Monday, October 01, 2007

NYFF opening weekend 2007

New York City - what a blast!

Thursday, I was driving around Austin, happy, thinking about how much I love it here. Friday, at the crack of dawn, I flew to NYC. As my cab crossed the East River onto 53rd Street, a street very familiar from my youth, I felt an intense exhilaration. Not a conscious decision, but a bubbling up from somewhere very deep inside. Oh god, how much I love New York! The weather was perfect; sunny and warm, but I don't know, a good 10, 15, 20 degrees cooler than Austin. I get to our hotel, The Dream on 55th, a new experiment this year. Pretentious but adorable, perfectly situated for the weekend's activities. Rusty with my subway lines, the concierge directs me to the R train at the end of the block which takes me straight to Prince and Broadway. The night before I'd thought, if only I'd had the time to see Joni, how wonderful that would be. Walking west on Spring to get to my 2:15pm coffee, I look to my right and see her husband crossing the street. He's only the first of several directors I'll see this weekend that I consider among my closest friends.

Years ago my brother in law asked, "but who are your real friends? Not just the people you know through your work, your real friends?" I didn't know what he meant. Well that's not true. Of course I know what he was saying, I just never felt it was a relevant distinction for me.

I stop into Eileen Fisher to check out the latest and come out with what will immediately become another new favorite black shirt. My gal director pal finds me on the way to our rendezvous and we share in a few minutes shopping before we move on. The talk is immediate and intense. We've been friends since the early 1980s. Not involved daily in each other's lives but enough, and during enough key moments for the friendship to deeply matter and resonate. Time and some key shared components, fuel the bond. She surprises me too, throwing in a new deep relationship with our old stomping grounds in the Hudson Valley. It was so unexpected, I could literally feel the virtual map descend in my head, pushing to make room among the Austin and NYC currencies. Two fabulous hours later I run up to meet John at the hotel (not before running into Brian Brooks by the subway. I think it would have been a pretty amazing weekend even if I'd just stood on Prince and Broadway the whole time.)

We observe our little NY Film Festival Opening Night ritual. We dress in black tie then head out to meet two of our favorite people in the world for an intimate dinner, catching them on a rare moment passing through town. It's luxurious to have this time together. They walk us over to the Opening Night festivities, starting with the premiere of The Darjeeling Limited, begging off themselves. The whoosh begins. Hundreds and hundreds of people we know, have known over a course of 30 years. Hell, some even longer, as I run into the producer I grew up with. It's a deep hug, a few words, sometimes simply a nod or wave.

We've told almost no one we were coming in - the whole point to just give into the flow. And that we do. It's an exhilarating emotional overload for the next several hours. I know it's only scratching surface but I can't bog down in that. I enjoy who I can. We head on down to the after party - a rather civilized arrangement conjured up by some new young turks in the last couple of years. Before that, for decades, a few of us would wander around and around looking for a place to continue the party. This village soire is great. Some excellent new connects with some new blood in this world. By 4am we'd had enough. Really interesting and fun. Driving back up to the hotel in the cab we find ourselves cracking up at the hordes of bodies still out on the street. Just past 14th Street, again @ 53rd, just crowds and crowds of people milling around at 4am.

Saturday morning, hit a very familiar diner round the corner from DuArt, (there's nothing like NY diners!) and out to 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, the Cannes prize winner from Roumania. I was engrossed immediately in this harrowing tale. Yes, about an illegal abortion under communist rule. And yes, absolutely about so much more! There are a series of moral choices and negotiations and betrayals - the central girlfriend relationship devastating with the half truths and allegiances. It's a powerful work signaling a tremendous new talent. From that, straight into Ira Sach's Married Life - a wrye, entertaining romp peopled by some of my favorite actors: the incomparable Patricia Clarkson, Chris Cooper, and Pierce Brosnan. Very well done.

Downtown for drinks in a great old NYC joint with a journalist settling some unfinished business, then dinner with our close pal Amy. Back up to meet the The Orphanage team - a film we got to enjoy via one of the secret screenings at the Fantastic Fest in Austin. John hangs on one end, with a Picturehouse rep, the producers, and screenwriter. I jump in on the other, with the director and superb actress - really enjoying them, really celebrating this moving, accomplished first feature. We discuss how scary it really is. I, for one, joining them in believing it's more humane than genre. A human story of a mother's love and loss.

Sunday morning up and to the Diving Bell - my highest want to see from the accolades at Cannes. Boy, it does not disappoint. It's triumphant! You hear the description and can't imagine the humour or liveliness realized. It's a truly great film. An incredible achievement! A total kick to see it in NYC, to see Schnabel walk onstage of the venerable jazz hall at Lincoln Center in his shorts. Damn he's something. Larger than life. Not a guy I know but certainly wish I did. He looks like someone who relishes life on every level. I've loved all this films but Diving Bell is exceptional. Longtime esteemed producer John Kilik gave this answer onstage when Schnabel quipped, "I don't know why he hangs around with me but I certainly appreciate it." "All you have to do is have dinner with Julian once to see why I keep working with him."

Another NYC diner, this time with my mom. Then onto the LIRR for a quick detour to Port Washington and a backyard bbq before flying out of JFK. Great old friends we love, a little R&R and glimpse into their homelife and the daily roller coaster that exists anywhere teenage daughters do. Parents ourselves beyond that stage, we just laugh.

Just a perfect weekend. John and I have been hitting that party and event together since 1982, a year after I ventured out alone, tentatively staking my claim in the NY film world. What a great run it's been.

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