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Thalia Book Club Camp offers up-close interaction with renowned children's book authors and illustrators, book discussions, and book-related field trips around the city. This blog follows the camp's activities.

Selecting Films

Published on March 19, 2009

Hi everybody! Ed Budz here, Producer of Film Programs and Director of Theatre Operations. Some folks will love it and some will hate it, but we have a new approach to our film selection that is mostly a reaction to the state of our pocketbooks. We’re now screening mostly two current films, one of which is a documentary, for a run of three Sundays. This has been reinforced by some early returns of a survey where y’all have requested more docs and more foreign film. Certainly lots of good stuff to choose from!

We’ve had great success with Man on Wire, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary. May I brag? In the past six months we’ve screened three of the five documentaries that ended up getting nominated. The other two were Trouble the Water and Encounters at the End of the World. I was torn myself…as much as I loved Man on Wire, I think Encounters was better. Herzog’s mad-visionary point-of-view always gets me. The cinematography was so fine and I love that Laplandic music! Not that the Oscars have a monopoly on judging a good film. Too many fine films never see the light of day.

Sorry to those who got turned away from Gone With the Wind. The print was gorgeous and Molly Haskell was so clever and smart in her intro. She’s a class act. Loved reading her new book, Frankly, My Dear, before seeing the film again. I’m not one to kick back and read film criticism, but the book is so full of great observations. I had to beg Warner Bros. to let us do even the one screening. I hate it when films get pulled for exhibition because it’s coming out on Blu-Ray or it’s “going back into the vault” like Disney does. We also sold out of the 1939 World’s Fair doc The World of Tomorrow, so we’re bringing that one back. The late Jason Robards narrates, and coincidentally, I had just re-seen A Thousand Clowns-what a great performance by Robards! He’s such a charmer here, not something you usually associate with his work!

At an intern meeting a few weeks ago, someone asked me if I see every film we screen here. The answer is no, but as my pal Jeff in the Booking Department spoke so highly of Let the Right One In and he has similar (though admittedly more warped!) taste to mine, I decided to bring it here. I see about 90% of what I pick, but have my own markers of trust: certain distributors like Zeitgeist Films who are aces in what they distribute, or other respected venues and recommendations from friends and certain reviewers. For a film like Examined Life, I missed it at the Toronto Film Festival last year, so I asked for an advance screener. Def the kind of film our audience responds too.

Speaking of festivals, I’m agonizing over whether I can afford to go to Tribeca this year. I don’t mind taking the week off, but springing $300 or $500 for the pass is a bit beyond me at the moment. And I may be forced to can Toronto this fall-that sets me back about $2K. Dammit! Last year the US dollar was 1:1 with Canada, now it buys $1.25. Kills me that I might not be able to take advantage of it!!!

So what do you think? Are you happy to see more documentaries at the Thalia? Were you able to get into the screenings of Gone With the Wind or The World of Tomorrow? Anybody headed off to any fabulous film festivals this year?

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