Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Abel Ferrara

So, after leaving a screening of Old Joy, my buddy Ryan and I ran into Ferrara on Houston Street last night. Unlike last time I passed by him on the street, I mustered the courage to accost him. I called his name as we approached each other, he fidgeted with his cell phone (which he was talking on), gave me his left (free) hand to shake, and muttered something to the effect of 'hold on' into the phone. I said I was a big fan, and he asked if we were filmmakers. (Maybe if we said yes he would have invited us to some crazy party?) I said, "No, I'm not a filmmaker, but I'm an avid film-watcher," at which point he busted into a quick chorus of "Girl Watcher." He assured us that Mary was coming to theaters sooner or later and that for his next project they'd be going to Italy to shoot. He shook our hands and we parted ways. Hot.

14 comments:

André Dias said...

that's merely pathetic. why the hell would someone approach another person, even if a wonderful artist, with «i’m a big fan»? perhaps that’s a bit too much of “elusive lucidity”.

Zach Campbell said...

Well, I passed Ferrara, I have nothing to say to him except that I like his films a lot. (I'm not a very interesting person, nor an I an extrovert; I have nothing to say otherwise.) Why is it that in public we can't approach each other--so alienated from one another that we see someone on the street and must pass by? He's an underappreciated filmmaker, I figured "why not express my appreciation for his work." I didn't know it was such a sin!

Anyway, I'm sorry I've drawn such scorn ... I am nothing if not pathetic, I suppose.

Noel Vera said...

Fooh; you wanted to do something, you did it: I see nothing wrong with that. And I'm sure he appreciated it--it's not like he's being accosted in the streets by mobs of groupies.

marcelo said...

I think it's more pathetic (symptom of modern life's sores) to pass by people pretending not to know them. Or, you know, judge the behavior of others — over the internet!

Awesome that you ran into him! In fact I'm kind of envious because he's my favorite filmmaker (I'm dying to read Brenez' book) and I would really love to exchange any couple of words with the man.

What is his next project? I have hard-ons just thinking about the prequel to King of New York (with Michael Pitt! That ought to be interesting...) and Go Go Tales (which Ferrara deliciously described as "Cheers meets The Killing of a Chinese Bookie")... Does anyone know whether those films are actually getting made?

Eric Henderson said...

Did he have a poodle with him?

gabe k. said...

Ferrara loves his fans almost as much as he loves the drink. Good guy!
Kevin Smith sat behind me at a screening of THE DEPARTED on Tuesday night. At the time, I thought to myself, "I have nothing to say to this sub-filmmaker."
But then maybe I should have pulled a Joel Siegel on his ass. I ended up wishing I had said something like, "Hi, I teach at a film school where a generation of students are already beginning to forget your miserable accomplishments."
But that would have truly been below the waist. Best to approach those who we believe are wonderful artists. You did the right thing Zach!

Jay McRoy said...

I'm with those who hold that it probably made him feel really good. I did a similar thing when I bumped into J. Rosenbaum (almost literally...I was reading while walking)at a Chicago theater. I said something along the lines of "Ooops. Sorry dude. Oh, hey! Thanks a lot for writing that book on Kiarostami!" It's not every day I get a chance to string those words together.

André Dias said...

zach, i'm sorry for the harsh comment (i was a bit drunk when i made it). beneath the unnecessary sarcasm, i was trying to express that there's almost no information in «i'm a big fan». the problem lies in treating well-known persons differently from the rest of us poor humans. if the one who listens seems to appreciate the ego comforting of such line, perhaps a great artist should rather be embarrassed. hasn't he so much to accomplish yet?

Noel Vera said...

Managed to buttonhole Rosenbaum in Rotterdam, maybe for an hour. Wouldn't even know where to begin mining him for information, but I did my best. Really nice guy.

Zach Campbell said...

André--no problem. In my defense, I would say that I didn't grovel before Ferrara, I didn't ask for his autograph, nothing like that--I didn't do anything that put him up on any kind of pedastal. I simply wanted to meet him. Not because he's so special, but simply as a matter of personal interest. And this is not something I am prone to doing to people, by temperament. (I am even so timid that I've never spoken with, say, a NYC film scene figure like Kent Jones--even though we have several mutual acquaintances.) But this was the second time in a few months that I'd crossed Ferrara's path, and this time I felt taken to simply try to express my affection for his work--he is my favorite working American filmmaker, certainly my favorite in narrative cinema. I didn't stroke his ego beyond saying that I really liked his films and was looking forward to Mary, and he didn't seem to be conceited about my praise ... he just seemed happy to chat for a few moments.

(The one fact of the interaction I do regret a little is that, as I've mentioned, Ferrara was talking on a cellphone as we approached each other, and I didn't notice this until I had already hailed him. I hadn't meant to interrupt his conversation, but he didn't seem to mind at all anyway...)

And of course saying I'm a "big fan" is not a very substantive introduction--but what introduction is!? What on earth does a person say to anyone in the first few lines of meeting them that is not in some way a kind of vacuous formality?

At any rate, for me, this brief encounter was not about me meeting some superhuman celebrity in Ferrara, but simply having one more facet of experience in which to contextualize my relationship to certain films I love ...

Zach Campbell said...

By the way, Eric--no poodle!

Ouyang Feng said...

I've came across some directors whose works mean a lot to me, several times, and I know it's quite of a strange feeling. The first time came across Tsai Ming-liang, I couldn't say anything else than a "thank you" for his film which he replied to me as a thank you - the situation became quite silly. I bumped across him again last year, this time I managed to talk more. However I still felt awkward. I also felt awkward when I drunk a coffee with Wang Bing and with someone else I know. The problem was my mandarin was very limited and he doesn't speak English...
Anyway, those brief meetings are always a bit odd, but funny when we think about it later.
It's cool that you went and talked to Abel Ferrara. :-)

Noel Vera said...

I was intreoduced to Wong Kar Wei once in Hong Kong, but we didn't have much to say to each other. Might have to do with my not being a big fan of his films.

Paul Martin said...

Old Joy just screened at ACMI in Melbourne to a packed house. Terrific stuff. I'd have done the same thing (spoken in passing).