monthly newsletter of NISI MASA
F I L M FLOPS
SHOW GIRLS BAD report:
jury meeting brussels
Still from Showgirls (1995)
maximilien van aertryck
10 to 16. dec.
Nisimazine Artvin, Festival on Wheels, Turkey
t's a filmmakers' worst nightmare. The f-word. Making it a topic of our last monthly of this year turned out to face us with a not easy task. Ironically with this years Script Contest dealing with the topic of Taboo (you can read a report on the jurymeeting on the Spotlight page), I think we have just discovered there is one in cinema too.. What a flop actually is, is not as clearcut as it might seem. It's not just a box office bomb, as in the most conventional explanation. It could also be an artistic 'failure', but things are even more complicated then that. Some films initially get full rooms but critics hate it, as was the case with Blade Runner (page 4). Showgirls is the texbook example of a film that was really badly received by critics and audience alike, but later got unexpected succes (page 4). There is even films that seem to have all the right ingredients to become a hit, but still.. (Taking Woodstock, page 5). Worst case scenario: your film 'flops' before it has even been made, as in the experience of poor Terry Gilliam (page 5). On the facing page you can read short accounts of many of our regular contributors, voicing their personal frustration about some of 2009's creations, further exploring all the different colours of the term flop. You will notice we don't have an interview for this issue. Let's face it, there must be many among us, with maybe not Razzie on their mantelpiece, but surely a film that they whish they had made differently. Reading some of the comments on the other page, in a way its understandable that we dont talk about our flops in public. Also there is many external complications, many parties to be considered before
you can come out and put the mark of a flop on your own product. But nowadays, with commercials of perfect teeth and golden retrievers, sylicone built bodies that will get you that perfect girlfriend to put in your perfect house and make perfect children that you can feed with your perfect and steady income, an imperfection seems more then welcome. Do we feel that it is bad to make a mistake? Is failure really something unexcepted that you don't admit to to strangers? Everyone makes mistakes, often even, new and interesting things come out of making one, whether positive or negative. Keeping to take risks, might bring something unexpected, and really, with an average lifespan of 70 years, a little surprise here and there would be nice, wouldnt it? So, please don't be ashamed of your floppiness, there is no harm in trying! Before I sign this inspirational speech, I would like to say I hope you enjoy the reading. And look out for the remote control in a lost hour during the christmas days, when you have to unzip slightly because of all the turkey and your uncle is pouring 4th rounds of grog, there will be plenty of bad Christmas films on TV, to allow yourself a guilty pleasure. There is no shame in that. I am sure Maximilien, whose portrait you can read on the last page will aprove. Merry Christmas everyone! by Maartje Alders
Mas y Mas is a monthly newsletter published by the association NISI MASA. EDITORIAL STAFF Coordination & Design Maartje Alders
Contributors to this issue: Jerker Beckman, Bruno Carmelo, Itxaso Elosua, Andrea Franco, Joanna Gallardo, Zsuzsanna KirĂ ly, Adrien Lenoir, Jude Lister, Marta Musso, Atso Parnanen, Anne Reverseau, Jorge Robinet, Laslo Rojas, Eva Sancho, Eftihia Stefanidi
NISI MASA (European Office) 99 Rue du Faubourg Saint Denis 75010, Paris, France Tel/Fax: +33 (0)9 60 39 63 38 + 33 (0)6 32 61 70 26 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Website www.nisimasa.com
FILM FLOPS 2009
And again we are coming to the end of a year and are forced to reflect a bit (wanted ot not) on the many experiences cinema has brought us. Unfortunatly, not all were positive. Some of us have chosen to share their worst nauseously disorienting, silently snoring and fidgetting boredom filled minutes in those red pluche seats to their own relief and, hopefully, your enjoyment.
