Having a projector bulb burst five minutes into the screening of your first feature film and watching a very influential person get up and leave the room should be high on any filmmaker’s list of Things To Avoid. I tried to put the recurring image of Richard Pena, Director of The New York Film Festival, out of my mind. But there he was, in instant replay in my head, over and over, and over, rising from his seat and heading for the exit. Fortunately, we had our big screening still ahead of us, in the Panorama section of The Berlin International Film Festival aka Berlinale.
Official Trailer (2:07)
I’d seen How To Be Louise so many times, I did not need to watch it again. But the chance to see it anonymously, surrounded by hundreds of film lovers, was too tempting an opportunity to miss. What if they didn’t get it? What if they booed? What if, God forbid, they walked out? Heck, I'd already weathered that. It would be instructive. It would be a once in a lifetime experience. And it would be important to know if and when they didn't 'get it'.
To my joy (and great relief) none of my dark fantasies came to pass. They LOVED it. They laughed everywhere I hoped they would and then some. Their applause over the final credits sounded like thunder. I was beaming. My face hurt from smiling. The Berlin Festival crowd got our film. I couldn’t wait to tell Mr. Green.
After spending a good thirty minutes mastering the basics of German pay phones, I rushed to call him with about three pounds of Deutsche Marks.
On the fourth ring he answered: “Oh Annie. I’m so glad you called. Where are the long pants? For Frank. I can’t find any clean long pants.” The demands of life with the one-year old I’d left him to take care of were much more pressing than my news and I think Mr. Green listened to only part of my recap before he cut me off with a quick congratulations, signing off to get back to his charge.
I headed for the airport with invitations to more film festivals but again without a distribution deal. But I left Berlin having connected with a lot more filmmakers. And the more peers I met, the more I realized that my plan and vision were extremely naive. Here I figured, I’ve done my part, I made the film. Come and get it. A lot of these other filmmakers were taking a different attitude. They were planning on spending a year on the festival circuit. My idea of hitting two or three festivals and finding a distributor started to seem laughable.
(to be continued)
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