$200 family film is festival hit

Discussion in 'Community' started by krimson, May 20, 2004.

  1. krimson macrumors 65816


    Oct 29, 2003
    Democratic People's Republic of Kalifornia
    $200 Family Film is Festival Hit

    Charlotte Higgins, arts correspondent
    Tuesday May 18, 2004
    The Guardian Link

    The surprise hit of the Cannes film festival is a movie made by a first-time director with a budget of precisely $218.32.

    Tarnation was created by 31-year-old jobbing actor Jonathan Caouette, using the Apple Macintosh package iMovie. It is a touching and often disturbing family history pieced together via photographs, home movie images from the 1970s and 80s, and interviews by Caouette with his mother and grandparents.

    The film, part of the directors' fortnight section of the festival, received a standing ovation.

    The budget was spent on 10 tapes for Caouette's video camera and a pair of angel wings. The latter are used in a scene recreating a play Caouette directed at school - a musical version of David Lynch's Blue Velvet.

    Much of the film revolves around Caouette's mother, who was beaten by her husband, raped in front of her son when he was a baby, and endured endless bouts of electric-shock therapy which left her personality altered.

    Much of her adult life was spent in hospitals, and Caouette was raised by his grandparents in Houston, frequently filming himself and his family from the age of 11.

    Living in New York as an adult, he acquired a computer, digitised much of this early footage, and started to "put together stuff, montages and so on. It was very impressionistic." Then his mother took an overdose of lithium which led to brain damage. His grandfather, suffering from Alzheimer's, was unable to care for her, so Caouette brought her to New York and nursed her - continuing to film all the while.

    One day he showed some of his material to a friend of a friend who worked at a New York gay and lesbian film festival. "He said, 'You should put a beginning and an end on this, make it a little more linear, and submit it to the festival.' The kick up the butt that got it finished was that I had a deadline of three weeks."

    He described making the film as "cathartic - an exorcism". After its successful New York premiere the director Gus Van Sant came in as executive producer, and the film was shown at the Sundance film festival in the US before being programmed at Cannes.

    "Making a movie is not as difficult as it is made out to be," said Caouette. "Hopefully this will be a catalyst for people who didn't have a voice before to go out and make a movie."

    A US distribution deal for Tarnation has been struck, and a UK deal is expected shortly.
  2. blackfox macrumors 65816


    Feb 18, 2003
    Great Story...I extend my congratulations to this guy, for taking an obviously difficult personal subject and making such a creative way of dealing with it. In these days of multi-million dollar special effects based movies about nothing, it is nice to see movies made how they should be...with a story, with out regard to a budget, and with a Mac...Bravo.
  3. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

    Feb 14, 2004
    OBJECTIVE reality
    Well, being a videographer and editor, I'd disagree strongly with Mr. Caouette that "making a movie is not as difficult as it is made out to be."

    He had the benefit of being able to work in the verité style of filmmaking, which is what worked greatly in the favor of another low-budget hit, "The Blair Witch Project". He also had the benefit of telling a real-life story, rather than having to develop one from literally nothing. Obviously, most movies and videos are (and need to be) planned out in much greater detail.

    Having said that, I'll give him his props for turning his personal tragedy into a form of success. Nice going.

    And he used iMovie to boot. :cool:
  4. zarathustra macrumors 6502a


    Jul 16, 2002
    Philadelphia, PA
    OK, I went to the Cannes web-site and there is no trace of this film... Am I missing something?
  5. virividox macrumors 601


    Aug 19, 2003
    Manila - Nottingham - Philadelphia - Santa Barbar
    congratulations, good job. sad story about his mom though
  6. iJon macrumors 604


    Feb 7, 2002
    I was about to make a new thread but felt there would be an old thread on this topic. I know this topic is over a year old now but Tarnation recently just came out on video. I had been wanting to see it in theaters but in my part of the states we are hardly offered the more rare of indy films.

    This film was brutal. We always know families like this exist but you really never see it so indepth or as close as Jon did it. I can honestly say I have never had so many different emotions go through my mind during a film. I recommend anyone to watch this, but just be prepared for what it holds. For some it might be to much to handle. I don't know about Blockbuster but Netflix has it, got mine intoday.


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