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Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival


I don't have a picture of me receiving the Golden Thumb Award, but here are some other people who have won awards.

It is a big gold thumbs-up, sort of like if God gave you a thumbs up, but it's Roger Ebert. I find I am not good at festival coverage, or the coverage of most things external. When I was at the table with John Sayles and Mario Van Peebles, etc, I was terribly shy and definitely could not do something like take everyone's picture for my blog, although Shane Caruth (Primer) did this, casually, with a very pro camera and I thought That's right, we're young directors, we're supposed to be good with cameras, with people in front of cameras. But I suddenly didn't feel like a director or anything at all.

Generally speaking, one wants a thumbs-up. I want a thumbs-up every day, for each thing that I do. When I wake up in the morning I want a golden thumb for having fallen asleep at all. When I drive somewhere and actually get there, alive, I want a thumbs-up. But the award inscriptions are very specific, they say that it is just for the movie, not for getting by in life in a more overall sense. For that one needs self-affirmation, the internal thumbs-up. And sometimes a internal golden thumb may by the wrong award. I might just need to cry, the golden cry. Or not even golden, just a regular salt cry, for no real reason, just because life extends so far in all directions and most of them get very little press and will never be nominated for anything.

Of course none of this is to imply anything bad about the Overlooked Film Festival, which was a really sweet and wonderful festival. Everyone mentioned above was particularly kind and interesting and there was this amazing 1,600 seat theater with a live organist and the audience was terrific, comprised mostly of people from Champaign-Urbana and Elderhostel groups from other cities.

But when I see pictures of famous people hanging out together I always have a feeling like real life is happening where those people are and it's perfect. So I just wanted to report back that this just really isn't the case, some of the directors feel more or less like actual directors in relation to each other and there are other people around too, wives and friends and family. And these people heavily effect the feeling in the room even thought they aren't as well-known. Like Chaz, Roger's wife, was probably the more dominant energy-source the room, and the one time I really laughed it was at something John Sayles' partner Maggie said. Even just the people walking or driving by the people in the picture could be primary to the situation - like maybe girl was walking by that had a limp and was carrying a bag of oranges, and in the picture everyone appears to be totally engaged in their terrific life, but they are actually thinking: who is that girl and where is she going with those oranges? All these things need to be taken in to consideration when looking at such pictures, the kind of pictures I was too shy to take.

Posted by Miranda July on April 27, 2005 | Permalink


A post from Brandon Ratcliff

Brandon Ratcliff (who plays six-year-old Robby in the movie) is a wonderful conversationalist and sporadically sends me and the crew email updates on his young life. I thought it would be exciting if he became an occasional guest writer on this blog, and he agreed to do it when time permits. Here is his first entry:

Ok when my mom told me about what a blog was I didn't really understand that good, then she told me it was were I put down my feelings and get to talk how I wanted. I thought it was so super cool because I like to talk. Then I was about to eat a Reese's peanut butter egg and I said what is more important, chocolate or writing, and I said writing so here I am! Well actually I am talking and my mom is typing, because I am not that good of a typer but I am learning about computer at school in computer class so I am getting better. Kind of like Robby was typing in the movie that is what I do sometimes, but I mostly play computer games.

Oh and today we learned at school about Mother Nature it was Earth Day and I got to release butterflies since I was the helper today at school.

I am so excited today I saw my name was in the Washington Post, and I found out about the movie being in France. At first I thought the movie was going to be like in French talking, but then my mom said it was not it just like going to be shown in English just at a really big movie festival like when we went to Utah. I am so happy for Ms. Miranda. She said she was going to Chicago and that is where I am from and in Chicago I lived in Highland Park. I wish I could go there to see Ms.Miranda. She is so lucky she is going to all the places that I like and my puppy Teddy is learning better he's just a little wild and only sometimes barks and Scruffy my other dog is laying under the computer table and I think I need to go now and practice my piano and violin. But I was thinking maybe while Ms. Miranda is in Chicago she should go and take a walk in the park or go to Navy Pier and eat at Bubba Gump's that is my favorite
place in Chicago.

