TRUE DETECTIVE in the Crosshairs

“You ever been hunting?”Detective Rust Cohle to Partner Marty Hart

Burt Impaled

Burt the Revivalist seems to be more a victim of the cross than exalted by it.

I’ve been working on a post about Audrey and Maisie but it is a bit tedious because I’m going through all six of the episodes to gather evidence for my theory.

With so much conversation about Billy Lee Tuttle, Dora Lange and her Church of the Yellow King, and Joel Theriot with his naked photo discovery in the Letters of Telios de Lorca, I’ve been super aware of all of the religious symbology, iconography, evidence, and subtext in each episode. I’ve been tending to think this is all about some religious cult or certainly serial killer phreaks with some serious religious issues. The Franciscan mystic reference had me locked on that target.

Then, I bumped into Erin Whitney’s HuffPost piece on whether TRUE DETECTIVE’S opening credits gave away the Yellow King while I was reading about Instagram Crew Photos posted on HuffPost that were uncovered with potential spoilers and clues (many of which have now been removed).

 DETECTIVE in the Crosshairs

While some there are a lot of CROSSES in the imagery of TRUE DETECTIVE, there are also several CROSSHAIRS.

The thing I had noticed about the TRUE DETECTIVE opening title sequence before but hadn’t bother to comment on was how several of the “cross” overlays really looked like the “crosshairs” through the scope of a hunting rifle. In particular, there’s a crosshairs on Maggie with antlers, on what looks like two scantily clad women in bed, and on fire that becomes the TRUE DETECTIVE text. Those three are clearly crosshairs. Then there’s Burt, the poor fellow who had his balls savagely removed in Angola. He looks like he’s being impaled by a red cross. Initially, I was wondering if it was a laser sight but decided against it. I just decided it was destructive imagery. Watch the video of the opening on YouTube.

I keep coming back to the idea that Maggie is more involved with this than anyone suspects. As a filmmaker, I would expect an actress of her caliber to have more going in in the show. So far, there just isn’t enough. She isn’t on par with McConaughey and Harrelson in terms of gravitas.

TRUE DETECTIVE Reddit “True Believer”

Our greatest pretenses are built up not to hide the evil and the ugly in us, but our emptiness. The hardest thing to hide is something that is not there.Eric Hoffer, author of “The True Believer”

IndyPat has tracked down viewer metrics on TRUE DETECTIVE and they’re off the charts! The truly devoted true believers of the series are watching each episode up to 15 times! Sadly, I am in that group. After my writing session today, I’m going to go back and post something I noticed in Episode 2 that has me chasing my tail in circles. Before I went off to work, I thought I would post a few of my favorite unified universe theories floating in the ethosphere.

One of my favorites comes from Reddit’s fliesfishy. A Unified Realist (Non-Cult) Theory suggesting it’s just greed, a child sex trafficking ring, and bad parenting. I love this theory because it’s so comprehensive and it rolls everything from the narrative into it. It even explains the Truck Stop and the Chemical Plants in the opening title sequence. Billy Lee Tuttle is definitely involved but mostly as a conduit. Reddit’s answerstoidiots supports this theory by pointing out the TRUE DETECTIVE narrative resembles Nebraska’s Franklin Child Abuse Scandal. Read it and weep. It’s so damn good. Side note: It is hard to quote someone with a name like AnswersToIdiots.

Green Eyed Spaghetti Monster

Errol, the Lawnmower Man sure resembles the Green Eared Spaghetti Monsterfrom the case file!

IndyPat and FliesFishy and Paraforce all think Errol, the Lawnmower Man, is pivotal to the story. IndyPat located a photo in PARAFORCE’S Reddit thread (to the right) to affirm that visually! I have two thoughts on Errol. First, he’s a lawnmower man so he can’t have that much power, can he? I noticed that he said he worked for “The Parish” not the Church. I don’t know if that’s significant, I just notice it. Second, that doesn’t mean he’s not involved and there is an uncanny resemblance. So, he could very well be a cog in the machine that swoops up these children and delivers them to their abusers/killers. If the schools are the feeders and the truckers are transporting them and the yellow fathers and yellow chemical plants may indeed be served by a man like Errol.

Okay, I’ve GOT to get to writing. This sure is inspirational though!

Darkness Follows the Girls from Light of the Way School

Total hattip to Reddit’s niklverse for catching the appearance of FOUR of the girls from Light of the Way School on the Detective Cohle’s boards. Three murder victims, one murder. Did the production bring in extras for a few days and have them pose for a variety of photos without intending the obsessive, fanatics to catch the recurrence? Or, are the girls from Light of the Way being used, damaged and discarded?

Light of the Way Girls

Light of the Way School is the path to darkness on TRUE DETECTIVE. Four girls can be seen in the detectives’ photos.

Telios de Lorca Letters Celestial Door

“You know the “Detective’s Curse?” The solution was right under my nose but I was watching the wrong clues.”Detective Martin Hart

Over the weekend, I read the Nic Pizzolatto’s pilot script for TRUE DETECTIVE and I was surprised at how much of the actual episode was different from that pilot. As a writer, I am intimately familiar with the rewrite. The things you hang onto in the rewrite are the things that matter. The new elements are there to deepen and enhance the heart of what you originally wrote. I actually sat down with the script and the DVR and went through the episode moment by moment.

After I posted yesterday, IndyPat and I got into a conversation about the symbolism and subtext in almost every aspect of the show. He wrote that he had used an anagram solver with the names to see what was hiding in plain sight.

BirdSpiral

Detective Cohle sees a mystical coil of birds near the abandoned church of Joel Theriot.

He told me that Dora Lange became Road Angel. So, I’m thinking, seriously, did Pizzolatto really use an anagram solver to create his names. Like IndyPat, I had noticed the odd “H” in Cohle’s last name and had already done a search trying to find the root meaning that name with little meaningful success. I know from experience that writers do odd things to help them create their fictional universes. I cast astrological charts for all of my characters just to get a more complex and conflicted character map. That’s odd. So, down the anagram rabbit hole I went.

Plugging names into the Anagram Solver to see what might be lurking in those character names convinced me even more that we live in Rust’s “Flat Circle Time World.” There were often multiple anagram solutions that could potential be meaningful, if I knew where this narrative was actually going.

I found three possibilities for Rustin Cohle. There was the most literal Coils Hunter as the detective who searches for the lost women and girls with the symbols on their bodies. Given Cohle’s search for The Yellow King, both anagrams Ochres Until (like there are Yellow King(s) until he gets involved) and Ochre Insult (as in he’s an insult to the Yellow King(s) and his followers). Both options seemed relevant IF Rust does indeed find The Yellow King(s). I am thinking IndyPat will chime in what he found for Rustin Cohle.

Some of the other anagrams:
Telios de Lorca transformed into Celestial Door.
Reggie LeDoux had only one result. Exiled Gouger. Drop the “x” and you get Deluge Ogre.
Martin Hart returned nothing meaninful.
Maggie Hart became Gather Magi. Meaningful if Maggie is more involved than we currently can see. Is she gathering the wise men?

Like Martin Hart, Billy Lee Tuttle didn’t return anything useful. Given that Salter called Marty Hart a human tampon, I was amused to see Thomas Papania become Aphasia Tampon.

Whether it’s coincidence or the detective’s curse, we won’t know for two more weeks if this meaningful or a bad case of looking in the wrong direction.