Enter the Void
Paul Blart: Mall Cop
by Gaspar Noé
by Steve Carr
I enjoy Kevin James' comedy work, but this movie made me feel sad for him, for the cheap way his sense of humor is portrayed, and sad for myself, for accepting a free screening pass to watch it. I promise I'll never do it again. Laslo Rojas
A psychedelic drug effect per se, Gaspar‘s over-ambitious fusion of colours, flesh and erratic camera movements build up an euphoria that results in a repetitive, nauseous pattern with no destination. Ultimately the void dwells in both the story and the leading actress. Do not enter. Eftihia Stefanidi
36 vues du Pic Saint-Loup
by Jacques Rivette
Public Enemies by Michael Mann
The line-up of amazing actors promises an equally amazing movie, unfortunately though, from the offset this movie is a pain to watch, and in fact; one of the only 2 movies I've ever walked out of in a cinema. What's wrong with it? It's been shot in video, and LOOKS like it's been shot in video, lighting is as flat as a pancake, sound is extremely bad, and the actors do their best but are painful to watch; all in all the movie looks like a home cooked 140 minutes pitch-preview, than it does a finished movie. Itxaso Elosua
It happens only once a year but I left the theater half an hour before it ends because I couldn't stand anymore the void of the story, of the actors, the talkative so called intellectual dialogues and more than everything the general rhythm of the movie, boring enough to make me sleep but too irritating to sleep for real... Anne Reverseau
My Bloody Valentine
The imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus by Terry Gilliam
I can understand they wanted to finish this film after Ledger's death and when it comes to actors and customes it's actually fantastic.... But apart from the delirious and inconcludent narratives, it's way too loaded with digital effects for people to appreciate at least the art direction (which usually is really Gilliam's thing). It has all the defects of a silly action movie and all the defects of an indie essay film...So who is it for? No one!!! Marta Musso
by Jacques Audiard
The (french) critics loved it, and they said it was the best "prison film" ever made. Why is that? Oh yeah, they forgot to answer that question. It's surely nothing new for anyone who's watched any episode of Oz on HBO. Bruno Carmelo
by Hannes Stöhr Overrated Berlin-movie, supposedly a true reflection of the techno scene, which is more boring than exiting, more stereotypical than refreshing, more predictable than tempting. Watch Maja Classen's Feiern instead! Zsuzsanna Kiràly
Les Herbes Folles by Alain Resnais
A film based on an unfinished script, with charismatic actors that are lost in their characters and a director dealing with incomprehensible visual effects. Now we understand why Alain Resnais received an “Exceptional” Prize in Cannes… Hopefully this will stay an exception in his otherwise great filmography. Joanna Gallardo
by Patrick Lussier Every one of my friends was excited about the movie because “It is a horror movie in 3D that should be the most realistc experience ever.” Well it wasn´t, the story was so predectible that in the first ten minutes I allready knew how it was going to end. Jorge Robinet
by Tsai Ming Liang Totally ready for a cunning, exhuberant, tongue-incheek, colourfull and daring celebration of life, I got an incomprehensible longwinded experiment that gets lost in its own (Louvre) dungeons. A sad example of an unsuccesfull transplantation resulting in a two and half hour long torture. Maartje Alders
Sunshine Cleaning by Christine Jeffs
Tries to tell a story about ordinary people and their everyday struggles, but seems weirdly clueless about what real people are like. Uncomfortable to watch. Eva Sancho
(500) Days of Summer by Marc Webb
Despite being a fan of The Smiths and usually susceptible to the charms of Sundance indie flicks, I found this self-consciously quirky ‘anti rom-com’ hard to stomach. One or two more sincere moments couldn’t rescue a film which used its soundtrack and trendy non-linear narrative to gloss over an irritating parade of banal scenarios and cardboard cut-out minor characters. Jude Lister
ilm critics can spend their life disserting on Cinema as a High Art, but let’s face it: it is a craft. We can try to separate the Art from the Business with any possible effort, but fact remains that cinema is about money. And advertising. The fortune of a film is not always determined by its quality or by its capability to attract audience in the immediate. Films are made to be consumed and then substituted by a new experience. On
to sleep or not to sleep
top records of box offices results there are movies that in 10 years no one will remember, like Transformers or Twilight; mediocre, well-crafted products that will be forgotten as soon as something similar but newer comes out. In order to become a cult, a film must be outrageous; either outrageously good or outrageously bad, but never in the middle.
is just as stupid as many others and the actresses are bad but not so terrible and they look good naked, which is the core concept of the entire project. It was meant to be forgotten soon, despite any box office results. But here comes the brainwave of MGM marketing experts: they released it on video leaning on how ridiculous it was, promoting a strong reverse publicity. The hate campaign went so well that the film not only became one of the biggest MGM best sellers of all time, but it coined a new expression: “Showgirls-bad”.
