Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Long Ago and Far Away

Long Ago:

VOL I - 1983-1992
VOL II - 1993-2006

Thanks to the magic of technology, these two "books" can now be viewed online. Enjoy them now until August 12th when the hosting subscription expires.  Simply click the b&w photo at right and wander back in time.  Previous posts have given a bit more information about how a simple archiving project grew into these 2 beautiful books, chockfull of photos, many by Robert Flynt. Huge thanks to Arthur Aviles who has organized a live celebration of the books - and one documenting his own work - on Sunday October 22.

If I hear lots of comments from y'all about how I should pay to keep the newsletters accessible longer, I may do so. Of course a donation of any size never hurts.

Far away:

October 7
A Thousand Miles from the Sea
l'art difficile de filmer la danse
Brussels, Belgium

November 15-19
Her Children Mourn
Family Film Festival
Porto, Portugal

Her Children Mourn
Migrations Dance Film Festival
Llanwrst, Conwy, Wales

Closer to home:

Plow Plant Reap
Saturday August 19th at 7:00
Dobbs Ferry, New York

Official Latino Film Festival
showing Saturday September 16 8:30-10:30
Black 8 - "Jefas" (women directors)
Harlem, New York

But my little heart is aching for follow-up screenings for Her Magnum Opus after its premiere September 15-17 at the 
Port Townsend Film Festival.  Though there are several submissions pending, right now its acceptance/rejection ratio is about 1/6.

So to hell with the film festival circuit. Let me know if you have a school, theater, festival, backyard gathering where I can share it.

Back to my old-school ways, like in the early days of the Project Co - for free, outdoors, in unlikely places, for regular people not the cognoscenti. 

I'm serious.

Meanwhile, enjoy this Bonus Extra, which doesn't appear in Opus because it's even looser than my usual improvised shooting, and doesn't further the narrative. Dedicated to the worldwide fans of Lorenzo Wolff.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Lucky Me

The definition of a lucky life: as I drive north to begin shooting something new, I get word that Her Magnum Opus will premiere at the Port Townsend Film Festival September 15-17, 2018. All reports are that Port Townsend is the perfect community to welcome Opus into the world. Very satisfying to be launching a new project as the previous one finds its home.

Music in the above trailer composed by Lorenzo Wolff with Kate Steinberg who also sings it.

Also lucky to be housed in a beautiful place in Vermont with a cabin at our disposal where we created a surreal interior location for 4 days of shooting, while sharing good company and delicious food with our host Marta Miller.

And the cast! Both Aislinn MacMaster and David Thomson had danced with me many times before on stage and on camera - she in Her Children Mourn and Opus, he in Considering an Exhibition - but they'd never met before. What a pleasure to watch them connect immediately and deeply off screen and on. 

Hard to believe since the guy is only 25 years old, but this is the 6th time Charles Caster-Dudzick and I have collaborated since 2010 - starting with Aqua-booty and continuing through 890 Broadway, Honeymoon, On the way to Work, and Opus.  For this one, his multiple credits will read: camera, gaffer, grip and fellow art director.

And as if this weren't enough proof of my lucky life, there's more:

You'll remember that March's post described the process of creating Marta Renzi: Newsletters Vol I & II with Arthur Avilés

Starting with scans of the newsletters spanning the years from 1992-2006, our task gradually expanded to include additional photographs and occasional text. Thanks to Arthur's heartfelt generosity, creative spirit and hours of labor over several months of Sundays, we now have hard copies - 

yes Virginia, actual books- and they are gorgeous.

Because the printed set is prohibitively expensive there are only a few copies in circulation - at my house and Marta Miller's, in the Bronx at BAAD! and probably at Jacob's Pillow and the Lincoln Center Library. But thanks to modern technology, the Newsletters will soon be available online - for free.

   David Thomson, Marta Miller & Aislinn MacMaster perusing the Newsletters.

Marta Renzi Newsletters memorializes countless dancers. who joined the Project Co - among them my frequent muses Peter Stathas, Marta Miller, Anka Sedlackova - as well as a lifetime of commitment to making dance accessible, outdoors and usually for free, at venues such as Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Summerstage and Jacob's Pillow.

Thank you, Arthur.
Thank you, all.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Update for Spring ? Summer?

You sure can't tell by the weather.  
Wait, wait, wait - why are we talking about the weather !!?!

Her Magnum Opus is finished, completed, wrapped, exported, sweetened, you name it. It's being submitted to festivals left and right. If you have recommendations of venues that need to present this highly unusual first feature of mine, bring 'em on!

After almost 2 years in the making, I'm very very proud - also relieved that it's done. And I'm excited to be moving on to something new next month with two wonderful performers - David Thomson and Aislinn MacMaster. Both have worked with me often over the years, though never at the same time - nor have they met Charles Caster-Dudzick a frequent collaborating cinematographer (890 Broadway, Aqua-booty, Honeymoon). Since we'll be dancing, shooting, eating and drinking together 24/7 at Marta Miller's place in Vermont, I bet we'll know each other pretty well by the time it's over.

And the narrative? 
For this project, I intend to pay a lot of attention to composing, to creating a lovely palette of shots to play with in the edit, to welcoming any abstraction, non-sequitur or felicitous image that might waylay us. Sounds like a summer vacation, right? And my preparation is just to look at a lot of films to inspire me. Yeah, ok, to steal from.