Telios de Lorca Unmasked

“I knocked over a very old volume. The Letters of Telios de Lorca, a 12th century Franciscan mystic. Very obscure. When I picked up the book, this little folder falls out. Little folder of pictures. Pictures of children. Naked.”Fallen Evangelist Joel Theriot (whose name means God’s gift) during his interview with Detective Rustin Cohle

Caravaggio's St. Francis in Ecstasy

Caravaggio’s St. Francis in Ecstasy

Unmasking Telios de Lorca seems to be at the heart of episode six of TRUE DETECTIVE. A quick google search reveals there is no Telios de Lorca. So, unlike the Yellow King, there is no direct historical text that Pizzolatto is referencing when he mentions Telios de Lorca. So, if Telios de Lorca isn’t a “he” then what is it meant to be?

I had to begin with easiest options first. I wondered how many 12th century Franciscan mystics there could be? Couldn’t be many. That would narrow my search to the hidden meaning of Telios de Lorca. Well, as it turns out, there is ONE and ONLY ONE 12th century Franciscan mystic and it is the original Saint Francis of Assisi. (Theriot was specific about it being a Franciscan mystic.) Francis was born in Umbria in 1182; he had his mystical experience and religious conversion as a young man right at the turn of the century. Most researchers and biographers put his conversion around 1204 or 1205. Given that, Telios de Lorca, the Franciscan mystic, must be a metaphor or literary construct because St. Francis was barely a mystic in the making at the close of the 12th century.

So why would they point us at St. Francis, I wondered. The Roman Catholics have a new Pope Francis but I think Pizzolatto’s pilot was written before Francis came onto the scene. So, what of the original Francis? Further digging revealed that St. Francis was potentially important in the TRUE DETECTIVE narrative because his profound mystical experiences came through nature. He was enraptured with the beauty of ALL that God had created. According to The Third Order Franciscans (a very devout religious order to which my paternal Grandmother belonged), “Intimacy with God was the foremost priority for Francis, being in love with the One who loved him first.” Intimacy with God. Theriot said all he wanted was to be closer to god but all he got was silence. Not Francis!

“When referring to his relationship with God, Francis called himself “a spouse of the Holy Spirit.” To cultivate his intimacy with the Divine, he often retreated to remote places to pray and contemplate alone with God. … Often, while praying, St. Francis would be rapt in ecstasy. Whenever he felt the Spirit approaching, he would always welcome Him, enjoying the “inspiration” for as long as God permitted. His ecstasy would come in different forms, often experiencing what was beyond human reason.”

Man is the Cruelest Animal

TRUE DETECTIVE Key Art
Man is the Cruelest Animal

As I read of Francis’ need for divine rapture, I was struck by the opening scene with Dora Lange at the tree. Is this the work of a perverted mystic who sees the beauty in God’s creation and seeks ecstasy for as long as God permits? I also recalled reading Pizzolatto’s pilot script. It evoked this Franciscan mysticism (AND, in the original, Dora Lange had WINGS along with the Antler Crown).

ANGLE ON BODY — (depicted as mercifully as possible) -A white FEMALE, naked, posed kneeling over a LARGE TREE ROOT, her HANDS folded as if in prayer. Head down, a CROWN of ROOTS and THORNS is set on her scalp. A PAIR OF LARGE, DARK WINGS have been attached to her back. The WINGS drape over her ribs, their feather-tips sunken into a small patch of dirty snow– Her face is intact, her eyes gray and dull. It’s not an unattractive face, but white, and something subtle in it- a parting of the lips — almost suggests a rapture. —— from Nic Pizzolatto’s pilot script

It seemed likely that the rapture of the mystical St. Francis may be at the core of the Telios de Lorca of TRUE DETECTIVE. The original 12th century Franciscan points to the ecstasy in the divine union with God in nature.

So what then of the Telios? It’s a Greek word that appears 17 times in the King James Bible. In the original Greek, τέλειος (Telios phonetically), is defined as “brought to its end, finished; wanting nothing necessary to completeness; perfect; that which is perfect consummate human integrity and virtue of me.” As a side note, Maggie tells Rust that she and Marty have been married for 17 years. Probably a coincidence. The case covers 17 years. Another coincidence? My guess is that Telios is here to express the “perfect completion” of this “religious vision, the paraphilic lovemap, the attachment of physical lust to fantasies and practices forbidden by society,” Rust initially theorized.

Federico Garcia Lorca

Federico Garcia Lorca

So what then of De Lorca? I have an undergrad degree in Spanish Language and Literature and I studied in Mexico. Twice. I have spent a great deal of time and energy on the writing of Federico de Garcia Lorca. (When I was in school, they didn’t use the Spanish naming customs so he was always referred to as simply “de Lorca”.) So when I heard Telios de Lorca, I wondered if this fellow was related to the poet and dramatist I researched in college.

Born 5 June 1898 on a farm near Granada (Andalusia), Garcia Lorca was a gay man long before it was popular or accepted in Spain. He had loved Salvador Dali and, after a falling out with Dali, Garcia Lorca came to believe Luis Buñuel’s Un Chien Andalou (Andalusian Dog) was based on Dali’s revelations to Buñuel. Ironically, Garcia Lorca should have understood the dark forces of creativity swirling around Dali and Buñuel.

You see, Garcia Lorca was very much like St. Francis of Assisi. He espoused a deep love and appreciation for the natural world and its importance on nurturing and sustaining the creative spirit. In fact, one of Garcia Lorca’s most important works was the Theory and Play of the Duende. Tener duende or duende translates loosely as “having soul.” Four elements can be delineated in Lorca’s vision of duende: irrationality, earthiness, a heightened awareness of death, and a dash of the diabolical. Could anything be more definitive of TRUE DETECTIVE?

The duende is mysterious power which everyone senses and no philosopher explains. It is a force not a labour, a struggle not a thought … the duende surges up, inside, from the soles of the feet. It’s of the most ancient culture of immediate creation. For every man, every artist called Nietzsche or Cézanne, every step that he climbs in the tower of his perfection is at the expense of the struggle that he undergoes with his duende, not with an angel, as is often said, nor with his Muse. Seeking the duende, there is neither map nor discipline. We only know it burns the blood like powdered glass, that it exhausts, rejects all the sweet geometry we understand. All that has dark has duende. And there’s no deeper truth than that. — Federico Garcia Lorca

So, is Telios de Lorca, 12th century Franciscan mystic, hinting that TRUE DETECTIVE is perfect expression of the duende that seeks ecstasy and rapture by flawed men with the perfect creations of God? Is it Nietzsche’s Death of God that calls the darkness and grips man in the eternal recurrence that Rust describes.

Nick Cave Enraptured

Nick Cave Enraptured

Now, all of this would have been a curious exercise in obsessive research with extensive over-reaching (and may still be) had I not stumbled on one more connection. We all know how powerful, prevalent and meaningful the music is in TRUE DETECTIVE. The L.A. Times recently did a feature on the Musicians of TRUE DETECTIVE. Among the musical geniuses featured? NICK CAVE. The same Nick Cave of Grinderman, the band that explodes in that six-minute tracking shot at the end of Episode Four with “Honey Bee.”

In 1999, Nick Cave gave a talk in Vienna about the process of writing a love song in which he talked about the brilliance of Garcia Lorca and said, “All love songs must contain duende.” He went on to say:

Bob Dylan has always had it. Leonard Cohen deals specifically in it. It pursues Van Morrison like a black dog and though he tries to he cannot escape it. Tom Waits and Neil Young can summon it. It haunts Polly Harvey. My friend and Dirty 3 have it by the bucket load. The band Spiritualised are excited by it. Tindersticks desperately want it, but all in all it would appear that duende is too fragile to survive the brutality of technology and the ever increasing acceleration of the music industry. Perhaps there is just no money in sadness, no dollars in duende. Sadness or duende needs space to breathe. Melancholy hates haste and floats in silence. It must be handled with care.”

