Tuesday, 1 August 2006

focus on robert altman and raymond carver

A live phone interview with celebrated American film director Robert Altman, and the Australian theatrical premiere of Luck, Trust & Ketchup, a documentary about the making of Altman's seminal film Short Cuts, are two of the highlights of ACMI's next cinema season, Focus on Robert Altman & Raymond Carver.

Presented in association with the 2006 The Age Melbourne Writers' Festival, Focus on Robert Altman & Raymond Carver is the exclusive film event in the 2006 festival program and will focus on literary adaptations in cinema, showcasing filmmaker Robert Altman and author Raymond Carver.

A maverick and agent provocateur still going strong at 81, Altman has made a career of flouting Hollywood convention, to awe-inspiring effect.  After over 40 films, and the 2006 Honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement, Altman has made his mark on American cinema.  A quintessential auteur, his directorial style combines large casts with unresolved story lines, poetic camera work and layered sound.

Altman's films were a logical choice to be showcased at ACMI for this year's Melbourne Writers Festival. Influential since the early '70s, Altman continues to make an impact on the current crop of filmmakers. Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia (1999) was a direct nod to Altman, whereas more recently, Richard E Grant has quoted Altman as an influence on his directorial debut, Wah Wah (2006).

The springboard of the season is Short Cuts, Altman's 1993 adaptation of nine shorts stories and a poem by Raymond Carver.

'Short Cuts was a collaboration between two great storytellers: Robert Altman, iconoclastic director of M*A*S*H and Nashville fame and the late American author, Raymond Carver, whose short stories The New York Times ranked amongst the masterpieces of American fiction', says Focus on Robert Altman & Raymond Carver curator Roberta Ciabarra.

 'The pared back style of Carver's writing lent itself to the process of adaptation by allowing Altman room to create narrative intersections between characters and stories where none existed in their original form.'

The season highlights include a live telephone interview with Robert Altman direct from New York on Tuesday 29 August at 8:45pm.

Another must-see is the Australian theatrical premiere of Luck, Trust & Ketchup, the documentary Mike Kaplan co-directed about the making of Short Cuts which includes interviews with Altman, Short Cuts screenwriter and collaborator Frank Barhydt (with whom Altman worked to adapt Raymond Carver's work for the film), and Carver's widow Tess Gallagher who offers her own response to Altman's 'take' on Carver's work. The film also features interviews with almost all members of Short Cuts' remarkable cast, practically a 'who's who' of America's finest character and comic actors including Lily Tomlin (who will be performing in Melbourne on the same day as the film's second screening at ACMI), Jack Lemmon, Tim Robbins, Julianne Moore, Fred Ward, Robert Downey Jr, Lili Taylor, and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Focus on Robert Altman & Raymond Carver will reveal that Altman's Short Cuts is only one of many screen adaptations of Carver.  Two sessions of rarely seen shorts will showcase Carver adaptations by international and Australian directors, including John Ruane's Feathers and Andrew Kotatko's Everything Goes, the latter recently named as the winner of the prestigious 'Golden Accord' award for Best Fiction Film at the 2006 Vienna International Short Film Festival.  John Ruane and Andrew Kotatko will be at ACMI to participate in "So Much Carver So Close to Home", a panel discussion following the screening of their films, moderated by The Age columnist and author Jane Sullivan.

With hard to get prints imported especially for the season, Focus on Robert Altman and Raymond Carver is a rare opportunity to see the work of two of America's most original creative talents on the big screen at ACMI's state-of-the-art cinemas.

Program at a glance:

Feature films:
Short Cuts - adapted from nine short stories and a poem by Raymond Carver
McCabe & Mrs Miller - based on the novel McCabe by Edmund Naughton
The Long Goodbye - based on the  novel The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
Fool for Love - based on the play by Sam Shepard
The Player - based on the novel by Michael Tolkin
Popeye - based on the comic strip by E.C. Segar
M*A*S*H - based on the novel by Richard Hooker
Thieves Like Us - based on the novel by Edward Anderson
Images - based on the book In Search of Unicorns by Susannah York

Raymond Carver Choice Cuts - international program of shorts adapted from Carver's short stories: Studentova zena / The Student's Wife (Goran Kovac, Croatia, 2000);  C'était le chien d'Edd / It was Eddy's Dog (Olivier Babinet & Bertrand Mandico, France, 2003) based on the story "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love"; Tropical Fish (Chris Rodley, UK, 1994) based on the story "Neighbors" and Du bois pour l'hiver / Kindling (Olivier Jahan, France, 2004)

So Much Carver So Close to Home - Australian shorts based on Carver's short stories, Feathers by John Ruane and Everything Goes by Andrew Kotatko


Luck, Trust & Ketchup: Robert Altman in Carver Country by John Dorr & Mike E Kaplan (Australian Theatreical premiere)
Special events:
Robert Altman in Conversation - live telephone interview direct from New York
So Much Carver So Close to Home - screening + Q&A with Feathers director John Ruane, Feathers associate producer and editor Ken Sallows, Everything Goes director Andrew Kotatko and The Age columnist and author Jane Sullivan

Further information

Danielle Poulos, ACMI Communications Coordinator

PH: (03) 8663 2415 or danielle.poulos@acmi.net.au

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