Showgirls definitely places itself in the second category, but it has a pretty unique story. Originally, it was meant for the middle: a good budget, semi-famous actress Elizabeth Berkley, an honest craftsman like Paul Verhoeven and cheap scandals. The story is a soft core version of All about Eve, with a wannabe dancer stealing the part from her idol by pushing her down the stairs. Released in 1995 with a controversial NC-17 rate, it scored second place at the box office on first weekend. After that though, sales dropped dramatically and it ended up being a major flop. Elizabeth Berkley was awarded two Razzies and ended there her cinema career.
Now, as often happens, critics are revaluating it, focusing on some serious satire that should be found somewhere between the naked lap dance and the final lesbo kiss. Jacques Rivette, in 2001, defined it “one of the great American films of the last few years [...] and that actress is amazing”. Wheter you believe in the Razzies or in Rivette, Showgirls is on the way to become one of those “I-can’tbelieve-you-haven’t-seen-it” films. Press Officers are genious.
Actually, the film is not that bad. The plot
by Marta Musso
he story goes: Blade Runner was a flop when released in 1982, but through the years it gradually gained popularity. It became an underappreciated gem, then a cult favourite, and finally the classic it is today. Though that is only partially true. For example: in it's premier weekend it was the secondtop-grossing film in the US, eclipsed only by the blockbuster behemoth ET. And though it made disappointing revenue domestically, it was an international hit. But in one regard it certainly was a flop: with a few exceptions, it was panned by the critics. They found it too slow and that they didn't think the characters were very sympathetic. To me that is the big allure of the film. Everyone in it is very human and flawed, the replicants even more human than human. But the
film seems to divide people into two categories; not those who love it and those who hate it but rather those who love it and those who fall asleep. I am of course in the lovers category, but I have meet many sleepers. In factI once had a girlfriend who just wouldn't stay awake during the admittedly slow-paced film, but I persisted. Four times I insisted wewatch this film, cause I really wanted her to understand my devotion. And four times she fell asleep and I found myself alone in the glumlight of the screen, sobbing over Roy Batty's sad finale. Like I seem to do every time I watch that particular scene, which I have seen oh so many times. All those moments, lost in time, like tears in a darkened theatre. by Jerker Beckman
French scriptwriter and writer (worked among others with Luis Bunuel, Godard, Milos Forman, Andrzej Wajda)
"I wrote two scripts I was satisfied with. One was a success, one a flop. Many years after, I still don’t understand why..."
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
A 'PERFECT' FILM
ot all flops are given the title after a film is finished. Sometimes the making of a film is so traumatic it is also referred to as such. If the right ingredients don’t coincide, for whatever reason, things can go horribly wrong.
Epitome of this is the story of Terry Gilliams making of The man who killed Don Quixote. Or rather ‘attempt to make’. After a very longwinded pre-production financial hassle that involved many players moving on and off the scene, putting a big strain on the shooting schedule, filming finally started in late 2000 in La Mancha, Spain. On the first day, 70 year old french Jean Rochefort who had learned English especially for the title role of Don Quixote fell ill. On the second day, the entire set was washed away by a thunderous flash flood. After Rochefort had to be hospitalized and couldn’t return, Gilliam finally gave up the battle and put the project to rest.