If I’m Marty, then this is all coincidence and chance. The bending of the narrative to fit the facts. If I’m Rust, it’s the eternal recurrence from which I have no escape.

I close then with the final thought from Garcia Lorca about the location of the duende. “Where is the duende? Through the empty archway a wind of the spirit enters, blowing insistently over the heads of the dead, in search of new landscapes and unknown accents: a wind with the odour of a child’s saliva, crushed grass, and Medusa’s veil, announcing the endless baptism of freshly created things.”

Telios de Lorca Haunting Me

“I knocked over a very old volume. The Letters of Telios de Lorca, a 12th century Franciscan mystic. Very obscure.” — Fallen Evangelist Joel Theriot during his interview with Detective Rustin Cohle

Like so many others, I’ve fallen down the TRUE DETECTIVE rabbit hole, searching for clues in every word uttered with measured intensity. This week, like everyone else, I am caught in Nic Pizzolatto’s psychic devil trap on the hunt for Telios de Lorca. Later today, I’ll post my discovery (I spent way too many hours last night reading the translations of several ancient texts) after my writing session and meeting. I don’t even want to go to either because I want to get this down while it’s still clear but a commitment is a commitment. Time may be a flat circle to Rust but in my world, it’s still linear.

TRUE DETECTIVE Mural looks more like a frightened child than a woman with a crown.

TRUE DETECTIVE Mural looks more like a frightened child than a woman with a crown.

And while we’re laboring over every uttered word, we watch every costume, every set, every tattoo for hints as to the deeper meaning. Surely all of this cannot be happening by accident. And, by the way, am I the only one who thinks the mural on the wall looks a lot more like the frightened Kelly Rita (December Ensminger) than a woman with a crown of antlers?

Sundance 2013 Competition Lineup Announced

U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION

Afternoon Delight / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jill Soloway) — In this sexy, dark comedy, a lost L.A. housewife puts her idyllic hipster life in jeopardy when she tries to rescue a stripper by taking her in as a live-in nanny. Cast: Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, Josh Radnor, Jane Lynch.
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: David Lowery) — The tale of an outlaw who escapes from prison and sets out across the Texas hills to reunite with his wife and the daughter he has never met. Cast: Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Nate Parker, Keith Carradine.
Austenland / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Jerusha Hess, Screenwriters: Jerusha Hess, Shannon Hale) — Thirtysomething, single Jane is obsessed with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice. On a trip to an English resort, her fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman become more real than she ever imagined. Cast: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Coolidge, Georgia King, James Callis.
C.O.G. / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kyle Patrick Alvarez) — In the first ever film adaptation of David Sedaris’ work, a cocky young man travels to Oregon to work on an apple farm. Out of his element, he finds his lifestyle and notions being picked apart by everyone who crosses his path. Cast: Jonathan Groff, Denis O’Hare, Corey Stoll, Dean Stockwell, Casey Wilson, Troian Bellisario.
Concussion / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Stacie Passon) — After a blow to the head, Abby decides she can’t do it anymore. Her life just can’t be only about the house, the kids and the wife. She needs more: she needs to be Eleanor. Cast: Robin Weigert, Maggie Siff, Johnathan Tchaikovsky, Julie Fain Lawrence, Emily Kinney, Laila Robins.
Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Francesca Gregorini) — Emanuel, a troubled girl, becomes preoccupied with her mysterious, new neighbor, who bears a striking resemblance to her dead mother. In offering to babysit her newborn, Emanuel unwittingly enters a fragile, fictional world, of which she becomes the gatekeeper. Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Jessica Biel, Alfred Molina, Frances O’Connor, Jimmi Simpson, Aneurin Barnard.
Fruitvale / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ryan Coogler) — The true story of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family and strangers on the last day of 2008. Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz, Ahna O’Reilly, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray.
In a World… / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Lake Bell) — An underachieving vocal coach is motivated by her father, the king of movie-trailer voice-overs, to pursue her aspirations of becoming a voiceover star. Amidst pride, sexism and family dysfunction, she sets out to change the voice of a generation. Cast: Lake Bell, Demetri Martin, Rob Corddry, Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino, Fred Melamed.
Kill Your Darlings / U.S.A. (Director: John Krokidas, Screenwriters: Austin Bunn, John Krokidas) — An untold story of murder that brought together a young Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs at Columbia University in 1944, providing the spark that led to the birth of an entire generation – their Beat revolution. Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHann, Ben Foster, Michael C. Hall, Jack Huston, Elizabeth Olsen.
The Lifeguard / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Liz W. Garcia) — A former valedictorian quits her reporter job in New York and returns to the place she last felt happy: her childhood home in Connecticut. She gets work as a lifeguard and starts a dangerous relationship with a troubled teenager. Cast: Kristen Bell, Mamie Gummer, Martin Starr, Alex Shaffer, Amy Madigan, David Lambert.
May in the Summer / U.S.A., Qatar, Jordan (Director and screenwriter: Cherien Dabis) — A bride-to-be is forced to reevaluate her life when she reunites with her family in Jordan and finds herself confronted with the aftermath of her parents’ divorce. Cast: Cherien Dabis, Hiam Abbass, Bill Pullman, Alia Shawkat, Nadine Malouf, Alexander Siddig. DAY ONE FILM
Mother of George / U.S.A. (Director: Andrew Dosunmu, Screenwriter: Darci Picoult) — A story about a woman willing to do anything and risk everything for her marriage. Cast: Isaach De Bankolé, Danai Gurira, Anthony Okungbowa, Yaya Alafia, Bukky Ajayi.
The Spectacular Now / U.S.A. (Director: James Ponsoldt, Screenwriters: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber) — Sutter is a high school senior who lives for the moment; Aimee is the introvert he attempts to “save.” As their relationship deepens, the lines between right and wrong, friendship and love, and “saving” and corrupting become inextricably blurred. Cast: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kyle Chandler.
Touchy Feely / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Lynn Shelton) — A massage therapist is unable to do her job when stricken with a mysterious and sudden aversion to bodily contact. Meanwhile, her uptight brother’s foundering dental practice receives new life when clients seek out his “healing touch.” Cast: Rosemarie DeWitt, Allison Janney, Ron Livingston, Scoot McNairy, Ellen Page, Josh Pais.
Toy’s House / U.S.A. (Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Screenwriter: Chris Galletta) — Three unhappy teenage boys flee to the wilderness where they build a makeshift house and live off the land as masters of their own destiny. Or at least that’s the plan. Cast: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Alison Brie.
Upstream Color / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Shane Carruth) — A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives. Cast: Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth, Andrew Sensenig, Thiago Martins.

