Thursday, July 8, 2010

Stranger Than Pre-Paradise

There will be few better nexuses tonight of DIY independent filmmaking and grassroots exhibition than the double feature of Pre-Paradise and FTW at the Flicker Bar in Athens, GA. Both films are by New York-based writer-director Jorge Torres-Torres, a Puerto Rican who once called the musical stages of Athens home.

Another element contributing to the vortex-like qualities of this evening is the basic plot of Pre-Paradise; it's about an artist who is on a quest to make the purest possible independent film(!). The crisply edited trailer is more compelling than most such teasers, reflecting an interesting vision shot on location in New York City and Puerto Rico.

The landscape of independent moviemaking looks nothing like it did back in 1984, when another New Yorker, Jim Jarmusch, brought Stranger Than Paradise to Cannes. Although it's still possible to bust out via the launching pad of a major event like Cannes, Toronto or Sundance, today's decimated distributor landscape, affordable hi-def cameras and plethora of online broadcast streams have leveled the playing field. It is now up to someone like Torres-Torres to try and connect directly with fans, as he will in Georgia, next stop Louisiana and beyond.

Torres-Torres has made six feature films so far, with the second half of tonight's double bill, FTW, chronicling the adventures of a pair of Jarmusch-worthy miscreants. He cites Werner Herzog's mad 1982 masterpiece Fitzcarraldo as a major influence and plans next to make a documentary, Flight Check, about violent children.


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