One day after returning from doc jury duty at Sarasota, I zipped off this morning to Toronto for Hot Docs and tonight's North American premiere of A Walk Into The Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory. Then it's back to NY on Friday, just in time for Saturday night's U.S. premiere screening at Tribeca.
Sarasota was great fun, if not enough time in the sun. Screened 10 worthy docs for the competition with my fabulous jury maties, Ryan Harrington of A&E and Mary Kerr of the Flaherty Seminar. In the end, one doc stood out for us - Note By Note: The Making of Steinway L1037, directed by Benjamin Niles. At a time when docs have become so stylish and slick, it was downright refreshing to see a rather simple concept executed with such dedication and craft, not unlike that which goes into the making of a Steinway piano. It was a fascinating and unexpectedly moving film, and it's nice to reward one that can use a boost in its distribution efforts, too.
In between the docs (including 51 Birch, which had a special screening tied to the upcoming Cinemax broadcast), managed to catch Joe Swanberg's Hannah Takes The Stairs. I'm very impressed by Joe's talent and drive, and the lovely Greta Gerwig can certainly hold the screen. I just look forward to the day (or year, since he manages to crank out a film annually) when his storytelling ambition matches his production ingenuity. In the end, I found myself mildly irritated by the "smallness" of the film's scope. But also confident that Joe's next film will be another quantum leap forward. He and his group are the only reason I'd ever want to be in my 20's again.
More to say but need to run off now to the Rogers Center and hunt down a commissioning editor or two. Still have 4 tickets for tonight's screening, and with the TDF going full force the next two days it'll be near impossible to get them to the Thursday showing. Later...