There was however a film that came out of this disaster: the documentary Lost in La Mancha (click here to see the full film), that gives an incredible insight not only in this particular disastrous production, but also in the filmmaking process as a whole. Shortly after the release of his latest The imaginarium of Dr Parnassus Gilliam has announced that renewed preparations for Quixote have started. He has cast a lead to replace Jean Rochefort (its rumored to be Robert Duvall) and shooting is scheduled to begin in spring 2010. I say ‘scheduled’ deliberately. As he himself said in an interview with the Guardian shortly after the misfortunes in La Mancha: I always find that the process of making a film tends to echo the actual story. We can only wish and pray that his creativity and stamina will get him through the second round, windmills or not. by Maartje Alders
For the January issue, to herald the new year, we would like to ask everyone to send in their 10 favorite films made after 2000! Please email to email@example.com before the 22 of december.
ave you seen Taking Woodstock? Well you probably haven’t, like most people. I have a confession to make. I haven’t seen it either. Why is that? It SHOULD have been a hit. The ideal launching platform (Cannes), a well known director (Ang Lee) and above all, a relevant topic. Woodstock had its 40th anniversary this summer. The name still stands for a sweet of innocence. For a few days, people managed to picture a world free from racism, from war. It was all about love and music. And now, well, there is the economic crisis, there are wars that keep going. We are striving to dream again and to create a new utopia. Ang Lee obviously wanted to help us through revisiting Woodstock: giving us some recipes for a better world. And according to the reviews and reactions in Cannes, his Taking Woodstock not only is a beautiful idea but a good and entertaining film as well. Right. But something is wrong, and it may have to do with Ang Lee. He isn’t a bad director, of course. He had some great moments. But his filmography isn’t consistent. That means you could swear that Hulk, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain or Lust Caution were made by different directors. It is thus hard to think of a “hardcore” fan base for Ang Lee. He may very well attract blockbuster and comics fans with Hulk, or cash in on when dealing with homosexuality but he certainly is no Auteur. Taking Woodstock is neither a controversial film nor a plain entertainment. It’s more similar to new American independent movies, but directed by a Taiwanese director. All in all, for most audiences, Taking Woodstock may seem to house in an undefined and not really attractive place. Of course that may sound unfair, and it probably is since the film is said to be good. But in the end, the only lesson is that you can never predict if a film is going to be successful or not; a film is always a prototype. Well, I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll manage to see Taking Woodstock. Eventually. by Adrien Lenoir
news Script&Pitch Workshops 2010 Deadline for applications: December 15th, 2009 10 months, 3 residential workshops, 2 on-line sessions, 1 Alumni meeting. Script&Pitch Workshops is an advanced development course for European scriptwriters and story editors. Starting from 2010 it will be possible to apply to Script&Pitch Workshops International also for non-European participants from all over the world. The joint programme lasts 10 months and 20 participants are selected from all over the world (15 scriptwriters and 5 story editors) who will follow the whole scriptwriting process, from the generating of ideas and structuring of the material through a first and second draft up to a final pitch in front of a group of international producers and sales agents.
For more information and to download the application form: www.scriptpitchworkshops.com
EUROPEAN OFFICE Lots has changed in the NISI MASA European Office the last couple of months; We said goodbye to our colleagues Maximilien van Aertryck and GulĂ§in Sahin and have welcomed three new interns: Marion Perrin from France and Dora di Nunno and Lucia Turri from Italy. Welcome!
We have also said goodbye to our old address on Rue l'Echiquier, and are now all together at: 99 Rue du Faubourg Saint Denis 75010, Paris, France
6 7ARTE corner
Looking for partners "7arte corner" is a meeting point for local artists in Kosovo run by member organisation 7arte. Many activities are scheduled such as: screenings, creative writing workshops and debates. It's 7arte's ambition to use the permises as a place where cultural politics will start changing the cultural environment of the Mitrovica region and also a place that can offer an alternative for cultural development of society. At 7arte there are possibilities for international cooperations and there is also a need to involve European volunteers who would like sharing experiences and capacities and make changes. If you are interested send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
EXTENDED DEADLINE NexT While preparations of all sorts for NexT International Film Festival 2010 are going full steam ahead, the submission period for the competition has just been extended. The NEW DEADLINES:
December 15, 2009 2009 for foreign films
January 15, 2010
for Romanian films. The competition is for films up to 60 minutes completed after the 1st of January 2008, live action or animation. You can find the complete regulations and the entry form on www.nextproject.ro
New Bolivian cinema website Cinemas Cine is an online magazine published in La Paz, Bolivia by two of our ex Nisimazine participants Claudio Sanchez and Mary Carmen Molina. Cinemas Cine is a space for dialogue that offers a fresh look by promoting the research and the work of young film critics. Cinemas Cine publishes essays on the history of Bolivian cinema, reviews, interviews, photo reportages and todayâ€™s news on Bolivian and Latin American cinema.