U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

99% – The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film / U.S.A. (Directors: Audrey Ewell, Aaron Aites, Lucian Read, Nina Kristic) — The Occupy movement erupted in September 2011, propelling economic inequality into the spotlight. In an unprecedented collaboration, filmmakers across America tell its story, digging into big picture issues as organizers, analysts, participants and critics reveal how it happened and why.
After Tiller / U.S.A. (Directors: Martha Shane, Lana Wilson) — Since the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in 2009, only four doctors in the country provide late-term abortions. With unprecedented access, After Tiller goes inside the lives of these physicians working at the center of the storm.
American Promise / U.S.A. (Directors: Joe Brewster, Michèle Stephenson) — This intimate documentary follows the 12-year journey of two African-American families pursuing the promise of opportunity through the education of their sons.
Blackfish / U.S.A. (Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite) — Notorious killer whale Tilikum is responsible for the deaths of three individuals, including a top Sea World trainer. Blackfish shows the devastating consequences of keeping such intelligent and sentient creatures in captivity.
Blood Brother / U.S.A. (Director: Steve Hoover) — Rocky went to India as a disillusioned tourist. When he met a group of children with HIV, he decided to stay. He never could have imagined the obstacles he would face, or the love he would find.
Citizen Koch / U.S.A. (Directors: Carl Deal, Tia Lessin) — Wisconsin – birthplace of the Republican Party, government unions, “cheeseheads” and Paul Ryan – becomes a test market in the campaign to buy Democracy, and ground zero in the battle for the future of the GOP.
Cutie and the Boxer / U.S.A. (Director: Zachary Heinzerling) — This candid New York love story explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of famed boxing painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko. Anxious to shed her role as her overbearing husband’s assistant, Noriko finds an identity of her own.
Dirty Wars / U.S.A. (Director: Richard Rowley) — Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill chases down the truth behind America’s covert wars.
Gideon’s Army / U.S.A. (Director: Dawn Porter) — Gideon’s Army follows three young, committed Public Defenders who are dedicated to working for the people society would rather forget. Long hours, low pay and staggering caseloads are so common that even the most committed often give up.
God Loves Uganda / U.S.A. (Director: Roger Ross Williams) — A powerful exploration of the evangelical campaign to infuse African culture with values imported from America’s Christian Right. The film follows American and Ugandan religious leaders fighting “sexual immorality” and missionaries trying to convince Ugandans to follow biblical law.
Inequality for All / U.S.A. (Director: Jacob Kornbluth) — In this timely and entertaining documentary, noted economic-policy expert Robert Reich distills the topic of widening income inequality, and addresses the question of what effects this increasing gap has on our economy and our democracy.
Manhunt / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Greg Barker) — This espionage tale goes inside the CIA’s long conflict against Al Qaeda, as revealed by the remarkable women and men whose secret war against Osama bin Laden started nearly a decade before most of us even knew his name.
Narco Cultura / U.S.A. (Director: Shaul Schwarz) — An examination of Mexican drug cartels’ influence in pop culture on both sides of the border as experienced by an LA narcocorrido singer dreaming of stardom and a Juarez crime scene investigator on the front line of Mexico’s Drug War.
Twenty Feet From Stardom / U.S.A. (Director: Morgan Neville) — Backup singers live in a world that lies just beyond the spotlight. Their voices bring harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we’ve had no idea who these singers are or what lives they lead – until now. DAY ONE FILM
Valentine Road / U.S.A. (Director: Marta Cunningham) — In 2008, eighth-grader Brandon McInerney shot classmate Larry King at point blank range. Unraveling this tragedy from point of impact, the film reveals the heartbreaking circumstances that led to the shocking crime as well as its startling aftermath.

WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION

Circles / Serbia, Germany, France, Croatia, Slovenia (Director: Srdan Golubovic, Screenwriters: Srdjan Koljevic, Melina Pota Koljevic) — Five people are affected by a tragic heroic act. Twenty years later, all of them will confront the past through their own crises. Will they overcome guilt, frustration and their urge for revenge? Will they do the right thing, at all costs? Cast: Aleksandar Bercek, Leon Lucev, Nebojsa Glogovac, Hristina Popovic, Nikola Rakocevic, Vuk Kostic. World Premiere
Crystal Fairy / Chile (Director and screenwriter: Sebastián Silva) — Jamie invites a stranger to join a road trip to Chile. The woman’s free and esoteric nature clashes with Jamie’s acidic, self-absorbed personality as they head into the desert for a Mescaline-fueled psychedelic trip. Cast: Michael Cera, Gabby Hoffmann, Juan Andrés Silva, José Miguel Silva, Agustín Silva. World Premiere. DAY ONE FILM
The Future / Chile, Germany, Italy, Spain (Director and screenwriter: Alicia Scherson) — When their parents die, Bianca starts to smoke and Tomas is still a virgin. The orphans explore the dangerous streets of adulthood until Bianca finds Maciste, a retired Mr. Universe, and enters his dark mansion in search of a future. Cast: Manuela Martelli, Rutger Hauer, Luigi Ciardo, Nicolas Vaporidis, Alessandro Giallocosta. World Premiere
Houston / Germany (Director and screenwriter: Bastian Günther) — Clemens Trunschka is a corporate headhunter and an alcoholic. Drinking increasingly isolates him from his life and leads him away from reality. While searching for a CEO candidate in Houston, his addiction submerges him into his own darkness. Cast: Ulrich Tukur, Garret Dillahunt, Wolfram Koch, Jenny Schily, Jason Douglas, Jens Münchow. World Premiere
Jiseul / South Korea (Director and screenwriter: Muel O) — In 1948, as the Korean government ordered the Communists’ eviction to Jeju Island, the military invaded a calm and peaceful village. Townsfolk took sanctuary in a cave and debated moving to a higher mountain. Cast: Min-chul SUNG, Jung-won YANG, Young-soon OH, Soon-dong PARK, Suk-bum MOON, Kyung-sub JANG. International Premiere
Lasting / Poland, Spain (Director and screenwriter: Jacek Borcuch) — An emotional love story about two Polish students who fall in love with each other while working summer jobs in Spain. An unexpected nightmare interrupts their carefree time in the heavenly landscape and throws their lives into chaos. Cast: Jakub Gierszal, Magdalena Berus, Angela Molina. World Premiere
Metro Manila / United Kingdom, Philippines (Director: Sean Ellis, Screenwriters: Sean Ellis, Frank E. Flowers) — Seeking a better life, Oscar and his family move from the poverty-stricken rice fields to the big city of Manila, where they fall victim to various inhabitants whose manipulative ways are a daily part of city survival. Cast: Jake Macapagal, John Arcilla, Althea Vega. World Premiere
Shopping / New Zealand (Directors: Mark Albiston, Louis Sutherland, Screenwriters: Louis Sutherland, Mark Albiston) — New Zealand, 1981: Seduced by a charismatic career criminal, teenager Willie must choose where his loyalty lies – with a family of shoplifters or his own blood. Cast: Kevin Paulo, Julian Dennison, Jacek Koman, Alistair Browning. World Premiere
Soldate Jeannette / Austria (Director: Daniel Hoesl) — Fanni has had enough of money and leaves to buy a tent. Anna has had enough of pigs and leaves a needle in the hay. Cars crash and money burns to shape their mutual journey toward a rising liberty. Cast: Johanna Orsini-Rosenberg, Christina Reichsthaler, Josef Kleindienst, Aurelia Burckhardt, Julia Schranz, Ines Rössl. World Premiere
There Will Come a Day / Italy, France (Director: Giorgio Diritti, Screenwriters: Giorgio Diritti, Fredo Valla, Tania Pedroni) — Painful issues push Augusta, a young Italian woman, to doubt the certainties on which she has built her existence. On a small boat in the immensity of the Amazon rain forest, she faces the adventure of searching for herself. Cast: Jasmine Trinca, Anne Alvaro, Pia Engleberth. World Premiere
Wajma (An Afghan Love Story) / Afghanistan (Director and screenwriter: Barmak Akram) — A young man in Kabul seduces a girl. When she tells him she’s pregnant, he questions having taken her virginity. Then her father arrives, and a timeless, archaic violence erupts – possibly leading to a crime, and even a sacrifice. Cast: Wajma Bahar, Mustafa Abdulsatar, Haji Gul, Breshna Bahar. World Premiere
What They Don’t Talk About When They Talk About Love / Indonesia (Director and screenwriter: Mouly Surya) — Mouly Surya’s film explores the odds of love and deception among the blind, the deaf and the unlucky sighted people at a high school for the visually impaired. Cast: Nicholas Saputra, Ayushita Nugraha, Karina Salim, Anggun Priambodo, Lupita Jennifer. World Premiere

WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

Fallen City / China (Director: Qi Zhao) — Fallen City spans four years to reveal how three families who survived the 2008 Sichuan earthquake to embark on a journey searching for hope, purpose, identity, and to rebuild their lives in a new China torn between tradition and modernity. North American Premiere
Fire in the Blood / India (Director: Dylan Mohan Gray) — In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Western governments and pharmaceutical companies blocked low-cost antiretroviral drugs from reaching AIDS-stricken Africa, causing 10 million or more unnecessary deaths. An improbable group of people decided to fight back. North American Premiere
Google and the World Brain / Spain, United Kingdom (Director: Ben Lewis) — In the most ambitious project ever conceived on the Internet, Google has been scanning the world’s books for 10 years. They said the intention was to build a giant digital library, but that involved scanning millions of copyrighted works. World Premiere
The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear / Georgia, Germany (Director: Tinatin Gurchiani) — A film director casting a 15-23-year-old protagonist visits villages and cities to meet people who answer her call. She follows those who prove to be interesting enough through various dramatic and funny situations. North American Premiere
The Moo Man / United Kingdom (Directors: Andy Heathcote, Heike Bachelier) — A year in the life of heroic farmer Steve, scene stealing Ida (queen of the herd), and a supporting cast of 55 cows. When Ida falls ill, Steve’s optimism is challenged and their whole way of life is at stake. World Premiere
Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer / Russian Federation, United Kingdom (Directors: Mike Lerner, Maxim Pozdorovkin) — Three young women face seven years in a Russian prison for a satirical performance in a Moscow cathedral. But who is really on trial: the three young artists or the society they live in? World Premiere
A River Changes Course / Cambodia, U.S.A. (Director: Kalyanee Mam) — Three young Cambodians struggle to overcome the crushing effects of deforestation, overfishing, and overwhelming debt in this devastatingly beautiful story of a country reeling from the tragedies of war and rushing to keep pace with a rapidly expanding world. World Premiere
Salma / United Kingdom, India (Director: Kim Longinotto) — When Salma, a young girl in South India, reached puberty, her parents locked her away. Millions of girls all over the world share the same fate. Twenty-five years later, Salma has fought her way back to the outside world. World Premiere
The Square (El Midan) / Egypt, U.S.A. (Director: Jehane Noujaim) — What does it mean to risk your life for your ideals? How far will five revolutionaries go in defending their beliefs in the fight for their nation? World Premiere
The Stuart Hall Project / United Kingdom (Director: John Akomfrah) — Antinuclear campaigner, New Left activist and founding father of Cultural Studies, this documentary interweaves 70 years of Stuart Hall’s film, radio and television appearances, and material from his private archive to document a memorable life and construct a portrait of Britain’s foremost radical intellectual. World Premiere
The Summit / Ireland, United Kingdom (Director: Nick Ryan) — Twenty-four climbers converged at the last stop before summiting the most dangerous mountain on Earth. Forty-eight hours later, 11 had been killed or simply vanished. Had one, Ger McDonnell, stuck to the climbers’ code, he might still be alive. International Premiere
Who is Dayani Cristal? / United Kingdom (Director: Marc Silver) — An anonymous body in the Arizona desert sparks the beginning of a real-life human drama. The search for its identity leads us across a continent to seek out the people left behind and the meaning of a mysterious tattoo. World Premiere. DAY ONE FILM
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Blue Caprice / U.S.A. (Director: Alexandre Moors, Screenwriters: R.F.I Porto, Alexandre Moors) — An abandoned boy is lured to America and drawn into the shadow of a dangerous father figure in this film inspired by the real life events that led to the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks. Cast: Isaiah Washington, Tequan Richmond, Joey Lauren Adams, Tim Blake Nelson, Cassandra Freeman, Leo Fitzpatrick.
Computer Chess / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Andrew Bujalski) — An existential comedy about the brilliant men who taught machines to play chess – back when the machines seemed clumsy and we seemed smart. Cast: Patrick Riester, Myles Paige, James Curry, Robin Schwartz, Gerald Peary, Wiley Wiggins.
Escape from Tomorrow / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Randy Moore) — A postmodern, surreal voyage into the bowels of “family” entertainment; an epic battle begins when an unemployed, middle-aged father loses his sanity during a close encounter with two teenage girls on holiday. Cast: Roy Abramsohn, Elena Schuber, Katelynn Rodriguez, Annet Mahendru, Danielle Safady, Alison Lees-Taylor.
I Used to Be Darker / U.S.A. (Director: Matthew Porterfield, Screenwriters: Amy Belk, Matthew Porterfield) — A runaway seeks refuge with her aunt and uncle in Baltimore, only to find their marriage ending and her cousin in crisis. In the days that follow, the family struggles to let go while searching for things to sustain them. Cast: Deragh Campbell, Hannah Gross, Kim Taylor, Ned Oldham, Geoff Grace, Nick Petr.
It Felt Like Love / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Eliza Hittman) — On the outskirts of Brooklyn, a 14-year-old girl’s sexual quest takes a dangerous turn when she pursues an older guy and tests the boundaries between obsession and love. Cast: Gina Piersanti, Giovanna Salimeni, Ronen Rubinstein, Jesse Cordasco, Nick Rosen, Case Prime.
Milkshake / U.S.A. (Director: David Andalman, Screenwriters: David Andalman, Mariko Munro) — In mid-1990’s America, we follow the tragic sex life of Jolie Jolson, a wannabe thug (and great-great-grandson of legendary vaudevillian Al Jolson) in suburban DC as he strives to become something he can never be – black. Cast: Tyler Ross, Shareeka Epps, Georgia Ford, Eshan Bay, Leo Fitzpatrick, Danny Burstein.
Newlyweeds / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Shaka King) — A Brooklyn repo man and his globetrotting girlfriend forge an unlikely romance. But what should be a match made in stoner heaven turns into a love triangle gone awry in this dark coming-of-age comedy about dependency. Cast: Amari Cheatom, Trae Harris, Tone Tank, Colman Domingo, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Adrian Martinez.
Pit Stop / U.S.A. (Director: Yen Tan, Screenwriters: Yen Tan, David Lowery) — Two working-class gay men in a small Texas town and a love that isn’t quite out of reach. Cast: Bill Heck, Marcus DeAnda, Amy Seimetz, John Merriman, Alfredo Maduro, Corby Sullivan.
A Teacher / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Hannah Fidell) — A popular young teacher in a wealthy suburban Texas high school has an affair with one of her students. Her life begins to unravel as the relationship comes to an end. Cast: Lindsay Burdge, Will Brittain, Jennifer Prediger, Jonny Mars, Julie Phillips, Chris Dubeck.
This is Martin Bonner / U.S.A.(Director and screenwriter: Chad Hartigan) — Martin Bonner has just moved to Reno for a new job in prison rehabilitation. Starting over at age 58, he struggles to adapt until an unlikely friendship with an ex-con blossoms, helping him confront the problems he left behind. Cast: Paul Eenhoorn, Richmond Arquette, Sam Buchanan, Robert Longstreet, Demetrius Grosse.

Getting Personal

It has been almost a year since I’ve written on this blog. It used to be mostly about indie filmmaking, film festivals and digital fine arts. Then I moved to the coast to try my hand at writing. I have two writing partners and, with them, have had some great “reads,” great forward progress, and tremendous validation. My writing career wasn’t a resounding success but it wasn’t a failure either.

