To continue with the premiere in Portland, Oregon — I headed from our "headquarters" across the park to the state-of-art Whitsell Auditorium in the beautiful Portland Art Museum for a sound and picture check. We had added a semi-private matinee screening because I knew that many of my parents' generation did not want have to be downtown in the evening, especially during a Northwest storm. Others had mentioned that they did not like going downtown in the evening because of all the homeless on the streets. This struck me as the height of irony — they were willing to watch a movie in the comfort of the museum about someone they knew becoming homeless on the very streets they were traversing to get there, but the reality of it was too much. But I want to believe that perhaps the film would begin the process of blurring the lines between "us" and "them." The NW film Center was not keen on adding an extra screening as this particular series was a hard sell with even just one screening. But I knew that we could be the exception.
Even though it was an hour before the screening, there were people waiting in the galleries to get a seat. Among a certain age-group, seating at events seems to be a contact sport and I wondered if walkers, canes and umbrellas needed to be checked by a bouncer at the door. But at the same time it delighted me the importance these people placed on this screening. I met the projectionist who asked me to go into the empty theater for a sound and picture check. I sat alone in the most central seat as my Ojeda Films, Inc. logo appeared, then A Sandra Luckow Film, then the first notes of Michael Bacon's haunting soundtrack. My throat closed and tears stung my eyes. I was NOT going to make it through this screening. I wasn't even able to get through the sound and picture check. I waited for the intro to pass and I could feel my stomach preparing to lurch I walked up the aisle, told the projectionist it was all good and thanks. Then I proceeded directly to the bathroom to throw up. I kept hearing Bette Davis' voice in "All About Eve." "It's good luck before an audition." But this wasn't an audition and the minutes were ticking away. Miraculously, after that moment, I was good to go.
As people entered there were some special guests. For those of you who have been following this blog, you know that the 1970's singing group Black Hawk County donated the license to their song Oregon (I can't go home). This song, at once captures my childhood and speaks to the mourning of never being able to go back to what we loved.
Because of my persistence in pursuit of their song, they sought to make a new digital master of the album that contained the song I wanted. Bill found an unopened LP album in his grandmother's buffet and they found themselves back in the studio 40 years later and took the same picture that appeared on the original album cover. I was gobsmacked when they told me that because of the film they were going to start making some music together again in a studio Dennis has in the woods by a creek.
There were about 150 people at matinee, but it was a packed house at the evening screening.
I remember little about how I introduced the film, but according to my producing assistant, Columbia University student Sammy Applebaum, I said, "This is the story of my life; this is the story of our lives." And those words manifested themselves with productive discussions at the Q & A after the screenings. Unfortunately, the story told in "That Way Madness Lies..." is not unique. I just happen to have it documented.
And then it began. I sat next to my high school friend, Bobi Swan during both screenings and crushed her hand throughout. I watched the film, but felt the audience. They were with it at every turn, every scene, every frame. I was humbled by this communal experience that transcended the hour and forty minutes we sat there watching light dance across the screen with a combination of sounds.
The Q & As were led by Jason Renaud, the head of the Portland chapter of NAMI and the producer of Brian Lindstrom's film Alien Boy. The discussion was thoughtful and serious. As the evening continued, I had the words from a 1988 Tracey Chapman song repeating in my head — "don't you know, talking 'bout revolution — it sounds like a whisper — people gonna rise up."
Sandra Luckow is an award winning filmmaker based in New York City. Her films include: Sharp Edges; Belly Talkers; A World Within; That Way Madness Lies…
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