Ebertfest 2017 Preview

So proud and honored that our short film July and Half of August is part of the impressive 2017 Ebertfest lineup. The video of me there is from the Albuquerque festival. I had just arrived at the hotel, and had just found out about Prince’s death. Like, half an hour earlier. I had no idea I would be interviewed. I had been crying. Anyway: thank you Chaz Ebert for that beautiful piece, and thank you Chaz and Nate Kohn for having our film play at the festival. It’s a huge honor.

Something separate, but connected
I do just want to mention one small personal thing. Those of you who read me regularly are familiar with “Michael.” A friend of mine. We go way WAY back. (I just wrote about one of our more ridiculous experiences together. But this is really the main piece I wrote about us. It’s extremely intense and at one point sexually explicit and I probably wouldn’t write it that way now. But it captures exactly what he meant to me and what he continued to mean. Michael’s read it, of course.) Something profound existed between us – and it was there instantly – and I suppose it is still there. I never see him. But we are connected and – as we were back then – supportive of one another’s pursuits. (Michael and I were obsessed with Mickey Rourke during our time together, and with the news of The Wrestler, we both lost our minds. And we couldn’t talk about it to anyone else but each other. Nobody else was as insane about Rourke in our circles of friends as we were. I eventually wrote this gigantic piece: Gone Away, Come Back: Mickey Rourke – which was the first piece of film writing I did that “traveled”. It was linked on the IMDB homepage, for example. Anyway, Michael and I were so whipped up into a frenzy about Rourke’s resurgence that it bled onto the site – always with Michael’s permission. Witness: Post, Post, Post, Post, Post.) But anyway, as most of you know, Michael’s film Kwik Stop played at the 2002 Ebertfest (when it was known as the Overlooked Film Festival). I wrote about Roger’s review of it here.

The point of all of this is:

Michael and I dated when we were – basically – kids. But our connection was real. We were aware of it at the time. Our relationship is a very special memory for the both of us.

So … what are the odds … what are the freakin’ odds … that these two rumpled happy Gen-X kids …

… would both have films play at Ebertfest? So many years apart? One having nothing to do with the other?

Considering how our relationship was, and how it has developed since, and how important we are to one another – in a way not easily definable – it seems so beautiful, so right, in an eerily symmetrical way … that we would both go through this exact same thing, decades apart.

When Roger emailed me to ask me to write for him, Michael was one of the first people I told. Because Roger had reached a hand out to Michael, too. Had recognized his talent, had championed him, had done his best to push Michael into the spotlight where he belonged. And here was I, doing something totally different – film writing – and there Roger was, reaching his hand out to me.

I try not to “believe” in coincidences. That way nothing good lies.

I guess it’s the symmetry I like so much. And the sense of right-ness that accompanies certain kinds of symmetry: That of course it would go down this way. Of course. I mean, look at those two grunge-balls by the creek. Of COURSE they would be connected forever in this weird … not completely explainable … way. And of course they would end up having identical extremely specific experiences, both having to do with Roger Ebert. Still, though: What?? It’s rather incredible, in the most literal sense of the word.

I like it, that’s all. Michael does too. In life, which is such a constant welter of chaos, sometimes it helps to think that sometimes, just sometimes, the world makes a kind of beautiful sense.

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8 Responses to Ebertfest 2017 Preview

  1. Barb says:

    This is so great, Sheila, what you’ve said about connections. I believe that, too–not in coincidences, but in the way that our lives become a vast network of connection as we move through. Some strands only become apparent as we grow older. I’m happy for you that this connection makes such beautiful sense!

    Congratulations, too, on your film showing at Ebertfest! That’s tremendous news. Are there any plans to release it more widely right now?

  2. KathyB says:

    Congratulations on having your movie scheduled for Ebertfest. I have read some of your history with Michael. It is only right that this experience has come to you now.

    Roger’s blog opened something of a universe for me. One link leading to another, along with the actual posts which allowed anyone reading it who had a memory of Roger’s spoken words to hear him again in that warm and inviting place. Not that he didn’t enjoy blog posts that blew the place up with argumentative comments. Repeatedly and for his own entertainment.

    I was one of the early members of the “club house” as he and Marie called it. I enjoy the passions vicariously, more than actually. But over the years have been able to seek out movies that I never would have known about otherwise.

    I still have a bookmark for Roger’s Blogs of My Blogs post. The man created a legacy beyond measure.

  3. Todd Restler says:

    I’ll say it again, or rather, he’ll say it again:

    Miller: A lot o’ people don’t realize what’s really going on. They view life as a bunch o’ unconnected incidents ‘n things. They don’t realize that there’s this, like, lattice o’ coincidence that lays on top o’ everything. Give you an example; show you what I mean: suppose you’re thinkin’ about a plate o’ shrimp. Suddenly someone’ll say, like, plate, or shrimp, or plate o’ shrimp out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin’ for one, either. It’s all part of a cosmic unconciousness.

    Repo Man, 1984

    Everything is connected. Congrats on July and Half of August and have fun at Ebertfest! I love the theme of the event this year; what wonderful timing. It’s so important right now to remember the arts and how important they can be for bringing people together and creating awareness, empathy, and understanding.

    • sheila says:

      Todd – yes, I so agree in re: celebrating the arts. It’s always important – Ebertfest is really special since it’s not a competitive festival. No jury, no prizes. Just love of film.

      You really should come one year!

  4. KathyB says:

    Oh, and it is very hard to accept that Prince left us almost a year ago. You managed the interview quite well. You know how shaken you were. We don’t. You are a pro and I hope to see your film one day in the not too distant future.

  5. Desirae says:

    I so hope I can see this film one day, and congrats once again.

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