Cultural Intimacy in Film = Time + Love
Indie films are a labor of love. Yes, the initial goal is making the best possible picture, one that realizes the director’s vision with integrity and can objectively reach its target audience. From the perspective of the film festival goer, you watch the movie in a huge theater, there is a buzz, packed audience and anything can happen… it might even make it to the big screen, but you have no clue. Later in the year you think about that story and you don’t know what happened to it, perhaps it will have a life. If by any chance, the film gets released, you feel connected to it, you saw it first and you feel entitled to brag and root for the project, it’s pretty much like being a baseball fan.
I met the team of ‘Fishing Without Net’ two years ago at Sundance where they won best short, there was a fantastic spirit and it was fun to celebrate with them. Two years later I’m there again because of a film I’m in, and I run into the director by chance at the Section 101 party. Somehow one of the producer invites me to the screening, the film is awesome, and then the usual festival hang. They managed to get funding from Vice, a news and art media company with an edge, shot the film overseas… literally, then edit in Brooklyn, and win best director. Easy. The picture is about a Somali fisherman turned pirate in the kidnapping of an industrial boat, or rather the people that were in it.
Shot in Kenya on an wreck that has since sunk, the picture has striking visuals and sustains an intense and delicate suspense. The narrative was developed organically around the real lives of the actors. Cutter Hordiene, John Hibey and Raphael Swann (maybe other people too?) originally took three months to capture the footage necessary for the short to be able to pitch the project, but also established the trust necessary in a foreign country where all seems dangerous. You can feel that everyone working on this project is personally committed, there is something bold about it. I do appreciate that Cutter—interesting name for a director—took a full year to cut the feature, traveling back for reshoots when another scene became evident. I am such a fan of this authentic process that allows the story to breathe and delivers an incredible cultural intimacy.
The film opened in New York at Cinema Village, so I checked it out again. The Q&A was super interesting, small room, everything about it felt independent. I see different things in the picture, I’m enjoying the pace, the tension, the simplicity. So what’s next, who is going to buy tickets? In the music industry it’s the talent that usually comes with a following, but film is a collaborative effort, it seems that it might be more complex to make the release eventful. A movie tour? I don’t know, time will tell. I want to know the magic that makes a great indie into a commercial success. So that everyone can see powerful work, not just people who read newspapers to figure out what’s good.