Then in June, I went back to Wisconsin to help my parents. I helped them move back to our hometown because my Dad’s health was failing and my mother was overwhelmed. I returned to writing with a plan to return in the fall to “check up on their progress.” But then, I called my Dad for his birthday, 26 August. He told me he wasn’t feeling well and asked me to come home and help him figure it out. I booked a flight for September 8th but my father was hospitalized prior to when I got home. They couldn’t find anything wrong. By the time I got home, he was out of the hospital with a clean bill of health. But he was 37 pounds lighter than he had been in May. So, I took him to another doctor, got a few more tests and, on 18 September, got a grim medical report with a terminal diagnosis. A mass in chest, a spot on his lung, a mass on his adrenal and a growth in his liver. Three weeks later, my father died at home. On 11 October 2012, he slipped from this world and I have been struggling to make sense of everything.

I got back a couple of days ago to find someone had hit my car in the parking garage while I was gone. No note. Just a bunch of damage to try to fix. A fitting conclusion to the last few months. A crash I hadn’t seen coming.

Sundance 2012 U.S. Dramatic Competition

The world premieres of 16 American narrative feature films.

Beasts of the Southern Wild / U.S.A. (Director: Benh Zeitlin, Screenwriters: Benh Zeitlin, Lucy Alibar) — Waters gonna rise up, wild animals gonna rerun from the grave, and everything south of the levee is goin’ under, in this tale of a six year old named Hushpuppy, who lives with her daddy at the edge of the world. Cast: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry.

The Comedy / U.S.A. (Director: Rick Alverson, Screenwriters: Rick Alverson, Robert Donne, Colm O’Leary) — Indifferent even to the prospects of inheriting his father’s estate, Swanson whiles away his days with a group of aging Brooklyn hipsters, engaging in small acts of recreational cruelty and pacified boredom. Cast: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, Kate Lyn Sheil, Alexia Rassmusen, Gregg Turkington.

The End of Love / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Mark Webber) — A young father unravels following the loss of the mother of his child. Cast: Mark Webber, Shannyn Sossamon, Michael Cera, Jason Ritter, Amanda Seyfried, Frankie Shaw.

Filly Brown / U.S.A. (Directors: Youssef Delara, Michael D. Olmos, Screenwriter: Youssef Delara) — A Hip Hop-driven drama about a Mexican girl who rises to fame and consciousness as she copes with the incarceration of her mother through music. Cast: Lou Diamond Phillips, Gina Rodriguez, Jenni Rivera, Edward James Olmos.

The First Time / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jonathan Kasdan) — Two high schoolers meet at a party. Over the course of a weekend, things turn magical, romantic, complicated and funny, as they discover what it’s like to fall in love for the first time. Cast: Brittany Robertson, Dylan O’Brien, Craig Roberts, James Frecheville, Victoria Justice.

For Ellen / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: So Yong Kim) — A struggling musician takes an overnight long-distance drive in order to fight his estranged wife for custody of their young daughter. Cast: Paul Dano, Jon Heder, Jena Malone, Margarita Levieva, Shay Mandigo.

Hello I Must Be Going / U.S.A. (Director: Todd Louiso, Screenwriter: Sarah Koskoff) — Divorced, childless, demoralized and condemned to move back in with her parents at the age of 35, Amy Minsky’s prospects look bleak – until the unexpected attention of a teenage boy changes everything. Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Blythe Danner, Christopher Abbott, John Rubinstein, Julie White.

Keep the Lights On / U.S.A. (Director: Ira Sachs, Screenwriters: Ira Sachs, Mauricio Zacharias) — An autobiographically inspired story of a passionate long-term relationship between two men driven by addiction and secrets but bound by love and hopefulness. Cast: Thure Lindhardt, Zachary Booth, Julianne Nicholson, Souleymane Sy Savane, Paprika Steen.

LUV / U.S.A. (Director: Sheldon Candis, Screenwriters: Sheldon Candis, Justin Wilson) — An orphaned 11-year-old boy is forced to face the unpleasant truth about his beloved uncle during one harrowing day in the streets of Baltimore. Cast: Common, Michael Rainey Jr., Dennis Haysbert, Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton.

Middle Of Nowhere / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ava DuVernay) — When her husband is incarcerated, an African-American woman struggles to maintain her marriage and her identity. Cast: Emayatzy Corinealdi, David Oyelowo, Omari Hardwick, Lorraine Touissant, Edwina Findley.

Nobody Walks / U.S.A. (Director: Ry Russo-Young, Screenwriters: Lena Dunham, Ry Russo-Young) — Martine, a young artist from New York, is invited into the home of a hip, liberal LA family for a week. Her presence unravels the family’s carefully maintained status quo, and a mess of sexual and emotional entanglements ensues. Cast: John Krasinski, Olivia Thirlby, Rosemarie DeWitt, India Ennenga, Justin Kirk.

Safety Not Guaranteed / U.S.A. (Director: Colin Trevorrow, Screenwriter: Derek Connolly) — A trio of magazine employees investigate a classified ad seeking a partner for time travel. One employee develops feelings for the paranoid but compelling loner and seeks to discover what he’s really up to. Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni.

Save the Date / U.S.A. (Director: Michael Mohan, Screenwriters: Jeffrey Brown, Egan Reich, Michael Mohan) — As her sister Beth prepares to get married, Sarah finds herself caught up in an intense post- breakup rebound. The two fumble through the redefined emotional landscape of modern day relationships, forced to relearn how to love and be loved. Cast: Lizzy Caplan, Alison Brie, Martin Starr, Geoffrey Arend, Mark Webber.

Simon Killer / France, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Antonio Campos) — A recent college graduate goes to Paris after breaking up with his girlfriend of 5 years. Once there, he falls in love with a young prostitute and their fateful journey begins. Cast: Brady Corbet, Mati Diop, Constance Rousseau, Michael Abiteboul, Solo.

Smashed / U.S.A. (Director: James Ponsoldt, Screenwriters: Susan Burke, James Ponsoldt) — Kate and Charlie are a young married couple whose bond is built on a mutual love of music, laughter and… drinking. When Kate decides to get sober, her new lifestyle brings troubling issues to the surface and calls into question her relationship with Charlie. Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, Octavia Spencer, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally.

The Surrogate / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ben Lewin) — Mark O’Brien, a 36-year-old poet and journalist with an iron lung, decides he no longer wishes to be a virgin. With the help of his therapist and the guidance of his priest, he contacts a professional sex surrogate to take him on a journey to manhood. Cast: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy.

Sundance 2012 U.S. Documentary Competition

The world premieres of 16 American documentary films.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry / U.S.A., China (Director: Alison Klayman) — Renowned Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has garnered international attention as much for his ambitious artwork as his political provocations and increasingly public clashes with the Chinese government.

The Atomic States of America / U.S.A. (Directors: Don Argott, Sheena M. Joyce) — In 2010, the United States announced construction of the first new nuclear power plant in more than 32 years. A year later, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck the Fukushima Power Plant in Japan sparking a fierce debate in the U.S. over the safety and viability of nuclear power.

Chasing Ice / U.S.A. (Director: Jeff Orlowski) — Science, spectacle and human passion mix in this stunningly cinematic portrait as National Geographic photographer James Balog captures time-lapse photography of glaciers over several years providing tangible visual evidence of climate change.

DETROPIA / U.S.A. (Directors: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady) — The woes of Detroit are emblematic of the collapse of the U.S. manufacturing base. This is the dramatic story of a city and its people who refuse to leave the building, even as the flames are rising.

ESCAPE FIRE: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare / U.S.A. (Directors: Matthew Heineman, Susan Froemke) — What can be done to save our broken medical system? Powerful forces are trying to maintain the status quo in a profit-driven medical industry, but a movement to bring innovative methods of prevention and healing is finally gaining ground – potentially saving the health of a nation.

Finding North / U.S.A. (Directors: Kristi Jacobson, Lori Silverbush) — A crisis of hunger looms in America and is not limited to the poverty stricken and uneducated. Can a return to policies of the 1970s save our future?

