Vincenzo Natali's Sundance Diary: January 24, 2010

Todd Brown, Founder and Editor
[We welcome back Splice director Vincenzo Natali with the fourth entry in his ongoing Sundance diary.]

Twenty-four hours has morphed into forty-eight since my last post. Splice received its midnight premiere on Friday and since then the festival has become a vortex of press, Festival events and business related to the North American distribution of the film.

The night of our screening, we were serenaded by a fairy-tale sprinkling of white. There was that strangely dulling aural effect that comes with fresh snow. Even under the din of Main Street.

Sarah Polley, Adrien Brody and myself were stuffed in giant SUV like Mormon Mafia and transported at astonishingly slow speed up the packed avenue to the Egyptian theater.
Once there, we did what is known as the 'press line', which is not dissimilar to a firing squad, only with cameras rather than rifles. From there it was straight into the theater and the screening.

As I stepped into the Egyptian, I was struck by how small it is. I had been here before, notably for the first screening of Blair Witch Project back in 1999. But somehow the scale of the place had grown in my mind in the intervening years. In truth, it's a very charming intimate space accented with art nouveau decoration.  It was, to my great relief, completely full.

Taking the stage to make the introduction I tried to assess the faces of the audience. How many were 'real people'? How many from the 'industry'? It was impossible to know. Either way, I was instantly struck by the withering terror that this was the summation of over a decade of work.  And without exaggeration I truly had no idea what the response would be like.

After introducing Sarah and Adrien, we took our seats, the theater darkened and Splice began.

I'm not sure exactly how to describe my range of emotions as I watched the film.  I have seen Splice so many times that there is no reliable way for me to judge it. Some directors boast that they know every frame of their film. I'm willing to make the claim that I know every pixel, at least in the FX sequences. But amazingly by the time the film unspooled its second reel, I forgot what I knew. The reaction of the audience became a filter, and as nervous giggles gave way to screams and gasps, I began to see it through their eyes.

And what I saw was a strange fucking movie. I almost had to ask myself, who made this thing? It's odd to say this, but I suspect the person that I was when I started writing Splice in the late '90s is quite different from the one who is writing this blog.  There was a bit of a funhouse mirror effect at work.

At any rate, I won't attempt to review my own film, but I will say that at the end, there were sustained applause and virtually the entire audience stayed for the Q and A, this in spite of the fact that it was well past 2 AM.

The first question was actually a statement, "That is the most fucked up film I have ever seen. And I mean that in a good way."  That was a nice start to what became an insightful and intelligent post screening session.  Sarah and Adrien were their usual articulate, witty selves. The audience was smart and young. Later I found out that some of them had been standing for several hours in the snow to get rush tickets.  These were the right people for this film.

Undoubtedly the single most rewarding thing about the evening was meeting them. They are the mutant audience of the future.  The audience that hungers for dangerous cinema, for films that stretch beyond the bounds of the normal. I got a feeling that there are a lot of them out there.

Thank god for that.

More later...
V
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