The movie geeks were out in force Friday morning at the Filmmaker Lodge, drawn there by the irresistible siren song that was the inaugural Cinema Café of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
Sure, the couches are comfy, and the good folks at Chase Sapphire are providing coffee and snacks all Fest long, but the real draw was two icons of outsider cinema. We’re talking legendary writer-producer-director-impresario of the insane Roger Corman — subject of the documentary Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel — screening in the Park City at Midnight showcase, and peerless actor-human dynamo Rutger Hauer, who appears in two films at this year’s Festival, Hobo With a Shotgun and The Mill & The Cross.
Friday’s Cinema Cafe was a heyday for fans of robots, killer sharks, and killer robot sharks alike.
Moderator and longtime Festival stalwart Mike Plante started things off the way only he could, noting his introductions would be short because “I don’t know what you’re doing at the Festival if you don’t know these two guys.” The first topic of discussion, oddly enough, was the two men’s shared experience serving in their nation’s armed forces. Corman proudly announced he had gotten an honorable discharge from the Navy before admitting, with equal pride, “I did get a lot of demerits, though.” Hauer’s career in the Dutch Army was a little more colorful, since he revealed he managed to have himself classified mentally unfit to serve. As he put it, “It was my first serious role. And I really overacted.”
The talk turned to the films Corman and Hauer have brought to Park City this year. Corman admitted that being the subject of a documentary was “weird,” especially since others in the film tell stories about him “that I had completely forgot about.” “I hope they really happened,” he mused, with utter sincerity. Plante noted the seeming disconnect between Hauer’s twin roles as the titular Hobo (with a Shotgun, natch) and Bruegel the Elder in The Mill & The Cross.
Hauer concurred with relish, “There are no similarities between the two films! The only similarity is me.” After noting his admiration for the latter’s ability to “get in between the layers of paint” of Bruegel’s epic 1564 masterpiece, The Procession to Calvary, Hauer delivered his assessment of Hobo (and if there’s any justice in this world, that assessment will be featured prominently on the film’s poster: “everybody’s an asshole and it’s all fucked. But it has a beautiful heart.”).
As things wound down, the audience was treated to a remarkably informed and energetic discussion of the internet’s impact on film distribution from two men who obviously intend to stay as connected and vital as ever. “It’s going to change everything,” Corman said, and then went on to mention that he’ll be filming his next movie, “a chase story across the Himalayas,” in Kazakhstan.
Of course he is. Hauer mentioned that he had used the internet to begin a Film Factory, where his students make 32 films in 10 days. Summing things up as only he could, Hauer left everyone with wise words for the rest of the Festival and beyond: “Don’t fuck it up,” he advised. “Well, fuck it up a couple of times. It will be better.”
Jon Korn is a shorts programmer at the Sundance Film Festival and the assistant coordinator for the Festival’s Off Screen events. The Cinema Café takes place every morning of the Festival at 10am in the Filmmaker Lodge (550 Main St.). All events are free and open to the public.