The House I Live In / U.S.A. (Director: Eugene Jarecki) — For over 40 years, the War on Drugs has accounted for 45 million arrests, made America the world’s largest jailer and damaged poor communities at home and abroad. Yet, drugs are cheaper, purer and more available today than ever. Where did we go wrong and what is the path toward healing?

How to Survive a Plague / U.S.A. (Director: David France) — The untold story of the intensive efforts that turned AIDS into a manageable condition – and the improbable group of (mostly HIV-positive) young men and women whose amazing resilience broke through a time of rampant death and political indifference.

The Invisible War / U.S.A. (Director: Kirby Dick) — An investigative and powerfully emotional examination of the epidemic of rape of soldiers within the U.S. military, the institutions that cover up its existence and the profound personal and social consequences that arise from it.

Marina Abramović The Artist is Present / U.S.A. (Director: Matthew Akers) — Marina Abramović prepares for a major retrospective of her work at The Museum of Modern Art in New York hoping to finally silence four decades of skeptics who proclaim: ‘But why is this art?’

ME at the ZOO / U.S.A. (Directors: Chris Moukarbel, Valerie Veatch) — With 270 million hits to date, Chris Crocker, an uncanny young video blogger from small town Tennessee, is considered the Internet’s first rebel folk hero and at the same time one of its most controversial personalities.

The Other Dream Team / Lithuania, U.S.A. (Director: Marius Markevicius) — The 1992 Lithuanian National Basketball Team went from the clutches of Communism to the Summer Olympics in Barcelona – a testament to the powerful role of sports as a catalyst for cultural identity.

The Queen of Versailles / U.S.A. (Director: Lauren Greenfield) — Jackie and David were triumphantly constructing the biggest house in America – a sprawling, 90,000-square-foot palace inspired by Versailles – when their timeshare empire falters due to the economic crisis. Their rags-to-riches-to-rags story reveals the innate virtues and flaws of the American Dream.

Slavery By Another Name / U.S.A. (Director: Sam Pollard) — As slavery came to an end with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, a new system of involuntary servitude took its place with shocking force, brutalizing, terrorizing and ultimately circumscribing the lives of hundreds of thousands of African Americans well into the 20th century.

Love Free or Die: How the Bishop of New Hampshire is Changing the World / U.S.A. (Director: Macky Alston) — One man whose two defining passions are in conflict: An openly gay bishop refuses to leave the Church or the man he loves.

We’re Not Broke / U.S.A. (Directors: Karin Hayes, Victoria Bruce) — As American lawmakers slash budgets and lay off employees, leaving many people scrambling to survive, multibillion-dollar corporations are concealing colossal profits overseas to avoid paying U.S. income tax. Fed-up Americans are taking their frustration to the streets.

Sundance 2012 World Dramatic Competition

Fourteen films from emerging filmmaking talents offer fresh perspectives and inventive styles.

4 Suns / Czech Republic (Director and screenwriter: Bohdan Sláma) — Immature Fogi attempts to straighten up and accept his responsibilities as a new husband and father, as well as role model to his troubled son from a previous relationship, but finds himself unable to change his nature, leaving him to watch haplessly as his family begins to crumble. Cast: Jaroslav Plesl, Aňa Geislerová, Karel Roden, Jiří Mádl, Klára Melíšková. World Premiere

About the Pink Sky / Japan (Director and screenwriter: Keiichi Kobayashi) — A high school girl finds a wallet full of money and tracks down its owner, leading to unexpected consequences for the girl and her friends. Cast: Ai Ikeda, Ena Koshino, Reiko Fujiwara, Tsubasa Takayama, Hakusyu Togetsuan. International Premiere

Can / Turkey (Director and screenwriter: Rasit Celikezer) — A young married couple live happily in Istanbul, but their decision to illegally procure a child threatens their future together. Cast: Selen Ucer, Serdar Orcin, Berkan Demirbag, Erkan Avci. World Premiere

Father’s Chair (A Cadeira do Pai) / Brazil (Director: Luciano Moura, Screenwriters: Elena Soarez, Luciano Moura) — Following the trail of his runaway teen son, Theo confronts his own identity as a son, a father and a man along the way. Cast: Wagner Moura, Mariana Lima, Lima Duarte, Bras Antunes. . World Premiere

L / Greece (Director: Babis Makridis, Screenwriters: Efthimis Filippou, Babis Makridis) — A man who lives in his car gets caught up in the undeclared war between motorcycle riders and car drivers. Cast: Aris Servetalis, Makis Papadimitriou, Lefteris Mathaios, Nota Tserniafski, Stavros Raptis. World Premiere

The Last Elvis (El Ultimo Elvis) / Argentina (Director: Armando Bo, Screenwriters: Nicolás Giacobone and Armando Bo) — A Buenos Aires Elvis impersonator who believes that he is the reincarnation of the King struggles to shake free from reality and live his musical dream. Cast: John McInerny, Griselda Siciliani, Margarita Lopez. World Premiere

Madrid, 1987 / Spain (Director and screenwriter: David Trueba) — The balance of power and desire constantly shifts during the meeting of an older journalist and a young student, of two generations completely foreign to one another. Cast: José Sacristán, María Valverde, Ramon Fontserè. International Premiere

My Brother the Devil / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Sally El Hosaini) — A pair of British Arab brothers trying to get by in gangland London learn the extraordinary courage it takes to be yourself. Cast: James Floyd, Saïd Taghmaoui, Fady Elsayed. World Premiere

Teddy Bear / Denmark (Director: Mads Matthiesen, Screenwriters: Mads Matthiesen, Martin Pieter Zandvliet) — Dennis, a painfully shy 38-year-old bodybuilder who lives with his mother, sets off to Thailand in search of love. Cast: Kim Kold, Elsebeth Steentoft, Lamaiporn Sangmanee Hougaard, David Winters, Allan Mogensen. World Premiere

Valley of Saints / India, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Musa Syeed) — Gulzar plans to run away from the war and poverty surrounding his village in Kashmir with his best friend, but a beautiful young woman researching the dying lake leads him to contemplate a different future Cast: Gulzar Ahmad Bhat, Mohammed Afzal Sofi, Neelofar Hamid. World Premiere

Violeta Went to Heaven (Violeta se Fue a Los Cielos) / Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Spain (Director: Andrés Wood, Screenwriters: Eliseo Altunaga, Rodrigo Bazaes, Guillermo Calderón, Andrés Wood) — A portrait of famed Chilean singer and folklorist Violeta Parra filled with her musical work, her memories, her loves and her hopes. Cast: Francisca Gavilán, Thomas Durand, Luis Machín, Gabriela Aguilera, Roberto Farías. International Premiere

Wish You Were Here / Australia (Director: Kieran Darcy-Smith, Screenwriters: Felicity Price, Kieran Darcy-Smith) — Four friends embark on a carefree holiday, but only three return home. Who knows what happened on that fateful night? Cast: Joel Edgerton, Teresa Palmer, Felicity Price, Antony Starr. World Premiere.

WRONG / France (Director and screenwriter: Quentin Dupieux) — Dolph searches for his lost dog, but through encounters with a nympho pizza-delivery girl, a jogging neighbor seeking the absolute, and a mysterious righter of wrongs, he may eventually lose his mind… and his identity. Cast: Jack Plotnick, Eric Judor, Alexis Dziena, Steve Little, William Fichtner. World Premiere

Young & Wild / Chile (Director: Marialy Rivas, Screenwriters: Marialy Rivas, Camila Gutiérrez, Pedro Peirano) — 17-year-old Daniela, raised in the bosom of a strict Evangelical family and recently unmasked as a fornicator by her shocked parents, struggles to find her own path to spiritual harmony. Cast: Alicia Rodríguez, Aline Kuppenheim, María Gracia Omegna, Felipe Pinto. World Premiere

Sundance 2012 World Documentary Competition

Twelve documentaries by some of the most courageous and extraordinary filmmakers working today.

1⁄2 REVOLUTION / Denmark, Egypt (Directors: Omar Shargawi, Karim El Hakim) — In January 2011, two filmmakers captured the reality of the Egyptian revolution as it occurred out of view from the world’s media in the alleyways and streets away from the square – and in the process were arrested by the secret police. North American Premiere

5 Broken Cameras / Palestine, Israel, France (Directors: Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi) — A Palestinian journalist chronicles his village’s resistance to a separation barrier being erected on their land and in the process captures his young son’s lens on the world. International Premiere

THE AMBASSADOR / Denmark (Director: Mads Brügger) — What happens when a very white European man buys his way into being a diplomat in one of Central Africa’s most failed nations? Welcome to the bizarre and hidden world of African diplomacy, where gin and tonics flow and diamond hustlers and corrupt politicians run free. North American Premiere

BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!* / Sweden (Director: Fredrik Gertten) — The behind-the-scenes story of a full-scale attack on freedom of speech. When Dole set its sights on the WG Film production Bananas!* in May 2009, confusion was the method, aggression was the tactic and media control was the story. North American Premiere

China Heavyweight / Canada, China (Director: Yung Chang) — In central China, where a coach recruits poor rural teenagers and turns them into Western-style boxing champions, the top students face dramatic choices as they graduate – should they fight for the collective good or for themselves? A metaphor for the choices everyone in the New China faces now. World Premiere

Gypsy Davy / Israel, U.S.A., Spain (Director: Rachel Leah Jones) — How does a white boy with Alabama roots become a Flamenco guitarist in Andalusian boots? A tale of self-invention and the pursuit of happiness, regardless of the cost to others. International Premiere

The Imposter / United Kingdom (Director: Bart Layton) — In 1994 a 13-year-old boy disappears from his home in San Antonio, Texas. Three and a half years later he is found alive thousands of miles away in Spain with a shocking story of kidnap and torture. But all is not what it seems in this tale that is truly stranger than fiction. World Premiere

Indie Game: The Movie / Canada (Directors: Lisanne Pajot, James Swirsky) — Follow the dramatic journeys of indie game developers as they create games and release those works, and themselves, to the world. World Premiere

The Law in These Parts / Israel (Director: Ra’anan Alexandrowicz) — Israel’s 43-year military legal system in the Occupied Palestinian Territories unfolds through provocative interviews with the system’s architects and historical footage showing the enactment of these laws upon the Palestinian population. International Premiere

Payback / Canada (Director: Jennifer Baichwal) — Based on Margaret Atwood’s best-selling book, Payback explores how debt is a central organizing principle in our lives – influencing relationships, societies, governing structures and the very fate of this planet. World Premiere

Putin’s Kiss / Denmark (Director: Lise Birk Pedersen) — 19-year-old Marsha is a model spokesperson in a strongly nationalistic Russian youth movement that aims to protect the country from its enemies. When she starts recognizing the organization’s flaws, she must take a stand for or against it. North American Premiere

Searching for Sugar Man / Sweden, United Kingdom (Director: Malik Bendjelloul) — Rodriguez was the greatest ‘70s US rock icon who never was. Hailed as the greatest recording artist of his generation he disappeared into oblivion – rising again from the ashes in a completely different context many miles away. World Premiere.

Film Gobies

In the marine world, there is a special group of fish that survive by cleaning the dead skin and parasites off other fish. Wrasses, cichlids, catfish, and gobies are among the better known marine cleaner fishes. The film industry has its own Film Gobies.

Gobie Cleaning Up

They circulate in the industry waters, trolling for aspirants and wannabe’s who are searching for the “super secret path” into the world of the film elite. There are screenwriting seminars offering to “make your script stand out from the rest.” There are pitching seminars to teach you how to “captivate producers and get your film into development.” There are seminars on how to find an agent or manager to sell your work and “create a bidding war” for your material.

The Film Gobies are, in fact, an industry of their very own. The amount of money and time spent trying to break into the industry must rival the amount actually spent making movies. Everybody has an idea. Everybody has a script. Everybody is looking for an edge.

Last night, I got to thinking about how crazy it would be if every industry had a Gobie industry like the Film Gobies. In Wisconsin (where I grew up), I would have been seeing seminars like “How to Make Your Cornfield Stand Out from the Rest!” I could have gone to a workshop on “Negotiating a Better Market Price for Your Milk.” I might have even been able to go to an intensive on “Getting a Better Grain Broker to Maximize Your Profits.” Maybe there would be better pricing for farm goods if such workshops were available. Maybe farming would be a respected and sought after job. Now that I’m thinking about it, maybe the Gobies are performing a valuable service! Maybe they’re keeping the fringe element busy while they’re building their skills while simultaneously elevating the overall skill level of the general pool. Maybe everybody needs a Gobie.

Waiting …

This entire business is rush, rush, rush followed by lots of waiting. Waiting for people to read it. Waiting for people to pass it on to the next person. Waiting for financing. The entire film business model is completely illogical (to quote Mr. Spock) but if there’s a better way to do it, no one is aware of it. Maybe it’s working with creative types. Filmmaking is group art. It’s hard enough to keep one artist on track much less a cast and crew of a hundred or so. Long, long time ago, in the moviemaking dark ages, Studios took over filmmaking and tried to make it run more like a factory. And that’s exactly what they churned out, cookie cutter movies with few sparks and even less artistry. So, now, we all struggle within this crazy system, trying to get something — trying to get anything — made. The people that figure it out often do quite well. They make film after film (hence the reason we’re so excited to be attached to two accomplished producers).

This week, we’re starting the rewrite on our second feature script. The most important thing I’ve learned in the last 2.4 years, keep writing. Do not stop to wait and see if the deal turns out. Don’t wait for who’s reading it to get back to you. You’ll go bonkers. Absolutely bonkers. Instead, keep working on creating great material. That way, you’ve got something more than a blank stare to offer if they say, “Hmmmm, I like the writing but I don’t know if I can find the financing for this. What else have you got?

On a personal note. My son proposed to his girlfriend, Jamie, over Thanksgiving. He got down on his knee in a park in Barcelona, Spain, and asked her to marry him. She said yes. They’re thinking next spring since he’s working on a film in Costa Rica this spring. More waiting.

Development … not Hell … yet

It has been so long since I’ve blogged, I barely remember how to do it. Decided to get back to it again because I finally have things to talk about. A little over two years ago, I moved to the coast and it has been a tad grueling. The economy hasn’t been helping the industry much and the competition is fierce! Let me just that NO ONE is sitting around waiting to see what you might be writing. The reality is that everyone has a dozen scripts (or more) sitting in their offices and at their homes … a dozen scripts they already don’t want to read. The news that you have one ready is rarely welcome news.

I’ve been really lucky in that I’ve had super talented, super supportive readers (a former Development Exec and a current Assistant to a studio head) who have been really to read what I’ve got and pass it on.

And, now, I’ve almost got something in development with a couple of terrific producers. A few more details to iron out but the work is already getting into some really amazing hands. In the past, whenever I heard the word “Development,” it was always followed by the word “Hell.” Everything may end up there. This business is known for deals collapsing, talent becoming unavailable as the deal progress, and challenges in production.

If it were easy, I guess everybody would be doing it … believe me, this is NOT easy. But it is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

I used to blog about teaching visual media, animation and filmmaking from the teacher’s perspective. Now, I’m blogging from a different vantage point in the industry. Let’s see how it goes.

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