screenings SLOVAKIA 01-02.12.09
In Kino Studio in Pristina, Kosovo starting at 20:00, 7arte will screen NISI MASA short films from the "Matter of taste" and "Cinetrain" projects as a follow-up of the "European cinema" campaign that they organized in December 2008. One of the three winning scripts of the 2007 Script Contest 'Tourist', will be screened during the International Film Festival Bratislava. Palace Cinemas K3 Aupark, Einsteinova 18, Bratislava
A screening of the "Matter of Taste" films will be held at the Eisenstein library of film arts in Moscow at 19:00, organised by Moviement. Free entrance. Adress: Karetnyj ryad 5, metro Chehovskaya, Majakovskaja, Novoslobodskaja
SeventiesEighties. The Mutation of Italy around 1979 For the third year the association Franti asks cinema, theatre and music to enlighten the transformation of Italian society between the Seventies and Eighties: an afternoon dedicated to the revolutionary theatre group Living Theatre; a session dedicated to â€œanarchicâ€? Italian comedies of the 70s and 80s; a musical reading performance by songwriter/novelist Stefano Giaccone and a documentary on experimental singer Demetrio Stratos. 15-16 december 2009, Massimo 3, Museo del Cinema, Torino www.frantinisimasa.it
spotlight In Brussels last month, for the 8th time in the history of the Script Contest a jury gathered to discuss the in total 23 national winners and choose from them 12 overall winning scripts. Not an easy feat with a subject like Taboo. Here are the impressions of the meeting by one of the jury members from Spain, Andrea. by Andrea Franco
DO YOU WANT US TO TALK ABOUT YOU? Script contest jury meeting: the conclusion
ifteen young and fresh brains with their coffee filled bodies took seat around one table; in our hands, twenty three scripts from every corner of Europe sharing one thing in common: taboos; three days of nonstop discussions and one voting afternoon as exciting as an election day. Outside, the cold and the rain didn’t give truce. Brussels wasn’t a casual choice, Brussels is also the very centre of every decision concerning our community, the place where our destiny is put on the table to be debated. But also as capital of culture (the Independent Film Festival was running those same days, for our joy), it was symbolic at least. So what happened? It is hard to think about Taboo as a positive concept, so we frequently bumped into the crudest aspects of life, lurid and thorny facts and ideas –I would say perverted sometimes- which ranged from incest, war crimes and discrimination to Down syndrome sufferers, Oedipus complex and animal mistreat… But what should we expect? In any case, they were certainly inspiring words, capable of including countless and different stories in which universality was the key aspect to delight beyond the own frontiers of the scriptwriter, not only us, but
also the public, who needs to feel close to the story whether it comes from Switzerland or Slovenia. That’s why sometimes, even these fifteen brains couldn’t agree in anything else apart from a confusing plot: “Next!” On the other hand, just as a film reviews helps the spectator to find out another point of view, this meeting achieved, on occasion, to reveal those bright aspects that some of the most complex stories hid; different appreciations that maybe couldn’t be discovered by us separately. So, for us, it wasn’t only an encounter to decide who of you, scriptwriters, deserved such a big opportunity as a pitch session in the very house where artists like François Truffaut or Louis Malle wrote and shot their movies (the Moulin d’Andé-Céci, more symbolism…), but also a fruitful gathering which provoked more than one “Oh! In that case is brilliant!”
