With the East River lapping at a nearby beer tent and the mozzies nipping at my ankles, I settled among an audience of screenwriters and film enthusiasts on Monday to watch IFP’s lab showcase – four-minute snippets of the project’s upcoming movies.
And they looked brilliant.
The most memorable was Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton, which burst onto the screen in a flurry of music and surrealism to celebrate its captivating subject – the pansexual poet and filmmaker, Broughton.
‘James Broughton was a trickster,’ author Armisted Maupin said in the snippet. ‘He had a way of getting at the serious by focusing on the silly. That’s very seductive because it creeps up on you.’
I was definitely seduced by the silly:
A second documentary, These Birds Walk, focuses on another absurd existence - the streets of Karachi.
The preview was barely on for three minutes yet I was gripped by the score and the vulnerability of its subjects, including a 90-year-old humanitarian devoted to saving children and a boy who’s run away from an abusive home:
One other stand-out snippet was from Concussion, written and directed by Stacie Passon. It follows a bored, wealthy lesbian housewife who struggles to settle back into her life after a head injury and decides to become a prostitute for women – the best premise of the narrative films on show.
And in another favourite, a hard nut with a face full of tattoos named Lucky takes centre stage as she struggles to provide for her son and overcome regret. No trailers for these last two though.
Each of the filmmakers in the showcase was awarded a year’s worth of help with production and marketing from IFP to get their film, usually made on a low budget, off the ground. Looking at what’s on offer, I hope they make it.
Although - and I don’t want to be against the supportive spirit of the showcase – I would like to know how this one slipped in: