Film Analysis | Massachusetts | Reports

Rough Cuts

1 Nov , 2000  

Written by Vikki Warner | Posted by:

The Boston Film/Video Foundation creates a new regular program for filmmakers to screen their works-in-progress to a critical (but kind) audience.

Since 1976, independent filmmakers have relied on the Boston Film/Video Foundation (BF/VF) for the comprehensive collection of resources and services they need to get their films made. Now, BF/VF has launched "Rough Cuts," a screening series which aims to provide Boston-area filmmakers a forum to present and receive feedback on their films as works-in-progress. The program is creative fuel for the artists whose films are part of the presentations, as well as for those who come to "Rough Cuts" to discover Boston and New England’s latest independent films before they are polished and complete.

According to Devon Damonte, BF/VF’s Program Director, "Rough Cuts" is a program designed to "help filmmakers make their projects better." Through presenting unfinished versions of their films and conducting informal discussions with audiences, directors receive immediate feedback and creative food for thought, which often results in the redirection or modification of a project’s focus. "Especially toward the end of the project, what is very valuable is to have those who have not worked on the project give a fresh perspective," says Damonte. And since so many independent films take several years to complete, feedback from the small, insular group who work on a given project can sometimes stagnate for lack of a new approach from new people.

"Rough Cuts" presentations take several forms, from rough and fine cuts, to short compilations of material, to selections of raw, unedited, unassembled footage. The audience for each presentation is somewhat tailored to the project’s individual aim which helps to bring an especially insightful point of view to the discourse. Discussion of their projects with audience members provides filmmakers with valuable insight from an audience who sees the project with an unjaded eye. Audience members benefit from the experience of some of the Boston area’s best known filmmakers, showing their projects "while there is time to affect the piece and make changes," according to Damonte.

Damonte also emphasizes the value of the encouragement provided to both artist and audience through the program. While the featured filmmaker receives important suggestions and inspiration, "the aspiring filmmaker and those just starting out can have the intense experience of seeing projects before they are completed, and have a hand in the process," he says. For an inexperienced or uncertain filmmaker, interaction with a more accomplished craftsperson can be a strong jump-start to begin making films or resurrect an abandoned project; this concept strengthens the mission of the BF/VF as a support mechanism for Boston-area filmmakers at all levels of experience and notoriety.

An up-to-date screening schedule is as follows:

• November 8, Wednesday: Irene Lusztig’s "Reconstruction." "Reconstruction" is a feature-length documentary that uses a personal narrative form as it "explores the ramifications of the Ioanid Gang bank heist of 1959 in Romania," from the point of view of the only woman involved in the heist (Lusztig’s grandmother), as well as the only person who did not subsequently receive a death sentence. To learn more about the project, visit http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~lusztig/reconstructionintro.html

• November 28, Tuesday: Ross McElwee’s "Tobacco." As a native of North Carolina and the great-grandson of the man who created "Bull Durham" tobacco, Ross McElwee explores the "social, economic, and psychological tobacco terrain" of the state, which produces more tobacco than any other state in the U.S. He also reflects on his own family’s heritage as part of tobacco’s history and legacy. For biographical information on the filmmaker, visit http://filmstudycenter.org/RMC.html

• January 9, Tuesday: Lucia Small’s "My Father the Genius." Lucia Small, daughter of a controversial and imaginative architect, struggles to "come to terms with her father’s love of his dreams over that of his family and career." Small chronicles her own conflicting emotions brought about through telling the story of her father’s life.

• January 23, Tuesday: Steffen Pierce’s "Road to Chiapas." "Road to Chiapas" is a 90-minute video documentary which gives an account of the Mexican Zapatista uprising as a "larger struggle between two distinct ways of seeing; the indigenous community-oriented perspective and the modern individualistic point of view." Pierce traveled to Chiapas twice and interviewed Zapatista soldiers, leaders of the San Cristobal church, and relatives of victims of the Acteal massacre.

• February 27, Tuesday: Mark Ferguson’s "Pure Trash: A Southern Reconcilation." The filmmaker explores Southern mores of education and sexual orientation, as well as stereotypes of the South, as he returns to his Appalachian roots .

All ‘Rough Cuts’ screenings are held at BF/VF’s screening room, which is located at 1126 Boylston Street #201 in Boston (one block from Massachusetts Avenue, at the Hynes Convention Center/ICA Green Line T stop). Each will take place at 7:30 PM. Events, which take place roughly twice per month, are free and open to the public; however, a call to reserve a space is recommended. For information, screening schedules, and reservations, call Devon Damonte at (617) 536-1540, ext. 18 (e-mail devon@bfvf.org) or Rebecca Haverstick at (617) 536-1540 ext. 15 (e-mail rhaverst@bfvf.org). The Rough Cuts screening series is funded by the LEF Foundation.


All 'Rough Cuts' screenings are held at BF/VF’s screening room, which is located at 1126 Boylston Street #201 in Boston (one block from Massachusetts Avenue, at the Hynes Convention Center/ICA Green Line T stop). Each will take place at 7:30 PM. Events, which take place roughly twice per month, are free and open to the public; however, a call to reserve a space is recommended. For information, screening schedules, and reservations, call Devon Damonte at (617) 536-1540, ext. 18 (e-mail devon@bfvf.org) or Rebecca Haverstick at (617) 536-1540 ext. 15 (e-mail rhaverst@bfvf.org). The Rough Cuts screening series is funded by the LEF Foundation.