ferent, unbelievable, attractive, memorable, something NISI, something MASA… You have time enough to rack your brains before leaving your masterpiece in the hands of another implacable committee. Find your own Moulin d’Andé and go there to write a winning script. Let us dedicate you some words. for the list of winners, see:
As any jury meeting, consensus and differences followed one another every five minutes, but maybe there was something we all missed in the end: a little more risk, bravery, development, more involvement from your selves, there are no taboos on writing about taboo, are there? We agreed in the fact that there were great ideas that sometimes were only named, introduced. “Ok, here’s the taboo, but what else?” That’s why now, from here, we encourage you to lose the control of your mind and think of something unusual, new, rare, dif-
Photos by Karoliina Paasonen
Photo by Maartje Alders
MAXIMILIEN VAN AERTRYCK worked for one year as a volunteer
at NISI MASA headquarters in Paris. This summer he moved to Sweden, to try his luck further in editing and life.
French- German Co-production has all the ingredients and historical baggage to go seriously wrong, but every now and then something good does comes out. Not often, but when it happens it is thus even more special. Something that delights us at workshops or makes the day at the dull, quiet, accountancy -like atmosphere of the NISI MASA European office go a lot smoother, even managing to make it enjoyable. How is this possible? Well, "There are the do's and don'ts of a good buddy". This portrait will look at some of them and how these do's and don' ts make their appearance in the person and persona some of us have become to know as "son number one". We are of course talking about Maximilien Van Aertryck who arrived to the European office as an innocent 18 years old boy ready to start his tour of duty and serve some time for the cause of the European youth...Or whatever. Very soon it became evident that Max was one of the very few, if not in fact the only one, in the office worthy enough to be called "mature". While this might have dawned on the co-workers fairly soon we can be sure that Max had come to realize even sooner that NISI MASA does not work in a fancy office with Macbooks for everyone to use (unless you bring your own) and neither are you surrounded with a Google company like environment with all kinds of perks and support systems. Oh, how
he must have yearned back to the warmth of San Francisco and the Bay Area to keep an eye on the women (young and vintage) in their convertibles. Perhaps the Chinese shop on Rue l'Echiquier gave at least some of that Chinatown feel and one of the many bridges over the Seine the occasional Fisherman's Warf moment,if he imagined hard enough, now that Maximilien sat in an office the seize or probably even smaller than the cells at Alcatraz. But for his fellow “inmates”/co-workers the very small club of diner and talk show aficionados had finally an addition, a new member with whom to share Youtube clips and actually get a response that went even funnier. There were not many members in this club, but they sure made a blast, whether others got their jokes or not. Besides what else could you expect from a man with a black leather jacket and a noble name,right? Always smooth and cool (almost like the Fonz!) and if you have been to a workshop with him you will also know about “Max the crooner” . Singing old French songs with other participants or literary chasing them on the streets of Alba. Whatever he does it comes with passion because Max is a man who does not kiss ass. He just gives his opinion like he sees it because this guy has seen enough blonds, models, chatted with established filmmakers not to be affected with the typical “wannabe” symptoms. After "leaving" NISI MASA Max has relocated to Sweden, of all places, and is
making a name for himself in the editing circles of the film industry, while setting up his next two projects: a documentary set in the North of the country and one in Southern California. Alongside these he is of course also planning new screenings and parties for NISI MASA Stockholm. So don't be surprised if it is Max who turns out to be behind the creators of the elusive NISI MASA Monaco. Like portraits tend to be this too is just a glimpse on the many activities of the man, but if there is one thing we can be sure about it is that he will continue to charm his way forward and prove his skills in more ways than one. Whether we can see him with a red wooden house next to a lake just yet is something that might not fit the picture at the moment, but then again where can a man go after there has been rumors of a dog being named after him. Wherever he goes, whatever he does: Max is a man who knows his mustard! That's important, when you roam the world, keep traveling and do not plan to get too attached with the cities and countries he visits. You might get attached to him, but that's the burden cool people have to carry. by Atso Parnanen