but it didn”t seem like the guys were having any fun
  • Back in town, the guys are ostracized, their businesses and homes vandalized by Aboriginal vandals
  • The main character’s wife, totally OBSESSED, views the body at the morgue and then tries to befriend the victim’s family
  • Not to mention the black/white tensions
  • And the kids brought into the story

All of which makes it over two hours long.
Just a plain Pizza Margherita for me, please.

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