Thursday, September 21, 2006

I'm EXHAUSTED. Have been spending the last few days at the IFP Market/Filmmaker's Conference. Also went to the NYFF press screening of Apichatpong Weerasethakul's "Syndromes and a Century".

The IFP Market has become a really well-oiled machine: it's running very smoothly, and it's actually working. That is: it is a forum where the filmmaker gets a chance to interface with the industry. Every filmmaker coming in (of those selected, which was a real chore this year; the amount of time we had to select shorts, screenplays, works-in-progress, was cut i half, because the process couldn't begin until there were commitments from "industry" that they would actually look at the projects and have serious meetings with the filmmakers) was guaranteed at least three meetings, and everyone worked really hard to make sure that this happened. On the part of Michelle Byrd and the IFP staff: gettuing real commitments from producers and reps that they would really look at the projects; on the part of the selection committees: making sure that the projects showed, not just talent and skill, but real professionalism, that these filmmakers were ready to meet with industry. And the meetings weren't just perfunctory: the producers actually had to read the synopses, or look at the shorts, or look at the works-in-progress, and they selected the filmmakers they wanted to meet with, so it wasn't just blind meetings where the filmmakers were pitching to producers trying to pretend to be polite. The producers were really interested: they wanted to see if the project was something they could actually get involved with.

So from all sides i heard that the IFP Market is working. But (of course) i miss the crazy, hectic, catch-as-catch-can days, because when the place was a madhouse, there was space for some real crazies.

So many things have happened, but one thing: yesterday, after the last screening and before the "Liquid Lounge" party, i had about an hour, so i walked up to the Strand... i should mention that, on Tuesday, the special event at the "Liquid Lounge" was a conversation and book signing with Christine Vachon! It was like getting haunted.... anyway, on Wednesday, i'm at the Strand, and i see Christine's new book! I can get it on sale! But also on sale is Yvonne Rainer's book "Feelings Are Facts". Let's see: Christine Vachon.... Yvonne Rainer. On the one hand, on the other hand.... ok, so i got Yvonne's book.

One of the things about Yvonne's book is that most of it is concerned with her life before the age of 40 (she's now 72)... her childhood (which is certainly Dickensian), her trying to find her identity as an artist, the intensity of her concerns as a choreographer, and the most intense relationship of her life, her relationship with Robert Morris. (One of the most stinging comments that Yvonne makes - and Twyla Tharp makes the same comments - is how women were always condescended to, always made to feel as if their careers, ambitions, ideas weren't as "important" as the men in their lives - be it Al Held, Ronald Bladen, Robert Morris, Robert Huot, whomever. And that... well, things start to make sense, because from the outside all those of us who were looking at the disintegration of the marriage between Twyla and Bob Huot... it was hard to understand Twyla's emnity, which burst into pure hatred at times, at Huot, because we all saw this jovial teddy-bear of a man... but if i'd been Twyla, and, after Jesse was born, Bob suddenly started acting as if Twyla's ambitions - aesthetically, philosophically, eventually commercially - should now be stilled so that she can concentrate on her true woman's duties as wife and mother... hell, Bob Huot's lucky he's alive.)

One of the craziest things in Yvonne's book is that the conclusion of her relationship with Robert Morris was his affair with someone Yvonne simply refers to as "Meredith"; she keeps mentioning Meredith, Meredith, but never mentioning the last name. I check the index: no listing. Even when she refers to Meredith by her full name (ok, so it's Meredith Monk) because Yvonne, Meredith (and Twyla) were part of the Billy Rose Foundation's dance festival in 1969 (Yvonne notes that they all received notoriously bad reviews... Clive Barnes's denunciation of Yvonne was classic)... there's no mention in the index of "Meredith Monk". If that isn't a Freudian slip, i don't know what is! Yvonne felt so terrible, she tried to kill herself, wound up institutionalized (all of this is chronicled in her book, so i'm not speaking out of turn)... her relationship with Morris is really dead-on-arrival, though she keeps hoping for some reconciliation, and then Morris ups and marries Poppy Johnson!

And people wonder why i'll never write a "critical" study of the art from the 1950s on. How the hell can i do that, when i know all these stories? You think Claes Oldenburg wants me to write all the stuff that Hannah Wilke used to tell me? Please!

But (as long as it's not happening to me) it's amusing, in a grisly sort of way.

I remember there used to be a "art" rock band called Theoretical Girls. Now, there are Theoretical Lesbians. Let's not get into that one!

(Yvonne doesn't even get into that one: the whole last part of her life, the last 20 years, is treated as a footnote.)


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