BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN – MANHATTAN, NEW YORK – Today was a busy day! It was a beautiful rainy New York day. We won’t discuss what happens to my hair on rainy days. Not very relevant. So Cyndi decides to override my cheap ways and hails a cab! To tell you the truth, it would have been faster to walk to the subway. She was mad that I was up and ready to hit the road by 8 a.m. Some people are a tad temperamental in the morning!
So we get to the private screening facility to watch THE DEVIL RODE ON HORSEBACK This is a documentary based on Brian Seidle’s experience in Dafur. Brian was a retired soldier hired as a peace keeping observer (the entity that hired him was never really established). Using his camera, he was able to document the genocide that was occurring there in 2003 – 2005 (and continues to this day). This movie showed Brian witnessing the massacres and also his own self-revulsion at being unable to stop the murders that were occurring right in front of him. He was convinced that his photographs would provoke an immediate response from the world and, in particular, the U.S. government. Although his message is very clear, I felt the film would have been more affective as a narrative feature. I believe more people would have been reached and more would have reacted as Brian naively expected.
I would like to address the whole Tribeca private screening experience. Apparently, in the past at Sundance, the press were allowed to check out movies to take home for private viewing (until last year when someone decided to copy them and distribute covertly). So, they discontinued that option. At Tribeca, they set up a little room with maybe 10 stations for press and industry to view films on a large flat panel display. We all wear earphones. These do enable you to hear your movie but they don’t quite mask the sound of everyone walking on the wooden floor above the screening room, people talking outside the screening room and even the noisy reactions of other screeners viewing other movies. The DVD of the movie we watched kept freezing and doing an unpleasant digital dissolution. Very annoying! Someone needs to resolve this issue.
After viewing this movie, we both needed to take a moment and absorb the information and the graphic images of the film. We walked, in the rain, to our next venue, a film workshop. This workshop discussed the different digital cameras and how they all are transferred to film. We were able to view short clips of current films (like CONTROL ROOM and IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS and JESUS CAMP) with details on the cameras and methods used by their filmmakers. We were really able see the benefits and shortcomings of different cameras and formats in the process of converting a film to (literal) film. This made me feel confident and relieved for our feature, which was shot on a Sony HD HVR-Z1U. The documentary, however, was made using four different cameras and four different formats. What a nightmare that puppy will be to blow up! OOOPS.
Afterwards, we went to a few of the press coverage screenings. Nice, but there are no Q&A’s. We hope tomorrow (when we see a movie with a festival audience) that there will be Q&A’s. We really enjoy the insight and understanding the Q&A’s provide regarding the filmmakers’ process and goals.