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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Watched Joyeux Noel at the Film Festival. (There are now two competing Montreal Film Festivals, but that's another story.) It's a crowd pleaser about Christmas eve, 1914, when the men in the trenches crossed no-man's-land to celebrate Christmas with each other.

From a writing standpoint, you'd think making a good movie out of that would be shooting fish in a barrel, but it's not. Sure, you have the magical event itself, punctuating the stupid horror that was the war to Make the World Safe for Democracy. But how do you make that personal? Or rather, how do you make that personal in a surprising yet inevitable way? We know how it's going to go. The guys are going to fraternize. Then they'll get in trouble for it because fat cat generals who've never been near the trenches think that fraternizing with the enemy is no way to fight a way.

You'd have to uncover an unknown side to it. Or find a way that some of the characters are at odds with the impromptu ceasefire, some reason they're against it. So they're torn.

As it was, everybody was sort of buffeted by external events. Buffeted by the war. Buffeted by Christmas. Helpless in the jaws of history.

People liked it, but there wasn't very much movie there. I think the reason it got made had a lot to do with it being a UK-French-Belgian-German-Rumanian (I kid you not) co-production. Dollars to doughnuts the producer got all the money he needed from the five governments and the theatrical rentals are pure gravy.

It frustrates me to see sloppily plotted independent films. They suck up funds that could go to better independent films -- funds that aren't exactly sloshing around. But meaning well is not the same as telling a good story.

I was particularly disappointed in this one because the movie isn't timely. The war that Western Civilization is in now isn't one that will take time out for Christmas. Jihadis don't celebrate Christmas. (I know that moderate Muslims venerate Christ as a prophet, but we're not at war with them. Yet.) It's easy to acknowledge that World War I was a spectacularly bad idea all round. But just exactly how the "global struggle against violent extremism" should be prosecuted, well, I don't know that you can make sense of that in a movie. Over There is doing a good job of reminding us what our troops are suffering through, but that doesn't say much about whether their sacrifice is or isn't worth it.

Anyway, the audience applauded and everyone came out happy. What do I know? I didn't think My Big Fat Greek Wedding was that great of a script, either. I'd have probably written it differently. I'm sure I could have got it down from $100 million box office to a very satisfying $10 million...


"It frustrates me to see sloppily plotted independent films. They suck up funds that could go to better independent films -- funds that aren't exactly sloshing around. But meaning well is not the same as telling a good story."

Thanks, Alex. I've been trying to tell the indie guys for years that just because they made their film themselves doesn't mean it doesn't have to be good.

By Blogger Bill Cunningham, at 12:21 PM  

I can see where you are coming from Alex with regards to using the inspirational story from WWI, to reflect on what is occuring today. It would be interesting to see that.

Maybe however, sometimes distance allows these comparisons to be made, and at present, the current WOT is too close, too contentious and too difficult, using a moment from a War several lifetimes ago, to make a proper statement.

Back then it seemed simpler, the bad guys were on the other side of that hill or whatever.

Now....well we all know it is much harder. History will be the true test of whether the war going on now is worth it in the long run, or is a brutal and horrible waste of life all around.

Maybe back then, as the war was still so close and brutal, they would have had similar difficulties making any comparison to a war several decades earlier.

Just a thought.

By Blogger Grubber, at 1:34 AM  

I’d really like for all three of you to check out my short film entitled, The Empty Building.” While mentioning good money being wasted on Indie films with sloppy plots, I was reminded that I mortgaged my own house to do this film; big bucks. But I'm proud of the outcome and the film is moving along nicly.
I think all of you can appreciate the fact that I went and did it on my own. Below is what I’ve been sending out.
Hope to hear from all of you.
Giovanni Sanseviero, Dir.

“I do enjoy sharing my work with others.”
Please check out (or)

for information regarding "The Empty Building," a 40 Min. Drama,
now on its 36th Film Festival acceptance and the recipient of 18 awards.

If interested, e-mail

with a mailing address. A DVD and press kit will be mailed to you all free of charge including shipping. ALL FREE OF CHARGE, NO STRINGS.

Likewise, if there's any Indie Shorts you'd like me to see, direct me to a website or just mail it on over to:

Empty Building Production Corp.
3108 Northern Blvd., 2nd Fl.
Long Island City, NY 11101

I enjoy keeping informed of what’s going on out there on the festival circuit and abroad,
who's doing what, and who knows what could come of it. At best, it’ll be entertaining.

Check out a film clip:

Take care,
Giovanni Sanseviero, Dir.

By Blogger Gio, at 7:17 PM  

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