Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Take the long view

You may have noticed that a big upset occurred in the USA in November, so my posting the usual personal musings on my brilliant career seemed a bit non-essential. So here it is December, with the inevitable end of year wrap-up that has me thinking about the past year, past projects, the past in general.

Archiving old mini-DV tapes - the long view - I stumbled on Femme, a dance that got a certain amount of mileage as I was beginning to move away from live performances in my b.c. (see above).  Femme may not be earth-shattering, but it has some killer performances by the all-female cast. It also reminds me that:

1. pop music was not something I used to ironic purpose
2. character, narrative, social relationships drew me before concept
3. no one else seemed to want to make the dances I made - for better or worse
4. we had a grand time together

My guess is that most of you won't take the time to watch even the full two-minute excerpt below - though I expect you'll enjoy hearing Baby It's You. And you may be intrigued by the baseball announcer that follows, whose use is ironic. 

Femme (excerpt) from Marta Renzi on Vimeo.

Taking the time to take the long view isn't easy, especially nowadays. There's a lot of competition for our attention, and we all seem to have accepted that without too much of a fight. It turns out that my long-awaited hour-long Her Magnum Opus is a paean to time-out-of-time: a life-time, the seasons of a year, party time, the 9 months it takes for a baby to be born, time and tide. It's due out in early 2017 - the time it takes to complete a feature film...

It makes me think it's time to return to sharing live dances again. Long live the anachronism of actually being stuck in a theater letting the thing take its course - with all its mystery, apparent foibles and shortcuts, including the opportunity to daydream in the dark. Like the way that email conversation, for example, has obviated more interactive listening, maybe film has diminished the patient reception needed for one human to witness another's singular expression.

Whoa! I started with the end of an old year, moved toward the end of an era, and ended up with the end of communication as we know it?!?

However, as with my brilliant career, sometimes it's instructive to take the long view. Now, as to climate change, is it already too late?

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Media Blitz


I'm posting news about Her Magnum Opus all over - here on the blog, on Facebook and even on Instagram.  If you haven't yet stumbled on the website for this long-awaited first feature, please do visit. There are gorgeous photos, mostly by Robert Vergara, of cast and crew. There's some wonderful music to whet your appetite - including tunes by artists like David Pulkingham, Lev 'Ljova' Zhurbin, Kitty Brazelton - and Lorenzo Wolff! And there's a synopsis that sounds like the work of someone you'll probably recognize.

With the possible exception of this blog, I usually soft-pedal the self-promotion. But I've decided Opus is just too brave and lovely to hide under a bushel. So please share the above trailer widely. And when there's news of screenings, I hope you'll shout them from the rooftops.  I sure will.

In the small festivals where my work shows, sometimes year after year, reviews in the press  are rare. So I cherish comments from programmers like Steve Cleberg of Autumn Shorts in Kentucky who previously screened Her Children Mourn and Roxie. When sending news this year that Besties was selected, he wrote:

it'll be nice to screen another one of your little masterpieces at the fest.

Similarly, Breaking 8 in Sardegna Italy has chosen to share 4 of those "little masterpieces" over the past 4 years. In an email just now saying they'd selected Honeymoon for this year's festAlessandra wrote:

Abbiamo apprezzato moltissimo i tuoi lavoro! 
(We absolutely loved your work!)

I know you'll join me in hoping I get a warm response - in many languages - for this bigger masterpiece. 

While we're waiting and hoping, please join me at the New York area screening of Besties as part of a program called Films de Femmes:

YoFi Film Fest 
Sunday October 23 at noon

See you there!

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Welcome to Renzi-land

Make yourself comfortable for the 19 minutes it takes to view this not-so-short short made in 2008 and starring - yes, that's him - David Strathairn, Oscar-winner for Good Night & Good Luck. The Incident at Chekhov Creek shares some attributes with the not-so-long feature that is currently still in post-production: a rowboat, water, little or no dialogue, dancing that appears out of nowhere, and a rather subtle portrayal of relationships. Watch to the end and you'll see the quietly startling denouement inspired by John O'Hara's short story Over the River and Through the Woods. And it wouldn't be Renzi-land if there wasn't a party attended by a large and diverse cast of characters.

is no longer making the rounds of festivals, though it had its moments in the sun as you'll see if you scroll down this impressively long filmography.  After formulating your own thoughts about Chekhov, do take a look at the feedback below, written by 4 panelists at the Cleveland International Film Festival.  Reading their anonymous reviews recently was a great reminder that no matter how assiduously I edit the project currently in the works, its appeal will not be ... universal.

