Posts Tagged ‘Code of the West’

Cinereach grantee Rebecca Richman Cohen released her latest film, Code of the West, on iTunes and other VOD platforms last week. In this guest post, she describes the rather harrowing process of opening her finished film back up to include new events in the lives of her subjects after the film’s festival run, before making it available to digital audiences.

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Rebecca Richman Cohen

Post by Rebecca Richman Cohen

One of my mentors recently offered a chilling metaphor. He compared the process of re-editing a finished film to the act of necrophilia. It may sound comically extreme, but his point was that in the filmmaking world, there may be nothing more taboo than unlocking a ‘finished’ film and disassembling it at its seams. After having survived the ordeal, I am inclined to agree with his insight.

I write this post because I am reeling from the effects of having violated this powerful taboo with my own film. My team and I originally “finished” Code of the West in time for SXSW 2012, not anticipating that there would be any more major developments in the story. A few months after our premiere, two of our main characters were indicted on federal marijuana charges, and prohibited from using the defense that producing medical marijuana was legal in their home state of Montana. One of them faced a minimum mandatory sentence of more than 80 years in prison. We were determined to document the effects of this injustice on our protagonists and their families so we started filming again, launched a Kickstarter campaign, raised enough money to re-edit, and went back in to update the film.

Not only did we add a new ending, we also changed much of the narration, added a new scene in the middle, and generally rendered the film more compelling, more character-driven, and more relevant to national issues. Nonetheless, the process of diving back into the material was painful for many reasons.

First, we were documenting some of the darkest moments in our characters’ lives. It was an emotionally taxing process to contemplate how most effectively to “represent” the suffering of others. This was true when we were editing the original version of the film, which included a dark scene of a DEA raid on our main character’s medical marijuana growhouse (our main characters in handcuffs, federal officials in hazmat suits, and sirens blaring). But there was something even more challenging about filming our subjects again after they had seen the film and become involved in our outreach campaign. During the original edit, we never screened cuts for any of our subjects – but after the premiere, they had the opportunities to screen the film many times over and were now deeply invested in the update.

It also opened a Pandora’s box into the creative process. It made me sensitive to the musings of critics and audience members – and it made me doubt my original instincts. Where before the film was a thing that simply existed in the world, now it was something over which I once again had control. Criticism wasn’t just about something I had done. It was about something I was doing.

And finally, I had enormous anxiety that broadcasters wouldn’t take the second version seriously – that the film’s fate was sealed in our original version and that no one would see the new version.

CodeOFTheWest_Square

Luckily, two remarkable editors guided the process. We brought on a new editor, Lindsay Utz, to structure the new version. Lindsay brought fresh eyes and a keen sense of possibility to the process. And Francisco Bello, the film’s original editor, writer, and producer generously offered useful consultation on the edit. In the end, a process that was at times beset with anguish proved to be worthwhile. The Kickstarter campaign helped to build an engaged audience for the film leading up to its official release. And the new version is simply a more powerful story than its predecessor.

But the experience also left me with questions. Did we do enough? Should we have radically reassembled the film instead of simply revising the narration and adding new scenes? Which critics were right? Did we make it more or less marketable? These questions provoke anxiety at any stage in the creative process. It was unfortunate for us that we had to ask ourselves those questions upon not one – but two different releases.

Historically, it was impossible to re-edit a finished film. In order to create the final master print, filmmakers destroyed the original stock in the process – so “tinkering” after a première was not an option. Once a film was done, it was done. That’s clearly no longer the case (as evidenced by the significant numbers of filmmakers who go back to the edit room after festival premieres) – so maybe it’s no longer quite as taboo as it was once considered to be. And I imagine that there are many filmmakers in my place, who are telling stories about current events and who are involved in ongoing campaigns to make change happen around those stories. These filmmakers have even more reason to consider updating their films when there is a turn of events that changes the stakes.

That said, just because it is a technical possibility, and sometimes a narrative necessity, if you’re considering this path yourself, this filmmaker urges you to proceed with caution, and not without first setting some boundaries for how much change is healthy to make.

