Producer’s Film Picks for June 2017

The theme for this month – Life on The Cutting Room Floor

Theatrical release
Obit (2017)
Directed by Vanessa Gould (Between the Folds). Edited by Kristin Bye.

“The doc’s chief enjoyment is twofold, and lies in the eloquence of the writers interviewed, as well as in the insider-baseball trivia they share. For instance: Not only must every New York Times obituary state that its subject is deceased, it must relate how the writer knows this to be true. The rule was made after someone filed a lovely parting ode to a Russian ballerina who, sadly or otherwise, had not yet passed. The fact that writers often work on ‘advances,’ or advance obituaries, in which they start writing about a luminary before he or she has died, is another humorously macabre insight for those of us unfamiliar with the biz.” Anna Storm, Film Journal International

“Above all, such segments emphasize the infinite variety of human lives and human achievements.

“More intriguing — and one of the reasons the Times obituary section stands out — are the death notices for the lesser-known pioneers and newsmakers of our history: the first professional dog walker, the grandfather of cheerleading, Joseph Stalin’s daughter, the five-time Hobo King, the stripper who was Jack Ruby’s girlfriend, the inventor of the TV remote, the last survivor of Brown v. Board of Education.

“Celebrating such people in print isn’t just about telling a good story about someone you’d never heard of. It prompts readers to seek and find the connections between everyone, known and unknown. It reminds us that we all make history as we go, and a good obit only stands back and reveals the who, how, when, and why. Obit understands the governing paradox of the trade — that these writers are modern-day resurrectionists. ‘You’re trying to weave a historical spell and enchant the reader and do justice to a life,’ says Grimes. ‘It’s a once-only chance to make the dead live again.'” Ty Burr, Boston Globe

Archival films
Secrets & Lies (1996)
Written and directed by Mike Leigh (Naked, Another Year). Cinematography by Dick Pope (Naked, Another Year).
Starring Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Brenda Blethyn, Timothy Spall, Claire Rushbrook and Phyllis Logan.
“After years of working in British television, and making four impressive features that included Bleak Moments (1971) and Naked (1993), Leigh firmly established himself internationally as Britain’s version of John Cassavetes with a candid film of untold emotional depth and narrative complexity. Jean-Baptiste plays Hortense Cumberbatch, a twenty-something black optometrist living in London, who traces her family tree after the death of her adoptive mother only to discover that her biological mother is a working class white woman named Cynthia Purley (Blethyn).” Cole Smithey
Stories We Tell (2012)
Written and directed by Sarah Polley (Away From Her, Take This Waltz). Edited by Mike Munn.

“Every family has its secrets, and these days it seems like anyone with a word processor and/or camera is willing to mine theirs for a memoir or documentary. It’s easy to be jaded about these sometimes narcissistic endeavors, but when a film like Stories We Tell comes along, you’re reminded how powerful and universal even the most intimate and individual lives can be when captured with intelligence and perspective.

“Actor (The Sweet Hereafter, Splice) and director (Away From Her, Take This Waltz) Polley started out making a documentary to learn more about her mother, Diane Elizabeth, who died when Sarah was 11. In the process, she unearthed truths about the father who raised her, Michael Polley, including that he might not be her biological dad.” Marc Mohan, Oregonian

Obit will begin at The Grand Cinema on Friday, June 2.
Secrets & Lies will screen at 7:15 p.m. on June 2 in the Center for Spiritual Living (206 N. J St).
Secrets We Tell will screen at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, June 9 in the CSL.

The TFC Discussion Night for these three films is Wednesday, June 14 in the CSL.

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