By Alan Scherstuhl
By Charles Taylor
By Melissa Anderson
By Inkoo Kang
By Amy Nicholson
By Sam Weisberg
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Chuck Wilson
The IFFM, on the other hand, is geared to unknown filmmakers and the buyers who, ever dubious about the possibility of finding solid-gold talent among all the dross, keep coming back just to make sure there's really nothing much there. Over the past few years, the IFFM has become a place to shop for documentaries, and the recent theatrical success of Dark Days and The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg had buyers looking for more. Festival and TV programmers and even some theatrical distributors were buzzing about Vincent Freemont's Pie in the Sky: The Brigid Berlin Story and Kate Davis's Southern Comfort.
At age 60, Brigid Berlin resembles her socialite mother more than she does herself in her Warhol-superstar days when she weighed about 60 pounds more. Almost as motormouthed and exhibitionist as Viva, Berlin is less terrifying than she was in Chelsea Girls, but she's still camera-ready material, especially when she spills the beans about her lifelong eating disorder. A Warhol factory insider, Freemont punctuates the film with previously unreleased Factory audio-visual material (the telephone conversations between Andy and Brigid are notable), but Pie in the Sky's most telling moment occurs when Brigid has a panic attack at the scene of her former glory, the Chelsea Hotel.
The hero of Southern Comfort is Robert Eads, a female-to-male transsexual who's dying of ovarian cancer (the result of a botched sex change operation, in which the doctors decided a hysterectomy was unnecessary because he was already past menopause). Brilliantly witty, generous, and courageous (his father expected him to become the first female president), Eads is also one of the movers and shakers in Southern Comfort, an organization of about 500 transsexuals from the South. Thanks to Eads's remarkable openness, the film is intimate and provocative without being in any way exploitative.
Independent Film Features Market 2000
Another standout documentary, Russ Thompson's 30 Frames a Second is a user-friendly guide to the Seattle anti-WTO demonstrations. Josh Aronson's Feelin' No Pain, shown as a work in progress, follows the second career of Kenny Vance, an obscure '60s pop singer who fulfills a teenage dream by starting a doo-wop band whose members are all over 50. (Aronson's Sound and Fury opens October 25 at Film Forum.)
Of the fiction features I saw, the most interesting was Bill's Gun Shop, directed by Dean Lincoln Hyers, written by Hyers and Rob Nilsson, and shot on DV by Nilsson's resourceful cinematographer, Mickey Freeman. Unlike most of the DV films in the IFFM, Bill's Gun Shop was lit so that it looked more expressive than an infomercial; its leading actor, Scott Cooper, who plays a Taxi Driver fan, has De Niro's tight-shouldered stance down cold.
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