Rebecca Richman Cohen is an Emmy Award nominated filmmaker and a lecturer on law at Harvard Law School. War Don Don, her first film, won the Special Jury Prize at the SXSW Film Festival and was nominated for two Emmy awards: Outstanding Continuing Coverage Of A News Story (Long Form) and Outstanding Editing. Rebecca has been adjunct faculty at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and American University’s Human Rights Institute. She graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies and with a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School, where she now teaches two classes on law and film. In 2010 Rebecca was profiled in Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces in Independent Film as an “up-and-comer poised to shape the next generation of independent film.” She is a 2012-2013 Soros Justice Fellow.

Cinereach supported films are screening at festivals all over the globe this fall. We hope you’re stepping out of the newly chilled air and into the warm theater to catch some of them when the timing and location is right!

Some of the below have already come and gone, but some are going on as we speak, or are just on the horizon. The links below will lead you to any available ticketing information.

Informant

Informant

November

AFI Fest November 1 – 8, Los Angeles, CA
Cinereach grantees: Here and There, Leviathan and Tchoupitoulas
CPH: Dox November 1 – 11, Copenhagen, Denmark
Cinereach grantees: Tchoupitoulas, Leviathan and Call Me Kuchu
Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute grantee: The Queen of Versailles
Doc NYC November 8 – 15, New York, NY
Cinereach grantees: Code of the West, Informant and The Mosuo Sisters,
with God Loves Uganda (featured as a work-in-progress)
Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute grantee: Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry
Rome Film Festival November 9 – 17, Rome, Italy
Cinereach grantee: El Ojo Del Tiburon (The Shark’s Eye) - World Premiere
IDFA November 14 – 25 Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Cinereach grantees: Informant, Leviathan, Reportero and The World Before Her
Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute grantee: The Queen of Versailles
IDFA Forum – Cinereach grantees: PowerlessStrong IslandWhite Elephants

Here and There (Aqui y Alla)

Here and There (Aqui y Alla)

October
Sao Paulo International Film Festival October 19 – November 1, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Cinereach grantees: Bully, Here and There (Aqui y Alla) and Laura
Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute grantee: Postcards from the Zoo
New Orleans Film Festival October 11 – 18, New Orleans, Louisiana
Cinereach grantees: Call Me Kuchu, Informant and The Patron Saints
Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute grantees: An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, Compliance and Keep the Lights On
Abu Dhabi Film Festival October 11 – 20, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Cinereach production: Beasts of the Southern Wild
Cinereach grantee: The World Before Her
Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute grantee: Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry
Woodstock Film Festival October 10 – 14 Woodstock, NY
Cinereach grantee: Informant
Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute grantees: I Am Not a Hipster and Words of Witness
BFI London Film Festival October 10 – 21, London, England
Cinereach production: Beasts of the Southern Wild
Cinereach grantees: Here and There (Aqui y Alla) and Tchoupitoulas
Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute grantee: Compliance, Fill the Void and Keep the Lights On
Busan International Film Festival October 4 – 13, Busan, South Korea
Cinereach production: Beasts of the Southern Wild
Cinereach grantee: Here and There (Aqui y Alla)
Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute grantee: Postcards From the Zoo
Hamptons International Film Festival October 4 – 8, Hamptons, NY
Cinereach grantee: Call Me Kuchu

The Mosuo Sisters

The Mosuo Sisters

September
New York Film Festival September 28 – October 14, New York, NY
Cinereach granteesHere and There (Aqui y Alla) and Leviathan
Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute grantee: Fill the Void
Camden International Film Festival September 27-30, Camden, Maine
Cinereach grantees: Call Me Kuchu and Code of the West
Zurich Film Festival September 20 – 30, Zurich, Switzerland
Cinereach production: Beasts of the Southern Wild
Cinereach grantees: The Mosuo Sisters – World Premiere and The World Before Her
Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute grantees: At Any Price and The Queen of Versailles

The Tribeca Film Festival is a springtime staple for us New Yorkers, but film lovers from Boston to Buenos Aires have an exciting and simulating April to take part in as well.