Ok and this is to you Ms. Miranda, I hope you have fun in Chicago and you are so lucky you get to see yourself all of this many times in the movie and I wish I could see it like a million times... well ok I am going to eat my chocolate now, I miss you and can you tell me if it was like hot or cold in Chicago and maybe my dad will see you since he lives there but he is coming to LA next weekend for his birthday and me and mom have surprises for him. Ok chocolate time..... 

Brandon (as transcribed by Tonni)


Here's how Chicago looks out my window this morning Brandon, cold and windy and rainy! You probably remember that. Now I'm off to Champaign...

Posted by Miranda July on April 23, 2005 | Permalink


Discover Chicago

It seems like all my pictures are in theaters or hotels or of me. These are the places I am and I am the person I'm with. What if my life was more like this:


Wouldn't that be exciting? I was at the Chicago Public Radio Station and they had a brochure in their lobby for Yoga Explorers: The Chicago Historical Society invites parents and children to discover Chicago through history, art, storytelling, and yoga. Yoga. I want to discover Chicago through yoga. Anyways, this picture is from that brochure. I wonder what that mom and boy are doing right now. You can be sure they are somewhere here in Chicago, having a progressive day. It is 5:22, so maybe they are doing last minute errands together before going home and making dinner. Maybe, for example, she is going to Rite-Aid, to get a certain kind of glue she needs to repair something that absolutely has to get fixed tonight. They are listening to the radio, perhaps even Chicago Public Radio.The caption for the photo says: Parents and children enjoy Fall in to Family Fun. Just fall in to it. They make it sound so easy, what could be easier than falling? The boy is telling his mom about his day, about how another boy brought a tennis racket to school but it got taken away.
Why did it get taken away?
Because it was dangerous.
Can we go on a tour of the Heinz catsup factory?
Well, maybe at some point.
Not right now?
No, we're going to Rite Aid.
But what if it doesn't take very long and there's still time after?
No, it's just not a good time. That would be a good thing to do on a weekend though.
Want to hear me sing a song?
In the middle
In the middle
In the middle of the sea
There's a little
There's a little
There's a little tiny tree
How it got there
No one knows
But it grows and grows and grows
With branches that are blue
And roots that fish swim through

That's wonderful! Did you make that up?

Posted by Miranda July on April 22, 2005 | Permalink


Breaking News: Cannes Critics' Week line-up unveiled

The Great Ecstasy Of Robert Carmichael, dir Thomas Clay (UK)
L'Orrizzonte Degli Eventi, dir Daniele Vicari (Italy)
La Petite Jerusalem, dir Karin Albou (Fr)
Me And You And Everyone We Know, dir Miranda July (US)
A Stranger Of Mine, dir Uchida Kenji (Japan)
Grain In Ear, dir Zhang Lu (China/Korea)
Orlando Vargas, dir Juan Pittaluga (Uruguay/France)

Opening Film:
Les Invisibles, dir Thierry Jousse (Fr)

Closing Film:
Junebug, dir Phil Morrison (US)

Special Screenings:
La Chute Des Feuilles, dir Otar Iosseliani (USSR - 1957)
Vento Di Terra, dir Vincenzo Marra (Italy)
Imposture, dir Patrick Bouchitey (Fr)
Los Heroes Y El Tiempo, dir Arturo Ripstein (Mexico)
Drum, dir Zola Maseko (South Africa)

To this we say hooray!! And merci! And oui oui oui!
And in other breaking news, we had a wonderful screening at MIT in Boston last night, hosted by  Center for Advanced Visual Studies. Everyone in the room seemed to be the kind of person who was inventing a new way of thinking or moving or living. And also there were these giant empty pedestals that one could become a statue upon.