There are those who might think it's counterproductive - or snarky? - to publicize critical feedback. But stumbling on it recently while archiving 4 decades of Marta Renzi & The Project Co. memorabilia,  it struck me as appropriate to share this kind of rejection (albeit dated) along with the previous post's cheerfully long list of recent acceptances.

Because none of this really matters. All of it is part of a historical moment which is already passing...

[If you know a little bit about boats, note particularly Score #2's suggestion that rowing should be re-invented for the cinema.]

Scene #1: D
This film presents a very original approach to look and storytelling. I thought the film did a good job in editing and keeping the rhythm of the film but I thought in many of the scenes a different use of light would have improved the presentation. While I thought the editing from scene to scene was good and usually worked well, I thought that some of the framing of shots - while creative - took away from the subject matter which was the dance and movement of the characters. At points in the film this lack of focus (from a framing standpoint) on the dancers really took away from the ability of their movements. From a story standpoint - I don't believe there really is one - other than the individuals interacting in their day through dance, which was fine for this viewer. I liked the audio when it blended music with the sounds of the surrounding environment, e.g. water, leaves, etc - but this use of audio was not consistent throughout the film. Given what the film presented, I believe a shorter film would have been more enticing.

Score # 2: D
Camera angels [sic] were too tight at times. Perhaps if I saw the entire scene with the dancer, it would have made more sense.  There was so much going on outside of the camera's view (you could catch glimpses of someone who was part of the scene). The scene with the two on the bench was quite beautiful. Extremely poor quality (of the film) at the fire scene - like when the focus was on the man & woman that were watching. The night scenes without some source of light were very hard to watch. The quality was abysmal when there was no light I can not imagine how bad this would have looked on the big screen When the man is rowing the boat, he keeps looking over his shoulder. Why not turn around and row forwards (instead of backwards)?

Score # 3: D
I was not sure what to make of this short. On one hand you could say it is an experimental period piece, on the other hand I found it to be rather dull and repetitive and I couldn't quite understand what it was leading to. I hate not to like this short because David Strathairn is in the movie and he happens to be on elf my favorite actors, but I just couldn't recommend this. Perhaps I would have liked this better if there was more dialog or more of a story structure to it.  Production wise it was so-so, it looked filmed on consumer cameras to give it a decent look, editing was decent but not great. I think the elements were here to make a great short but it just wasn't executed effectively.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Here's what's HOT

August finds me continuing to fine-tune HER MAGNUM OPUS, the roughly hour-long project I've been working at - off and on - since last October. There's certainly a lot of dance in it, but its characters speak - including the wonderful leading lady, Aileen Passloff -- so I think of it less as a dance film than …  a feature film. Below is a scene from OPUS so  you can decide how/if to categorize it.

"Left on the cutting room floor." It's an expression we've all heard but let me tell you it's heart-breaking to experience the loss of a cherished sequence of images, especially when they'd been associated with a poignant song like Little Pearl, written by David Pulkingham, with lyrics by Daniel Wolff.  Of course there's plenty of editing in the process of making live work, too, so I'm no stranger to losing stuff I love. But that doesn't make it any easier. As of now, this sequence is out of the film, and it makes me think that whoever coined that other heartless editing expression -- Kill your babies” -- clearly wasn't a parent! 

Little Pearl from Marta Renzi on Vimeo.

Speaking of live work, I'm looking forward to returning this fall to Manhattanville College to make a new dance with students there, and to my second visit to The Truro Center for the Arts on Cape Cod to make community dance in October.

I'm proud to list below a cornucopia of screenings of my various short films, both old and new.   It's a pretty impressive list, if I do say so myself. They're showing all around the world, from late summer to fall, with Nyack Film Festival listed first, out of chronological order.  I figure Nyack is the one my readers are mostly likely to attend - unless you happen to be traveling in Tasmania!

August 19 @ 7:30

Nyack Film Festival
Honeymoon & Besties

September 22-25

Columbia Gorge International Film Festival, Washington
Plow Plant Reap

August 24-27

International Short Film Festival of Faro
Faro, Portugal
890 Broadway

September 12 -17

La Rioja es de Cine
Logano, Spain
Her Children Mourn

September 15 & 16

Autumn Shorts Film Festival
Somerset, Kentucky

September 15

Southway Film Festival
Mikolaiyv, Ukraine
Her Children Mourn

September 21-24

International Dance Film Festival of Brussels
Brussels, Belgium

September 22-25

Golden Door International Film Festival
Jersey City, New Jersey


Salamanca Moves Festival


Third Coast Dance Film Festival
Houston, TX

November 5 & 6

DanceLab Nicosia
Nicosia, Cyprus
Plow Plant Reap