Below are some festivals that are coming up fast, and we’ve listed the Cinereach supported films selected for each.

Bafici-OK

Bafici
April 11 – 22 // Buenos, Aires, Argentina

Cinereach grantees:
Kuichisan, Laura and Ok, Enough, Goodbye (plus short films by Rania Attieh & Daniel Garcia)

Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute grantee:
Postcards from the Zoo

REPORTERO-SELECTS---64

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
April 12 – 15 // Durham, NC

Cinereach grantees:
Girl Model
and Reportero

Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute grantee:

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

CPH-Porfirio

CPH PIX
April 12 – 29 // Copenhagen, Denmark

Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute grantees:
Keep the Lights On, Porfirio and Postcards from the Zoo
Girl Model 16x9

Dallas International Film Festival
April 12 – 22 // Dallas, TX

Cinereach grantees:
Girl Model
and Tchoupitoulas

Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute grantees:
Compliance and An Oversimplification of Her Beauty

Sarasota-Patron

Sarasota Film Festival
April 13 – 22 // Sarasota, FL

Cinereach grantee:
Girl Model, The Patron Saints and Tchoupitoulas

Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute grantee:
Compliance, Keep the Lights On and The Queen of Versailles

SF-Informant San Francisco International Film Festival
April 19 – May 3 // San Francisco, CA

Cinereach grantees:
Informant and Ok, Enough, Goodbye

Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute grantees:
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, Compliance, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty and The Queen of Versailles

Boston-Code

The Independent Film Festival Boston
April 25 – May 2 // Boston, MA

Cinereach grantees:
BURN, Code of the West and Girl Model

Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute grantee:
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry and The Queen of Versailles

HotDocs-Call Me Kuchu

Hot Docs
April 26 – May 6 // Toronto, ON Canada

Cinereach grantees:
Call Me Kuchu, Laura, Planet of Snail, Tchoupitoulas and The World Before Her

Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute grantees:
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry and The Queen of Versailles


Cinereach is excited to note that the SXSW Film Festival, which takes place from March 9th – 17th, has included three Cinereach grantees in its lineup: the US premiere of Girl Model and the world premieres of Code of the West and Tchoupitoulas. Compliance, which received support through the Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute, will also be making its next festival appearance there.

Along with the festival, the SXSW Film Conference runs March 9th-13th and features a range of opportunities to survey the culture, technology and business of contemporary filmmaking. Conference attendees embarking on the grant-seeking process can join Cinereach’s Leah Giblin for the panel Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Grants (Sunday, March 11 at 11:00am). She’ll be sharing pragmatic insights in discussion with Judith Helfand of Chicken & Egg Pictures, Dianne Debicella of Fractured Atlas, Tamara Horowitz of San Francisco Film Society, and filmmaker Ellen Spiro.

Cinereach Grantees at SXSW:

Code Of The West_CannabisTincture
Code of the West nonfiction
Director: Rebecca Richman Cohen

Reflecting the controversies enveloping the marijuana industry throughout the United States, Montana braces itself to become the first state to repeal a medical marijuana law.

SXSW Screening Times

Girl Model 16x9
Girl Model nonfiction
Directors: A. Sabin & David Redmon

Follows a complex supply chain between Siberia, Japan, and the U.S. within the modeling industry.

SXSW Screening Times

Tchoupitoulas_16x9.jpg
Tchoupitoulas nonfiction
Directors: Bill & Turner Ross

Three young brothers explore the New Orleans night.

SXSW Screening Times

Compliance_copy_website
Compliance fiction
Director: Craig Zobel

When a caller posing as a police officer convinces a fast food restaurant manager to interrogate an innocent young employee, no one is left unscathed. Based on true events.

SXSW Screening Times

Supported by the Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute

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