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Reel Suite: December 2008 Archives

December 2008 Archives

Once again it's left to me, Kurt Barnet, to blog about the things that other bloggers are too sissy to blog about.  And it's a blog-gone shame.
Everyone I've spoken with here at Manka Bros. is hopping mad about the films selected to premiere at this year's Sundance Film Festival.  The hard-working, dedicated, creative folk over at our Manka Highbrow division submitted five of their upcoming 2009 releases to the festival, none of which were chosen to screen this January in Park City.  And to top it all off, my cousin Victor's brilliant directorial debut, "Acquiescence", was overlooked by the dramatic film competition selection committee (or as I like to call them, "The Itty Bitty Zitty Committee").  So to say I have an ax to grind is an insult to axes.  And people who grind.
bruce_willis.jpgIt seems the festival higher-ups (who shall remain nameless because I'm too lazy to Google them), in their infinite wisdom and lack of respect for Mr. Robert Redford's initial Sundance doctrine, have chosen to exhibit only features inhabited by movie stars in their Premieres section.  Next month you'll see countless photos of Jim Carrey, Richard Gere, Robin Williams and Uma Thurman shivering in their parkas on the red carpet in front of the anti-gay marriage Holiday Cinemas, hawking their safe feel-good "indie films".  Are these the faces we should be seeing at a film festival once dedicated to the celebration of the unknown, of the up-and-coming?  With Warner Independent shut down, Paramount Vantage gobbled up by its parent studio, and all the other faux specialty divisions floundering, Manka Highbrow is the only one committed to true risk-taking.  Highbrow prides itself on working with filmmakers and actors who lack "experience", or "TV-Q", or "union affiliations", or "social skills".  Unproven, erratic, but highly viable commodities that could very well be the next big thing.
manka highbrow logo_new_small_1.jpgManka Highbrow titles rejected by Sundance this year:  "Uncombed Hair", "The Pedophile's Son's Graduation Party", and "sexydrinkbar", as well as Darren Goldblum's acclaimed "Calico Inversion", about a young New Jersey man's taxidermy business he runs out of his mom's basement, and his latest controversial experiment.  Also overlooked:  "Inside Eric Roberts' Prostate", the innovative story of three medical school dropouts obsessed with locating actor Eric Roberts to find out just what the hell's going on down there.  These films all have enormous industry buzz.  Yet the Sundance people apparently can't see quality anymore because they're too busy licking Woody Harrelson's hemp-laden ass.  If Mr. Redford were alive today to see the dreck that is being touted in his name, he'd never stop throwing up.
I'm particularly flummoxed by the dramatic competition's exclusion of my cousin Victor Barnet's astounding first film.  Cousin Vic was never a favorite relative of mine.  Though younger and smaller than me, he was quite wiley and cat-like, while I was overweight and lumbering.  When we were kids he used to pull my underwear down, then drag me across the Slip-and-Slide by my legs.  The laughter of the neighborhood kids still sometimes haunts me at night.  But Vic recently joined AA and has made amends, so now I'm very supportive of him and his new career. 

"Acquiescence" is the powerful story of a wiley kid who incessantly tortures his tubby cousin in front of the neighborhood and goes on to fame and fortune in the movie business, while the tubby kid becomes a custodian at a skid row motel.  It shows how one can overcome the trauma of abusing others and still make something of yourself.  I'll admit that after Vic screened it for me, I sat in my seat and cried and cried for 89 to 93 minutes.  It's an absolute crime that it will not compete at the festival this year.  If Vic goes back to drinking, let it be on the conscience of those Sundance mucky-mucks, whoever they are (they don't deserve to be Googled).
"Acquiescence" was also rejected by Slamdance and Slumdance, but Vic has high hopes for something called Swimdance.  Since the film has several compelling Slip-and-Slide sequences, he has his fingers crossed that it qualifies.
So let this be a battle cry for those downtrodden, greasy-faced, sleep-deprived "no-name" filmmakers out there.  Kurt Barnet's in your corner, baby.  President Obama's gonna bring change to the independent film community.  Hillary recently announced that as Secretary of State she vows to bring depressing, starless American films back to foreign territories.  If she doesn't, hell, I WILL, blog-gone it!

kurt_barnet_small.jpgKurt Barnet

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