Posted by Miranda July on April 21, 2005 | Permalink


From Boston but about Philly

Certain people make fun of me saying "Philly", but honestly everyone there calls it that, it's almost rude to say Philadelphia, like using a child's full name when they are in trouble. And I'm not angry at Philly, where, wonderfully enough, Me and You just won Best First Movie at The Philadelphia International Film Festival. Hooray for this city and it's people and judges!

I'll tell you what I do almost every night: I introduce the movie and then I go wander around the town for about an hour and 20 minutes, just long enough to feel incredibly alone in the world. Then I creep back in the theater and stand in the darkness, waiting to do the Q+A. I try to come in early enough to gauge the vibe of the audience, so I know how much leeway I have with these people. This was the vibe in Philly:


Ritz East, Theater  1

There is a kind of mind-shredding quality to perpetual travel, I don't know how all these businessmen do it. Also it is a little nerve-wracking inching towards the release of the movie and not knowing what will happen. I tried to express this feeling artistically, in my hotel room, with iMovie:


I may make my next movie entirely with still photos and the title tool.

In the airport there was a guy selling magic tricks and I videoed him because magic is one of my interests. I'm not sure if he was an actual magician in the true, middle-earth, sense of the word. But there was a boy watching him with me and he turned out to have powers:


Posted by Miranda July on April 20, 2005 | Permalink


Still in New York

I am just completely amazed by my hotel room and am having trouble leaving it.

Posted by Miranda July on April 18, 2005 | Permalink


Day 1 of the Me and You Festival Tour


One thing you cannot do when you are on tour is adopt free kittens that you see on bulletin boards. Even if they are very cute, even if it would be good company in all the hotel rooms. You have to leave them for the locals. New Yorkers, these are yours.

I dutifully look out the window when the pilot tells us that we can see Staten Island from the left side of the plane. I feel like when I was child and I would pretend to be interested in such things in order to be closer to my dad and brother, who had a whole world of license plates and maps and statistics. I'm only interested when you get low enough to see the people. Or if we were crashing, then I'd look. Back when we were in LA we had to wait in the plane for two hours because the hydraulic pump had to be replaced. I could hear everyone on their cells phones saying Yeah, it's the hydraulic pump. We all tried to imagine what this kind of pump does. Personally, I thought it did not sound very important and my reasoning was this: it probably has to do with hydraulic breaks, and the only time the plane needs the breaks is once it's already back on the ground again. I imagined us careening through the runway, totally out of control, hitting everything, and I felt ok about it. If a wing had to be replaced that would be another story.

Here is what I watched and read on the plane: Love Film (by Istvan Szabo) and a short story called A Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier (from The O. Henry Prize Stories.) Both were totally great and made me want to write. But I did not write, I slept. I fell in to this kind of shared sleeping vortex with the young woman sitting next to me. We didn't say a word to each other, but we both could not stay awake, and our bodies were reacting the same way to the varying temperature in the cabin. At times we were both trying to swaddle ourselves in the airplane blankets, and at other times we took off our sweaters. As I drifted in and out of sleep I felt incredibly close to her, safe and content and far from the earth and all the problems that arise when you actually talk to people. In Love Film a woman describes how she feels she cannot live without his "presence," she says it in french and can't find the Hungarian word for it: just him being there, not anything they could do or say, just the fact of his living self near hers. But in the end she does live without him.

In closing, I want to say welcome. This is the beginning of everything. Tomorrow we will launch this website and begin to invite people into the world of Me and You and Everyone We Know. Which is this movie that I dreamt up on many nights like tonight, alone, typing, wondering, wishing, laughing under my breath. Amazingly, it will be in theaters in June. And before then you might be able to see it at a special screening in your town. Will the woman I sat next to on the plane see it? Not likely. But you might. You might see the biggest leap I ever took, like spiderman, across two buildings too far apart to even dream of making it. But I did. Here I am, living to tell, telling to live, dying for you to see. night, mj

P.S. it would be overly poetic to forget to say that I'll be at the Fusion Festival at NYU  tomorrow night, showing the movie and answering questions.

Posted by Miranda July on April 15, 2005 | Permalink