The first clip below is one I viewed several times after stumbling on it and filing it away in my someday list. In January of 2014 I made A Thousand Miles from the Sea for Rhode Island College students. Wonderful performers, memorable music by Judy Henske, a rewarding collaboration with cinematographer Devon Catucci - and a pillow fight.

Miles didn't get enough exposure, so recently I submitted it to one of my favorite festivals: L'Art difficile de filmer la danse, in Brussels.  Last week I got a text from Wolfgang Kolb who'd seen it, and said:

I adore your film. The music, the point of view you chose, the dancers, the reference to Jean Vigo, the lady with the robe, the way you filmed and cut it.

Jean Vigo, Jean Vigo, I says to myself, why do I recognize that name? (I'm not as schooled as I should be in cinema history, except now via You.niversityTube.) Sure enough, as soon as I saw the title Zero for Conduct, I remembered. Check them both out below.

In conclusion:

a. Wolfgang Kolb is very observant and has exquisite taste
b. this is how influence works, and is then forgotten (I swear, Your Honor)

Courage, I says to myself. If I had only a week for Miles,  I should be ok with a bit less for As Yet Untitled. 

Meanwhile,  other work is getting exposure.

Plow Plant Reap
Braga International Screendance Festival, Portugal
Festival Dolhar Itinerante, Brazil

Ibiza Shortfilm Festival & Market

Festival Dollar Itinerante, Brazil

890 Broadway
Iowa International Screendance Festival

This spring a lot of time was also spent updating the Burt Supree website, which compiles the dance reviews Burt wrote for The Village Voice  from 1976 until his death in 1992. 

Do yourself a favor.  Read anything Burt wrote and you'll be delighted by his observations, his references beyond the world of dance, his sense of humor. And like Wolfgang Kolb, he has exquisite taste:

You get a marvelous and unusual sense of weight in the dancing - through the force of the movement, through the way the dancing is contrasted against ordinary people moving or hanging around in ordinary time. Sometimes it's the slowness of a gesture, the physical resistance, that allows you to sense the quality of the contact, so you infer the weight.

But one of the wonders of You Little Wild Heart is the way everything dances, not just people. The life of the streets fuses with the music. At the beginning the timing of a taxi, a bus, a silver oil truck passing across the screen is extraordinarily satisfying in relation to the music. You know that nobody was out there telling those cars and buses when to go. But somebody saw it and left it and got the music to synchronize with it.

Editor's Note: 
Lots of the credit for what Burt enjoys in the second paragraph is down to the talents of cinematographer Robin Doty and editor Susan Dowling.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Spring Ahead, Fall Back

As completion of Her Magnum Opus is delayed to some not-too- distant future, I occupy myself by continuing to delve through archives of past work. With the help and encouragement of Arthur Avilés,  we're compiling over 20 Marta Renzi & The Project Company newsletters to create a stunning two-volume publication with added photos.

URGENT: If any of you have copies of old newsletters, please share them with me. Although my good mother did her best to  save archival documents, there seem to be several missing ...

Once it's completed - neck and neck with OPUS at the moment! - I'll find a way to make it accessible online as well. Of course I was dying to add annotations about who's doing what now, but Arthur's brilliant idea is to let the newsletters + images speak for themselves. Here's most of  the brief introduction:

In a pre-digital age, mailing these newsletters was Renzi's way to keep in touch with her audience: friends, family, dancers and supporters. Reading these almost diary-like entries provides us with the historical landscape through which one choreographer made her way during the turn of the 21st century.

Ms. Renzi's candid and intimate writing offers insight into more than twenty years of work, her creative process, as well as the spirit and philosophy that moved her.

After 2006, this personal conversation with her audience migrated to another sphere:

Which brings us together, here.  The "voice" in this blog is the same as twenty years ago, as is the format, more or less.  Each one included a little info about upcoming events:

March 30
Strawberry Shorts Film Festival 
Commendation Screening
Cambridge, England

Her Magnum Opus (sneak preview)
Daytona Beach, Florida

And no newsletter was complete without a photo, usually in an insert. Since I've become a filmmaker, I typically share moving pictures, but for this archival anniversary let's make it a photo just like olden times. And why not one that became a brand for the Project Company? So it must be one by Robert Flynt who, the compilation will demonstrate, was as close to company photographer as it was possible to be.

See what I mean by an archival anniversary?

It's also appropriate that today's photo is from Lincoln Center Out of Doors, where I was lucky enough to present work for many summers, through the birth of Amos & Lorenzo - and the death of Burt Supree. Or as one newsletter notes, from federal restrictions on NEA grants in March 1990, to ... the dissolution of the NEA in 2017? Say it ain't so.

Every newsletter also made a plea for feedback, and often included wonderful missives from far-flung dancers, students or audience members. Remember letter-writing? I miss hearing from folks in that way - not snail mail necessarily, but more than a COMMENT or a LIKE.

Each newsletter invariably ended with a cheeky but heartfelt request for donations.  As the piggy-bank echoes with the sound of post-production coins paid out - and as we head to tax time - your donation is still most welcome, and still tax-deductible!

Thanks for continuing to join me on what continues to be a great ride.