Age and occupation. How long have you lived here, where did you come from, and where do you live now?
I grew up in Weymouth, Massachusetts, a town right south of Boston, and have lived in the East Village since 1994. I'm 33. My occupations are writer and film curator. I contribute regularly to the Village Voice and have organized the New York Underground Film Festival since way back in the dark ages of 1996.
Three from Chris Gage
1. What kind of sweet debaucheries and depraved goings-on have you been privy to on press junkets while working as a film critic for the Voice? If you haven't been on any junkets, is it because you wrote that "Walking Tall" was "ridiculous macho slugfest attempting to reassert the '80s-style roid-raging revenge narrative (e.g., Commando, Rambo III), peppered with a dash of Charles Bronson vigilante justice"? Which, however hilarious, is like so totally wrong.
I know that sexy celebrity-film-critics like NY1's Neal Rosen give the impression that the job is something glamorous. It's not. Most of it involves sitting at home staring at a blank Microsoft Word document until something snarky appears. A lot of us go to festivals and such, but the excitement there is decidedly nerdish: for example, I was thrilled at the Rotterdam Film Festival to meet Kiyoshi Kurosawa, an amazing director whose name will probably require googling for a number of otherwise well-informed Gothamist readers. Its not like I did coke off Mary Kate Olsen's ass or anything. That said, I have interacted with some extremely cool people. Like, I've spoken with Patricia Hearst three times, all at John Waters-related events. That lady is pure class.
2. Who in this year's New York Underground Film Festival is most likely to become the next John Waters (i.e., a once daring and volatile film maker who now casts Johnny Depp and has art shows at the New Museum in SoHo; it's hard to convey in email that I'm not mocking Waters' arc or success, by the way.)
Given that thirteen artists in this year's Whitney Biennial are New York Underground alumni, and our opening night film from last year, The Weather Underground, was later nominated for an Oscar, it looks like there are numerous contenders. But if I had to pick one film from this year's NYUFF that seems poised to break out, I'd definitely say it's Roddy Bogawa's feature I Was Born But..., a beautifully shot, incredibly complex and intelligent film which is about, among many other things, growing up Asian-American and punk. It world-premiered at our festival in March, and the reaction was incredible. I think Roddy has hit on something that has the potential to connect with many people, and some smart distributor will undoubtedly realize this.
3. How successful are film festivals, like the NYUFF, in getting people to see films they wouldn't already go see? Aren't the people who go to these predisposed to these types of movies, as opposed to mainstreamers who will walk by the posters scratching their empty heads and never take a chance on, say, "Leche/Mala Leche"?
I think that the NYUFF has been quite successful -- we've always been an extremely well-attended event, and have been around for over 11 years, so people come to us with an open mind, wanting to see things that may challenge them, or at least be something different and unexpected. That said, I think one of the main problems you're hitting on is the mainstreaming of film festivals in general. There are far too many festivals that attempt to offer a watered-down experience, with B-grade films directed by celebrities, or stuff that will be released by major studios anyway, or wannabe indie films that really don't need to be seen by anyone beyond the filmmaker's family. I think that people go to events like that and end up disappointed. They think that's all a film festival is, and it lowers the bar of expectation. I mean, if you just want to watch stuff you could see anyway, you should just sit at home and curate your own film festival on pay-per-view.
Time travel question: What era, day or event in New York's history would you like to re-live?
The third weekend in June, 2003. I was out of town, and I heard I missed some fun stuff.
What's your New York motto?
"Everyone is special"
Best celebrity sighting in New York, or personal experience with one if you're that type.
One time Kenneth Anger gave me a framed Hitler Youth recruitment poster. It hangs in a place of honor in my home.
Just after midnight on a Saturday - what are you doing?
Worshipping Tina Fey.
What's the most expensive thing in your wardrobe?
I bought the first suit I've ever owned last fall, at Brooks Brothers, on the occasion of my godchild's christening. I wanted the most conservative-looking thing possible, complete with horse-jumping-steeplechase tie. I'm loving it.
Medication: What and how much do you take?
Not much right now, but back in 1999, a close friend and I got addicted to herbal speed. That was weird, but I got a lot of work done!
Who do you consider to be the greatest New Yorker of all-time? (Name up to three if you must.)
P.T. Barnum, Yoko Ono and Parker Tyler
If you could change one thing about New York, what would it be?
I'd make street piss smell like honeysuckle.